Friday the 26th was a grey and grim day indeed weather wise and as I strutted through the streets on my way to the Empire for the second day of FrightFest fun I was determined not to let the rain and wet dampen my spirits.
Inside the cinema was busier than I had expected showing not only the dedication of the FrightFest festival goers but the quality of all the films on offer which made people, myself included, rise and shine like reverse vampires much earlier than they ever normally would.
The first film of the day was Rouge River a dark and gruesome tale to match the weather outside. Following the torturous journey of Mara an innocent woman captured by a couple of psychotic killers it pushed the boundaries of horror and disgust. From D.I.Y hand stitches to having boiling hot water poured down her throat Mara suffers through some shocking scenes while the creepy couple act out their twisted plan on her.
After a heavy and horrible start to the day it was onto film two a dark British thriller directed by Susan Jacobson, The Holding. Introducing her film Alan Jones asked her what it was like being a woman in the genre to which she replied that she loved horror and it was what she loved to make.
Described by Jacobson herself as a “burning thriller that tumbles into mayhem and anarchy” the story follows an all female family who own a farm in the rugged and harsh English countryside. Tough matriarch Cassie (Kierston Wareing) fights to make ends meet while bringing up her two girls alone and spurning the advances of the neighbouring land owner.
When a mysterious stranger arrives who claims to have known Cassie’s husband who recently disappeared she takes him in glad to have a man around again to fulfill her needs in every sense however he is not what he seems and soon the family must fight again for their survival as the secrets from the past are revealed that could destroy their future.
Well directed and acted The Holding was a solid thriller with some interesting themes and ideas coupled with moments of true tension and terror. In the Q and A afterwards Jacobson’s was joined onstage by the entire cast including Wareing and the youngest cast member, who had ironically been banned from the screening, and they talked about the intense filming and the original script which had a more supernatural element to it.
After talking in length to Tobe Hooper in 2010 this years Total Film Interview was with the often underrated and overlooked American filmmaker Larry Fessenden. Having made four features No, Telling, Habit, Wendigo and The Last Winter has also acted in nearly 50 films and produced 40-odd titles, including the recently well received Stake Land.
Starting with a show reel of his work and then taking us through his entire career Fessenden talked candidly articulately and entertainingly about everything from his obsession with horror to his old job filming weddings and unintentionally making them look like scary movies to the very recent story behind his removal from directorial duties on the Hollywood remake of The Orphanage complete with Guillermo del Toro impressions.
This interesting interview was followed by an even more insightful panel discussion into the state of American horror featuring Fessenden who was joined by Ti West, Lucky McKee, Adam Green, Joe Lynch and Andrew van den Houten.
Each had their own hilarious stories of trying to work within the Hollywood system. All also seemed to agree that American horror was on the decline into a cess pit full of remakes and reboots and the only way to save it was to rally against it in the hopes that more original movies got made, more original movies like the ones shown at FrightFest.
A horror movie not from America at all was up next, Urban Explorer made by German director Andy Fetscher who introduced his movie which tells the tale of four tourists who hire a local guide to take them on a dangerous journey under Berlin through the cavernous maze of escape tunnels and subterranean fortifications to find an old Nazi war room.
Heavily evoking Creep in its content the great locations and underground caves take the unfortunate explorers into the lair of a very nasty man who has sick plans to make them scream and never let them return to the world above.
In the Q and A afterwards Fetscher told some great stories of the filming including being surrounded and shot at by homeless people after the crews alcohol stash proving that filmmaking is a dangerous job especially in Germany it seems.
After shockingly spotting Quantum Leap star Scott Bakula heading into the cinema ahead of me and as the evening came upon us we where treated to the second of the John Carpenter shorts this one directed by Sean Hogan and inspired by The Thing showing the story from a very different perspective than the original movie did.
FrightFest’s own Andy Nyman took the stage next along with writer and director Cristian Solimeno for the world premiere of The Glass Man a tale for our recession filled times where Nyman stars as the weak and fragile minded Martin who has been pushed to the edge after loosing his job and getting himself into huge amounts of debt.
One debt he owes is called in when a sinister and threatening debt collector turns up on Martin’s door and he is faced with an awful offer, either pay now or help the collector in the terrible tasks he has to commit that night.
Gripping from start to finish with a great central performance from Nyman this thriller amps up the horror as it goes along packing in tons of dark humour along the way and telling a story as relevant as it is moving and poignant.
Coming back on stage to riotous applause after the film had finished Nyman and Solimeno brought the entire cast and crew with them including James Cosmo and Don Warrington and thanked the crowd for all the support and praise which they received for the film.
Friday ended with two very different movies first up was Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil a hilarious horror which pays tribute to a diverse range of suspense and slasher classics and Vile a tale of torture porn and Nazi experiments taken to the next level. A strange double bill to end the day on but both where fun in very, very different ways and who could tell what horrors and highlights tomorrow would bring.
LoveHorror at FrightFest 2011 Day 3 Here