The creator of a new search engine program is interrogated by the government in the low-budget feature film S.E.R.P. by director Mark Schwab. Check out our review.
We at Screen Critix have watched and reviewed a couple of Mark Schwab’s short films before – namely The Davenport Vampire and The Choice Point. So we were excited to be given the opportunity of viewing a feature film of his made in 2013 called S.E.R.P. For those who are unaware what S.E.R.P. stands for, it means Search Engine Results Page. See, you do learn something new every day.
Webster (Robert Sean Campbell) finds himself in an interrogation room with a bag over his head. After an initial confusion of his identity, he is then interviewed by two government agents, Hayes and Kavanagh (played by Melinda Marks and Jake Vincent respectively). The government agents are not happy. Apparently, when doing a search on the US Government on Webster’s new search Engine – Alexandria, it states that they are evil. The government believe that Webster has programmed Alexandria to say that, though he denies it all.
In a day and age when conspiracy theories concerning the US government are flooding social media pages in abundance, S.E.R.P. has some very interesting points. Are the government watching our every move? Would they kidnap and beat a confession out of someone behind closed doors? What length would they go to in order to protect their status? Schwab and screenwriter Bennett Fisher have picked a subject that the people of the 2010’s would want to know about and rode with it.
With a feature film with such minimal budget, there are of course issues that need addressing. I had a problem with the sound throughout many stages of the runtime. The sound was a little hard to hear and reverberated, especially the initial scene in the interrogation room. The use of lavalier microphones on the actors as well as the boom mic would have fixed all that. The sound would have been 100% clearer.
Taking a leaf out of Kevin Smith’s book and his movie ‘Clerks’, Schwab opted to shoot the film in black and white and it actually suits the subject matter. With the use of only three locations and with so much dialogue, I believe the use of colour wouldn’t have added anything to the film whatsoever. Some movies just suit being shown in black and white, (see Nebraska for example) and S.E.R.P. is one of them.
Whilst the story is interesting, a lot of the time the film couldn’t decide if it was a thriller or a comedy. Just when you think things are getting serious, a joke is thrown into the script. It was more a case of misidentity than the very first scene.
A lot of the issues, including the sound, pacing and just sticking to three locations can be forgiven as stated before, the budget for S.E.R.P. was miniscule. For being able to finish a full feature film with next to nothing should be commended. The actors all do a great job and I know they could do even better if given half the chance.
Overall, S.E.R.P is an interesting film and one that I’m sure people would enjoy if they can overlook some production issues. To watch the film for yourselves, check it out on Amazon.