With the final screening now all said and done, another year at the fan-favourite horror film festival FrightFest comes to an end. It’s been an intense five days of slasher flicks, haunted-house horrors, and supernatural happenings at the Vue Leicester Square, with some of the best and brightest new talent in filmmaking showing what they’re made of. So without much further ado, here’s our round-up of all the film’s we saw over the tightly-packed weekend:
Although opening night nostalgia trip Turbo Kid certainly wowed us with its cheapo, cartoonish charm, and the fantastically twisty The Diabolical gave us a lot to love in genre-bending terror, it was no doubt Corin Hardy’s gloriously practical creature-feature The Hallow that won the weekend with its seriously spooky set-up and frankly incredible devotion to the monster movie sub-genre.
Elsewhere, Dan Berk and Robert Olsen’s low-key thriller Body also proved to be something of a highlight with its positively charming cast proving endlessly watchable, whilst both Shut In and Bruce McDonald’s latest Hellions were equally inventive if a little muddled with their storytelling – although the latter definitely wins points for the most random use of llamas of the year.
The best of the rest:
The Blaine Brothers’ British genre mish-mash was certainly another welcome breath of fresh-air, chronicling the rather bizarre relationship of student Holly and troubled supermarket worker Rob, who find their most intimate moments invaded by the decaying corpse of Rob’s dead girlfriend Nina. Utopia’s Fiona O’Shaughnessy is as weird and kooky as ever as the mangled Nina, driving right down deep into what it means to be dead, whilst Abigail Hardingham and Cian Barry both prove equally as fearless in their exploration of grief. The Blaines’ very own form of fucked-up rom-com is delightfully dark and provides plenty of wicked laughs, whilst still handling the more emotional beats with ease and precision.
Acclaimed director Ian Softley’s stab at the Blumhouse way of doing things had its world premiere at the festival on Monday and was met with plenty of enthusiasm from fans. Curve finds Julianne Hough’s Mallory trekking across country on the verge of her own wedding, but when she gives a ride to a seemingly helpful hitchhiker, things of course take a dark turn. Whereas the film itself suffers from its inability to settle on a particular sub-genre, dancing between the common slasher and the more substantial survivalist drama, Hough herself provides plenty of entertainment as the struggling Mallory. Teddy Sears’ psycho killer is about as cookie-cutter as they come and the film’s central narrative, focussed around Hough trapped in the wreckage of an overturned car has been done better a thousand times before, but when it finally settles down for its finale, Curve proves itself entertaining enough, if a little predictable.
One of the most surprising films of the festival, Michael Thelin’s suburban-nightmare Emelie centres around a standard American-family whose lives are torn apart one night by the babysitter from hell. Fiendishly subtle with its advancements, the film benefits from a ridiculously talented cast of child-actors who well and truly steal the narrative from Sarah Bolger’s otherwise beautifully-layered villain. It may often seem a little clunky in its exposition and doesn’t quite reach the heights it sometimes hints at, but Thelin’s debut feature is a tremendously well-shot and well-built little thriller that’s never worried to push the envelope.
Tales of Halloween
This year’s closing night film proved to be very much a celebration of the festival’s spirit overall, with a compendium feature of ten gloriously gory and hilarious horror shorts directed by noted names like Lucky McKee and Neil Marshall. As expected, without a framing device the shorts don’t always flow together tremendously well and some land more on the side of silly than entertaining, but overall between its cheap effects and borderline-ridiculous number of famous cameos (the likes of John Landis and Joe Dante to name just two) Tales of Halloween proves itself as a genuine crowd-pleaser and the perfect end to another year at FrightFest.
More details about Film4 FrightFest and all of the films screened this year can be found here.