“You’re scared already… Ain’t ya darling?”
Making his (hopefully) annual trip to the world renowned genre-film festival, Andrew Brooker takes a look at this year’s Horror Channel FrightFest lineup, revealing his plan for the five days in London’s Leicester Square over the August Bank Holiday.
Last year was my first at the country’s biggest and best horror genre festival. A bit of luck in timing and spare cash had me simply deciding on ticket release day that I’d nip down for a couple of days to have a butcher’s at this festival that I’ve always wanted to get myself to. You can read about everything I saw here, here and here.
I’m not going to lie, the fact that they had the UK premiere of Rob Zombie’s 31 was definitely a selling point for me.
After my three day jaunt down to Shepherd’s Bush, I vowed to make 2017 the year I hit every day of the festival. This time I’ll be a little more clued up on how The Dark Heart of Cinema works, and things like the (then alien idea of the) “Discovery Screens” now make sense. With such knowledge comes impossible choices; I’m looking at the recently released showtimes for the monstrous lineup of films and now I have to decide what I’m going to be watching. No easy feat, let me tell you. Especially when I try very hard to go in as blind as possible and let the films speak for themselves.
Opening night. Last year’s opening film – My Father Die – turned out to be one of my favourite films not just of the festival, but of 2016. I’ve been singing its praises for the last 12 months. This year has bigger expectations upon it, opening with the World premiere of Cult of Chucky, including visits from stars Jennifer Tilly and Fiona Dourif along with director Don Mancini. The upcoming supernatural slasher about a serial killer trapped in a child’s doll could solve all of my scheduling problems as I’m booted out unceremoniously from the rest of the festival for hugging the guests.
Following up will probably be a trip to the only Discovery Screen open on Thursday. While Redwood doesn’t look especially enthralling, it has the potential to be a bit of fun. And frankly, I have little interest in watching Adam Wingard’s Deathnote, produced by Netflix, on the biggest screen on Leicester Square – which will available to stream by the time I’m on the train home that night anyway. I’ll almost certainly nip back across the cinema to the main screen for Mickey Keating’s Psychopaths, which is an interesting sounding thriller about a selection of killers and psychos who find themselves going up against each other one insane, blood filled night.
Now. I really wanted to watch It Stains the Sand Red over the road in the Prince Charles Cinema’s Discovery Screen. But it would mean that I’m missing the intriguing Freehold. Described as a “jet black comedy… riff on the home invasion thriller”, I’ll probably jump in for this. Seeing as how I can rent It Stains… from US iTunes, I probably will watch it that way. However, I will be running across Leicester Square for Fashionista; the latest from Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word director Simon Rumley. I adored Johnny Frank Garrett… last year, so I’m willing to skip out on Sequence Break to see it.
Most of the rest of Friday will likely be spent in my little aisle seat in the main screen. Radius and 68 Kill are the epitome of why I fell in love with this Festival. I know nothing bar a quick synopsis, and there’s no trailer for either of them, but they could turn out to be awesome. We shall wait and see.
One of my biggest clashes comes on Friday though. The world premiere of Leatherface is going to be playing in the main screen at the same time British vampire comedy horror Fanged Up is premiering in the PCC’s Discovery Screens. Honestly, I don’t know what to do here. I am pumped for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel and the recently released trailer makes it look great. But I really don’t want to miss a British comedy horror, it could be a thing of beauty. A decision to make on the day, perhaps?
Either way, my evening ends with the UK premiere of Dead Shack, an undead horror comedy that looks bloody splutteringly brilliant.
More comedy begins the day with The Bar, a Spanish locked-room horror that looks like a tongue-in-cheek version of The Mist, just without the fog, or the monsters. Following up with Alone, I will almost certainly be missing Kevin Greutert (Saw VI/VII) directed Jackals to make a mad dash back to the Prince Charles for the European Premiere of documentary To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story. Possibly setting up for another moment I could be booted out for aggressive hugging, the legend himself will be there to introduce his film and although I’ve been a fan of Hodder for years, I’ve never had the chance to meet the guy.
I’m hoping the documentary finishes in time for yet another run (sorry, whoever is sitting next to me) back to the main screen for the batshit crazy looking Attack of the Adult Babies.
Ok, confession time. I’ve never seen Hatchet (or its sequels). Yes, I know, I just declared my undying love for Kane Hodder and I haven’t seen one of his most illustrious films. So perhaps a big screen showing of the 10th anniversary celebration is the place to rectify that.
I’ve heard a few people in the last week come back from FantasiaFest with nothing but good things to say for Saturday night’s closer. The millennial murdering Game of Death seems like the perfect way to finish the day.
When writing the synopsis for Killing Ground, someone compared it lovingly to Wolf Creek. Now, if ever there was a way to get me to go see your film, that’s one of the best. So I guess that’s how I open Sunday.
The day gets a little more complicated after that. I don’t really fancy claustrophobic zombie film The End?, I would much prefer to get over the the Discovery Screens for MindHack – a film I’ve already missed once on a previous day. But I won’t be back in time for the fun looking Double Date; a film that promises great things, especially if you’re up for women getting their own back on guys constantly hitting on them. Looks pretty bloody funny too. I’m not missing that.
However, I will miss Steven Yeun starring Mayhem to slip out to the other side of the Empire to watch the last screening of halloween-set slasher Ruin Me. This time, I’m missing a Q&A with Kane Hodder over at the PCC, so it best be good. At a crisp 87 minutes, I’ll have time to get back to the festival pass holders screen for the UK premiere of South Korean director Jung Byung-gil (Confessions of Murder) latest, The Villainess. Admittedly, looking 100% action/thriller, I’m not sure what brings it to the FrightFest table, but I’ve been excited about it for quite a while, I definitely won’t be complaining about ending Sunday here.
The final day for the Festival is the most stress free for me. Looking across the lists of films on both the main and Discovery screens leaves me not really fussed about anything on the list. I’ll probably plonk my arse in the main screen for the day and hope that something jumps out at me. Still/Born seems very run of the mill and derivative from its synopsis as a horror about a mum thinking demons are after the only surviving child of twins she was supposed to have. Lowlife could be fun and the one I’d put money on to surprise me for today.
Ok, so I’m being a bit glib. As a late addition to the lineup, Christmas themed home invasion horror Better Watch Out looks good and scary with its creepy ideas and tone. I’m hoping for good things. I’m not so confident about “based on true events”, Doug Jones starring revenge flick The Terror of Hallows Eve, but it has potential and I’m always willing to be convinced I’m wrong.
Closing out Monday, and the festival as a whole is Tragedy Girls. Described as “the freshest, funniest, most frightening slasher send-up since Scream” and starring Deadpool’s Brianna Hildebrand, this serial killer film (which seems to have mashed itself up with Mean Girls) wasn’t on my radar until I saw the synopsis the day the lineup was revealed. But it really is one I’m looking forward to seeing and I honestly trust everyone involved in the organising of the weekend to send us out on a high note.
And that’s all she wrote. Things will probably change as word of mouth of some of the films I’ve decided to skip rolls out. At least there’s no Special Secret Screening on the bill like there was last year (yet) that could see me missing what turned out to be the great The Girl With All The Gifts.
As per last year, I’ll be putting a diary together for each day that I’m hanging around on Leicester Square with my thoughts on what I saw and who I saw it with. Needless to say, with less than a month until the curtain goes up on this year’s genre juggernaut, I am insanely excited to get my pass, meet the people I’ll be spending the long weekend with instead of my family, and hopefully getting a good few films – 25 if my count is right – that I can add to my 365 films in 2017 challenge list watched too.