We take a look at what to expect at this year’s FrightFest…
In just over a month, FrightFest will begin. The festival of horror and genre cinemas, which this year will take place over five days, from August 25th until August 29th, in the Shepherd’s Bush Vue, has been covered by mrrumsey.com for the last two years running, and this correspondent has been anticipating 2016’s event since, well, 2015. The complete film listings for FrightFest went live just one day before tickets did, and can be found here (http://www.frightfest.co.uk/2016films/schedule.html). While FrightFest events of the past have introduced audiences to horror sensations such as You’re Next, V/H/S and The Babadook, some of the particular highlights this year look set to include…
Cell (UK premiere) – Thursday 25/8, 2030, 2045, 2100
Starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson as well as rising star Isabelle Fuhrman of Orphan fame, Cell has been adapted by Stephen King from his own bestselling horror novel of the same title. Given that, down the years, King adaptations have provided us with such classics as Carrie, The Shining, Misery, The Green Mile, and The Mist, this is easily the one to watch of Thursday’s three films.
Road Games (Special interactive screening) – Friday 26/8, 1335
French thriller Road Games rocked audiences at last year’s FrightFest; now, the film returns with director Abner Pastoll for a live commentary event, to be hosted by frequent DVD commentator Alan Jones, with audience Q&A. The concept is novel and the event should be something to keep in mind, whether you’ve seen Road Games before or not.
Pet (UK premiere) – Friday 26/8, 1845, 2100, 2355
With Dominic Monaghan – The Lord of the Rings’ Pippin – as a shy, socially awkward stalker who decides to abduct the girl of his dreams in order to force her to understand his feelings for her, this promises to be a potent psychological thriller.
White Coffin (UK premiere) – Friday 26/8, 1830, 2130, 2315
The latest from Argentine horror director Daniel de la Vega, White Coffin’s visceral brutality and freewheeling genre-blending has earned it considerable pre-release buzz as well as comparisons to House of Wax, Roger Corman, Hammer horror, The Wicker Man, Duel and The Nameless as well as, presumably, every other horror under the sun.
Abattoir (European premiere) – Saturday 27/8, 1130, 1315, 1600
The latest from Darren Lynn Bousman, Abattoir adapted from his own graphic novel blends neo-noir, the supernatural, real estate and serial killings in what promises to be a unique vision from a director who is, if nothing else, consistently interesting (Saw II–IV, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Mother’s Day, 11-11-11, The Devil’s Carnival).
The Master Cleanse (European premiere) – Saturday 27/8, 1100, 1345, 1545
Starring Johnny Galecki of The Big Bang Theory and the upcoming Rings, The Master Cleanse picks up on Cronenberg’s strains of quack psychiatry and body horror, with Galecki’s character attending a mountain retreat in which patients are invited to “cleanse” themselves of impurities both bodily and emotional. Critics Stateside who’ve seen the film have had a hard time even describing it, which can only bode well.
Beyond the Walls (UK premiere) – Saturday 27/8, 1745
For those who fear FrightFest might present them with too much of a good thing when it comes to unrelenting horror, there are always other diversions available in the form of short film showcases, special screenings such as the Road Games live commentary, documentaries, panels and other events such as the long-running Duke Mitchell party, remastered presentations of classics, and, here, a full screening of an acclaimed miniseries. The buzz around Beyond the Walls, which has so far only been seen on French television, is strong, and the haunted-house thriller sounds intriguing and psychologically exhausting, featuring a constantly shifting architecture, a bizarre cult, and a bending of the space-time continuum. Here’s an event that is undeniably unique.
Sadako Vs. Kayako (European premiere) – Saturday 27/8, 1800, 2030, 2315
The most exciting crossover since Alien Vs. Predator sees Japan’s two iconic ghost girls, The Ring’s Sadako and The Grudge’s Kayako, drawn into each other’s spheres of evil influence in a long-awaited picture that’s sure to re-invigorate the complicated storylines of both franchises.
Beyond the Gates (European premiere) – Saturday 27/8, 1830, 2015, 2300
Starring FrightFest regular Barbara Crampton, this picture from Stuart Gordon assistant Jackson Stewart centres around a horror-themed VHS board game that will be familiar to anyone who played Atmosfear; however, the game quickly proves to be more immersive than anyone would like in what will surely be called horror’s answer to Jumanji.
The Love Witch (English premiere) – Saturday 27/8, 2040
A bizarre hotchpotch of influences including soap opera, feminism, Technicolor, melodrama and 70s supernatural horror, The Love Witch is the brainchild of Anna Biller, who worked on the film as writer, director, producer, designer, editor and composer. From what we’ve seen of it so far the film promises to be visually sumptuous if nothing else.
Blood Feast (World premiere) – Saturday 27/8, 1815, 2100, 2245
The long-awaited remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ infamous 1963 gorefest is set to make its world premiere at what is surely its natural home. Will it still retain the power to shock that the original had? Audiences will have to wait and see, and those who missed the original can catch it at 1535 on Sunday in Discovery Screen Two.
31 (UK premiere) – Sunday 28/8, 2030, 2045, 2100
Rob Zombie’s a divisive figure in the horror scene, but personally I have to say that I have enjoyed every picture he’s put out, and his sheer fanboy enthusiasm is infectious. 31 sees him revisiting similar territory to House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, his customary grindhouse/torture/slasher mentality coming through in the story of a game known only as 31, in which Father Murder (Malcolm McDowell) pits carnival workers against sadistic clowns and places bets on their survival in a 12-hour ordeal.
Director’s Cut (European premiere) – Monday 29/8, 1100, 1345, 1530
A smart, self-referential comedy-horror, Adam Rifkin’s Director’s Cut sees a deranged, delusional crowd-funded horror director, played by Penn Jillette, set out to create his own director’s cut of Adam Rifkin’s nonexistent thriller Knocked Off, by kidnapping Missi Pyle in order to force her to shoot new scenes in what promises to be an entertaining meta-narrative on the film industry.
Found Footage 3D (European premiere) – Monday 29/8, 1825
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre co-creator Kim Henkel presents a film which aims to do for the found-footage subgenre what Scream did for the slasher which, fingers crossed, won’t run to re-invigorating it. The comedy-horror follows a group of filmmakers trying to make the world’s first 3D found-footage horror movie – now there’s a headache-inducer – when they find themselves inadvertently starring in the world’s first 3D found-footage horror movie. This could be one to watch.