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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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