By Mike Shawcross (@shawky1969)
Having been a regular visitor to the London Frightfest for the last 8 years I eventually dragged myself up to Scotland to see what the Glasgow event was like. Needless to say I’ll be going back next year, I had a great time. While not as intense as the August event I liked the more intimate feel of this smaller gathering. A fair few familiar faces littered the audience and I also had a chance to meet some social media friends for the first time, just like the Failed Critics’ one and only James Diamond [I didn’t pay him to phrase it like that – James].
Ti West in conversation was an extra event on the Thursday night. With West’s new film The Sacrament playing over the weekend I guess it made good sense to host it something like this. Being a fan of House of the Devil and The Innkeepers I was looking forward to both the event and the new film. Even with his small filmography West delivered a solid 90 minutes of interesting and insightful stories of his short career. The people he worked with, like Larry Fessenden and Eli Roth, and how he secured his cast for his films; mostly through friends and chance meetings. In the Q&A he provided strong positive answers and was very willing to share his experiences. I do hope that this conversation gets aired on the internet if you like West’s work then it was an interesting 90 minutes from a director with a promising future ahead of him.
Killers (Dir:The Mo Brothers) – Day 2 Closing Film.
To know this was a replacement for The Raid 2 is a bitter pill to swallow; however it was described to me as something similar to I saw the Devil, while actually not in the same class as I Saw the Devil, it’s not that far away.
An established serial killer from Japan baits an Indonesian reporter into committing murder, the two men from a strange bond as both their lives start to unravel until they both meet in a gripping climax. This was my favourite film of the 2 days, only just though. The production, the acting, the score are all very good; it builds a steady tension towards the excellent final scenes of the film. As much as I enjoyed it, I suspect I would have enjoyed the Raid 2 more. (4.5/5)
The Sacrament (Dir: Ti West) – Day 1
A mock-documentary heavily influenced by the Jonestown incident in the 70’s. Possibly more disturbing than most films on show over the 2 days, this is a chilling story of what could and obviously has taken place before. A community run by one man, known as Father (played rather brilliantly by Gene Jones) and his hold over his followers.
The cast is excellent and West is clever enough to use actors who have experience with operating camera equipment. I guess listening to West the evening before had set me up for this film and I really did enjoy it. (4.5/5)
Proxy (Dir: Zack Parker) – Day 1
This was excellent, from the cast, the script and to the constantly changing narrative. Parker kept me on my toes throughout the film. Every time I thought I had a handle on where the film was going it would spin it off in another direction. An uneasy watch at times, but none the less a gripping one; I’m interested in watching the film again, I wonder if Parker has littered the film full of clues as some scenes left me wondering what really was going on. With its Hitchcockian feel this is well worth checking out. (4/5)
The Afflicted (Dir: Derek Lee & Clif Prowse) – Day 1
My surprise film of the 2 days, while the overall concept hadn’t gripped me and the fact it was another found footage film left me quite cold, the style is starting to wear thin for me. Yet Lee and Prowse proved me wrong, they work wonders. A great opening had me hooked, the twist is great and then from there it’s a brilliantly handled horror film. My advice though is don’t watch the trailers, just see it! This is all I’m going to say about it…. (4/5)
Wolf Creek 2 (Dir: Greg Mclean) – Day 1
Mick Taylor (Jarratt) returns to our screens after nearly 10 years, while not a massive fan of the original because it lacks any humour, it’s still a good piece of serial killer horror.
The sequel now with added humour is a much bigger, better film, evident in the opening 10 minutes alone. Jarratt has much more fun with Mick helped by a much better script, though he’s still as brutal, he just seems like he’s really enjoying himself! Mick Taylor might just make it into that honoured group of on-screen killers, if he gets another strong outing like this one. I only hope I don’t have to wait another 10 years to see him again. (4/5)
Video Nasties – Draconian Days (Dir: Jake West) – Day 2
Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape from 2010, gets a sequel or rather Jake West continues the history of film censorship in the UK. With an insight into James Ferman; director of the BBFC as the UK became the most censored country in the Western world. Hungerford and the murder of James Bulger were associated with Rambo and Childs Play. With These accusations only cemented Ferman’s believe that the public needed to be protected from video nasites. A solid and interesting documentary and well worth seeing (4/5)
Mindscape (Dir:Jorge Dorado) – Day 2
A solid mystery thriller but a strange choice for the line up. While not a horror or even a dark thriller, this might have been more at home in the main festival line up. However I did enjoy the film, a very good cast, with a decent script and enough mystery to keep me intrigued till nearly the end, where it does become a little obvious. The score and the production were very good, with some nice cinematography throughout the film. (3.5/5)
The Scribbler (Dir:John Suits) – Day 2
A comic adaptation, from a comic I’d never heard of; penned by Daniel Schaffer who also wrote the screenplay. Really not sure what I thought of this, a film of moments; some missed opportunities and the curse of the origin story. The look of the film and its concept are great, but nothing I can really get into without spoiling it. The cast are all fine, and Dillahunt gives the best performance. Overall they are let down by a screenplay which never really builds any tension and just stumbles into the final act. Should have been better – but worth a look (3/5)
Almost Human (Dir:Joe Begos) – Day 2
Nearly a very good low budget sci-fi horror where the poster actually oversells the film. The cast were ok, generally it had some decent ideas while heavily borrowed from other alien films through the years. Its opening was pretty good it just all fell flat for me due to the very bad script, it really needed some humour. By the time the film found its feet and gave me something to laugh at I had given up. Again there were quite a few people who did enjoy it, just not me. (2/5)
Torment (Dir:Jordan Banks) – Day 2
I really struggled to like this film, a home invasion film where there was nothing new on show or with a decent twist to freshen up this well worn familiar plot line. The cast were underused and to be honest didn’t look that interested anyway, the longer it went on the less interested I became with it. Like found footage this concept is a little over used now and really needs something a bit different to make them stand out.(1.5/5)
Savaged (Dir: Michael S. Ojeda) – Day 1 Opening Film
I guess you could say it was the Crow meets I spit on your grave, which in concept sounds pretty cool; and done well would have been bloody cool. Well it was entertaining, but it entertained for the wrong reasons, the bad script and the poor delivery by the 2nd rate actors had the audience laughing at it rather than with it, was enough to condemn this to the worst film of the 2 days. (1/5)