Film Review: Screwdriver

SCREWDRIVER  is a delirious psycho-drama written and directed by Cairo Smith in his accomplished feature-length debut, making its North American VOD release on November 10. At Fear Forever, we thrive on covering interesting and experimental genre films like SCREWDRIVER.

Blindsided by divorce and with nothing to her name, Emily (AnnaClare Hicks) arrives on the doorstep of her high school friend Robert (Charlie Farrell) and his high-strung wife Melissa (Milly Sanders). Despite the couple’s mixed messages and Melissa’s unpredictable outbursts, Emily agrees to spend the week there and try Robert’s new style of therapy.  What follows is a taut psychological drama fueled by sleep deprivation, psychotropics, and disorienting mind games.

Despite its title conjuring up scenes of blood and violence, screwdriver is a portrait of psychological torture- the horrors of mental conditioning. If you like films that put a microscope up to cult indoctrination tactics and the disturbing ways humans can manipulate each other, then SCREWDRIVER is a film to see…and wonder if the eponymous tool will make an appearance.

SCREWDRIVER may be a little bit too weird for a casual popcorn night. And yeah, it is weird! In the beginning, you have just as much of a clue about what is going on as much as Emily does. Why is everyone acting so goddamn weird?? This, however, is why the film is so intriguing the whole way through. If your viewing has become a bit stale lately, then this film will definitely break that cycle. I can see audiences not ‘getting it’, but for me, watching SCREWDRIVER was an utterly fascinating experience. 

SCREWDRIVER leans hard on Milly Sanders’ appropriately unhinged performance, but she handles it with just enough restraint to help us believe she might have very strategic ulterior motives. But she’s definitely scary! Charlie Farrell successfully bounces off her as the equally duplicitous one playing ‘good cop’. They both make great villains. AnnaClare Hicks lets herself get tossed back and forth while keeping us identifying with her as she spirals. 

Isolation is such a key strategy in brainwashing,  and SCREWDRIVER confines us in four walls along with Emily. The distinctive script and acting give the film a surrealness that makes you feel as though the one location setting is a world of its own. And so much happens while we’re stuck there. SCREWDRIVER mostly leaves us in a completely strange, manipulating experience and traps us in it- which is what a film is supposed to do. My advice is to go into this film with no assumptions and enjoy the ride. SCREWDRIVER is distributed by Buffalo 8 and is available now on Prime, Vudu and other platforms.

“if your viewing has become a bit stale lately, then it will definitely break that cycle…watching SCREWDRIVER was an utterly fascinating experience.”

4 tombstones out of 5….
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Erin Grant

Erin Grant

Erin has been writing about films for Fear Forever since 2017; to say she is passionate is an understatement. You can find her in Sydney, Australia, where she lives on a steady diet of horror movies whilst perpetually being in the middle of a film degree.
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