Britain’s Film4Frightfest is one of the largest horror and fantasy film events in the world today, which is why Britflicks drops it’s strictly British criteria for one weekend each year. This year there were 64 features films to choose from and I managed to take in 42 – a personal best. They came from across the globe, but as is always the case with strong support for homegrown horror talent: Australia (3), Belgium (1), Canada (3), France (1), Germany (2), Ireland (1), Japan (1), Norway (1), New Zealand (2), Serbia (1), Spain (1), Great Britain (11), USA (34) and Venezuala (1).
This was the first year Frightfest was held at the Vue Cinema, Leicester Square(London). There were nerves from the organisers, venue and frightfesters alike about how it would be. For a number of years the communal experience of 1,500 people in the neighbouring Empire Cinema rivalled a great sporting event for atmosphere. Would breaking the main arena down to three screens lessen the enjoyment? A little. But the upsides outweighed downs:
1) The bar area of the Vue Cinema is a place you can congregate in comfort, even when it’s busy so no more sitting on the floor.
2) The staggered start times mean 1,000 plus people are not exiting films simultaneously anymore.
3) The films started at their scheduled time.
4) The escalators gave the event a kind of sci-fi sliding doors vibe.
5) Vue Cinema staff were great.
6) Bigger Discovery Screens and more flexible allocation of tickets meant no more early morning queues.
7) The roof out front provides much more cover from the inevitable Bank Holiday downpour (and boy did it rain on the Monday.
The biggest round of applause is saved for the Frightfest team: Iain Rattray, Paul McEvoy, Alan Jones, and Greg Day for programming such a wide and diverse selection of genre defining and stretching films. The event is a magnet for some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure to share a cinema screen with. Met up with old friends and made plenty of new ones. Sharing and hearing a blow by blow account of the festival highs and lows as Frightfest evolves is as much fun as watching the films themselves.
Here are mine:
Top 5 Films
1) Alleluia (Belg/Fra)
Alleluia is an unrelenting, emotional odyssey – based on the Honeymoon Killers – that trades blows with the cerebral and visceral expectations of the audience to wind up with a truly unique horror experience.
2) Babadook (Aus)
A claustrophobic fairy tale nightmare that uses the shadowy character from a creepy, indestructible kids book to unleash supernatural happenings that enable us to explore the more terrifying reality of a mother’s guilt and inability to love her own son.
3) Coherence (USA)
A passing comet, a suburban dinner party and quantum physics theory, the lay person can comprehend and a rip in the fabric of space and time combine to make the most intellectually stimulating and cerebrally satisfying film of Frightfest 2014.
4) House at the end of time (Ven)
One woman’s search for answers about the murder of her husband and missing son open up into a magical, heart-warming tale about a mother’s boundless love for her child.
5) Dead Snow 2 (Nor)
Make no mistake Dead Snow 2’s snappy dialogue, belly laughs and splattergore is on a par with Peter Jackson’s Braindead for shear horror crowd-pleasing, blood and guts exuberance.
Best of British
1) Deadly Virtues
Rather than an escalation of vile and gruesome acts on two helpless victims, this sub-version of the house invasion sub-genre chooses to psychologically experiment on the wife and ask questions about her relationship with husband as much as what to do about the intruder holding her hostage.
2) The Forgotten
Set on an abandoned housing estate, this slow burning, urban ghost story follows a young boy’s unsettling search for answers to the unexplainable noises coming from the vacant dwelling next door.
3) Show Pieces
Three interdependent short films pulled together into a feature-length, trilogy that takes a lost drunk to Alan Moore’s new hellish place called Nighthampton.
4) Blood Moon
A whip cracking, gothic western B Movie with moments to be fearful and plenty of times to enjoy dark laughs too.
5) Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey Of Richard Stanley’s Island Of Dr Moreau
A look into the crazy world of big budget films, via Richard Stanley, a once rising star of British film, and how the old adage of the ‘show must go on’ can turn into a film maker’s nightmare of actors and producers egos.
Turn Your Bloody Phone idents are a real cult at Frightfest. These 30 second horror moments are used to remind the audience that electronic equipment isn’t welcomed during the screenings. Congratulations to former Britflicks Podcast guest Mike Tack for his Human Centipede 2 influenced effort.
The Samurai (Ger)
This enchanting horror fairy tale blends homoeroticism with absurdism and some the most beautiful cinematography that you’re ever likely to see at Frightfest
Truth or Dare (USA)
Actress and director Jessica Cameron was a popular attraction in her own right. Tottering around on her heels for more than 12 hours a day she was forever amenable to fan approaches, talking to the media, partied every night and her nasty, low budget film had the audience squirming in their seats.
Duke Mitchell Film Club Party
After the cerebral fix of Coherence no one was expecting Evrim Ersoy’s boundless energy as the ringmaster to an event that included: Death Waltz Records chief Spencer Hickman’s human caterpillar, gallons of whiskey, top trumps and plethora of Frightfest talent showing off obscurities and exclusives, A thrilling alternative to a late movie – here’s hoping they are invited back in 2016.
BEST PLOT TWISTS
The Harvest (USA)
Despite consisting of scenes no more gruesome than you’d expect from an episode of ER, The Harvest provided not one, but two great, horrifying plot twists to turn the first half of the film on its head.
The Guest (USA)
Steve Moore’s electronic score is a delightful blend of Cliff Martinez (Drive, Contagion) and John Carpenter. Plus the soundtrack was peppered with gems from industrial music’s late eighties/early nineties heyday – it includes two Front 242 tracks for goodness sake.
Originally published at Britflicks.com