Film4 FrightFest Review Friday (Day 2)

Friday the 27th was the first full on day and also served to highlight the big star director name to be interviewed on stage which was Tobe Hooper. There was a screening of his first early film Eggshells followed after by the infamous The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Hooper was then brought on stage after for an elongated Q&A session by co-sponsor Total Film.

Tobe Hooper signs autographs for a queue so long it just wasn't funny!

Perhaps Hooper’s memory is a bit hazy or he just wasn’t being asked the right sorts of questions, but despite being an affable personality on stage, he was fairly restraint in his answers. Last year they had John Landis who has no problem with talking, laughing, telling anecdotes. Hooper seems to be the opposite of that needing a little more guidance and often offering acknowledgement of comments as opposed to in-depth incite.

After this came the UK’s Isle of Dogs which was early contender for a film that really stands out. The tale of a love triangle that turns very gangster and then slasher style violent isn’t much on the page but the direction in places was very assured and even reminiscent of Argento in the opening shot. Aiding this was a very loud score that recalled work by the likes of This Mortal Coil.  Hard guitar in places, and beautifully ethereal in others.

Isle of Dogs' actress Barbara Nedeljakova slightly over-dressed.

The problem with the film is that it couldn’t decide if it wanted to be serious or a black comedy. If it was full on serious then the film would have suffered from lack of sympathetic characters.  Every main character has some serious problems and sins to deal with. Even the leading female character stuck in the middle is a complete bitch in her free time as evidenced by her spoilt brat behaviour towards the house help. It is hard to sympathise with her when everyone seems to want to kill her. What does shine through in the serious view of this film is the early violent scenes and also the almost montage like quieter moments of the film giving some much needed pathos.

If the film was a full on black comedy this problem would have gone away as you would have cared less about anyone being unsympathetic but the danger with black comedy is that the violence committed would lose it’s hard edge and become laughable.

Edward Hogg and Barbara Nedeljakova with Director Tammi Sutton in the middle

Isle of Dogs sadly is a bit of a coward in that it doesn’t define itself properly. There are moments of harsh violence in this film, but then there are moments of whimsical nutty violence too as the film descends into a laughable mess in its blood filled climax. Ultimately, it requires a second viewing!

F cast and crew line up for the camera.

Gaining a much better reputation was another UK release F which left many festival goers talking about it afterwards.

Another Australian release followed this, Red Hill, and then Friday closed its main screen with Japan’s Alien vs. Ninja

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