Tag Archives: Cineworld

FrightFest 2014 Diary – Part 2: What was seen and worth seeing

By Mike Shawcross (@Shawky1969)

Cast and Crew of The CanelFor me, this was a quality year. However, I get the impression I actually missed the poorer films either by good discovery screen choices, buying extra main screen tickets or by doing something else; like interviewing Jessica Cameron and Ryan Kiser for their film Truth or Dare [keep an eye out for that interview and review on the site soon]. Or you could just get caught up with talking all things Sinister and its sequel with the writer of the film, C. Robert Cargill. In past years for me it was always about the films. This year, I really wasn’t bothered if I missed the odd one here and there. I even skipped Sin City: A Dame to Kill For to go and see The Congress at Cineworld as it wasn’t showing in Manchester; and after seeing Sin City 2 last night, I was glad I did!

I’m not glazing over the films here – and we do intend to post more detailed reviews over the coming days – there are just far too many films to cover and do them and the festival justice.

The Guest was a superb opening film, one I thoroughly enjoyed. Possibly one of the best opening films I’ve seen. The closing film, The Signal, was one I wasn’t really feeling and instead went to the Phoenix bar for the party. General consensus was while it was a good film, it shouldn’t have closed the festival.

I do like a good horror comedy as they usually work very well with this audience: Zombeavers, WolfCop, Dead Snow 2 and Life After Beth. Both Zombeavers and WolfCop had their share of funny moments, but I felt both were just not funny enough. In fact, I was really quite disappointed with WolfCop in the end. Dead Snow 2 however was the funniest thing I saw. Packed with laugh out moments, this was when the festival vibe got me. The Arrow screen audience responded superbly to the film with big laughs, cheers and applause; that’s the Frightfest way! This was my 2nd favourite film of the weekend. Life After Beth had a superb cast was extremely well written and very funny at times, another festival favourite of mine.

Werewolves seemed to be one of the themes this year, with Late Phases, WolfCop and Blood Moon. I missed Blood Moon and never really heard too much about it, while Late Phases I saw and really enjoyed this. A blind vet takes on a werewolf to revenge the death of his dog – brilliant fun!

Honeymoon was a decent start to Friday. Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway carried the film quite well. Julia was a rape/revenge film taking its inspiration from Asian revenge films with overtones of Drive thrown in as well. Great soundtrack for this one, and one I liked very much. The Canal, another strong film, follows Rupert Evans as his character’s life and mind start to fall apart after his wife goes missing. Calum Heath, who plays Evan’s son, was superb.

Another disappoint for me was The Babadook. While Essie Davis gives possibly the finest female performance of the festival, the film wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t get “this year’s Sinister“, which is what it’s marketed like; actually it’s much more like The Canal. I really need to see it again.

Films I would have liked to have seen but ended up missing were Digging up the Marrow, Housebound, Deadly Virtues, Blood Moon, and The Drownsman, though I’ve not seen or heard anyone talk about that one. There was also R100 (which is actually repeated on Film4 on the 3rd September), Exists and Bad Milo. I know it sounds wrong to some but many people really enjoyed the musical Stage Fright; I do like musicals!

Truth or Dare was the nastiest piece of work I saw and I fully enjoyed it for that reason. Jessica Cameron is one sick woman! However, she popped my interview cherry and I thank her for that; a superb guest all weekend; so full of energy and all things horror! I get the impression she really enjoyed FrightFest!

Starry Eyes felt like a disappointment after it ended but it’s gotten better the more I think about it – not much, but it was good. The Harvest had a tremendous cast in Shannon, Morton and Fonda, Morton was brilliant, another of my favourites. Among the Living was one I was looking forward to and one which didn’t disappoint me. It had touches of Spielberg and King but with a French horror twist and a decent score.

Open Windows and Faults were big surprises for me, especially Faults. A dark comedy with Leland Orser and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in top form , as Orser tries to save Winstead from the cult ‘Faults’ which has her in its grip, another strong film. Open Windows, whilst a lot of fun, possibly may not hold up to repeat viewings. But Elijah Wood continues to make interesting film choices and Sasha Grey does a decent job in this one.

Now before my number 1 film, another that I had high hopes for was V/H/S: Viral. While better than V/H/S, it wasn’t as good as the sequel. My main problem was the wrap around story which didn’t seem to link the main films or have any connection with them at all. Plus, it was near enough impossible to work out was going on. The 3 main segments I did like, but in the end it could have just been a Creepshow film. I should have just seen the short film Showcase instead!

My favourite film of the weekend was The House at the End of Time, a horror film from Venezuela – the first one – and wow! What a film; and one of the jumpiest films at the festival! From the cast, which includes Ruddy Rodriguez (a former Miss Venezuela) to the kids who were both very good, to the sound design (which was incredible) and the very well told, very clever story. Outstanding!

The Duke Mitchell film club brought along a film, Coherence, which many people really enjoyed and one I will be looking out for. They also did a Film Party after it, where many of the guest directors, producers and even actors brought a little something to share with the crowd. For 90 minutes we got terrible music videos, trailers, shorts and party games. It was superb, very funny and a great break from all the films. They hope to repeat it next year and I for one will be going.

One last mention has to go the fans. They are brilliant. Some keep themselves to themselves but you could just start talking to anyone and you could end up in a conversation for hours. I’d often go for the drinks and they would have to come and find me, because I got talking to someone at the bar, sometimes I didn’t even make the bar!

The after festival party was at the phoenix where the plan was to leave at 3am it was 5.05 am when we eventually walked home, maybe a little drunk; but still on a high having experienced my favourite FrightFest in 8 years! I will be back next year!

Coming up next at some point this week will be our interview with Truth or Dare director Jessica Cameron and star Ryan Kiser. We’ll also take a more in depth look at some of our favourite films from FrightFest. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, All Cheerleaders Die and The Den reviews are already live on the site!

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Failed Critics Review: New Star Wars!

Welcome to this week’s Failed Critics Review, where for numerous reasons (too busy being a vigilante, boarding up his house for the impending Zombie apocalypse, being asleep, and having scurvy) we didn’t get to the cinema.

Oh, and our planned review of The Master was shelved because it’s only showing in ‘that London’ for a fortnight.

Never fear though, we still manage to fill over an hour with what we’ve watched this week, as well as our reaction to Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm (and the announced new Star Wars films), and Steve does his best Anne Robinson as we go all Watchdog on the asses of the cinema chains we happen to frequent.

Don’t worry – we’ll be back to normal next week when we review Oscar-contender (it better be – James has backed it at 10-1) Argo.

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How ‘unlimited’ could save the cinema experience

Less than a gym membership, and just as healthy. Well, if you count exercising your brain as exercise*
*will not work if you go to see Storage 24

One thing has been puzzling me for the last few days. It started when I worked out that I had been to the cinema 22 times so far this year – and what troubled me is that I wish it could have been more. My main obstacle is price. I paid for all but two of those tickets, and even utilising loyalty cards, membership schemes, Orange Wednesdays, and even money off with my library card I have still spent a minimum of £100 going to the cinema so far this year.

Interestingly, I would have spent a few pounds more had I been using a Cineworld Unlimited Pass (7 months at £14.99 per month coming to a total of £104.93), but I would be a far happier customer and would almost certainly have seen at least another 10 films or so in that time.

But my nearest Cineworld is 20 miles away. In fact, there are four Cineworlds all within 30 miles from my house. I appear in some kind of Cineworld Bermuda Triangle. Where I live I am ‘reduced’ to having to choose between an Odeon, Showcase, Vue, and my local arts cinema – none of whom off an ‘unlimited’ option.

Why?

If one major cinema chain can offer this option – what is stopping the other chains? I’m no business man (although my success on Game Developer Story on my phone clearly belies my Sugar-esque business acumen) – but surely a guaranteed monthly income (you have to sign up to the Cineworld pass for a minimum of 12 months) is preferable to the occasional visits from customers who usually have another cinema to choose from as well. It would encourage brand loyalty (everyone I know with a Cineworld pass can’t sing their praises high enough) and the more times someone comes through your doors for ‘free’, the more times you are likely to persuade them to buy overpriced drinks and popcorn to inflate your profit margins.

The closest comparison I can make is not Netflix, but your local gym. I imagine that most Unlimited Pass holders go crazy at the start of their membership – doing punishing sessions of three consecutive films before boring their friends and family with the details. After a month or two though they get home from work and find excuses not to go – too tired, not feeling motivated, don’t want to leave the dog on his own because he looks a little depressed. They will then go a month without visiting before splurging on 8 films in a weekend and the cycle will continue. After six months they’ll be poring through the terms and conditions looking for loopholes to get out of this Faustian pact, before telling the cinema their mum died, they need to leave the country and cancelling their direct debit.

It could also do wonders for the independent films, and lower-profile films that often either get small audiences or are not even showing in multiplexes with 12 screens (yet are only showing 6 or 7 films in a week). With cinema ticket prices as they are, people are less likely to take a chance on an unknown film and will opt for the ‘safer’ options starring a big-name and a bigger marketing budget. The unlimited model encourages customers to try something different at little to no risk. The amount of new bands I’ve heard through Spotify, or brilliant unheard-of gems I’ve seen on Netflix are a testament to this. The unlimited model can deliver smaller films to a larger audience, and ultimately improve the health of the film and cinema industry.

It’s too soon to be making judgements on whether or not Spotify and Netflix are the miracle cure or the final nail in the coffin of their respective industries but you cannot argue that for customers they are a massively popular option – especially in the current economic climate.

As the gap between theatrical and digital/DVD releases gets shortened, technology for home-viewing improves, and the 3D bubble threatens to burst – cinemas will need to adapt or die. Most cinema chains and (even some film-makers) are pushing for new technology to enhance the cinema-goers experience – but as a regular cinema-goer I can wholeheartedly say that a well-projected film, in an orderly cinema that offers value-for-money is what I am looking for in my cinema experience. Have you seen the High Street recently? The only businesses thriving there at the moment are Greggs and Poundland. We are living in austere times, and people are starting to demand more for their money. As things stand, Cineworld is the only major player thinking differently.

*I have not been paid by Cineworld for this article. I am just really jealous that due to my location I can’t use what I think is an excellent scheme.