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BRITFLICKS AWARDS - Arrow Video Frightfest 2019 Best Of The Fest.

FrightFest 2019 - Best Of The Fest Awards

BRITFLICKS AWARDS - Arrow Video Frightfest 2019

Art is not a competitive sport – so the lists of widely different films below, aren’t ranked in any order. They are subjective choices made by one person, me, Stuart Wright, podcast host and Britflicks’ horror person in the trenches of Frightfest 2019. 

It is based on watching 46 of the 78 films on offer. The aim of this final report is simple - shine a light on the interesting ideas and choices filmmakers are making in 21st century genre cinema. Hopefully my personal favourites encourage you to hunt out something you didn’t see, rather than anger you for omitting your favourite films, actors or moments.

BEST OF THE FEST

 HAPPY FACE  Best of FrightFest 2019

HAPPY FACE

Written by Joelle Bourjoy, Alexandre Franchi

Directed by Alexandre Franchi

This haunting and original film takes a therapy group of people with visible facial conditions/extreme medical scars - and one impostor - on a rocky road of empowerment over entitlement.

THE WIND

Written by Teresa Sutherland

Directed by Emma Tammi

On the surface, THE WIND is about isolation, loneliness and the haunting of Lizzy by the ‘demons of the prairie’. Working in parallel with those scares and sense of dread is a wonderful cinematic treatise on the fragility of the human mind after a trauma.

​​THE DEEPER YOU DIG

Written by Toby Poser & John Adams

Directed by Toby Poser, John Adams & Zelda Adams

THE DEEPER YOU DIG is a brilliant, cinematic unravelling of a drunk driver’s guilty conscience versus the grieving mother and how the restless spirit of his victim/her daughter unites them both in turmoil and misery.

I TRAPPED THE DEVIL - Best of FrightFest 2019

I TRAPPED THE DEVIL

Written and directed by Josh Lobo

When combined with Matthew Schaff’s menacing sound design and Ben Lovett’s heavy music the intensity and claustrophobia of I TRAPPED THE DEVIL provides shades of the mania butting up against the real world you see in Roman Polanski’s REPULSION.

ROCK, PAPER and SCISSORS - best of FrightFest 2019

ROCK, PAPER and SCISSORS (original title Piedra, papel y tijera)

Written and directed by Macarena Garcia Lenzi and Martín Blousson
Adapted from a stage play by Macarena Garcia Lenzi

Confined to just a house, this absurd melodrama with a Wizard Of Oz fixation about sibling rivalries shifts in tone from idiosyncratic chamber piece to a more genre friendly finale – think MISERY (1990) meets DOGTOOTH (2009).

BEST OF BRITISH

A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE - Best British film at FrightFest 2019

A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE

Written and directed by Staten Cousins Roe

In a parallel universe SIGHTSEERS is the equivalent of Oliver Stone’s NATURAL BORN KILLERS on the run in the East Midlands and Yorkshire Dales. A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE is more akin to Ridley Scott’s THELMA AND LOUISE hitting the B roads of Kent and Sussex to find the Emperor’s new clothes don’t exist.

TALES FROM THE LODGE

Written and directed by Abigail Blackmore

In addition to strong, well-written characters, the portmanteau TALES FROM THE LODGE demonstrates Blackmore’s real love of the horror genre in the way she uses the short spooky tales to experiment with both scares, dark humour and knowing winks to her peers.

A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND

Written by Ronan Blaney

Directed by Abner Pastoll

The nature of a single mother’s fightback on Belfast council estate brings to mind Michael Caine’s reluctant, but dogmatic hero in HARRY BROWN or Andrea Arnold’s slow build revenge RED ROAD. Naturally, we worry she’s gone too far, because she has, but we cheer her on nonetheless.

Abigail Blackmore - Screen FrightFest Genre Rising Star award for 2019.​

​And HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Abigail Blackmore...

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Abigail Blackmore who won the prestigious Screen FrightFest Genre Rising Star award for 2019.

DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING… FAVOURITE TWISTS

COME TO DADDY (Elijah Wood) Film Review

COME TO DADDY

Written by Toby Harvard, based on Ant Timpson’s idea

Directed by Ant Timpson

Which twist do you want to applaud most? The one that moves COME TO DADDY from estranged father reunited with his son to haunted house tale. Or maybe it’s the one that moves it from haunted house to noir revenge thriller. Toby Harvard’s excellent screenplay takes these jarring shifts and runs with them.

 DANIEL ISN’T REAL - Best of Frightfest 2019

DANIEL ISN’T REAL

Written by Brian DeLeeuw & Adam Egypt Mortimer; adapted from Brian DeLeeuw’s novel IN THIS WAY I WAS SAVED

Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer

The warning signs are there that Daniel’s influence exceeds the scope of someone’s imagination making them present in the moment, but when he switches from passive adviser to an active participant in response to Luke’s defiance of how to treat Sophie, anything is possible after that point.

HARPOON - Best of FrightFest 20192019

HARPOON

Written and directed by Rob Grant

For a cast of just three, there sure are a lot of buried secrets revealed to keep you constantly changing your allegiances across this troubled trio.

THAT SOUNDS GREAT… BEST MUSIC

KNIVES AND SKIN Best of  frightfest 2019

KNIVES AND SKIN

Written and directed by Jennifer Reeder

It’s hard to beat the mellifluous sounds of an a capella choir singing a range of 1980s hits, but what gives this musical choices cinematic resonance is the way these incongruous moments lend weight to emotional mood too. On a surface level the choir demonstrates unity for the uncertain teenage girls. They are greater than the sum of their parts. However, the songs carry an authority that allows Jennifer Reeder to use them to soundtrack some of the more Lynchian scenes and literally, in the case of choosing Icicle Works’ BIRDS FLY, be words of reassurance we need to hear at that time.

I TRAPPED THE DEVIL - Best of Frightfest 2019

I TRAPPED THE DEVIL

Written and directed by Josh Lobo

Ben Lovett’s heavy drones and intense dirge evokes the late great Johan Johannson’s collaboration with SUNN 0))) on the MANDY score in 2018. The crimson glow that lights the basement scenes only helps to cement this feeling.

Ben was a busy music man at FF2019… He also provided the score for THE DARK RED and THE WIND.

SADISTIC INTENTIONS

Written and directed by Eric Pennycoff

Outliers of music drift into the mainstream unnoticed by those who never knew the form when it was floating in obscurity. Eric Pennycoff’s twisted romance, embraces the vigour of grindcore’s blast beat and guttaral screaming vocals to its confused, tender heart.

Honourable mention must go to the Thai pop/psych that spun on the turntable a few times in COME TO DADDY.

Artist: Chaweewan Dumnern

Album: Sound of Siam, Vol. 1 - Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz & Molam in Thailand 1964-1975
Britflicks found it on Spotify for those who have access to that music service.

YOU NASTY BASTARD… BEST VILLAINS

A Serial Killers Guide to Life - Poppy Roe

Poppy Roe in A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE

Poppy Roe’s glare of cynicism and disdain she lends to her psycho life coach character Val colours every scene with threats of imminent danger - a truly wicked creation and performance.

A Good Woman Is Hard to Find - Edward Hogg

Edward Hogg in A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND

Doncaster’s Edward Hogg excels as the psychopathic, gangland boss, Leo Miller. His displaced English accent among the predominantly Irish cast, helps to make him stand out, but it’s his menacing displays of pedantry, mid-torture, that make his performance both disturbing and a vile delight.

 Patrick Schwarzengger in DANIEL ISN’T REAL

Patrick Schwarzengger in DANIEL ISN’T REAL

As the imaginary friend of freshman college student Luke, Patrick Schwarzenegger embodies all the cool, calm and bad intentions of a Brett Easton Ellis entitled rich kid, but with the power of hell to back him up.

OMG… SCARIEST MOMENTS

The Wind - Best of FrightFest

​THE WIND

Written by Teresa Sutherland

Directed by Emma Tammi

The arrival of the Reverend, played by Miles Anderson, breaks the spell of isolation and loneliness. He’s sleeping in the barn and the frightened plains-woman sticks to her homestead. A late night conversation between them, aimed at restoring calm, sends shivers down your spine when he says: “I’ve said too much.”

I TRAPPED THE DEVIL - Josh Lobo

I TRAPPED THE DEVIL

Written and directed by Josh Lobo

Josh Lobo manages to unnerve the viewer simply by lingering for an uncomfortably long time on a padlocked door. Context is all, but he has you questioning your own sanity as much Matt, played by AJ Bowen, questions his brother Steve, played by Scott Poythress.

I DON’T WANT TO DIE… BEST IMPROVISED KILL

Elijah Wood’s Norval, in COME TO DADDY.

Elijah Wood’s Norval, in COME TO DADDY.

Elijah Wood’s Norval, in COME TO DADDY, scrabbling around on the kitchen floor for a weapon and only finding a large serving fork just as Simon Chin’s Dandy has him cornered. In a frightened rage, Norval’s fight or flight instincts kick in and he goes berserk with the two prongs on Dandy’s crotch. He finishes him off with a roll of food wrap.

CHEER UP MATE, IT MIGHT NEVER HAPPEN… BIGGEST LAUGH

​Michael Smiley’s Jethro, in COME TO DADDY.

Michael Smiley’s Jethro, in COME TO DADDY, sharing too much information with Norval about his sex life: “‘I lost my erection because from certain angles she reminded me of Michael Heseltine.”

BEST CREATURES

Mutant Blast  poster - Fernando Alle

MUTANT BLAST

Written and directed by Fernando Alle

Other writing by: Adrián Cardona and Alex Duda

After a nuclear bomb rids the world of the zombie epidemic, the surviving humans mutate in some of the wildest ways possible. Fernando Alle’s pièce de résistance is where rat and human blend together like you’ve never seen before.

CRAWL - Best of FrightFest 2019

CRAWL

Written by Michael Rasmussen, Shaun Rasmussen

Directed by Alaxandre Aja

These CGI constructed alligators make the pea-brained giant lizards look scarily real and jaw-snappingly terrifying from their very first surprise appearance.

THE PERISHED

Written and directed by Paddy Murphy

The diminutive grotesque, devil creature that visits Sarah Dekker at night is spiky and blood red, but once you know what it represents, it’s real horror surpasses its aesthetic.

​Honourable mentions

The fish mutants in THE BARGE PEOPLE and the pig-headed muzzies in BULLETS OF JUSTICE.

DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN… FAVOURITE SCENES RABID

RABID

Written by John Serge, Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska

Directed by The Soska Sisters… Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska

Greg Bryk, plays the earnest soap opera director trying his over the top best to get what he needs from his awkward (read infected) leading man. You’d think he was on the set of a big Hollywood production, not a daytime hospital drama. He positively steals this inaugural major flesh-ripping sequence from start to finish and tops off his pseudo artist persona perfectly when he takes control of the camera to capture the gore while everyone else runs for their lives.

CUT OFF (aka Abgeschnitten)

Written and director by Christian Alvart

You’ve seen movies where novices land planes with instructions given to them from air traffic control. Well CUT OFF might be the first film to feature a remote pathology examination of corpse. In addition, Alvart’s film includes one the best uses of GPS as a plot device to escape an impossible situation.

COME TO DADDY

Written by Toby Hardvard, based on Ant Timpson’s idea

Directed by Ant Timpson

When Stephen McHattie’s Gordon loses his cool and goes on a ‘cunt’ filled rant at Elijah Wood’s Norval, the word ceases to just be offensive profanity because the rhythmic repetition turns the word into a stick to beat his weakening opponent into submission.

The Deeper You Dig - Toby Poser

Honourable mention

Honourable mention for Toby Poser, in THE DEEPER YOU DIG, when she exposes and mocks her own ugly con-woman self as she begins to regain her second sight powers.

THAT WAS SOME PERFORMANCE… BEST ACTING

Sasha Lane in DANIEL ISN’T REAL

Sasha Lane in DANIEL ISN’T REAL

Sasha Lane, of AMERICAN HONEY fame, is fantastic as Cassie, the intuitive, and instinctive artist who only sees the good in Luke but inexplicably senses the dark shadow of Daniel that hangs over his personality.

Jeremy Gardner in EVERYTHING… well three films in total at FF2019

Whether he’s Talky in FINGERS the heavy administering digit removal, or mourning the loss of his dog; or he’s Stu, the angst ridden grindcore artist afraid to like MOR in SADISTIC INTENTIONS… Or Clive in BLISS… This bearded wonder of genre has got what you need for the silver screen.

To keep up this tremendous commitment to indie horror - Jeremy directed 2012’s THE BATTERY and this years SOMETHING ELSE too - he recently tweeted an ask for financial help. 

He said: “Hey film friends, this is the worst, but I’m trying hard to work & make it to film fests to meet fans & rep our little monster movie but it’s taking a financial toll. If you’d like to help, you can throw some change in my hat here: https://www.paypal.me/colonelm.... I’m humbled & grateful.

If you’d like to help, then click the link above.

Sarah Bolger in A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND

Sarah Bolger traverses a huge range of emotions that begin with grieving, single mother, but incrementally rise to all-action avenging angel once the knives are literally out and the dead bodies start piling up.

Elijah Wood is brilliant in Come To Daddy

Elijah Wood in COME TO DADDY

Wood’s growth from pampered millennial to alone in a haunted house to hardboiled hero is a real joy to witness.

A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE - Katie Brayben

Katie Brayben in A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE

Katie Brayben’s brilliant manifestation of small town, put upon, self-help addict, Lou Farnt, advances from hopeless, perennial loser who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, to cold blooded killer without ever really losing her initial innocence and wonder – clever stuff

​Eddie Marsan in FEEDBACK

​Eddie Marsan in FEEDBACK

Eddie Marsan is Jarvis Dolan, the late night talk radio host of the moment. He brims with the self-confidence that comes with undeniable popularity. However, Marsan must ditch all that smarmy charm when hijackers take over his show and force him to dig up the buried secrets of his success. The fake news destroyer of the airwaves steps up to the physical challenge of fighting not only for his reputation, but his and his daughter’s lives.

Graham Hughes (Death od a Vlogger) Zelda Adams (The deeper you Dig)ms

Honourable mentions Zelda Adams & Graham Hughe.

Honourable mention for the haunting performance by Zelda Adams in THE DEEPER YOU DIG and Graham Hughes’s cabin fevered performance contained within the walls of his tiny apartment in DEATH OF A VLOGGER

AND NOT FORGETTING… BEST OF THE REST 2019

It has been impossible to include all the ones I enjoyed. Here are a few more titles for you to look out for too:

BULLETS OF JUSTICE

Written by Valeri Milev and Timur Turisbekov

Directed by Valeri Milev

The dystopian plot is ludicrous, and Rob Justice’s obsession with a lithe, long-haired pretty man in a half thong acts as the mischievous counterbalance to all the testosterone fuelled big guns and gore extravaganza.

FINGERS

Written and directed by Juan Ortiz

If the pulp worlds of Elmore Leonard and the head scratch of INHERENT VICE’s whodunit arc collided it’d be FINGERS. Nothing makes absolute sense, but the result of holding onto the tail of this whacked out story until the very end is rewarded in a suitably understated, left of centre finale.

SPIRAL

Written by Colin Minihan, John Poliquin

Directed by Kurtis David Harder

GET OUT (2017) is the comparable freshest in the mind for subverting expectations of the Pinter-esque disguise of what’s really happening, but given SPIRAL commits to a supernatural path over the sci-fi explanation Jordan Peele provides, SOCIETY (1989) is an equally useful indicator – although there are few, if any laughs in SPIRAL.

BLOOD & FLESH: THE REEL LIFE & GHASTLY DEATH OF AL ADAMSON

BLOOD & FLESH: THE REEL LIFE & GHASTLY DEATH OF AL ADAMSON

Directed by David Gregory

The beautifully compiled documentary about the life and tragic death of Al Adamson encapuslates the Hollywood hustle like few other look backs on the halcyon days of exploitation and trash cinema that were stock in trade at the drive ins. Adamson made tens of B-grade films, but most people, including your reviewer have never heard of him. The wonderful portrait of the man, warts and all is a genuinely emotional ride with a dark twist that surpasses any fiction he ever created.

DEATH OF A VLOGGER

Written and directed by Graham Hughes

DEATH OF A VLOGGER is the kind of resourceful, intelligent and inventive filmmaking that pours scorn on the constraints of its tight budget and makes scouring the Discovery screens always worth your time.

VOLITION

Written by Tony Dean Smith, Ryan W Smith

Directed by Tony Dean Smith

This film expertly keeps many story plates spinning in order to combine the pace of the hardboiled crime thriller with the sci-fi mystery of clairvoyance curse. You’ll feel smarter for the experience of watching it.



 

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