Dark and unsettling, Videoman follows the colliding stories of Ennio (Stefan Sauk), a reclusive VHS collector attempting to pull himself out of debt and desolation, and Simone (Lena Nilsson), a single mother stuck in an alcoholic spiral. As their worlds become slowly and subtly more frightening and capricious, Ennio and Simone help each other navigate and subjugate their shared existential fears.

Writer and director Kristian A. Söderström constantly forces the audience to question the reliability of his protagonists, interestingly exploring themes more aligned to the work of authors like Will Self and Chuck Palahniuk, using 1980s nostalgia to communicate his key theme: isolation and emotional detachment in our disorientating and dissociating digital age.

From Pulse and Unfriended to urban legends like Slenderman, distrust in the digital age is nothing new to the horror genre. What makes Videoman unique is the fact that it simultaneously attacks the ‘digital plague’ of social and online media while paying sentimental homage to the revival of the VHS era. Significantly, VHS has enjoyed its quiet comeback in part through the inception of the very same digital platforms Videoman criticises (like Instagram’s excellent @vcrofdeath, for example).

Although the pace of the surrealist storyline arguably struggles to maintain meaningful consistency (unlike David Lynch or Stanley Kubrick), it’s the brilliantly tragic and darkly comical performances of Sauk and Nilsson that successfully communicate the nihilistic sentiments at the core of Videoman. Söderström’s dialogue for his two protagonists is effortless and, at times, crushingly poignant. It is perhaps the uncertainty and emptiness of the plot that ultimately reinforces the director’s cynical themes and, unexpectedly, delivers a message of hope.

Videoman has its flaws, but it’s 90 minutes of shameless nostalgia that devotees of VHS horror will find simply irresistible.

Stefan Sauk
Lena Nilsson
Morgan Alling

Kristian A. Söderström

Kristian A. Söderström

18 Feb 2019

Posted by Jim Reader

Jim is a London-based journalist who has worked for a number of titles, including Bizarre, Vogue, Boxing News and the Daily Sport. He graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2009 and became a Master of Research in American Literature in 2010.