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This was the 17th Frightfest; the first out west at the VUE Cinema Shepherd’s Bush. Forced to move because the VUE Leicester Square is being refurbished the change of location proved to be a blessing in disguise. There was a power cut in central London on the evening of Thursday 25 August. It would have meant no opening night. Rumours circulating on the message boards and social media suspect it was a bit of mischief by Old Nick himself to remind his old haunts of Soho he wasn’t too far away.
Located at the back of West 12 Shopping Centre above a Morrisons – a far cry from the Waitrose, John Lewis and Apple Store of the Westfield across the road. But certainly none of the tourist traps of Leicester Square clogged up with non-frightfesters. Each day was like entering the set of Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead as you made your way up to foyer.
Shopping centre envy aside it turned out to be a great place to host Frightfest. We had the place to ourselves for starters. No ordinary punters walking among us to watch mainstream films. No, once you ascended a couple of escalators, flashed your lanyard to the staff who greeted you at the top you were among your people.
The wide open foyer was rarely so jam-packed you couldn’t get through in a rush if you were running late. All the screens were on the same floor – finding the right screening room was so much easier as a result. The staff were welcoming and the screens themselves were fantastic – much better than their west end brethren that’s for sure.
Plus, for those travelling east or west on the central line Friday and Saturday featured an all night tube for those who couldn’t escape the Ibis bar until daybreak.
Again there was a staggering 70+ feature films, three Short Film Showcases, a book launch, two industry panels, two film profession workshops and of course the Duke Mitchell Film Club Party.
Here’s my reasons to be cheerful following Frightfest 2016
Top 5 at Frightfest 2016
1) My Father, Die
Hard hitting southern gothic tale of a revenge gone wrong starring Joe Anderson.
2) The Neighbor
A taut action thriller that is full of surprises and creatively misdirects at every opportunity without ever choosing the most obvious next story move or resorting to cliché.
3) Here Alone
The Survivalist meets 28 Days Later in the woods of north New York states.
4) Man Underground
An unsettling and moving tale about a conspiracy theorist that gets overtaken by the impending inevitability it is not leading you to a happy place.
5) The Love Witch
Mellifluous, cotton candy extravaganza with a witty, feminist subtext that pokes a stick into the hornets nest of what men and women perceive and presume about relationships with each other.
Most Fun at Frightfest 2016
1) Karaoke Crazies
Hilarious and touching melodrama about saving a karaoke bar.
2) Found Footage 3D
Does for the worn out, abused found footage sub-genre what Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) did for slasher.
3) Train To Busan
Zombies on a train for goodness sake.
Best villain at Frightfest 2016
1) Gary Stretch as Ivan in My Father, Die
Shark-like in his pursuit of his enemies. He just keeps moving and if you cross him you will die. He possesses no wit or charm. His raison d’etre is striking fear in his friends and foes alike.
2) Richard Brake as Doom Head in 31
Evil personified as the eloquent psycho clown
3) The SUV in Monolith
Safest car ever built and the safest place for you and your family... until your one year old boy unwittingly locks you out leaving you six inches from your child unable to comfort or save him.
Honourable villain mention for Pancho Moler as Sick-Head (also in 31) the Spanish speaking Nazi dwarf
Best Plot Twists at Frightfest 2016
1) The Unraveling
A stag party is stalked and killed. Classic slasher format. The plot twist turns the sub-genre on its head.
2) The Neighbor
A surprise visit from their only neighbour, Troy (Bill Engvail) unsettles our drug running anti-heroes when unprompted he announces he knows what they're doing. His introduction is masterful misdirection in terms of where the story is really heading – the first of many clever dramatic decisions taken by Dunstan.
3) The Similars
When it reaches its (own) logical conclusion The Similars will make sense, but you’ll have navigated a film that resembles an expanded production of Waiting For Godot on acid crossed with Charlie Kaufman’s Being John Malkovich
1) Beyond The Gates
Wojciech Golczewski’s effortless synth score is a constant reminder of the film’s retro eighties inspirations and aspirations.
2) My Father, Die
The mellow alt country folk score melds wonderfully with snatches of hardcore punk and thrash metal that punctuate angrier moments.
Say what? Biggest laugh came from a very choice moment of quasi porno dialogue during Blood Feast (the 2016 reboot version).
The scene: Fuad (Robert Rusler) is already a servant of the Eqyptian Goddess Ishtar and is sacrificing his family and friends to her. A young, attractive woman takes shelter in his diner because her car has broken down. He calls the mechanic and she’s not only grateful, she’s hot for him. At first he responds positively. Here’s what they say to each other.
Fuad: You have very beautiful eyes?
Attractive Woman: Would you like to see them with cum all over my face?
Fuad: No I think I’d like to rip them out and serve them with a tossed salad.
Attractive Woman: Fucking weirdo. I’d rather wait in my car.
So that’s it. Frightfest is over for another year, but the Halloween allnighter will soon be upon us and there’s a new London event being planned for January 2017. See you there frightfesters.
FrightFest 2016, Day 1 Reviews
FrightFest 2016, Day 2 Reviews
FrightFest 2016, Day 3 Reviews
FrightFest 2016, Day 4 Reviews
FrightFest 2016, Day 5 Reviews
Find all the British Horror Films At Horror Channel FrightFest 2016 here.
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