Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Frightfest 2017: Day One

Frightfest is the UK’s leading horror and genre film festival. It features of wealth of films that encompasses several different genres and the organisers work hard to highlight the lesser known films that would have otherwise flown under the radar. Despite the room being filled up with gore hounds who like watching people’s heads blow up we are all very nice people and that, coupled with easy access to directors and actors, makes Frightfest one of the best film festivals in the country.

This the year the festival excelled itself with mountains of great films, some of which I have yet to  see (Cold Hell, Ruin Me) and some I will be revisiting (Our Evil). We had some stunners, Better Watch Out is impossible to talk about because the only way to get a 5 star experience is to go in knowing nothing at all, Tragedy Girls is like Clueless meets Scream, and Killing Ground just continues the growing trend of outright brutal Australian horrors films.

Yeah there have been some disappointing films and one film that everyone seemed to hate (Psychopaths) but the festival was full to the brim with outstanding films from veterans of the genre to the newbiest newbie. The festival may have slid a little too much toward comedy-horror, but it was an outstanding festival. Also, as a treat, we got world exclusive footage of 2018’s biggest horror movie, The Nun.
Cult of Chucky
Frightfest started off with a World Premiere of Cult of Chucky, a massive cult favorite among horror fans. This episode of Chucky endeavors sees Nica Pearce (Fiona Dourif) erroneously convinced that she committed the brutal murders of her entire family. However, when the good guy doll arrives in the mental institution the murders begin to stack up one again.

Unlike most horror films, the Chucky franchise actually sees the doll do something rather than creepily turn its head whenever the doll is off screen (as is in the case of Annabelle). Chucky is, of course, the main selling point and his brutal murders and hilarious quips make him a damn enjoyable villain to watch. However, that really epitomizes the entirety of the Chucky franchise that outside its titular character there isn’t much there.

With Cult of Chucky there is very little outside the quips and gory killings at the hands of Chucky (sometimes multiple Chuckys) the doll, with exception of Fiona Dourif whose straight performance jars amusingly with the overall silly tone of the film. Also impressive is Adam Hurtig who channels Jessie Eisenberg’s impression of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network perfectly. The film’s plot perhaps pay too much lip service to fans (leaving non-fans a little cold) with returning characters joining the fray, but it’s a perfectly fun way to start the horror film festival.


Death Note
Adam Wingard status as an up and coming director has reached its highest point as he is now helming his biggest project to date, an American remake/reimagining/readaptation/whatever of Death Note, a Japanese Anime (and Live action) film series. It’s almost ironic that Wingard’s biggest project is intended to be for the smaller screen as the Death Note film is being produced by Netflix.

Set in Seattle, Light Turner (Nat Wolff) stumbles upon this book that gives him the power to kill anyone he wishes in any way he desires (within reason of course, somebody can’t die from a shark attack whilst sitting on the toilet). Adopting the name Kira, he and his morbid girlfriend (Margaret Qualley) become a major vigilante force celebrated by some, and hunted by others. However, after the sense of justice and enjoyment at wielding such power, the ownership of the book becomes a massive burden as the demon (Willem Defoe) summoned from the pages of the book isn’t to be trusted. 

From start to finish Adam Wingard’s Death Note rampages through the film’s plot without as much as a backward glance. The film doesn’t feel like 100 odd minutes because the pace moves at such a breakneck speed that the film is over just as soon as in began. Whilst it does create one or two issues (the debate between revenge and justice is only touched upon and the conciseness of the film does get the audience questioning the story’s logic) the film blasts through the plot so quickly that there is little time to be bored or ponder any questions until the film is finished.


At the start of the film’s final act, the narrator apologies for the ambiguous story in the film. Perhaps if the narrator had called the story “shallow, boring, self-indulgent, tedious, frustrating, and disappointing” it would be closer to the mark. Judging by the high number of walkouts Frightfesters couldn’t be bothered with an incomprehensible film in the early hours of the morning evidently proving that the film’s time slot is more to blame than the film itself.

The film is about a group of psychopaths who cause a night of chaos in LA following a curse placed upon the world by a soon to be executed serial killer. The film sort of acts as an loosely connected anthology series, but instead of a story being followed by another the film edits all the psychopaths’ stories into one continuous story. The film is such an abstruse mess that there’s no way of knowing that the film was inspired by the cult of Charles Manson (the film is too incomprehensible for it to be possible to to figure that out) and the film is even worse upon finding that out (do we really need another crap Charlie Manson inspired film?).

The film often has characters talking to the camera as though the Mickey Keating is under the impression he is making some profound European art film from the middle of the 20th century. Ingmar Bergman this is not, but it’s not totally without merit as the use of colour is interesting and Ashely Bell’s performance (as one of the psychopaths) is decent. The film can also be labelled stylish, but I struggle to see how constant slow motion panning shots can be seen as stylish as they are drag if anything.


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