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 Frightfest 2015 Overview

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PostSubject: Frightfest 2015 Overview   Frightfest 2015 Overview I_icon_minitimeSun Sep 06, 2015 12:10 pm

After a hectic 5 days and a much needed rest, I’m back from this year’s Frightfest extravaganza.  There was a wide variety of films this year including a number of Worldwide, European and UK premiers.  Frightfests’s film festival encompasses more than you might expect on hearing the term ‘Horror Film’.  Many think of blood, guts and gore or, monsters that threaten humanity, rather than psychological horror, or the horrors that man inflicts upon man through ambition, revenge, a need to protect, or to survive a life threatening situation.  

Each film was introduced by one of the Festival’s organisers and, if they were available to attend, the film’s director.  At the end of many films, the director would return, sometimes with members of the cast and crew, to answer questions from the public.  These sessions were enlightening.  Those in the audience learned a great deal about the directors perspective, the difficulties of the actors/actresses and problems that arose in the shooting/production of the film.  Those members of the audience who asked questions often received posters, DVDs, Blu-rays or T-shirts.  Apparently I ask good questions, so I came home with lots of goodies.

The 21 films I saw depicted a wide range of situations and threats faced by individuals, or groups of people.  Here, is a summary of just a few I would recommend.  None are brilliant, but each has a strength that makes it a good watch.


Dir. Francoise Simard; Canada/New Zealand 2015

Who remembers BMX bikes?  Who thought them cool?  Imagine the world as we know it ended in 1997 and all that was left were survivors who scavenge the wasteland for items they can sell in order to buy water - water which is controlled by the evil Zeus (Michael Ironside). This is the post-apocalyptic world a young teenager, who is obsessed with the comic book hero Turbo Kid, lives in.  When his new found friend Apple is captured by one of Zeus’s henchmen, he decides to save her.

This film made me think of Mad Max on BMX bikes.  It was fun, funny and sweet, with a strong story and terrific performances.  Yes, it was very violent in places, but this was totally over the top and not intended to be taken seriously.  There was one fight scene towards the end of the film that had the audience laughing so much, I couldn’t hear some dialogue.  The style is retro, slightly Grindhouse and the music is a perfect fit to the action.  A terrific film and one which I’d love to see again.

Dir. Dominic Blunt; UK 2015

This is the Emmerdale actor’s second film.  It is based upon four real life experiences from around the world (Two from the UK) of loan sharks.  

Bait’s focus is on two women who wish to open a Tea shop and the man that offers help when they’re refused a bank loan.  It is a taut film that demonstrates the vulnerability of people in a number of ways.  Bait grips the viewer with it directness.  It draws you into the world of the girls, also that of the loan shark.  Dialogue is sharp, crude in places, but this and the filmic world we are shown, has a sense of verisimilitude.  How the women deal with the situation they find themselves in is a tense watch.  Bear in mind this is a harsh film with a sense of realism.  It has moments which are genuinely frightening and violent.  

In the Q&A after the film, Dominic Blunt was asked if he’d exaggerated the violent acts carried out by the loan sharks portrayed in Bait.  There was a period of silence in the cinema after he told us that he couldn’t show us the worst acts of violence perpetrated by these people.  He’d toned what they do down in order for the film to be commercially viable.   Over all, I’d consider Bait a thought provoking experience.

Dir. Darren Lynn Bouseman, Axelle Carolyn, Adam Gierasch, Andrew Kash, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Ryan Schifrin, John Skipp, Pauls Solet USA 2105

As you might expect, a film with this many directors is a bit of a mish-mash.  There are ten short films with Halloween as the common theme.  Some shorts are better than others, but enough of them are good for this to be an enjoyable watch.  Think Outer Limits meets Tales From the Darkside with hilarity and gore, and you’re just about there.

Set in an American suburb, some of the stories set out to be proper scary, whilst others aim for a much lighter approach.  A few are hilarious.  These made the film work for me, especially the last story, which pulls everything together by showing what’s happened to those in some of the earlier sections.  There are also a lot of cameo performances from very well know actors.  Expect the expected and the unexpected and enjoy this somewhat daft offering.


Dir. Howard J Ford; UK 2015

This is the third film from Howard J Ford and the first not to feature zombies.  Instead, we have a complete change of genre from horror to fast paced action thriller.  The central performance from Angela Dixon as Lisa Brennan is outstanding.  Lisa is an unusual role for a more mature woman in her forties.  When first approached by the director to read the script and give an opinion, Angela Dixon decided to get into training.  Eight months later on finding the role was hers, she was prepared.  Angela gives a very physical performance, nicely balanced with the emotion and desperation when Lisa’s baby is kidnapped by human traffickers.  

Although Never Let Go is action loaded, the dialogue is decent and purposeful in advancing the plot.  Camera work is solid and you have a real sense of Lisa’s difficulty, in getting across and out of the city, from the overhead shots that display the depth and complexity of the environment.

I asked the director of this film why he chose a more mature woman for this role.  Howard J Ford feels that ‘ladies of a certain age’ are undervalued, that there is a distinct lack of roles – especially active ones – and that cinema is dominated by male heroes.  He also wanted Lisa’s desperation to motivate her actions in a way that had gravitas.  Scripting an older woman was, for Howard J Ford, the answer to the complexity of emotion, desperation and presence that he wanted Lisa to have.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  All of Lisa’s stunts were performed by Angela and she beats any male performer I’ve ever seen in such an action packed role.

Dir. Zac Hilditch; Australia 2014

What would you do if the end of the world was imminent?  Where would you be?  How would you act?  These are the questions asked and depicted in Zac Hilditch’s film which had its UK premiere at Frightfest.  

A story does develop as the film unfolds, but it isn’t the main driving force behind the narrative structure of this movie.  Rather, there is a narrative focus on how people act, what they do and where they are emotionally.  This is done using a ‘show and tell’ structure with excellent performances assisting with the expression of emotional states.  It is beautifully filmed and the special effects at the end pretty well done.  Well worth a watch.

Dir. Perry Blackshear; USA 2015

They Look Like People explores a psychological state of mind.  Are the ‘phone calls about a coming war of alien infection real?  Or do they exist only in Wyatt’s (MacLeod Andrews) mind?  Having been told he must leave the city, does Wyatt do as instructed, or does he stay and try to protect his friend?  These questions make for a tense drama about friendship, loyalty and trust which a number of those I spoke to at Frightfest found terrific.  As tension builds up, terror and horror exists in the potential actions of Wyatt.  Both the male leads are excellent.  They give solid, low key performances.  Consequently when emotion is shown it reaches beyond the screen and the characters are totally believable.  

Frightfest was the UK premiere of They Look Like People, which has already been released in the USA.   This film is very low on gore, high on tension.  Watch it and you’ll find you’re holding your breath, or on the edge of your seat, during the last scene.

Dir. Sergio Martino; Italy 1972

For the past three years, one of the Discovery Screens at Frightfest has taken a retrospective look at some golden oldies.  This film is an example of a Giallo film.  Meaning yellow in Italian, the genre title comes from the original pulp paperbacks which were published with a yellow cover.  Giallo films are stylish thrillers with a slasher element.  The first director to encompass these elements into his films was Mario Bava (Italy).  Many later directors found inspiration in Bava’s body of work including David Lynch, Tim Burton and Dario Argento.

Your Vice is a Locked Room is an unusual example of Giallo film.  Although it incorporates the genre elements of sex, slasher murders and a woman who is perceived as either mad or imagining things.  But, as an additional narrative device, Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Black Cat is woven into the mix.  The result is a very stylish, sexy and decadent film with twists and turns to satisfy every amateur sleuth in the audience.

Dir. Nathan Ambrosioni; France 2015

Nathan Ambrosioni was 14 when he made this film, a fact which aroused my curiosity.  The subjects of the film are two adopted girls who become influenced/possessed by an aggressive ghost who resides in the family home.  I wondered how a 14 year old would deal with this theme.  Perfectly adequately thank you is the answer, for the film ably demonstrates Nathan’s ability to write dialogue that works, also to organise action which generates tension.  In addition, editing is used to heighten tension to good effect.  However, I struggled to cope with the camera work in Hositle.  The camera switches between 3 styles; static, stead cam and first person i.e. Blair Witch style.  If your stomach can cope with this constant interchange, there is a solid film here with scary performances from the two girl leads.  

I hope I’ve given an idea of the range of films shown at Frightfest and you’ve enjoyed reading about them.  There are others I wish to review in more depth and these I’ll post individually.  If any of those I’ve briefly covered here interests you, catch them on a big screen if you can, otherwise check out Arrow Films for new releases:

Also have a look at Frightfest Presents, a new DVD/BluRay lable which officially launches on the 19th October 2015.  You’ll find this in the ‘Articles’ tab under ‘News’ on the Horror Channel web page:
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PostSubject: Re: Frightfest 2015 Overview   Frightfest 2015 Overview I_icon_minitimeThu Sep 10, 2015 2:50 pm

Great reviews, Sue! Seems like you had quite a bit of fun! Smile

I've been wanting to see Turbo Kid for a while. It's a "local" movie, and we never get to see made this type of movie over here. But alas, it's not playing in my hometown, only the big cities like Montréal ou Québec city... Sad

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PostSubject: Re: Frightfest 2015 Overview   Frightfest 2015 Overview I_icon_minitimeThu Sep 10, 2015 4:04 pm

Thanks Tri Smile

Each of these films has something I felt made them a good watch. Turbo Kid remains one of my favourite films this year - it was such fun. I'm pretty sure the entire audience sat there grinning throughout.

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