Abertoir without a doubt saved the best for last with an unforgettable line-up set for the weekend. Scary Saturday began with a real indie gem from Canada, The Unseen.
The film is the début feature from director Geoff Redknap. The Unseen is a dark, character-driven piece about a man who abruptly abandoned his family many years previously under mysterious circumstances. After living in solitude for so long the time has finally come for him to reconnect with his troubled teenage daughter before it’s too late. The Unseen presents many themes including abandonment and dealing with illness; at it’s core it’s a film about family and the idea that no matter how much time has passed, amends can be made. Aden Young gives one of the best performances in a genre film this year as the brooding, conflicted father who is dealing with a condition out of the ordinary. Young actress, Julia Sarah Stone is equally brilliant in the role of his daughter Eva.
The two share believable chemistry keeping the audience drawn in and gripped by their story. The film takes a while to gear up to where it needs to be but once it does it is completely worth the wait. The film puts forward the question of how much would you risk for someone you love and it’s played out beautifully. The visual effects are simply extraordinary and are of a high quality proving tremendous for a low budget film. It’s reminiscent in tone of the films of Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson where the focus is on the characters and how they deal with the extreme circumstances surrounding them. The Unseen is everything a horror film should be and proves that horror as a genre can be innovative, showcasing human emotion with a fantastical subtext. The Unseen was a surprise highlight of Abertoir 2016 following no prior expectations
Nicko and Joe’s Bad Film club is always an absolute treat of the festival. Who says you can’t laugh along with your horror? The whole fun of this event is not knowing what B-Movie delights they’ll have on offer until we’re sat down in the cinema ready to begin. We have seen such sights in the past from Troll 2 to Night Train to Terror to last year’s The Mangler but this year’s pick potentially topped even them! Picture this, there’s a cat who becomes possessed by a smaller, angrier looking cat after a lab experiment gone wrong! The killer cat ends up on a Yacht with a bunch of silly people who he bumps off one by one in a succession of strange ways.
The film was of course straight-to-video flick, Uninvited made in 1988! It’s very clunky, full of nonsensical plot lines, odd character behaviours and dodgy sex scenes but it was damn entertaining in a “how did this movie even get pitched and made” kind of way! Even the cover photo of this movie does not include the cat that actually appears in the film!! One of the best bits of Nicko and Joe’s Bad Film Club is they are always so kind and bring along a box of sweets for us; the lower the quality of the film the higher quality the sweets are! They are both completely and utterly hilarious with their own unique brand of humour and enhance the experience of watching a completely bizarre horror movie, making it even more memorable.
Billy O’Brien’s I Am Not A Serial Killer is another indie flick that has generated a lot of interest this year. It’s a portrayal of small town America which sees a sociopathic teenager battle his own killer instincts while trying to discover the identity of a mysterious murderer who’s slashing his way through suburbia. There’s an interesting concept in place however the execution is not as was hoped. The lead character, John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records) came across as pretentious and outwardly fishing for some kind of reaction by behaving all disturbed and creepy rather than it coming across as genuine.
It never quite balances as to whether the audience is meant to root for him or be repulsed by him. To a degree that is pretty interesting but as a whole the issue with not “getting” the main character made the film personally underwhelming. It does bring into question as to whether the film’s star power of Christopher Lloyd is primarily the reason that the critics are raving. Lloyd is without a doubt an excellent actor but if the role of Crowley had been taken by an unknown performer instead would there still be the same high praise for the movie as a whole? Undoubtedly it is popular and well liked by many but for me it just didn’t resonate.
Before the main event of the evening and of the whole festival Abertoir gave us an authentic 42nd Street tradition, for the first time ever we had a hot dog break! The festival certainly knows how to look after their attendee’s by providing us with a classic horror movie snack to line our stomachs before partying the night away!
Abertoir’s main attraction for 2016 was of course the return of Fabio Frizzi for the third time to our Welsh festival. The Frizzi 2 Fulci band who had performed a special concert in honour of Abertoir’s 10th Anniversary the previous year played an incredible, re-mastered score live in Theater-Y-Werin to the unforgettable 1981 Fulci classic, The Beyond. The Aberystwyth Arts Centre stage has seen numerous amounts of talent over the years but adding a horror composer legend to that makes it even more amazing.
This wasn’t the first time the festival had screened The Beyond. Back in 2012, cult actress Catriona MacColl attended as a special guest and participated in a Q&A following the movie. Abertoir’s long founded appreciation of all things Lucio Fulci was cemented with this pinnacle event, there is nothing better than experiencing a cult classic accompanied by a live music score amongst like-minded fans, atmospheric only begins to cover it.
Abertoir offered an experience like no other, fans were able to meet and greet with Frizzi and the band following the concert. The night ended with the traditional Abertoir themed party, complete with the sounds of the 1970’s courtesy of DJ Dellamorte.
Once again team Abertoir put together one seedy, sensational festival. If you’re a horror fan then there’s no place to be in cold November other than the dark depths of Wales. Visit www.abertoir.co.uk for more updates on what’s to come in 2017…!