Sunday, 31 August 2014

Lucy

 
Strives to present grand hypotheses on Life, The Universe and Everything but Besson can't resist smothering it all in flashy gunfights.
 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Frightfest 2014 Reflection

Frightfest's fifteenth year, and my fourth full attendance, was always going to be different. A forced move from The Empire to Vue a couple of doors down meant the logistics of the festival were shaken up considerably, the main audience was split across three screens and films were shown on rotation allowing guests to move between screens.
 
You couldn't help but notice the change, the clearest example being this article. In years gone by it's here that I'd talk about all the extra stuff going on at Frightfest, but things were thin on the ground at this year's event. No onstage interviews, no quiz, no short films before features (they were all put in their own slot elsewhere), no surprise giveaways and no big names dropping by with a quick sneak peek of their latest project.
 
There were two mildly underwhelming previews, It Follows presented by star Maika Monroe and See No Evil 2 presented by the Soska twins via a video intro, and a handful of guest intros/QnA's. Although when Home was introduced by a writer who wasn't involved and appeared to be there solely because he had also written an American Horror movie (Sinister), you begin to question the point of it. The QnA's still had their moments of illumination, but a reduced crowd size seemed to generate a reluctance to ask questions and it probably didn't help that no roving microphone meant audience members had to bellow their queries across the auditorium.
 
Add in the fact that I got to watch a trailer for TV series 'The Strain' twenty six times due to it's inclusion at the beginning of every feature (festival highlight was a bloke yelling "OK, I'll fucking watch it!" after its final airing) and it was easy to start spitting doom and gloom on the perceived lack of atmosphere at this year's event. By the end though, a more important change presented itself.
 
Due to the reduction of extraneous guff the focus of this years Frightfest shifted considerably to the films themselves and the flexibility of the programming. Discovery screens were four times larger in the new venue, meaning plenty of tickets were available, allowing choice to be free right up until screening times. There was queueing chaos on the first couple of days generated by a combination of untrained Vue staff struggling with an illogically slow booking system and the impatience of Frightfesters who insisted on booking eight tickets at a time through this painfully drawn out nonsense. Once the unecessary panic had died down though, it was a joy to be able to just walk up and grab a ticket at any time.
 
And the films. This Discovery screen flexibility allowed you to tailor your viewing and with some savvy choosing I ended up watching the strongest line-up I've ever sat through at Frightfest. I opted for seven Discovery screen films, missing out on main screen fare such as Shockwave Darkside, Stage Fright and I Survived A Zombie Holocaust, films that are presently receiving a critical mauling on message boards across the internet. In exchange I got gems like R100, The Canal, Wolfcop, Creep and The House At The End Of Time.
 
This year's selection also demonstrated that Horror is now a very broad church indeed, I watched a couple of sci-fi movies, a bizarro asian movie and two romantic comedies as well as all the usual blood, guts and hard edits accompanied by sudden squawks of sound. The quality was so high that putting together lists of the best and worst becomes problematic. There's too many for the best list and not enough for the worst (yeah, seriously). Which means this year's lists are presented with caveats, of the worst it's only really the bottom three that should be avoided the other two simply being my least preferred. My apologies to Alan Moore.
 
With the best on offer, there were four clear standouts but fifth place was tricky. It could easily be given to The Samurai, Housebound, The Harvest, R100 or Alleluia. All of these are highly recommendable but I eventually opted to give fifth place to a movie that made me spontaneously clap my hands with glee as the action unfolded onscreen. Here's the lists:
 
5 favourites;
1) Creep [Peachfuzz]
2) The Babadook
3) The Signal
4) The House At The End Of Time [La casa del fin de los tiempos]
5) V/H/S: Viral
 
5 not favourites;
1) Nymph [Mamula / Killer Mermaid]
2) Among The Living [Aux yeux des vivants]
3) The Green Inferno
4) Late Phases
5) Show Pieces
 
Thanks to Ed, Greg, Jim and Ali for melting their brains alongside me and thanks to all the organisers for keeping a firm hold on the ball. Next year? Yeah, reckon so.
 

The Signal


(Frightfest Day 5)
It's really good. Not telling you why though.
An excellent end to Frightfest.

Monday, 25 August 2014

V/H/S: Viral


(Frightfest Day 5)
Stretches the rules of Found Footage past their breaking point and the wraparound story gets lost in the fuzz and clatter of digital interference. However the three stories contained within are all fucking ace so who cares about the stupid rules.

Extraterrestrial


(Frightfest Day 5)
Plenty of whimsy, no aliens.

Nymph [Mamula / Killer Mermaid]


(Frightfest Day 5)
If I were to pick the worst area of disaster from the litany that comprise this shit, it would be the dialogue which sounds like it's been carved from oak and delivered with all the panache of somebody leaving a voicemail for a person they don't like.

Alleluia


(Frightfest Day 5)
From a director who usually suffocates his films in art house pretension it's refreshing to see a simple story elevated by art house pretension instead.

Home [At The Devil's Door]


(Frightfest Day 4)
The first two thirds present a brilliantly effective portrayal of the devil clawing his way into our world. The last third rolls out cliche with a damp squib ending.

The House At The End Of Time [La casa del fin de los tiempos]


(Frightfest Day 4)
A wonderful Rubiks Cube of a movie.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Samurai


(Frightfest Day 4)
A snarling bloke in a dress running around decapitating people with a samurai sword. What's not to like?

Among The Living [Aux yeux des vivants]


(Frightfest Day 4)
Repugnant brutality propped up by baffling stupidity. Shite.

Faults


(Frightfest Day 4)
Interesting character piece with an excellent central performance that swings into its third act a bit too sharply. No idea how they'll market this one.

Open Windows


(Frightfest Day 4)
I couldn't decide whether to applaud the slavish adherence to its high concept (a bloke pissing about on a laptop) whilst maintaining it's full throttle story, or to chastise such adherence for constantly pushing things into the ridiculous.

Creep [Peachfuzz]


(Frightfest Day 3)
Phenomenal piece that demonstrates just what can be achieved with little more than two men, a video camera and a wolf mask.
The only real down side here is how to keep bitching about found footage movies when gems like this keep getting dropped in my lap.

The Babadook


(Frightfest Day 3)
An excellent psychological horror further boosted by the fact that it consistently shit me up terribly. Superb.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Life After Beth


(Frightfest Day 3)
Zombie apocalypse viewed from a different angle makes for likeable fluff.

Show Pieces


(Frightfest Day 3)
Three short films that showcase Alan Moore's knack for normalising mystical abstracts. Unfortunately the amount of static heads yelling brilliant dialogue also shows that he's not used to writing for the screen.

Starry Eyes


(Frightfest Day 3)
Hollywood and Faust retellings go hand in hand, don't think I've seen one that descends into such goopy savagery though so applause all round.

The Harvest


(Frightfest Day 3)
I had a great time playing "Who's craziest, Samantha Morton or Michael Shannon?", it's kudos to both actor's performances that the call is close right up to the end of this excellent movie.

Wolfcop


(Frightfest Day 2)
Trashy as fuck.
King.

The Canal


(Frightfest Day 2)
A hackneyed plot is quickly eclipsed by effective scares that build to become repeated visceral jolts. My skin felt like it was 2 sizes too big by the end.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Housebound


(Frightfest Day 2)
A slippery plot keeps you guessing, great characters keep you captivated and throughout everything it's funny as fuck.

R100


(Frightfest Day 2)
Typically bonkers Japanese fare that defies interpretation but never ceases to entertain.

The Green Inferno


(Frightfest Day 2)
Eli Roth's return to the director's chair after a lengthy absence suggests that he should probably take another long break.

Late Phases


(Frightfest Day 2)
Lacks style, tension, likeable characters, decent creature effects, suspense and plot.

Zombeavers


(Frightfest Day 1)
Does not have high pretensions. Does have glove puppets. Did make me laugh.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For


(Frightfest Day 1)
A one trick pony given a second run-around to tell a series of interconnected stories that generally centre on defenestration and wet punching sounds.

The Guest


(Frightfest Day 1)
The You're Next team continue to explore Slasher Cinema from the most unlikely, yet curiously satisfying, of directions.

The New York Ripper [Lo squartatore di New York]

 
Jam packed with sleaze, violence and Donald Duck impressions, yet Fulci still manages to make it convoluted, long-winded and boring.
 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Expendables 3

 
Absolute atrocity that tries to resist such criticism by taking every opportunity to make you aware that it knows so as it inorexably descends into a collage of muzzle flash and grunting men making silly faces at each other.
 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

 
A two hour wait for the main character to catch up with the audience.
Fortunately this time round, I managed to stun Charlotte into silence with my ability to spot a plot twist from the first blatant signpost.
 

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Hunger Games

 
A light skim across the top of a larger story. It's ok though because Charlotte, who is presently addicted to all things Hunger Games, filled in all the gaps for me in breathless monologue. It's like watching a movie with a fucking audiobook version of Wikipedia rattling away in the background.
 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Antisocial

 
Likes to think its being clever by using social networking to spread a fairly standard, cannibalistic, insatiable blood-lust rage virus through a gormless pack of teens. The one area the film does excel at is 'stupidest place to put the final shot of the film' by opting to print it on the DVD itself.
 

Friday, 8 August 2014

Charlie's Angels

 
I remembered this as being pretty good. Turns out I remembered a pretty good 3 minute action sequence, forgetting the other 87 minutes of idiotic fluff. Charlotte liked it regardless.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The House Of Exorcism

 
Bava's Lisa And The Devil stripped down to its bare bones of sex, violence and Telly Savalas, with a half hour of additionally shot, expletive riddled possession footage crowbarred in to profit off the success of The Exorcist.
Now makes even less sense.
 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Guardians Of The Galaxy

 
Marvel have never feared change to revitalise and now bring this strength to their film franchise, opening up a far wider, richer universe. Director Gunn's deft weaving of character, nostalgia, humour and luscious colour means that this is also the closest so far a Marvel movie has got to being like a comic book. And the tree's fucking ace.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath


A film in the loosest sense, more a graphic novel crudely animated by cutting it up and sliding it about a bit under some fairly wooden voice acting for an hour and a half. A bit like watching storyboards for the most amazing animated movie you will never get to see.

Lisa And The Devil [Lisa e il diavolo]

 
Bava's love letter to gothic drama is a gorgeous delerium addled dream state that slowly descends into a series of gruesome deaths marshalled by a smirking Kojak.
King.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Shadow [L'ombra]

 
Tulpa director's first film is about a mountain biker with a wildly fluctuating accent who discovers that the Italian countryside is jam packed with psychotic sadists, all of whom also have wildly fluctuating accents.
Add in Tulpa guy licking the back of a toad and then tripping balls and it's clear that all of Zampaglione's hallmarks were in place way before he blessed the world with his second masterpiece.