FrightFest 2013

Since I first heard about FrightFest a few years ago, I knew it was one of the first things I had to do upon moving to the UK. In Australia – and Perth, especially – we don’t get cool events like this and for a lifelong horror fan, I knew this festival was made for me.

FrightFest 2013 was held from 22 August – 26 August and I attended every day and for the maximum number of films possible for me to see. I was not prepared for the immense tiredness that would accompany me. Most days I arrived home between 2-3am and was up at 7-8am the next day. This led to me taking naps between films and sometimes falling asleep during them. I was also recovering from a terrible cold and cough which didn’t help. Overall, though, I had a great time. It had a great atmosphere and I loved how informal, yet professional, it was. It was bizarre to be standing around in the lobby and having actors and directors wandering past me and lining up for food with me. The hosts were amazing as well and clearly love what they do. A few funny quotes from them:

In the morning, Alan presses telecom to enter cinema: “Hello, I heard you guys offer hot sex in the morning.”

Ian and Alan are introducing a film:
Alan – Why do we always screen the great films late?
Ian – Let’s not have his discussion now, let them watch the movie. 100 Bloody Acres everyone, goodnight!
Alan – Hey, I haven’t finished talking yet. Why do we always screen the great films late?
Ian – Fuck off.

Ian walks down the aisle and says to a guy lying back with a pillow on his seat: “What do you think this is, a first class fucking airline?”

So, 5 days of FrightFest and 26 films later, I am one tired but very happy person. Here’s a breakdown of each of the days and the films:

Day 1: 22 August 2013

You're Next (2011)
The Dead 2: India (2013) – Formulaic and boring at times, with terrible acting and cliched characters, but I preferred it to the first one (which I didn’t like much either), although this is probably mostly due to the attractive lead.

Curse of Chucky (2013) – Not being a big fan of the Chucky series, this didn’t do a whole lot for me. Fiona Dourif is a likable lead and there are some cool deaths, but it is typical cheesy Chucky.

You’re Next (2011) – One of my most anticipated for FrightFest, which I reviewed here. A great home invasion film with some cool deaths and a sense of humour.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: You’re Next (2011)

Day 2: 23 August 2013

Para Elisa (2013) – Poorly written and very immature and silly. Reviewed here.

Dementamania (2013) – I liked the visions and the idea of ‘cool and collected’ on the outside and ‘raging violently’ on the inside, but it doesn’t do enough with this concept and is overall dull and doesn’t really come together.

Antisocial (2013) – Uses the hook of social networking to draw you in, but is a terribly generic and poorly acted film. I was hoping for a satire on our increased use of social networking and how that disconnects us from people in real life. But nope.

Haunter (2013) – I found it quite suspenseful and creepy at times. The visuals were great, the acting was good and although it doesn’t get as dark as I’d like, it is a nice addition to Natali’s filmography.

Wither (2012) – Nicely gory, but lacks atmosphere and just didn’t keep up my interest.

100 Bloody Acres (2012) – Fun and silly and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It doesn’t stay strong the entire way through, but there are some good laughs.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: Haunter (2013)

Day 3: 24 August 2013

Stalled (2013) – I was desperate to get a ticket for this and I felt like my entire experience of the festival rested on getting a ticket and it being awesome. It didn’t disappoint. One of the best zombie films in years; reviewed here.

Frankenstein’s Army (2013) – Cool monsters, but the found footage style does not suit the film and makes it feel like watching someone else play a first person shooter and is just not that fun.

Cannon Fodder (2013) – Offers nothing new to the zombie genre and is quite boring. I was very tired after not getting much sleep in my desperation for Stalled tickets and found myself drifting off during most of it.

No One Lives (2012) – Really weird. I couldn’t tell if it was meant to be serious or comedy, played straight. I am hoping for the latter, because it was stupidly funny and bizarre. The lead was pretty good, but the others not so much.

R.I.P.D. (2013) – Mediocre, brainless film. It is bad, but watchable.

Cheap Thrills (2013) – A fantastic end to the day. Although it’s predictable, it is ridiculously entertaining. The performances are great from everyone and it moves along at a good pace. I would’ve liked to see have seen more, but as it is, it is very good.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: Stalled (2013) and Cheap Thrills (2013)

Day 4: 25 August 2013

Missionary (2013) – I originally planned to see Painless, but I was so tired and didn’t think I’d be able to concentrate on it. A fairly generic and predictable film that is held together by strong performances by both leads.

In Fear (2013) – It started off fairly well. I am terrible with directions and am terrified about getting lost, so the thought of driving around in the unknown countryside as it gets dark is quite a scary concept to me. Unfortunately, it then starts to unravel and get silly.

The Grief Tourist (2012) – Michael Cudlitz’s performance is very good, but the story is a mess and it’s not a very entertaining film.

El Desierto (2013) – A zombie film that focuses on the characters more than the zombies. It is quiet and slow, but I found it entertaining and well-paced.

Los últimos días (2013) – A really interesting plot/concept, but ridiculously formulaic. Bland characters, predictable by-the-book script, and a bit melodramatic.

Willow Creek (2013) – The build-up is quite slow and boring, but once it gets to the tent scene, it’s one of the most intense rides ever. I could feel the tension in the audience as it went on. A very welcome addition to the found footage genre.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: El Desierto (2013)

Day 5: 26 August 2013

Dark Touch (2013) – Acting was bad, script was a total mess, I had no clue what the point of it was at any time.

The Demon’s Rook (2013) – I decided to sleep in this morning instead of getting up early to get tickets for this film and I am so glad I did because this was by far the worst film of the festival. The acting was the worst acting ever, the plot was dumb, the constant music drove me insane and I fell asleep twice, but I don’t think I missed anything important. Its only saving point was some really cool gore, but not enough to save it completely.

Odd Thomas (2013) – Really goddamn annoying, overly quirky characters that I wanted to punch in the face. I haven’t read the book so I dunno what the tone of that is like, but this seemed half aimed at tweens (casting ‘pretty faces’ and being fairly simple), but then it also attempted to be quite dark sometimes. I think it would’ve been better played less comedic because the comedy wasn’t very funny and I think the subject matter needed a darker tone.

We Are What We Are (2013) – Was never really boring and it looked good, but it was never really gripping either. The horror part was really only a small part and I don’t think it dealt with the build-up well enough to make it really effective.

Big Bad Wolves (2013) – A great end to the day and the festival. It carefully treads the horror/comedy line and manages to hit the right marks for both. I thought it was pretty damn funny, but it went straight into ‘horror’ mode for the darker bits and it makes it all work quite well. I also liked the acting (particularly from Rotem Keinan) and the chemistry between the characters.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: Big Bad Wolves (2013)

Final ranking of all the films:

1. Stalled (2013)
2. Cheap Thrills (2013)
3. You’re Next (2011)
4. Big Bad Wolves (2013)
5. Haunter (2013)

6. El Desierto (2013)
7. Willow Creek (2013)

8. No One Lives (2012)
9. 100 Bloody Acres (2012)
10. Missionary (2013)
11. We Are What We Are (2013)
12. Los últimos días (2013)

13. The Dead 2: India (2013)

14. Curse of Chucky (2013)
15. Odd Thomas (2013)
16. The Grief Tourist (2012)
17. Dementamania (2013)
18. Frankenstein’s Army (2013)
19. In Fear (2013)
20. R.I.P.D. (2013)

21. Wither (2012)
22. Cannon Fodder (2013)
23. Para Elisa (2013)
24. Dark Touch (2013)
25. Antisocial (2013)

26. The Demon’s Rook (2013)

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