Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Frightfest 2015 Reflection

Frightfest comes of age in its sixteenth year and I mean this quite literally. Year on year the festival becomes slicker and slicker allowing it to stand shoulder to shoulder with any other major film festival. The pay off for this maturity, though, is the party atmosphere that always suffused the screenings of old has moved elsewhere, and if you're a curmudgeonly, antisocial misanthrope who really doesn't want to 'banter' in the 'bar area' then it's now pretty much altogether absent.
The cinema screens are now solely the domain of the films themselves, there was no surprise announcements,no surpise giveaways, no sneak previews (A Soska sisters video intro appeared at one point and then they showed us a trailer. Thanks ladies) and very few short films (I saw 3, none of which were up to much). The only pre-film viewing to be had was the various skilfully edited advertising montages for Film4, The Horror Channel and Arrow, all of which preach to the converted. At least they varied them this time so I didn't get 24 of the same nailed into my brain. But then I never came to Frightfest for the bonus bits, they were just a bonus, and if I really wanted this stuff I understand that it's mostly been tucked away in the Duke Mitchell Party which takes place in one of the Discovery screens on a Saturday night, but y'know... curmudgeonly, antisocial misanthrope, so fuck that.
The main films once more cycled through the main screens in groups of three and a vast majority had QnA sessions afterward with people involved in the making of the film. These sessions tended to be more vibrant and illuminating if you got the film makers on their first screening and felt a bit 'going through the motions' if you got them on their third, which is to be expected. Of course if a film was the last of the night there was no QnA, and some directors managed to dodge a bullet because of this (I'm looking at you Some Kind Of Hate).
The Discovery screens only showed their films once this year, which meant more commitment if you really wanted to see one. It also meant that there was more choice than ever if a Main screen pick didn't tickle your fancy. And it was worth diving in, I saw eight on the Discovery screens - three of which are in my Fest top 5. Of the main screen films I missed, only A Christmas Horror Story is getting universal praise out there so I guess I'll be watching that at Christmas instead.
In years gone by themes have tended to present themselves that illustrate the modern horror landscape. This year the prevalent theme appeared to be constantly screaming and banging on doors. In some films it was the protagonists, in some it was the antagonists and sometimes it was both (Hi Summer Camp). Don't get me wrong, screaming and banging on doors is a staple of horror and I expect to see it a lot, but it's not scary or disturbing, just irritating,and it'd be nice if film makers began thinking a little bit outside the box or at least paid a bit more attention to their scripts and sound design.
Which sounds like I'm griping and I'm not. Overall the films were a blast and even the shit ones were a joy to see projected on a big screen (with only the one exception). Like last year I struggled with a top 5 and because I didn't want anything to be left out I caved and did 10 instead. So, lists:
10 Favourites;
1) Night Fare
2) They Look Like People
3) Over Your Dead Body
4) Aaaaaaaah!
6) We Are Still Here
7) Bait [The Taking]
8) Turbo Kid
9) Tales Of Halloween
10) Rabid Dogs
5 Not Favourites
1) Some Kind Of Hate
2) Cherry Tree
3) Inner Demon
4) Stung
5) The Entity [La Entitad]
My thanks to this year's Frightfest companions Ed, Ali, Jim and Greg as well as all the lovely folk I engaged in unecessary conversation to kill time before a film started. Thanks also to the organisers for maintaining such an impressive event. Twelve months to go till the next one...


  1. Thanks to all for the great company on another very enjoyable 5 days in the dark zone. I'll stick to fives:

    Fab 5:

    1 - Over Your Dead Body
    2 - Night Fare
    3 - They Look Like People
    4 - We Are Still Here
    5 - Sun Choke

    With honorable mentions to Jurazelem and Slumlord.

    Fail 5:

    1 - Some Kind of Hate
    2 - The Entity
    3 - Stung
    4 - Shut In
    5 - Cherry Tree

  2. Seems like I missed a couple of good films on the Monday then. Anyway, great sharing another FF with you guys. Surprising amount of agreement about the films this year.

    I'll keep to 5 too. Far too many mediocre ones to choose a 6-10...


    1 - They Look Like Poeple
    2 - Over Your Dead Body
    3 - We Are Still Here
    4 - Deathgasm
    5 - Slumlord

    Turbo Kid just missed out on a top spot, and an honorable mention to the non-horror Rabid Dogs.

    Readers Wives:

    1 - The Entity
    2 - Stung
    3 - Some Kind of Hate
    4 - The Cherry Tree
    5 - Inner Demon