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 Two below or click on the other links to see reviews for the other days.
Zomblee: Right. It's time to get stuck into the festival good and proper, and what a day it promises to be! I wasn't alone in the hope that it could only get better after day one (or rather evening one). For once, I manage to get out of bed on time, to catch the first movie, Time Crimes, which I'm really quite excited about. Let's do this thing.
Time Crimes (2007)
Zomblee Meet Hector 1, Hector 2 and Hector 3. They’re all the same dude in Nacho Vigalondo’s engaging little effort from Spain, about a guy who stumbles into a time-travel vortex and can’t seem to get his old self back. It’s a realistically depicted film, despite sci-fi leanings, and although not strictly speaking a horror film, it seemed to play well with the FF crowd.
With subtle lacing of dark humour, the viewer is pulled into Hector’s bizarre time-jumps, which all take him to different times of only one day, making Time Crimes stand-out as a totally different, inventive take on the concept of the time-travel thriller. Sure, there are plot holes going on, but what do you expect with time-travel? This is the sort of movie which just keeps getting better and crazier, with clues to the ever more mind-bending mystery cleverly placed everywhere you look. I was almost expecting this one to keep coming up with even more 'Hectors' as it went on, but i guess they knew when to stop with it - good move. Endearingly convoluted, but great fun despite the absence of a flux capacitor.
Director Nacho Vigalondo
Cast Karra Elejald
King of the Hill (2007)
Zomblee A substitution for, err, The Substitute, this tight Spanish thriller opens when Quim (yes that's our hero’s name) shags a stranger, Bea, in a gas station toilet. But that’s about all the fun he’ll have for the next 90 minutes, when they both become victims of unexplained gunfire attack on deserted Spanish roads.
Tense and beautifully scored, Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego’s rural rollercoaster rarely looses its grip, but be prepared for unanswered questions; this may require a second viewing – certainly no chore. What makes this different from a lot of similar movies is how it shifts its attention from the hunted to the hunters halfway through, and the ending is beautifully realized with heart-wrenching pathos, even though this is essentially a variation on a genre formula we’re more than familiar with. I can understand why this wasn't included in the original festival programme - it has strong similarities to Eden Lake, but I wasn't the only one who felt privileged to have caught it.
Director Gonzalo López-Gallego
Cast Leonardo Sbaraglia
Trailer Park of Terror (2007)
Zomblee When young trailer park Queen Norma (Nichole Hiltz) plans to elope with her now boyfriend, her fellow residents intimidate then kill the young man, thus sending Norma into a primal rage. She signs a deal with Death itself and kills the entire community in a monumental explosion. Years later, a group of problem teenagers led by a young Pastor stop at the same Park in search of a place to stay, but the inhabitants ain't what they used to be.
Some horror movies appear like they've been made just for an event like Frightfest - Trailer Park of Terror is one of them. Combining great comedy, extreme gore and originality while also tipping the hat to other genre favourites, Steven Goldmann's hugely entertaining shockfest has enough going on to keep even the most jaded of horror heads happy. The performances are top drawer, especially that of Nichole Hiltz, and the youngsters are uniformly excellent in their roles. Also look out for the guitar-playing guy, he was great value. Afterwards, the verdict among the punters was good, and i wasn't the only one who thought it all felt a bit Rob Zombie.
Director Steven Goldmann
Cast Nichole Hiltz
Mum & Dad (2008)
Zomblee Mum and Dad run a tight ship in their squalid terraced house, charmingly situated at the end of a Heathrow runway. The family situation however is far from charming. The bizarre family have imprisoned a young Romanian woman in their den of pain. Invited back for a seemingly innocent cup of tea, Lena is disappointed to find little in the way of a hot, steaming cup of Earl Grey, but rather a world of behavioural modification and torture, in order to become the perfect slave daughter for the titular couple.
Pitch black humour and shocking, violent realism run amuck in director Steven Shiel’s shoestring budgeted feature debut, which could loosely be described as The Royal Family meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Dido Miles and Perry Benson excel in the lead roles as the heads of this twisted micro-universe, their actions counterpointed by an almost constant reminder of the setting, thanks to clever use of aircraft engine noise from above. It's a white knuckled ride, as poor Lena plays them at their own game, never giving up hope of escape. As with some other treats this weekend, Mum & Dad was resourcefully made on a tiny budget, which must mean that Steven Shiel is the real thing. Engaging and disturbing.
Director Steven Sheil
Cast Perry Benson
The Strangers (2008)
Soulmining Whilst not strictly a Hollywood remake of Them (Ils), The Strangers boasts more than a few similarities to the French thriller that wowed FrightFest audiences two years ago. A couple retire to a lake house late one night after a wedding reception where they're disturbed by a lost girl looking for her friend. Before long the knocking at the door intensifies and so begins a nightmare as the couple suffer an unwanted home invasion.
Of course it would be far too easy to suggest that they should first phone the police but sadly logic rarely plays a part in most horror films. Instead Bertino racks up the tension with a number of orchestrated shocks which are clearly telegraphed by the accompanying score, but nevertheless it's an effective technique that had me jumping out of my seat more than any other movie during the FrightFest weekend. Liv Tyler acquits herself well in her first horror role and the film has obviously performed well enough that discussions are already underway for a sequel.
Director Bryan Bertino
Cast Alex Fisher
Zomblee If you're a doctor, it's probably not a good idea to ridicule your odd-ball colleague Kenny (known not-so-affectionately as 'Freakdog'), then make him drink a lethal cocktail of lethal mind-bending drugs and alcohol, thus sending him into a coma. The consequences of this can be fatal, not necessarily for him, but for his thoughtless, cruel peers, who are likely to meet with a series of grisly deaths. This is because Kenny, although comatose, has taken to out of body experiences whereby he 'infects' other people at will to do his bidding. If they get a nosebleed, then you know it's Kenny.
Paddy Breathnack's follow-up to Shrooms isn't likely to generate world-wide excitement amongst horror fans. A bit like Shrooms. Shot on what looks like a reasonable budget (in Belfast, bizarrely), with a young, good-looking and routinely bland cast, it's as dull as it sounds; a by-the-numbers genre piece which fails to generate any real excitement or involvement, and what's more, I can hardly remember any of it. It's a bit like Patrick, or Psychic Killer, but with a budget. Not very original. A bit pointless, really.
Director Paddy Breathnach
Cast Arielle Kebbel
Andrew Lee Potts
Bad Biology (2008)
Zomblee And i'll bet you thought you'd seen it all. Welcome to the twisted world of Frank Henenlotter, where you will meet Jennifer, troubled owner of seven clitorses, with an insatiable appetite for the old in-out. You will also meet Batz, equally troubled owner of an uncontrollable monster penis. Do the math, folks - Uncle Frank seems to have gotten increasingly crazy with age, because his latest is pure fucking insanity.
This more than made up for last night's unfortunate late-night line-up - Bad Biology was a perfect midnight experience, its outrageous charms going down an absolute storm - you really haven't lived until you've seen a giant penis detach itself from the body, then headbutting its way through walls to ram itself inside justifiably terrified New York ladies. It joins Let the Right One In as one of the few truly unique gems of the entire weekend. Can i be Frank? This is awesome and completely outlandish fun, and every bit a Henenlotter movie by that Henenlotter guy who made all those other Henenlotter movies.
Director Frank Henenlotter
Cast Jude Angelini
Jessie Jayne Clancy
Zomblee summary: In retrospect, probably the best day of the entire festival. Myself being somewhat of a lightweight, this was the only day I could do in its entirety, and I'm bloody glad I did. Starting off in great form with Time Crimes, the quality only really dipped for Freakdog, after which Frank Henenlotter made his most welcome debut at Frightfest. Is it just me, or is Bad Biology one of the craziest flicks ever? Yawn. I'm off to bed. I have every intention of missing French animation tomorrow morning. See you then.