Now in its 15th year, Film4 FrightFest is one of, if not the biggest and best horror and fantasy film festival in the world.
This year’s event takes place at London’s Vue cinema complex in Leicester Square, runs from Thursday 27th to Monday 31st August, and will be showing 74 exclusive features and re-mastered genre classics across nine screens – many of them attended by both directors and actors. Full details can be found at www.frightfest.co.uk.
Here’s the ten films we recommend to scare yourself into changing knickers.
**Some Kind Of Hate **If there’s one film at FrightFest made for a Metal Hammer audience, this is it. The simple yet effective plot sees a bullied Californian metalhead, who after battering one of his aggressors, winds up in a weird reform programme. When bullied just as badly at the retreat, he inadvertently unleashes the spirit of a female suicide victim driven to her death by bullies – who proceeds to unleash blood-spilling, supernatural havoc on the teen’s persecutors. For his big screen debut, director Adam Egypt Mortimer has unleashed a new breed of slasher flick, one that’s as chilling as it is gory and fun.
The Lesson Violent school kids, although this time British, also form the basis of writer/director Ruth Platt’s first feature. When two thuggish teen wasters piss off somebody one time too many, said individual decides to teach them a lesson they will never forget – both academically and brutally. The unflinching intensity of what follows will see your morals well and truly challenged. While it may not sound it, ultimately, this is a grim, dark, harsh coming of age love story, with a wholly unexpected sting in the tale. Yes the violence is hardcore, but it’s saved from being gratuitous through Platt’s intelligent script and execution.
Wind Walkers A group of friends hit the Everglades swamplands on an annual hunting trip, only to have the tables turned when they become the prey of something that is initially intangible – and exceptionally vicious. Director Russell Friedenberg unfolds events with great ambiguity, never altogether revealing if what’s happening is the bloodlust work of a hallucinating war vet, or a supernatural entity. It’s a tactic further amplified by clips of radio broadcasts that imply something hideous and unstoppable is wreaking global havoc, something connected to the horror at hand? The end result a compelling terror trip – in every sense of the word.
**Awaiting **A troubled father living in the backwoods of North Yorkshire preys on unsuspecting motorists. Thinking daddy’s simply being a Good Samaritan, his daughter befriends the latest of his captured victims. It’s an act that sees the lives of the trio spin completely out of control, in a battle of wits that descends into a maelstrom of tension-packed überviolence – with some truly grisly surprises. Writer/director Mark Murphy has created a menacing depiction of how extreme emotional trauma can turn someone psychotic, and the effect this has everyone they have contact with. Expect to have your senses gnawed into oblivion.
Howl When the last train of the night out of London hits something on the tracks, its staff and passengers find themselves stranded in the middle of a forest. Having decided to walk to the nearest town, they soon discover something deadly lurks outside. Retreating to the claustrophobic confines of the carriages, the terrified bunch immediately come under attack from their unseen assailant(s); which prompts a fight for survival – by any means necessary. Far removed from his 2012 brutal thriller The Seasoning House, director Brit Paul Hyett delivers a gloriously vicious fright-ride that’s the best British werewolf flick since Dog Soldiers.
Pod In what is only his sophomore feature, writer/director Mickey Keating hits the ground running with this creature feature about two siblings who head out to the family’s cabin in the woods to stage an intervention with their mentally unstable brother. Bro babbles incessantly about a government conspiracy, and an alien pod he has locked in the basement – both of which are a threat to his life. As the interventionists attempt to decipher fact from fiction, they find themselves in a situation that’s a mental mix of The X-Files and The Twilight Zone. It’s a compelling slice of suspense-steeped sci-fi horror.
Bite A slow start shows nothing more than a bride-to-be getting drunk with her buddies and having a fling with a young lothario, before suffering a seemingly harmless insect bite. However, once home, said individual becomes guilt-ridden about what transpired, and worse still, she starts exhibiting strange behaviour. With her senses heightened beyond comprehension, she also starts undergoing insectile transformation, and starts building a hive for her offspring-to-be. Which is where the über-icky factor kicks in big time, and director Chad Archibald channels David The Fly Cronenberg’s body horror filmmaking style to the max – in all its slimy, shocking, head-screwing glory.
Hangman While once many moviegoers most hated genre (because most of them were utter crap) in recent years, found footage flicks have undergone a much-improved renaissance, as is proved to nightmare-inducing degrees here. When an American family returns home from vacation, they discover that an uninvited guest had been holed-up there during their absence. What they don’t know is that he’s hiding out in the attic, is monitoring their every move with surveillance cameras, and about to turn their lives upside down. This is undoubtedly director Adam Mason, and his long-term writing partner Simon Boyes’ most accessible, yet terrifyingly disturbing outing to date.
Curtain Brace yourself for some seriously weird, whacked out horror. An emotionally drained young woman moves into a New York apartment where, unbeknownst to her, the previous tenant had mysteriously topped himself. Something else she’s unaware of is the fact that her bathroom houses an inter-dimensional portal with an appetite for shower curtains. Employing the help of her anti-whaling work colleague, they investigate the phenomena. It’s a trail that unearths a whole host of otherworldly hideousness. Only director Jaron Henrie-McCrea second feature, it’s a strikingly directed slice of eccentric terror.
Never Let Go Taking a break from the zombie genre that made a name for him (and his brother Jon), writer/director Howard J. Ford’s latest doesn’t deal with living dead monsters, but real life, human trafficking ones. In it, a former FBI agent, now single mom is on holiday trying to deal with emotional turmoil, when her daughter is kidnapped. The incident triggers a relentless chase through Morocco, as the vengeful, and now murder-branded mom attempts to rescue her child. Featuring more twists and turns than a bowl of spaghetti, this plays like Taken racked up to 11, with additional gore and suspense.