FrightFest enters its 17th year and presents another opportunity between 25th-29th August to once more sit in dark rooms and confront both our blackest fears and a lot of gloopy special FX
With a move from Leicester Square to Shepherd’s Bush, FrightFest 2016 promises to be the London film event of the year, with more than 60 feature films, a slew of guest panels discussing the horror industry and blood-filled buckets of short films and sneak previews.
Best films of FrightFest 2016
There’s something for everyone here – assuming that everyone unequivocally loves horror movies – here are five that I’m particularly looking forward to seeing and, once I’ve used a necessary amount of hyperbole, so will you too.
My Father Die
FrightFest’s opening night has just three movies on offer and the best is surely the festival’s opening movie, the European premiere of My Father Die. Billed as a southern gothic revenge drama, with the trailer suggesting a Night Of The Hunter vibe only with a lot more heavy assault weaponry.
Despite the festival’s unwavering commitment, their opening movies can be quite a hit and miss affair. For every The Guest (what a way to start) there’s a Cherry Tree (what an abomination), but the FrightFest team also know what makes an excellent revenge movie, having previously shown Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy and Cheol-soo Jang’s Bedevilled – so I’m hoping this one goes dark. Really dark.
As well as the main screen program, once the festival hits full steam on Friday three additional screens open up offering difficult choices every day. It’s in these additional screens where the true gems can often be found tucked away.
Indeed it was here I watched both Creep and They Look Like People – not only two of FrightFest’s finest offerings from the last couple of years, but two of the finest films of the last couple of years. The success of these films depended on their focus on character relationships pushed to extraordinary limits all filmed in an understated low-key manner, something that Another Evil showing in Discovery Screen 2 has on offer.
Another Evil revolves around a family who require an exorcist to purge some pesky spirits, the problem is the exorcist becomes even more of a pest than the spirits. Just hope it doesn’t end up as The Exorcist vs. Cable Guy.
Sadako Vs Kayako
A scheduling change means that FrightFest is no longer showing Adam Wingard’s sneaky Blair Witch sequel, substituting a lone late 90s horror icon nostalgia trip with a double team instead by showing Sadako vs Kayako, something I’m equally as excited about. I’m presuming this will be some kind of wrestling showdown between the pair whilst Toshio punches Sadako’s TV or something.
Beyond the Gates
Looking past staring dead girl grudge matches, the real draw for Saturday is the Main Screen showing of Beyond The Gates. Presenting itself as Jumanji remade in the style of 80s horror legend Stuart Gordon, the film concerns itself with a VHS board game which when played fucks with everybody’s shit whilst homaging countless eighties horror movies. Can’t wait.
Sadly there’s no embeddable trailer available, but there is one over at Bloody Disgusting. And here’s the glorious poster…
The blurb for Patricio Valladares’ Downhill uses the words ‘BMX Bandits meets H.P. Lovecraft’ which is enough to have me firmly in my seat before I know anything else about the film. And yet despite this, the big pick of the day has got to be Mateo Gil’s Realive, about a cryogenically frozen man having to cope with the emotional fallout from being thawed into an unfamiliar society 60 years later.
Gil was the scriptwriter behind Alejandro Amenabar’s early successes Thesis and Open Your Eyes, and FrightFest have previous form in showing more challenging films, such as Kill List and Berberian Sound Studio, that go deeper than all the usual intestine spilling. So I’m looking forward to a slightly more cerebral take on the genre as a refresher after the previous days of gory abandon. Of course if it’s a bit too refreshingly cerebral then Rob Zombie’s 31 is on as well.
Train To Busan
Nothing slows down at FrightFest. The best film of FrighFest last year got sprung on me first thing on a Monday morning when I saw Julien Seri’s Night Fare, and Monday’s line up is once again as strong as any of the other days on offer.
Adam Rifkin’s Director’s Cut looks to be something to tickle the Meta bone, for those that like that to be tickled and Man Underground strikes me as another low-key Discovery Screen slow burner, but the film that’s making my insides jiggle the most at the moment is Train To Busan from South Korea.
The high concept plot has the good old general public fighting off zombies on a high speed bullet train as the infection spreads just as fast outside. South Korea have held the eastern horror baton firmly over the last few years, so anticipation is at maximum for a Korean take on zombies at the hands of director Sang-ho Yeon. Plus people will get their faces ripped off and stuff.
It’s impossible to see everything, I have a maximum of 25 planned out if my sanity can withhold the strain, and I’m aware that the best still may yet to be found in the motherlode of 60+ other films on offer.
I personally can’t wait to see the sights that the FrightFest team have to show us that are such that we have to go and see them. Hmm… I know that sounded awkward… it’s Hellraiser, the line from Hellraiser? It worked better in Hellraiser. Whatever, see you there.
For more cinematic adventures in the capital, check out our guide to the best London film events happening in August.