Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Frightfest 2013 Reflection

My third full Frightfest and this time it was like slipping on an old, comfy hoodie.
This year I managed to run a full gamut and see 26 films across the five day festival, though not all on the main screen. For the first time I had a go at venturing into the Discovery screens, this involved extreme queueing/sleep deprivation on the Saturday due to the Willow Creek effect but on the other days was just a case of rocking up at the counter. On the main screen I missed Hammer Of The Gods (by all accounts not up to much), I Spit On Your Grave 2 (by all accounts apalling shit) and the We Are What We Are remake (by all accounts one of the best films of the festival, can't win 'em all).
The festival was introduced by Bobcat Goldthwait further confusing the decision to put his film into the tiny Discovery screens, a decision righted by changing Willow Creek's second screening to a screen roughly five times the size. Other assorted guests accompanied the films as usual, some enlightening (Chucky 6, Dark Tourist), some just shuffled about looking confused (In Fear) and some bought massive entourages from around the world (Dead 2, Big Bad Wolves). They all had Q&A's as usual though this year people reined in their stumbling nonsense and the questions were usually of interest. Then there was they guy who explained that Child's Play 3 was his all time favourite movie, he's got an awful lot of cinematic discovery head of him, makes me feel slightly jealous.
There was an extended interview with Ben Wheatley, which was incredibly illuminating and showed just how much boring as fuck, hard graft the man has done to perfect his craft. There were previews of a few films, most interesting of these was Glazer's Under The Skin of which we only saw 2 mins of clips but plenty of weirdness, The Raid 2 of which we saw a girl with a pair of claw hammers and plenty of violence and the upcoming 2000AD documentary of which we saw a bunch of talking heads and plenty of awesome comic art.
The short films this year were split up and redistributed about at the start of features, presumably to get them exposure denied to them when they were lumped together on a Sunday afternoon. The best of these was an animation called Chuck Steel: Raging Balls Of Steel Justice which came off like Wallace & Gromit if they'd been intravenously fed Chuck Norris' entire back catalogue whilst having Red Bull injected into their eyes. Also worth mentioning were Shell Shocked, a neat WW2 Boys Own tale with a twist introduced by director Paddy from Emmerdale and Crazy For You which managed to turn the gouging out of one's eyeballs into a happy ending.
And the films. Standards were higher again than years gone by with nothing plumbing depths like last year's After or Night In The Woods from the year before. The flipside though was that there wasn't a great deal of epoch making genius going on either. Found footage continues to dominate and continues to be a crutch for film makers to direct without having to consider shots, framing, lighting etc. just stick a camera in an actor's hand and get them to do it. Most galling of all is there are now films that are shot like a found footage movie despite not being found footage at all (Banshee Chapter), for fuck's sake film makers - MAKE SOME FILMS. I'm not suggesting all found footage is thoughtless crap mind, there's plenty of directors still using it effectively and finding new ways to scare with it, something which is reflected in this years lists:
5 favourites;
1) Big Bad Wolves
2) Cheap Thrills
3) Willow Creek
4) V/H/S/2
5) The Last Days [Los últimos días]
5 not favourites;
1) Dementamania
2) Banshee Chapter
3) R.I.P.D.
4) No One Lives
5) The Dead 2: India
Thanks to Joe, Ted, Ali and newcomer James for prodding me from cinema to fast food joint to pub and back again. Now back to reality, ho-hum.


  1. My first foray into Frightfest was fun. The lack of sleep didn't cripple me like I feared, but I can't fathom how you manage 5 days of it (Not queueing in the rain for an hour for a film that sells out I suppose). But the overall excellence of the experience is tempting me to possibly do both weekend days next year.

    It was interesting to see how broadly they define horror movies. Thriller, monster horror, action horror, dumb thriller, family friendly action comedy, black comedy; yet all fitting for a horror festival.

    As I only saw 6 films my rankings (from best to worst)
    Cheap Thrills
    The Hypnotist
    Frankenstein's Army
    Cannon Fodder
    No One Lives

  2. Frightfest was once again a unique way to spend 4 days and one evening. This year I'd hopped to avoid getting sucked into the maelstrom quite so much. Once again I completely failed, the whole event taking on a weird dream/nightmare quality as my poor brain and thought processes attempted to make sense of the avalanche of imagery it was exposed to. Would't change a thing however!

    Favourite 5:
    1. Cheap Thrills
    2. We Are What We Are
    3. Big Bad Wolves
    4. Willow Creek
    5. You're Next

    Least Favourite 5:
    1. Dead 2: India
    2. Hammer Of The Gods
    3. Banshee Chapter
    4. RIPD
    5. Hatchet 3

  3. Some very divisive movies this year. No One Lives i liked quite a bit, but was roundly hated by everyone it seems, except Ali. Ali liked The Conspiracy which i thought was godawful. Ed also liked that, but detested Last Days and Haunter which Alex loved, as did I. Pity Frankenstein's Army probably hasn't made our final fives, because it was great - just edged out by some crackers. Nothing epoch making, but a good quality this year. Picking bottom five turned out harder than I thought..

    Top 5
    1) Willow Creek.
    2) Cheap Thrills.
    3) We Are What We Are
    4) 100 Bloody Acres
    5) Big Bad Wolves

    Bottom 5
    1) Dementamania
    2) Banshee Chapter
    3) The Conspiracy
    4) RIPD
    5) The Missionary

  4. Oh and big thanks to Al, Ali, James whose frightfest whistle has been whetted, Ed for his hospitality and Maserati rides, and of course fake Kim Newman, real Kim Newman, Laughing John, Gloucester Alex, Frightfest Noise and Human Centipede 2

  5. And Emily Booth. She was there, between Al and I, for at least 70 minutes. We could have jumped her, she'd have had no chance..

  6. Sorry for my belated comments - seems to be taking longer this year to re-adjust to 'normality'...

    A big thanks to all of you for the great company over the 5 days - those mad dashes to the Comedy Pub wouldn't be the same without you!

    Found it pretty easy to do top and bottom fives this year. The top 5 will look like most other peoples', but you might find the bottom a bit out there...

    Top 5

    1 - Cheap Thrills
    2 - Big Bad Wolves
    3 - Willow Creek
    4 - 100 Bloody Acres
    5 - You're Next

    Bottom 5

    1 - The Last Days
    2 - Dark Touch
    3 - No-One Lives
    4 - Haunter
    5 - The Dead 2

  7. I liked all your bottom 5 Ed. And Odd Thomas, which may have topped your list of shame if you'd been fool enough to watch it