FrightFest 2008 took place between the 21st and 25th August 2008 at the Odeon West End cinema in Leicester Square. Read the review of Day One below or click on the other links to see reviews for the other days.
Zomblee: Another year, another Frightfest - yes folks, it's time to escape from reality almost completely and corrupt your mind with deeply disturbing images of mindless violence. Sounds good to me. I came straight from work on the first night without getting any chance to soak up any genuine, 100% proof Frightfest atmosphere, throwing myself straight into the carnage of the opening movie, the highly enjoyable (if that's the right word) Eden Lake, which contained one of the most unpleasant deaths I've ever seen on film. Well done, Eden Lake.
Over to David Hall. David, what can you tell us?
Eden Lake (2008)
David Hall The kids aren’t alright. Class war, revenge-flick style, James Watkins' directorial debut updates Deliverance by way of the recent Them – filtering 'hoodie horror' headlines into a relevant, flawed narrative that taps into contemporary middle-class fears abut feral kids unfettered by parental guidance. The battle lines are crudely drawn as Steve (Michael Fassbender) takes girlfriend Jenny (Kelly Reilly) to the leafy surroundings of Eden Lake to propose, only to find a group of sneering aggressive kids who don’t share their idea of relaxation. An idyllic park awaiting property development, the lake becomes the ironic backdrop for a frenzy of humiliation, violence and revenge as the couple find themselves locked in a deadly game with the teens, whose only motivation is boredom and for whom violence is a cruel, amusing distraction.
In spite of some fairy rudimentary narrative blips – wouldn’t you just leave the place after initially being confronted by some evil little shits and go somewhere else? – this is still a must-see horror flick that confronts some genuine fears. It’s not exactly subtle though, and anyone looking for moral shadings will find little nourishment here. Indeed, by the time Watkins unleashes his relentlessly downbeat coda we are in no doubt as to what his intentions are – the films genuinely pessimistic worldview suggesting that however you react to the threat of violence – turn away, confront or report it – you are doomed.
The performances are mostly excellent and Jack O'Connell as the kids’ leader is particularly chilling, although some may balk at Watkins’ portrayal of the working classes as pram-faced cartoonish Wayne and Waynettas. In a way though, it’s the uncompromising way in which the kids and parents are demonised that gives Watkins’ film a risky edge and the pure beating heart of exploitation – as someone said to me after the screening; “Well, its just Daily Mail horror isn’t it?”. Perhaps, but troubling times beget troubling films, and the fact that Eden Lake generated more heat, discussion and debate than any other movie of the weekend – Martyrs aside – proves that Watkins has articulated something dark at the heart of modern society, even if he seems uninterested in exploring exactly what we can do about it.
Director James Watkins
Cast Kelly Reilly
I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer (2008)
Zomblee Stacey Edmonds and Doug Turner’s gory “comedy” had one main problem – it just wasn’t very funny. Centering around grotesque cricket-themed murders committed by a mysterious giant figure in full cricket gear, it takes the next potential victims and places them in a safe house. But it’s not safe from this stump-wiedling nutcase hell bent on revenge for being so badly bullied in high school that his trouser tackle would be forever left in less than working order. Poor fella.
Although the dialogue is clearly meant to be amusing, it failed to ruise much of a laugh at this screening, but the 80’s slasher-inspired gore probably prevented blood hungry punters from leaving the theatre. Certain use of flashback becoming intrusive and annoying after a while (or was that meant to be funny?), coming off as lazy and uninspired. Before the screening, co-director Stacey Edmonds mentioned that she really liked the shower scene, and I’d be inclined to agree with her. The remainder of the film isn't particularly memorable though. A cricket comedy horror...whoever thought that would work?
Directors Stacey Edmonds and Doug Turner
Cast Jai Koutrae
Ben Paul Owens
Scar 3D (2007)
Soulmining It's funny to think that I first met the Eat My Brains team at a midnight
screening on the opening night of FrightFest that starred Angela Bettis.Four years later we have another Bettis feature closing the first night of the festival and like it's predecessor (The Toolbox Murders) it's another average film. Joan (Bettis) survived the clutches of a crazed mortician when she was younger but now he's returned from the dead to torture more teens.
So far so predictable but Scar has one major trick up its sleeve - it's in 3D! Weintrob should be applauded for not simply using the technology as a gimmick here; there's actually very little use of the obvious 3D gags that populated Friday 13th 3D all those years ago. However it's sad to report that this is the weakest 3D live action movie that I've seen with lots of ghosting on screen and characters dipping in and out of focus throughout - although I concede this might have been down to the projection on the night. Still, Scar does take the prize for being the first Real D feature to show a pair of naked breasts in all their 3D glory!
Director Jed Weintrob
Cast Angela Bettis
Kirby Bliss Blanton
Zomblee: So, no real contenders then to rival Eden Lake as the movie of the day. It did everything we hoped it would, and went wrong where you'd expect it to - a decent, solid horror movie. I won't be pre-ordering I Know How Many Runs... excitedly, and never really want to see it again but I think we've all seen a lot worse. Scar 3D was just another average movie which is likely to do very little for hardcore punters like the Frightfest crowd. Still though, we were treated to the delights of up-and-coming comedy duo of Adam Green and Joe Lynch, known collectively as the Douche Brothers, who had the whole theatre in stitches for the first time this weekend. Those guys rock.