Thursday, 1 September 2011

FrightFest 12 report

John and I had an amazing time at FrightFest in London last weekend even though we had to miss everything on Monday due to John being needed back at work. Still, we saw 15 out of 27 films – plus the short film showcase, so hey, not bad for our first time!

Here’s my report – incomplete and in no particular order:

FINAL DESTINATION 5 was our favourite of the weekend. Far and away the best of the franchise. Absolutely stunning disaster (suspension bridge collapse), wildly creative death scenes and probably the best 3D I've ever seen (and I'm not a fan of 3D at all). I'm sure the experience was enhanced by seeing it in a packed auditorium with people who cheered and applauded in all the right bits but I still recommend it as a sign that money and mainstream studios don't *always* screw things up. Also of note was the fact that our seats were way closer than I’d ever normally sit (2nd row, off to the right), but that actually seemed to enhance the 3D experience. It was almost like an IMAX film. We fully intend to see this one again in the cinema as soon as it’s out!

Lucky McKee's THE WOMAN was absolutely stunning. A beautifully brutal film but not for everyone. I'm not even sure how to recommend it. *I* loved it (if one can really love such a film) but a lot of folk said they didn't see the point and didn't know why they had to see it. Maybe they left before the ending??? I had no idea where it was going but I thought the ending was right and powerful. It was a standout for me and I have even more respect for Lucky, who seems incredibly shy and nervous but still has the conviction to make a searing film like this. He’s being called a misogynist and the film is apparently “degrading to women”. I despair of the human race sometimes.

FRIGHT NIGHT was just mediocre. David Tennant was fun but that's really it. Weird too that the 3D in this was really insubstantial compared to FD5. Come on, Disney! You have more money than anyone, so there’s really no excuse. This had one really great scene for me and one enjoyable cameo for fans of the original, but that was it. Plus – they made Peter Vincent a Vegas magician with a sexy vampire show (fair enough for a reboot/update) but then didn’t even exploit that! We only got about a minute of the Vegas show’s rehearsal. I still can’t believe they overlooked the chance to show lots of sexy vampire showgirl action. What a missed opportunity!

I also felt let down by del Toro's DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, which I had high hopes for. It deteriorated into a mess with silly creatures, stupidly loud "Boo!" moments with no payoff and loads of stupid people doing stupid things. A real shame.

TROLL HUNTER was a wildly entertaining low-budget creature feature from Norway. Scary and drily humorous in equal measures. Loved it!

SINT (Saint) - Dutch horror from Amsterdamned director Dick Maas. The "true" story of the evil St Nicholas (Sinterklaas) who was a bishop-turned-pirate and who returns whenever there's a full moon on 5 December to slaughter as many people as he can. This one was wildly entertaining and I hope it gets a Christmas release. It features an amazing sequence of an evil zombie St Nick racing across the rooftops of Amsterdam on horseback - fantastic!

THE WICKER TREE was an unexpected disappointment. Just not very good at all. And double sad for me as I was really looking forward to that one. 

KILL LIST was hyped way too much and as a result, couldn't measure up. Lots of people loved it but we thought it was very muddled and it felt thrown together. After an overlong first hour it does suddenly shift into very scary territory which might make it worth seeing just for that. If any of you do see it, don't read anything about it beforehand and you should probably avoid the trailer too, as I'm guessing it will contain spoilers.

Last of all, I loved THE INNKEEPERS although most people were disappointed in it. It does fizzle out at the end but it's nice to see a slow-burn atmospheric ghost story with some genuine scares and a likeable and quirky central character who doesn't do anything daft. I forgave it all its flaws.

My top 5:

Final Destination 5
The Woman
The Innkeepers
Panic Button
Tucker & Dale vs Evil

Another highlight for both of us was DEMONITRON, a trailer for a wacky (but alas, fake) Italian horror film:



We thought we'd be "filmed out" by the end of the weekend, but we're gluttons for - well, something - because last night we went to see Almodóvar's THE SKIN I LIVE IN. John called it "high class Eurotrash" and we both thought it was superb. Imagine an Argento/Cronenberg cocktail of Vertigo, Frankenstein and Eyes Without a Face and you've got a tiny taste of this elegantly deranged and perverse melodrama. But beware spoilers! The less you know going in, the better.

For both JLP and John Forth's reports on the films, see this RCMB thread.

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