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15 Best Films I Saw At FrightFest

Top 10 Best Films Of Frightfest 2015

FrightFest 2015 is over. In my second year attending I saw 19 films over 5 days but since I left one screening halfway through and was sound asleep for another, I will be covering 17, the worst couple at the end. General festival highlights included literally brushing shoulders with Jonathan Ross (who had gone to the wrong screening), guest Danny Huston always looking on the verge of transforming into Satan, and Ian Softley being accused of sexism by a member of the audience much to everyone’s embarrassment. A lady sitting next to me was knitting throughout the movies. And on the way home one night I was called in to stop a mugging – not relevant but it was a first and blood was involved.

Starring: Ali Larter, Wilmer Calderon, Kurt Carley, Merrin Dungey
Director: Alistair Legrand

When a single mother (Larter, ‘Final Destination’) and her two young children are tormented by an increasingly strange and intense presence in their quiet suburban home, she turns to her scientist boyfriend to take on the violent forces that paranormal experts are too frightened to face… The central idea, and image (which I won’t spoil) of what these ‘ghosts’ are, is a creepy one. The problem is the rest of the movie is woefully underdeveloped. Screen time is dominated by the mom and her two kids and they’re not at all interesting. There are too many plot holes and illogical questions raised by events. And when the mother travels to the source of the apparitions there’s an opportunity for real creativity but what they come up with is frankly, pathetic.

14th – CURVE
Starring: Julianne Hough, Teddy Sears, Madalyn Horcher
Director: Iain Softley
Top 10 Best Films Of Frightfest 2015

A young woman (Julianne Hough, ‘Footloose’) becomes trapped in her upturned car at the bottom of a ravine after a dangerous hitchhiker (Teddy Sears, TV’s ‘The Flash’) forces her to drive off a hillside. As she struggles to survive over the coming days, she is tormented by the frequent returns of the sadistic hitchhiker, who wants to ensure she dies in her car. From Iain Softley, veteran director of ‘Skeleton Key’ and ‘Backbeat’. This is 30 minutes of ‘The Hitcher’-lite before becoming a one-location thriller for most of the rest. Hough is fully committed (she spent most of the outdoor shoot upside down) and Sears does his best but he’s given a underdeveloped villain (birthday party, why?) with insufficient motivational backstory. The highlight is his line of dialogue during their first drive, intended to change the mood from friendly to sinister – it made the cinema roar with laughter.

Starring: Pollyanna McIntosh, Alex Essoe, Pat Healy, Adam Green
Directors: Darren Lynn Bousman, Lucky McKee, Neil Marshall & More

Anthology from ten directors featuring stories set in an American suburb on Halloween. Ghouls, imps, aliens and axe murderers appear for one night to terrorise the unsuspecting residents… Here are ten short films that never seem to be working together as a coherent whole. The first (‘Sweet Tooth’), middle (Axelle Carolyn’s ‘Grimm Grinning Ghost’) and last (Neil Marshall’s killer pumpkin) are reasonably effective but most of the rest aren’t worthy of the big screen. There’s no wraparound story and even some repetition of the same ideas (little devil boy and little troll boy?). There is an impressive anthology movie on this countdown, but this isn’t it.

Starring: Ronen Rubinstein, Sierra McCormick, Grace Phipps
Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer

A bullied teenager is sent to a new-age reform center in the hills. When he starts to be picked on again he unwittingly summons the deadly spirit of a girl who died under similar circumstances. She takes vengeance on his tormentors, before turning her anger on everyone… Although he does fine in the role, the lead casting is ridiculous – he’s meant to be a bullied goth teenager but instead looks 30, has model features and is gym-toned muscular. The tormented ghost looks more the part but by the end she comes off as quite whiny and more annoying than frightening. There are actually too many kill scenes – you’ll never see so much self-harm and fatal wrist slitting, which makes it a grim watch. Having said that, the central premise and kill method is a good one for a slasher (harming herself causes the injuries on her victims) and it’s done well enough.

11th – STUNG
Starring: Matt O’Leary, Jessica Cook, Lance Henriksen, Clifton Collins Jr.
Director: Benni Diez

For two catering staffers, Mrs. Perch’s fancy garden party at her remote country villa is nothing out of the ordinary. Until a mishap with toxic plant fertiliser leads to the most unwelcome of dinner guests: large killer wasps… If you can get past the wasp premise (which includes stung victims having human-sized wasps hatch out of them within a minute) then this is a smart, fun creature feature. The catering-for-old-timers-at-a-country-house setting feels unique, the lead (Matt O’Leary, ‘Time Lapse’, ‘Brick’) is likeable, the humour quite well done, the mostly-practical gory fx are good and the pacing of the first hour is strong. Unfortunately it starts to sag after the wonderful Lance Henrikson (‘Aliens’) exits, and the wasps get more cgi-y as daytime rolls around.

BEST OF FRIGHTFEST 2015 (10th Place) >

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  • dnwilliams said

    Really want to see TURBO KID.

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  • gd smith said

    I like We Are Still Here. Good Soundtrack, some nice effects and my childhood crush Barbra Compton looking good in a Helen Mirren sort of way. Also Lucio Fulci didn’t have loads of bad points. He made awesome movies, Manhattan Baby, New York Ripper, The Beyond, House by the Cemetery all had bags of style, great cinematography, gore o plenty and great set pieces. He was up there with Bava, James Whale, John Carpenter and William Friedkin as far as I’m concerned. Also James Wan owes a very obvious debt. RIP Wes Craven and Roddy Piper.

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  • Onion said

    First of all, thanks for checking all of this out for us, and even getting some off-screen blood on yourself in the process, which I’m sure wasn’t as amusing as the on-screen kind.
    Well some of the movies sound like another 90 minutes of sleep would have been more worth your while, some seem very intriguing. Your reviews – or previews – certainly make me curious to find out about all of them.
    Some Kind of Hate strongly reminds me of the mother of all teenage ghost horror, the Wishing Stairs / Voice / Memento Mori trilogy from – where else – Japan. It’s usually an all girls affair, so let’s see how this really quite awkward male character pulls it off.
    I only knew Sarah Bolger from the Tudors ages ago and had to look up even that, but I remembered her striking doll’s face straight away and I’m looking forward to seeing her as a bad girl.
    Demonic seems like a mashup of so many movies of that kind you’ve seen before, from Grave Encounters to Sinister, you name it. It’ll be a pleasant surprise if there really will be any truly new ring to it.
    And Jeruzalem gives you those totally archaic monsters, so ancient and solemn it’s already refreshing.
    There is some seriously mature cheese around in my opinion as well and I usually need someone to persuade me into watching before I can savour it – but with a knitting lady by my side I’ll give even Deathgasm a chance!

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    • Sheridan Passell said
      Sheridan Passell

      Thanks for the feedback Onion, hope you’re well wherever you are, let’s say Germany. Yes Sarah Bolger is great in that role, although she should not babysit again and she is upstaged by a hamster. Fair warning, I liked Demonic more than pretty much anyone else, but I’m ok with that. It’s not fantastic or essential but more competent than it’s given credit for. I can’t imagine you wouldn’t enjoy Deathgasm, but it definitely puts laughs ahead of any frights, it’s Evil Dead 2 for metalheads. The things I enjoyed most about Jeruzalem were the sense of place and the way it utilised Google Glass, it’s no classic but has enough original elements going on to recommend.

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