Day four is off to a start with a bit of a helping from the vampire crowd. We didn’t manage to catch We Are The Night, but the main screen booted off with The Thompsons. Without further delay – here’s our response to the films!
A family living in a different neighbourhood going under a different name. No, this is not that The Simpsons episode where they move to Terror Lake under a new name. Instead it’s the sequel to The Hamiltons. Yes, they have changed name and removed themselves to Europe.
A few flashbacks and set ups aside, the majority of the action takes place on our own UK isles. They search for like-minded bloodsuckers and they find it but are this family all they seem and all the Hamiltons (Thompsons, whatever) hope?
The film is a bit clumsy and features some truly terrible performances. Sadly, it’s largely from the Brit cast where you find the main offenders. But the writers get a thumbs up for at least taking the story in a different direction from the first film. It’s a so-so start to day four.
This Dublin set thriller starts off with some very impressive lens work. Care and attention has gone into the opening montage of the city and streets, whilst a radio V/O lets us know, along with some black card notes, about the amount of people that go missing each year. Guess what this one will be about!
It’s almost a shame that the cinematic view is lost post opening credits with the video camera look as it can initially put viewers off. But before you slap your face and groan about the loss of the look and the addition of bloody poor audio it has to be said that the film makers have done their utmost to disguise this with plenty of camera movement, a consistently eerie score and alterations in the look of the stock they have shot on.
A group of girls are out for a drunken party night and it isn’t long before you start to wish that they would get bumped off one at a time as any conversation is lost by the fact that everyone seems to want to drunkenly shout over each other. It helps to keep the film seem all the more natural, but doesn’t aid audience patience.
Then they are attacked by three homeless men with an appetite for psychological and physical harm. What follows is unpleasant and tough to watch, but just as it’s reaching fever pitch suddenly the film goes all supernatural on us!
It’s to the film makers credit that they have mashed together so many different aspects of the horror genre into this “found footage” scenario, and it certainly helps it keep its head above the water in a sea that is drowning with this type of cheap horror.
Logic-wise though, some of the decisions made by characters make very little sense especially when it comes to looking for a way in, when you should be getting or staying out!
Short Film Showcase
This year Paul McEvoy selected nine short films for the showcase. As ever the selection is varied in tone and length.
Derek Jacobi was put to good use in the poetic The Halloween Kid. The supernatural attacks in the creepy Alexis. Comedy highlights come from the highly amusing Snails and Metal Creepers. Less successful was My Brother’s Keeper which suffered from stogey performances and a bit of mistiming on the jokes. Lot 254 was perhaps the shortest as a camera collector repairs and puts together an old camera, only to discover it has the ability to see phantoms! Tokophobia was perhaps the most simple, yet disturbing (let’s just say it involves an unwanted pregnancy and a wire coat hanger). The biggest let down was The Captured Bird which was just plain bizarre. Un Jour Sang is left for last and is perhaps the best, with a very clever use of footage which has the dialogue for what is to follow playing over it. Disturbing and an original idea.
The film cleverly opens with César getting up on what seems like an ordinary day and going about his usual routine. Washing, dressing and readying his work place at the front desk of an apartment block. His boss calls him up on taking long breaks, but the only thing that really catches the eye is the fact that he is giving money to the young daughter of one of the residents upon demand. Before you can even wonder what all that is about, suddenly we find out who he really is.
César likes to spend his nights under the bed of another resident Clara. Once she is asleep he emerges and as part of a cruel routine makes sure that she is sleeping whilst he makes himself comfortable on her bed and subjects her apartment to all sorts of torturous rituals.
This really is slow burning psychological stuff. Director Jaume Balaguero is clever to pull the audience in through a day of normality, but once the curtain is drawn he sustains attention by simply going further into detail through Cesar’s routine.
Actor Luis Tosar does a very subtle job and never plays the film for winks or nudges. It’s as straight as you could hope, and you’ll spend the entirety of the second half wondering if he is going to get away with it. Recommended!
Berberian Sound Studio
A real audience splitter! Toby Jones takes the lead as a film sound technician called to work in Italy on the dubbing of a new horror film (although they don’t like the term horror film it turns out). The producer, along with the majority of the staff are fairly hostile and seem keen to keep him working with the offer of very little relief. What starts as a simple stress over getting his flight reimbursed starts to spiral out of control until the film does a dramatic turn in tone.
The film starts to subvert its own conventions and cleverly plays editing and sound tricks of its own. It’s at this point where the audiences will split. Really Berbarian Sound Studio is an academics film to ponce over, but to be fair, it’s one that will probably be all the more rewarding on a second viewing. Toby Jones is, as ever, impressive and carries the film with his subtle silence throughout.
Ethan Hawke plays a novelist researching a murder of a family for his latest book. He even goes so far as to move his own family into the house where the deceased family were killed.
Not a good choice then? Well no… and of course things start to go bump in the night. His discovery of some old super 8 films doesn’t help matters as his obsession with the cases threatens to drive him ruin and tear his own happy family apart.
Sinister has some good old fashioned thrills and chills and for the most part doesn’t have to rely too heavily on fake scares.
It isn’t right to not have a barmy Japanese horror film at FrightFest and Dead Sushi is a prime example of how much fun these movies can be!
Just trying to explain the plot really doesn’t help get across the tone of the film. The daughter of a sushi chef finds herself disgraced and working at a hotel. A group of business guests are staying but when a disgruntled worker puts a curse on the food, things start to get a little crazy.
Dead Sushi is a great antidote to the last two films on the big screen. If it’s crazy comedy you want, this one served it up cold, but with a tongue firmly planted in its cheek.
It also has to be noted that in the Rediscovery screen FrightFest also screened some old Hammer classics:
The Mummy’s Shroud
Rasputin, The Mad Monk
The Devil Rides out
The Bride Of Frankenstein
We didn’t get a chance to see them as the screen was so small and spaces went. But our hat is off to the organisers for experimenting further with what the crowds might like to see!
That was day four! One more day to go but what will the quality be like?