Friday, 1 September 2017

Frightfest 2017: Day 3

Day 3 includes a local vampire feast, a chilly thriller and the most bloody game ever. 

Mountain Fever
I was wandering around Leicester Square (where the festival is taking place) and saw a man trying to get people to pick up some last minute tickets for his film. I stopped him and asked what film he made and at that moment I was too British to say I wasn't going to see his film so I got tickets for the film. The film is Mountain Fever and its set in a world where the planet has been decimated by a virus. Groups of survivors, including Englishman Jack (Tom Miller), set shop in the Alps. Jack is holed up in his parents’ house and he is eventually joined by Kara (Anya Korzun) who harbours a dark secret which puts both lives in danger.

The difficult terrain made the length of time from the start of filming to the release of film to be a little on the long side, but it shows confidence in one’s abilities to attempt to make such a film where the terrain could prove to a hinderance. What I really liked about the film was the dynamic between Jack and Kara. Jack is rather clueless, his decision making is rash and badly timed whilst Kara seems more measured. What’s good is that the film doesn't take the predictable route regarding their relationship and plenty of tension is generated when one tries to predict Jack or Kara’s next move. What is also impressive is the focus on the freezing temperatures, it’s so well done that you almost feel chilly yourself (either that or the air con was on full blast). It’s a chilling film, and this chill factor is made worse the howling of the wind (thanks to the film's great sound design) and utter collapse of humanity and trust.


Like Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets, Alone is adapted from a highly successful French/Belgium comic strip.  In a city of France, five kids wake up to find the city totally empty to all signs of life. Where has everyone gone? The five survivors try to find out.

The 28 Days Later inspired images of empty cities look impressive and unearthly, to see such a hive of activity reduced to a ghost town is certainly a creepy sight to see and it makes for a strong start. Whilst nothing happens that is a massive surprising the film is carried admirably by the young cast who make the film highly watchable and engaging. The film is intended to be the first part of a trilogy and I am keen to see more.


The film purports to be from ‘visionary director if Saw VI and Saw 3D' which is hardly a ringing endorsement. My snobbishness was to make me look stupid as I soon found out the director, Kevin Greutert, also made Jessabelle which I liked very much. Anyway, a family of five (and a cult deprogrammer) kindap the youngest son and try to turn him away from the cult that has brainwashed him against his own family.

Every year at Frightfest there is a standard mainstream like horror film, two years ago it was Demonic, last year is was perhaps The House on Willow Street and this year it is Jackals. Which is kinda good, with the exception of Letherface there hasn’t really been much outright horror up until now. That said, it’s a shame then that the film really doesn’t go far beyond is genericness. It’s perfectly fine, and an enjoyable watch for the most part but it’s about as disposable as horror films come as there’s nothing worth remembering. 


Where the Skin Lies
Six strangers reunite a year following a deadly robbery attempt. Bizarrely they all seem to have gotten a similar tattoo, each inscribed with a number 6. Things started to get even stranger when leaving the house becomes impossible and numbers of the tattoos appear to change.

In terms of filmmaking quality, Where the Skin Lies lies nearer the bottom of the table. It’s lacking a certain sleekness and quality to it that gives the other films at Frightfest, even though I disliked them more, an essence of being better quality. Most of all the film is let down by the dialogue (some of which was apparently improvised) and some so-so performances. The poor dialogue is perhaps the biggest problem because it’s so clunky that it is difficult to believe that real human beings would actually say the words they are saying (plus a couple of characters are insufferable). Still, I liked the idea, I liked the passion that went into the project and the cast and crew seemed genuinely nice people, I just wished the film was that little bit better.


Eat Local
Empire magazine in all its infinite wisdom decided to give Jason Flemyng’s directional debut a one star review. Now, I don’t normally care what Empire gives a film because I don’t respect the magazine enough to care about anything it says beacuse they don’t care about anything outside the mainstream and the podcast presenters pander to whatever is popular at the current moment. Anyway to see a one star review for a film that everyone in the auidence seemed to have a riot with just seems to show critics are out of touch when it comes to general audience and comedy. 

Once every 50 years a coven (it is a coven right?) of vampires all meet for something of which I’m not entirely sure. Venessa (Eve Myles) has found a human (played by Billy Cook) who apparently has something the vampires want (again not entirely sure what this is) and this must be harvested before dawn breaks otherwise they all will perish (for some reason). Meanwhile, outside several squads of armed forces a ready to storm the house.

As you could perhaps tell from my little sarcastic comments that the film’s plot isn’t its strong point. However, the film is massively saved by the highly talented cast of British stars each of whom all have a glorious moment of their own. Relative newcomer Billy Cook makes a likeable screen presence as Sebastian and he does a remarkable job not be out performed by the best British talent TV has to offer. Eat Locals’ comedy is certainly more broad than smart or witty but either way it’s endless fun and the crowd loved it.


Game of Death
Game of Death is the most gorey version Jumanji you are every likely to see as a group of teenagers play a game that forces them to kill 24 people or they will be killed themselves.

Game of Death is 73 minutes long and in those 73 minutes there is perhaps enough blood and guts to fit easily with a film twice its length. Aside from the iffy opening, Game of Death is a brisk, highly stylish (the film brilliantly incorporates graphics from older games) thriller that is a mix between Jumanji and Natural Born Killers. At 73 minutes the film has no chance to build any depth to its idea but it’s so short and bloody (the power of the exploding heads makes Cronenberg’s Scanners look tame) it’s easy to push that aside.


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