“They’re slipping away” – Paul McEvoy on Tobe Hooper
At a point where it appears that the quality of atmosphere and company is topping the overall quality of the horror films, it’s clear that while we are over the halfway point of this year’s FrightFest, it’s going to be a bit of a slog to the end for writer Andrew Brooker.
Ok, a quick note. I start these articles while I’m eating my breakfast and having my coffee. I get them started, write each film bit after I’ve seen it then tidy it up in the evening. I say this for a reason.
Today I fear will be a somber affair. We have all woken up today to the news that the legendary Tobe Hooper has died. The man behind so many classics (and not classics), and the man that brought us the recently prequeled Texas Chainsaw Massacre, has left the horror community with a gap that can’t ever be filled.
Without Hooper, horror would be a very different genre. Without Hooper, so many great filmmakers wouldn’t be making films we love. Without Hooper, I wouldn’t be spending my bank holiday weekend away from my family, with my horror-family, in London. I’ll get to films in a sec, but I do need to say this.
Thank you, Tobe Hooper. Thank you for all you inspired, all you made and all you did. We love you.
Let’s get on with this.
Killing Ground (English Premiere)
Fucking hell. This, friends, is how you start a day.
A doctor and his girlfriend head to the woods on the outskirts of a little Australian town where, unbeknownst to them, just a few days previously, a family was massacred by god-knows-who. Tension mounts up in the twisting timelines as all becomes clear and the happy campers, and the audience, can see what’s about to happen.
A truly dark and disturbing little tale, Killing Ground shares more than just a location with classics like Wolf Creek as it shows the blood and spirit of Mick Taylor is very much a part of our bad guys today. Much like its inspiration, this Aussie chiller danced back and forth across my, and a lot of others, lines.
As if the mood wasn’t low enough already, this really left a bleak feeling across the Horror Channel screen.
The End? (World Premiere)
Errr, ok. A French zombie film where you don’t see much of the zombies.
I mean, that’s a little unfair. But this one was a pretty blah affair after the last flick. A not-entirely-worth-rooting-for money man gets stuck when an elevator in his office building breaks down. It turns out that this is maybe the best thing that could have happened to him as the zombie apocalypse outbreaks, but he’s protected in his little metal box.
It tries very hard, some superb direction gives you a real claustrophobic feel, and a lovely spinning shot inside the box with the door only slightly open does up the tension a little. Sadly, apart from that, there’s not much you haven’t seen a million times before.
Double Date (English Premiere)
A proper British horror comedy seems perfect for the direction this year’s festival has been leaning, but I’m not sure anyone expected this to be as good as it turned out to be.
Preparing human sacrifices for a ritual to bring back their dead dad, sisters Kitty and Lulu need one more death to finish their ritual: a virgin…. but with a slight twist! Here, it’s the women that are doing the killing and a virgin bloke that they are looking for. Seems a good, logical choice to go for a ginger, huh?
And so hapless internet dater Jim becomes their next target and he’s bringing along his mate Alex who’s promised to get the man laid before his impending 30th birthday. And so begins the task of getting the clueless Jim and his even more clueless wingman home and dead.
Deliciously dark, brilliantly funny. This is one to catch as soon as you possibly can.
Ruin Me (World Premiere Encore)
One of a couple that I’ve been looking forward to today. This one has been getting a tremendous amount of buzz leading up to, and during, the festival. I was very glad I chose this over (the apparently very good) Mayhem.
Six people, stuck in the woods, on a horror movie experience when things go wrong and people actually start dying. Sounds pretty generic and run-of-the-mill, right? But once the story gets going and the film really starts to mess with the players (and you), it’s a refreshingly different take on the running around the woods sub-genre.
A rarity as far as films like this are concerned. An enjoyable eighty-something minute romp that surprisingly is yet to find distribution. I hope everyone gets to experience this one.
The Villainess (UK Premiere)
Another “not a horror” for today’s closer. But I don’t care.
I’ve been looking forward to The Villainess for ages; and as much as I’ve complained about the size of that IMAX screen, I couldn’t wait to see some South Korean revenge action on it.
A twisty-turny thriller from Confession of Murder director Jung Byung-gil, The Villainess stars Kim Ok-bin (of Thirst fame) as Sook-he, an assassin turned government agent, turned vengeance fuelled killer. After trying to break away from the life she’s known from a very early age and live like a normal person, she’s dragged kicking and screaming back into it.
A splendid Korean thriller bookended by terrifically fun, frenetic and brutally violent action sequences that would give Gareth Evans a run for his money.
Sadly, I’m at a point where crippling pain is setting into my knees and by the time the credits rolled on the final film of the day, I could barely walk – so no karaoke for me tonight. But it’s still totally worth it.
Tomorrow sees the festival come to a close and me go home. I’m starting to miss my bed, and my shower, and my own cooking. But I wouldn’t trade this for the world. Bring on Monday’s films.