Film4Frightfest 2015 is sadly over. The Vue closed its doors on the final stragglers late on Monday night and the Phoenix Bar kicked out the last drunk revellers into Tuesday morning’s sunshine. Boo. Hiss.
This was the 16th Frightfest; the second one taking place at the Vue, Leicester Square. There was a staggering 70+ feature films to choose from. Plus there was Shelagh Rowan-Legg’s three Short Film Showcases, Drawing Blood with Graham Humphreys, Barbara Crampton Reanimated and the Duke Film Party II.
Here’s my various reasons to be cinematically cheerful following Frightfest 2015:
Stuart Wright’s Top 5 at Frightfest 2015.
1) THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE (USA)
Perry Blackshear’s debut feature is an intense psychological thriller taking place in the fragile minds of two best friends who are reunited after ten years apart.
2) DEATHGASM (NZ)
Beneath the 16 year old’s fantasy notion that listening to heavy metal is the answer to all your ills and ailments, DEATHGASM is a quick witted and deeply funny film. It’s gory to ridiculous proportions, but it’s not without a warm heart.
3) WE ARE STILL HERE (USA)
Ted Geohegan’s directorial debut unapologetically wears its horror influences on its sleeve. He described it in his pre-screening introduction with Alan Jones as: “MR James meets Lucio Fulci.”
4) SOME KIND OF HATE (USA)
This supernatural slasher behaves like an indie drama with its cast of introspective, earnest and self harming bunch of no hopers before diving headfirst into full on horror – unearthing Moira the first emo horror icon in the process.
5) CURTAIN (USA)
Right up until the tragic finale it’s never clear where the supernatural mystery thriller is heading, but you’re compelled to keep watching.
Best of British
Dominic Brunt’s fightback thriller uses a dark sense of humour to convey some of the harsh financial realities of post-industrial provincial UK and the potential for exploitation by loan sharks.
2) FUTURE SHOCK! The Story Of 2000AD
2000AD is often portrayed as a footnote in the story of the graphic novel. Goodwin’s documentary brings it to the fore and in doing so asserts the cultural significance of a UK weekly comic we should all be proud of.
Where do you go to when you die? That’s the question AfterDeath seeks to answer and director Gez Medinger unveils a unique vision of where we go before being sent to heaven or hell.
TURBO KID (Canada/New Zealand)
Every now and then a film is built for Frightfest and Frightfest is built for it. Proudly nostalgic, dramatically sentimental and topped off with wonderfully anarchic ultra violent comic gore that will send you out of the theatre with a shit eating grin on your face. Cynics need not apply.
1) BAIT (UK)
Lancashire’s Jonathan Slinger is the charming loan shark Jeremy.
He enters your life with a boyish grin and positive platitudes. Once you’re indebted to him he will destroy your future and ensure you live in fear for your own safety – and know that your loved ones are vulnerable too.
2) SLUMLORD (USA)
New Zealander Neville Archambault (as Gerald) lumbers into every scene with a dumb, expressionless look on his face; rarely saying a word. You can almost smell the stale body odour from the screen. At the end when he smiles at the baby in the passenger seat you’re not sure whether to laugh or cry.
3) SOME KIND OF HATE (USA)
Moira (Sierra McCormick) is the Freddy Kruger of introspective youth. She hears the helpless cries of bullied teenagers and takes physical form in our world. But you can’t send her back with a receipt if she goes too far. When she’s asked what’s it going to take to stop you? Moira says: “Everybody dying!” Just don’t call her a ghost!
SUN CHOKE (USA)
Reminiscent of Todd Haynes’s Safe (1995) every one of cinematographer Mathew Rudenberg’s frames are constantly purposeful and beguiling.
BEST CELEB GUEST
This eighties horror icon appeared in four films at this year’s Frightfest – We Are Still Here (pic), Sun Choke, Road Games, Tales Of Halloween – and had a Discovery Screen event about her too. There didn’t seem a moment she wasn’t out and about meeting and greeting fans, attending Q & A and dancing at Phoenix Bar. Thanks to the people behind You’re Next a real star of the genre is back and it looks like she’s having a ball.
BEST PLOT TWISTS
SHUT IN (USA)
Agoraphobic Anna is unable to leave her house to attend her brother’s funeral when she’s subject to home invasion, but her resourcefulness is just the start of turning the tables on the three men threatening her life. Turns out her fear of going outside isn’t the only psychosis they need to be worrying about.
RABID DOGS (France)
The final reveal of this remake of Mario Bava’s bank robbery gone wrong thriller will leave you with a wry smile after you’ve got over the shock of the true identity of the last person standing.
Absolutely delivers on its heavy metal promise with tracks from obscure bands like speed metallers MIDNIGHT, death metallers NUNSLAUGHTER, brutallists PATHOLOGY, thrash outfit AXESLASHER and plain old heavy metal speed merchants SKULL FIST. However, as if to cement the love affair the film maker has with this metal genre, there are not one, but two songs by iconic Norwegian black metallers EMPEROR.
2) TURBO KID
Opening with a power ballad it is largely electronic pop score that pulses like Cliff Martinez’s music for Drive on happy pills.
SCARIEST PLACE WE GO TO WHEN WE DIE
You could arguably do a compare and contrast across a few titles this year for a heap of theories about what happens when we die.
John Fallon’s THE SHELTER drew on notions of an angry, Old Testament God coming after the weak, lost souls that wander the Earth aimlessly.
Whereas Gez Medinger’s AFTERDEATH took five dead souls to what looked a remote cottage by the sea, but turned out to be a rigged limbo place where entry in to heaven was guaranteed to be denied.
The almost psychedelic HELLIONS suggested a higher power would get angry if you did not value the creation of a new life.
However, it’s Pavel Khvaleev’s III wins the prize for scariest place we go to when we die. In his film he posits the terrifying theory that immortal souls will live on for eternity in the darkened corners of your sub-conscious if you do not believe in God.
All in all Frightfest has taught me you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t!
HEAVY METAL IS THE NEW ANTI-PSYCHOTIC DRUG
“Saved me so many times… You ever have the feeling when you whole body is angry and you want to push your head through the wall?
“This… Ah! It makes me feel like driving a tank; rolling over piles of skulls and blasting mortar shells through everybody that pissed me off.
“You go through this whole experience of anger and fighting and hatred. When the song is over… I don’t feel like putting my head through a wall for just one minute”
Lead character Lincoln explaining the calming benefits of listening to SERPENTINE PATH’s “Disfigured Colossus”
Originally published Britflicks