Mattie Do’s fantastic Dearest Sister (Nong Hak) opened day three. It’s a cultural chiller from Laos and is the second horror film to have ever been produced in the country. In 2013, Abertoir audiences saw Mattie’s debut offering Chanthaly which tells the story of a Lao woman coping with the death of her mother and finding her place within her family amidst a horror subtext. Dearest Sister expands on what Chanthaly set up about Laos focusing on a young woman finding her place within her own society. In many ways it’s a coming of age tale centring on a young woman who is sent to the city to care for her visually impaired cousin.
Her cousin develops a unique paranormal ability in which Nok, the central character uses for her own gain. Family, deception and culture are at the heart of the film, it’s very character focused with excellent performances from the main actresses. You won’t see another film like this on the horror circuit this year. Mattie Do is a filmmaker to look out for with a promising future, her films are refreshing, original and interesting. For my full review of Dearest Sister which includes an on-screen interview with Mattie and the film’s producer Annick Mahnert about all things horror visit: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/celluloid-screams-2016-dearest-sister-review/
Up next was an Abertoir staple, the annual talk by author and journalist Gavin Baddeley. This year Baddeley discussed Sin Cities: From Sodom and Gomorrah to Las Vegas and Beyond. He always presents fascinating and unique talks combining a historical context and a subject relating to the main theme of Abertoir. Baddeley took us through pre-42nd Street depravity and the going’s on in cities far more corrupt and dangerous than the aforementioned New York grindhouse hot spot. Following on from Gaz’s talk the previous day, Baddeley’s lecture added a greater insight into what came before, connecting the themes of both talks together nicely.
Thursday the 17th November 2016 was a horror movie in itself. As luck would have it Aberystwyth was struck with severe weather conditions. Strong, hurricane-like winds caused destruction in the small town with roofs ripped from garages and trees collapsing into the roads. The University Campus was even declared unsafe which didn’t bode well for the Abertoir Fest attendees. The festival team had planned a surprise off-site screening following on from 2014’s Horror Express on the Vale of Rheidol and 2015’s spectacular Silver Mountain Experience to celebrate the ten year anniversary of Neil Marshall’s The Descent.
With John Carpenter’s recent UK tour circulating the country it made it absolutely fitting to screen one of his most classic and spooky films, The Fog (1980), starring Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins and Jamie Lee Curtis. Festival directors Gaz Bailey and Nia Edwards-Behi had arranged for The Fog to play at one of Aberystwyth’s greatest landmark’s, Constitution Hill. The picturesque, cliff top location in cold November would have added an eerie atmosphere to what is still an unnerving and effective film, however as incredible as it would have been the decision was made to screen the film in the comfort and safety of the cinema. The sudden apocalyptic weather was certainly a surprise but luckily everyone left the festival in one piece but gained some unforgettable memories!
Screening next was Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s (Pulse, The Cure) latest slow burning thriller, Creepy. A former police detective takes on a case surrounding a family disappearance at the request of his ex-colleague, but has he bit off more than he can chew when his wife becomes friendly with their ambiguous new neighbour. Layered, intriguing and plot-driven, Creepy is guaranteed to keep audiences on the edge of their seats with its extreme tension throughout. Look out for a future full review of the movie on this site. This is one that’s best gone into knowing very little.
Up Next: Part Four where things go Raw!