FrightFest 2016

After I attended my first FrightFest in 2013, I’ve been wanting to return to the UK to attend another. I finally had the money and time to fly over this year for it. I originally planned to do a post per day but unfortunately forgot my password and had to wait until I returned home. Due to some unrelated stuff, I had a difficult time enjoying myself over there as I was distracted, but I still had a good time and saw some good films.

I went to the pre-drinks the night before and met some of the directors (Jonathan Straiton, Kate Shenton, Alistair Orr and Damon Rickard) and a couple of the organisers of the festival. I had intended to get vox pops from lots of people over there for a short documentary I’m making for school but due to the distractions mentioned above I wasn’t in the mood and only ended up getting one fan interview and a vox pop from Jack-Lewis Harvey, the DOP of Egomaniac and Andy Edwards, the director of Ibiza Undead (which I didn’t get to see, but he was a cool dude). Also, I saw The Love Witch some time ago when it was showing in Perth.

Anyway, after 5 days of horror movies, 18 short films and 21 features later, here’s a brief overview of FrightFest 2016.

Day 1: 25 August 2016


My Father, Die (2016): Great performances from Joe Anderson and Gary Stretch, some interesting visuals and ideas. But, I hated the one-dimensional lead female character and found the actress awful. I also found it quite slow and boring. 5/10

Cell (2016): I tried reading the book before the film but I only got 40% of the way through it, which ended up being about the first 20 minutes of the film. The film felt like it rushed through each plot point and ended up just being a formulaic, episodic zombie film. The special effects were terrible, the acting was bad and the ending was stupid. 4/10

Let Her Out (2016): Had some nice visuals and had the worst script ever written. The dialogue was goddawful and the acting was bad; it really reminded of The Room a lot of the time, just not as funny. It was just really stupid, with characters making decisions that made no sense at all. 4/10

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: No stand out film but by default, My Father, Die (2016)

Day 2: 26 August 2016


From a House on Willow Street (2016): Competently made throwback to 80s horror, but it dragged a bit and too reliant on jumpscares. It was a decent time with nothing really bad about it, just nothing that really stands out either. 5/10

The Chamber (2016): Decently made thriller with a seemingly well-researched and realistic portrayal of submarine stuff, but lacked any real tension and it seemed to rely on character interaction to build this tension but I don’t think any of it quite worked well enough to keep it interesting 5/10

Enclosure (2016): There were too many long stretches of talking which interrupted any tension that could’ve been there. I found the characters a bit annoying, but I think without Jake Busey’s character it could’ve been a bit tighter. Also there seems to be this recurring idea in horror films of men being terrified pregnancy and the idea that women don’t need men that I can’t really relate to and don’t like very much. 5/10

Lost Solace (2016): Beautifully shot and a great performance by Andrew Jenkins. I liked the idea, because I can relate to it a bit, but I felt like it faffed around too much with other things and wasn’t as powerful as it should’ve been. The rest of the actors were all quite good too. The hospital stuff was completely unnecessary as well. 6/10

Night of Something Strange (2016): The first 30 minutes were a riot and the rest of the film was pretty hilarious as well. I found it a bit too episodic and it kind of felt like all build-up and no climax. The effects were awesome and it somehow managed to pack a lot of random stuff in and still managed to be super funny and work overall. 7/10

The Devil’s Candy (2015): Taut thriller with good performances and a surprisingly believable family, where I actually somewhat cared about all of them (especially surprising since it includes a kid/teenager). It was well shot and had a nice underlying layer of dread. I didn’t care much for the themes of the film and it wasn’t really my kind of thing, but it was still good. 6/10

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: Night of Something Strange (2016)

Day 3: 27 August 2016


The Rezort (2015): Not terrible, but felt like wasted potential. Generic structure with boring characters and wasn’t particularly exciting at any point. 5/10

Shortfilm Showcase One: The short films shown were Gwilliam (7/10), Connie (4/10), Blight (6/10), The Stylist (5/10), Neck and Neck (5/10), The Garden (6/10), Bow Wow Wow (4/10). Gwilliam was stupid and hilarious. Blight was very atmospheric with cool effects, but short. The Garden had an interesting setting, but didn’t quite develop it enough.

House of Salem (2016): Very amateur film. It felt like everyone in the crew were first time filmmakers; there were weird cuts and edits, booming was off sometimes, and it seemed like a lot of the time they forgot to record atmos and the sound kept stopping and starting. There was also weird sound mixing as there were no sound effects for stabs and things; it would just go silent. The acting was poor and it wasn’t very entertaining. It wasn’t good at all, but somehow didn’t make me want to kill myself. 4/10

Sadako v Kayako (2016): Basically The Ring with a hint of The Grudge. Like most crossover films, it doesn’t make use of its full potential of bringing the two worlds together. I don’t like either of the original films either so that doesn’t help much. It was boring and pretty stupid. 4/10

Beyond the Gates (2016): Solid film, nicely shot and a nice score. The gore was great and well used (sparse, but was effective when it happened). I wish they’d focused more on the game and less on the characters, because I think it already established its characters very well and some of the stuff in between wasn’t really needed. It could’ve been tighter and a bit more exciting without some of it. 7/10

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: Beyond the Gates (2016)

Day 4: 28 August 2016


Downhill (2016): Felt like it should’ve either concentrated on the biker gang or the supernatural stuff because the mix didn’t quite work. The lead characters were annoying and I got bored pretty quickly. 4/10

Let’s Be Evil(2016): Nicely shot, the score was good and the acting was fine. But I felt like it didn’t do much with the idea. It was obvious where it was going and it felt like it didn’t even bother to set up the horror to come because it was obvious what was going to happen. Still, I found it entertaining despite some plot issues. 6/10

Egomaniac (2016): Hilarious all the way through and well paced. Good performances all around and the writing was great. I felt the climax was a bit of a letdown, but it wasn’t bad by any means I just felt it should’ve maybe been a bit more extreme. 7/10

31 (2016): I liked that it was relentlessly nasty and didn’t focus on a group of teenagers who make stupid decisions. Some of the gore and violence was nice, and the performances were good (especially Richard Brake) but I felt it could’ve been paced a bit better and maybe developed the characters more (because the characters were all pretty decent). 6/10

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: Egomaniac (2016)

Day 5: 29 August 2016


The Windmill Massacre (2016): I was distracted by the terrible attempt at an Australian accent by the lead actress and had a hard time focusing on anything else. Not an entirely original concept, but was moderately entertaining and it was a little more interesting than a generic slasher. 5/10

Shortfilm Showcase Three: The short films shown were Here We Are (5/10), Dissociative (5/10), Death Metal (7/10), The Babysitter Murders (6/10), Hell’s Garden (4/10), Madre di Dios (5/10), Neon (5/10), Thanatopraxy (6/10), Isadore (4/10), Bricks (6/10), It’s All In Your Head (6/10). Death Metal was hilarious and it was fun seeing in a crowd because FrightFest must be the only place where the entire audience cheers and claps because a kid gets their hands chopped off. The Babysitter Murders and It’s All In Your Head were both well done, but predictable. Thanatopraxy was funny but ended a bit abruptly.

Director’s Cut (2016): Funny, but felt a bit gimmicky about 3/4 of the way through and I was a little annoyed and bored by the end. It was something a bit different though and I did enjoy it and I liked Teller’s cameo. 6/10

Red Christmas (2016): Cool deaths and gore, but they were few and far between. I found its message mixed and it was a bit dull as there was too much faffing around that it couldn’t retain any tension. I found it kind of depressing though and I actually felt super miserable by the end of it. 5/10

Busanhaeng (2016): Normally I don’t like action zombie films, but this one gets it all right. It’s wonderfully paced, uses the train setting to its advantage. The performances are all good, the characters are all interesting. It doesn’t mess about with unnecessary rubbish, but it also doesn’t try to cram too much action in (normally the falling point of action films). I had an issue with some of the overly sentimental bits and the fact that it broke some of its own rules in order to create drama (in particular, how long it took for people to turn). But it was a great film and entertaining all the way through. 7/10

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: Busanhaeng (2016)

Final ranking of all the films:

1. Egomaniac (2016)
2. Busanhaeng (2016)

3. Night of Something Strange (2016)
4. Beyond the Gates (2016)

5. 31 (2016)
6. Lost Solace (2016)
7. The Devil’s Candy (2015)
8. Let’s Be Evil (2016)
9. Director’s Cut (2016)

10. From a House on Willow Street (2016)
11. The Windmill Massacre (2016)
12. The Rezort (2015)

13. Red Christmas (2016)
14. The Chamber (2016)
15. My Father, Die (2016)
16. Enclosure (2016)

17. Sadako v Kayako (2016)
18. Downhill (2016)
19. Let Her Out (2016)
20. Cell (2016)
21. House of Salem (2016)

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