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FrightFest Day 3 August 28, 2007

Posted by Ian W in : Film Reviews, Horror, Rants & Raves , add a comment

Nothing exceptional today but no duds either. First up Cold Prey showed that a change of locale and some genuinely likable characters could breathe new life into the slasher film even if the end result felt a bit like Jason takes a holiday in Norway. Director Roar Uthang did a pretty good job although keeping the identity of the killer a secret was pretty pointless as anyone into this kind of film will know who it is by the end of the credits. He did a short Q&A after the film and told us the film had been a big hit in Norway and another horror film (not directed by him) was in production there.

Next came a new entry in the creepy kid sub-genre. Joshua brought back memories of Rosemary’s Baby and other films of that era, its slow burning atmosphere a nice change of pace from the usual fare. Vera Farmiga impressed as Joshua’s mum, who after giving birth to a second child, a little girl, goes a little nuts (with more than a little help from young Josh). Sam Rockwell as the father gets better as the film goes on, but the real star of the film is Jacob Kogan as the titular character. Playing the part with so little emotion can’t have been easy, particularly with the histrionics of the other actors but he never falters throughout. This wasn’t a film I was really looking forward to but I was pleasantly surprised.

Then it was time for Short Film Showcase. It started out ok with We’re Ready For You Now coming across like a short Tales of the Unexpected episode with added gore. Things went downhill with Dead@17 but picked up a little with the one joke The Dear Hunter. Best of the bunch though was Little Brats, which (sick as it may sound) made killing kids funny. Pig Tale brought them to a close with a decent idea hampered by the desire to spell everything out for the viewer.

If anyone was expecting something along the lines of Everett De Roche’s Long Weekend from Storm Warning they were in for a surprise. Although the build up could leave you to think that was what you were getting the over the top climax was something else altogether. Giving the audience the best set piece of the festival so far (that met with applause from the audience) this delivered a healthy helping of gore that acted as a nice warm-up for Wrong Turn 2.

The ketchup really started to fly with Joe Lynch’s sequel to Wrong Turn. This was the world premier of the film that’s going to be a straight to DVD release (they’d never get that much gore past the MPAA anyway) and the audience were suitably appreciative. This fit the bill perfectly for all the gore-hounds and the free can of Kirin beer before hand no doubt added to the audience’s enthusiasm. The cast all did a nice job but it was Henry Rollins that stole the film. Imagine Predator era Arnie taking on the Texas Chainsaw family and you’ll have some idea how much fun this was.

Lynch introduced the film and answered the crowd’s questions after. Tatantinoesque, the highly animated director was thrilled to be there and justifiably pleased with the reception his film got. He told us he set out to make a video nasty and if this had been released in the ‘80s this would doubtless have joined that infamous group of films. Lynch is without doubt a horror fan and I think we’ll be hearing a lot more of him in the future.

Prior to Wrong Turn we had the FrightFest quiz. I won’t tell you how many I got right but I will say it was in single figures (there were 20 questions).

That was my lot for the day as an early night was preferable to seeing Disturbia for a second time and the Ozzie comedy The Devil Dared Me To for the first. Tomorrow it’s Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door and Waz that are the pick of the bunch with the Uwe Boll double bill allowing a much needed break (the festival is an endurance test as it is without adding Boll).

FrightFest Day 2

Posted by Ian W in : Film Reviews, Horror, Rants & Raves , add a comment

Having skipped the Hatchet DVD commentary (not having seen the film before I didn’t fancy having someone talk all the way through the film) the day started with The Sword Bearer. It wasn’t the greatest start. A love story with characters you don’t like and don’t care about and a score so overblown you’d think it was an opera. You can get away without explaining a lot in genre films (The Signal that followed this is a case in point) but a guy with a fucking sword that shoots out of his arm isn’t one of them. Worst film of the festival so far.

Things picked up big time with The Signal, a film that owes more than a little to Romero’s Crazies but had enough originality to keep it fresh. I’m assuming the three directors each did one of the segments (or Transmissions as the film refers to them) and whichever one handled the middle section is the pick of the bunch. There’s a lovely streak of black humour running through it that’s mostly absent from the other parts. In fact one of the films main problems is its a little pretentious and has a climax that’s far too drawn out.

Next up 1408 based on a Stephen King short story. It’s well made, well acted but a little to over the top. It feels like they’ve thrown every possible scare tactic into the film, including that perennial favourite, bleeding walls. Still, Cusack is on good form and Sam Jackson steals the film (and delivers the best line) in what amounts to an extended cameo. This may have made more money than any other King adaptation but it’s far from the best. This was followed by a short Q&A with the director, Mikael Hafstrom.

I decided to skip Teeth (the last minute replacement for P2) because my bum needed a break (even with the cushion). I was back in time for All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. This was one of my most eagerly anticipated films of the festival and it didn’t disappoint. Reinventing the slasher sub-genre for an age that produces college spree killers this was Friday the 13th with brains. Well realised characters, incisive dialogue and visually impressive direction aren’t things you normally read in conjunction with a slasher film but they all apply to this must see movie. Amber Heard, who plays Mandy is destined for big things. Film of the day definitely and maybe film of the festival.

Giving Shrooms a miss in favour of sleep I headed home after Mandy Lane.

We also got our goodie bags today. I don’t know if they’re all the same but here’s a rundown of what was in mine –

Film 4 FrightFest Collectors Edition Program

A copy of GoreZone horror magazine

A copy of DVD World Magazine

A promo brochure for Neil Marshall’s Doomsday

A Horrorcide comic by Steve Niles

A small plastic sheep (with Black Sheep written on its back and blood round its mouth

A tub of 28 Weeks Later virus slime

A 28 Weeks Later lighter

A can of Kirin Japanese Beer

A Third Light – Iodine E.P CD

A Rasputin the Mad Monk DVD

A Samurai Commando Mission 1549 DVD

And another copy of the special FrightFest Edition of Bizarre magazine (we ll had one on our seats on day one)

Very nice indeed, particularly the Doomsday brochure (originally done for ComiCon) and the Samurai Commando DVD.

Day 3 stuff to look forward to - Cold Prey, Joshua, Storm Warning and Wrong Turn 2 plus the Short Film Showcase. I’ll be skipping Disturbia (already seen it) and The Devil Dared Me Too (looks a bit crap) in favour of an early night.

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