“The legacy is all.”
There was no one in Leicester Square’s Empire cinema on Monday that wasn’t completely and utterly battered. Endless fidgeting from arse ache and leg cramps were just the beginning of a day that was guaranteed to leave most worse for wear. But Andrew Brooker and his FrightFest family persevered. And, of course, would all complain about it whenever there wasn’t a film on the screen on the final stretch of the five-day festival.
So yeah. It’s day five; the final day of what has in just a couple of years become my favourite part of the year. I’ve had such a blast with everyone here. It’s such a welcoming environment. Veterans and organisers all made me feel like I was part of the family from the get go. I’m sad to see it end, but if it doesn’t end, we can’t have another one, can we?
Five films to get through, and we’ve been promised a belter of a day.
Still/Born (European Premiere)
If the suburbs, new born kids, and play dates weren’t already your idea of horror, Still/Born has someone for you to meet.
A suburban family are left traumatised when one of their twins is stillborn. Worse, distraught mum Mary (Christie Burke) now thinks that a ghost is haunting her. Is it the spirit of her dead child? A demon trying to steal her baby? Or is it all in her mind?
The most commercial of the horror films we’ve seen this weekend. It wasn’t bad at all, but it was probably the one most likely to drag in the Saturday night date crowd.
Lowlife (European Premiere)
The best thing about today, as much as we’re promised a load of great films, I just don’t know anything about any of them. So Ryan Prows’s crime drama was a real surprise.
A Los Angeles crime story, Lowlife tells the intertwining tales of a hotel manager and her husband, a Mexican wrestler turned enforcer and his pregnant wife, and a local child pimp. As their stories all converge, the realisation that they are all connected dawns on all of them.
Another multiple story/timeline movie that I wasn’t expecting. This time around, it was actually a splendid caper that has you invested in every character in some way. Whether or not that investment was positive depends on the person. But it was a very good watch.
Better Watch Out (UK Premiere)
Now is one interested me. I knew less than nothing about Chris Peckover’s Better Watch Out when it was announced by the organisers like it was kind of a big deal. Being the cynic I am, I was a little dubious.
It is a Christmas themed home invasion movie that pits babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeJonge), her ward Luke (Levi Miller) and his friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould) against a mysterious stranger trying to get into the house. Creepy phone calls, sneaking around in the dark and people definitely being upstairs are all on the menu here.
Not as bland or boring as the premise makes it sound. Not by a long shot. A superb twist early on, and a dark and twisted tonal change, make this one of the most entertaining films of the weekend. Like a bloody Home Alone homage that earns its place as a top five film of the festival.
The Terror on Hallow’s Eve (World Premiere)
Now this is more like it. A 1980’s Halloween set creature film? Abso-fucking-lutely. Monster maker Timmy (Caleb Thomas) is the target of bullies because… of course he is. His pranks and his general demeanour kind of make him that way. But when he meets mythical monster The Trickster, he sees his opportunity to get his revenge on the assholes laying a beating on him.
Of course, it’s not as simple as that.
With a Wishmaster-like premise, and a make-up and special effects guy behind the camera, this fun little movie is worth a look just for the gorgeous effects, amazing creatures and Doug Jones doing what he does best in costume.
Tragedy Girls (UK Premiere)
What a way to close out the festival. Tyler MacIntyre’s Tragedy Girls was a splendid final memory to leave us with.
High school seniors Makayla (Alexandra Shipp) and Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) are best friends with a slight difference. These friends take pleasure in killing other people in the pursuit of Twitter followers. Kidnapping a local serial killer hoping to have him mentor them, the girls pursue their social media career with a deadly fervour.
What a film.
Imagine Scream meets Heathers with a modern day “I must be popular online” twist. The teenagers are completely out there. You love them, you love to hate them, but in the end, you just hate them. An outstanding film to end the weekend with.
And that’s all she wrote.
Another year, another FrightFest. Another week spent with some of the most fun, friendliest, most devoted people I’ve ever met. Despite what some regular cinema punters thought of us.
I’m truly sad it’s over, but I’ve made a load of new mates and plans are already in the works to be here and at Glasgow in 2018. I cannot wait. You can’t beat this atmosphere, you really can’t.