Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Frightfest the 13th: The Bleedin' Good and the Bloody Awful

The good, the bad and the ugly from this year’s Frightfest…



  • Sleep Tight ****
Ever wondered what is lurking beneath your bed at night? Director of REC Jaume Balaguero delivers this dark and sinister psychological thriller about an apartment janitor Cesar who sneaks into resident Clara’s apartment at night and hides under her bed, waiting until she is asleep to carry out his disturbing fantasies. In addition to constructing a captivating plot about a man’s obsession, Balaguero creates a controlled suspense as well as a lasting intensity that seeps a creepy uneasiness.

  • V/H/S ***
Six tapes, six stories, six directors. An anthology of short found footage clips that will make you give late night skyping a second thought. Framed by a story of a group of hoodlums who are paid to break into a house to obtain a certain rare vhs tape, the rest of the stories are the ones that they regretfully come across during their search. Boasting variety in plots, lengths and twists, V/H/S uses several shooting methods, covering every piece of technology that has a record button!

  • Sinister ****
Ethan Hawke stars as true-crime writer Elis who is desperate to recoup his former success and make his next book a hit. But when he moves his family to a house that was once a crime scene in a series of family murders spanning five decades in a final hope for inspiration, he finds a box in the attic full of reels that contain footage of these deaths. Convinced that he is seeing mysterious figures lurking around his house that resemble those in the footage, he soon realises that he is way beyond his professional limits and that danger is creeping closer and closer to his family. A nail-biting supernatural thriller by director of THE EXORCIST OF EMILY ROSE Scott Derrickson that holds its restraint and suspense while offering plenty of scares that will keep you jumping out of your seat.

  • Chained ***
Jennifer Chambers Lynch directs this dark chiller, delivering what she herself describes as a psychological look into “how monsters are born.” Cab-driver Bob spends his days kidnapping girls off the city streets, taking them to his secluded house in the country and raping and killing them before burying their corpses in his garage. When he carries out this ritual on Tim’s mother, young Tim is left in the hands of the serial killer. Time passes and, after years of being locked up and kept as a slave, Tim must decide whether he is to stay chained up in his captures house forever or choose the life of a killer for his freedom. Whilst CHAINED is both an adequately moving and troubling account of a deranged man teaching a young boy his murdering methods, the plot tries to do too much towards its conclusion and a climatic twist opens doors that are never sufficiently closed.

  • Tulpa ***

SHADOW director Federico Zampaglione attempts to revive the Italian giallo horror genre in this classic whodunit murder mystery. Businesswoman Lisa spends her days at the top of the corporate game, but at night her little dark secret is exercised when she regularly visits an underground Club Tulpa where a Tibetan Buddhist guru teaches that personal freedom can be found through promiscuous free sex. But when her lovers in Tulpa are being murdered one by one, her secret world runs risk of being uncovered and her life is endangered. A colourful masterpiece that closely resembles the classic artwork and imagery of giallo directors Bava, Argento and Fulci but which ultimately suffers in its unnecessary and distracting use of bad dialogue and dubbing.


  • The Thompsons **
Our anguished vampire family return with a new name in this sequel to the 2006 feature THE HAMILTONS. Desperate for some place to go after being forced to leave their home town, the Thompson family are faced with an offer they can’t refuse: ancient vampire clan the Stuart’s offer them shelter, solace and a place to belong their cosy English town. But when they arrive it is clear that their intentions are not so welcoming. The story is comprehendible and the story runs smoothly enough, but the charming elements of its predecessor are absent: the mystery of whether it’s entirely a vampire movie is lost, and the poetic resonance that ‘they have a disease and are not monsters’ is imperceptible. With its content poorly sourcing the first film of the franchise, the quality of the plot stands alone and thus runs the risk of it simply being another teen-vamp movie.

  • Under the Bed *
A child’s worst nightmare is played out onscreen when Jonny and younger brother Gattlin are tormented at night by a terrorizing monster hidden under their bed. With an engaging insight to Jonny’s mental and emotional past instantly raising questions about the truth of his claims -  similar to the opening scenario in supernatural thriller THE HAUNTING IN CONNETICUT - we are offered a promising start. But when the brothers decide to team up in a bizarre battle with the bed monsters with nothing more than a home-made doctor-who-like torch, the haunting horror cripples into nothing more than a kid’s fantasy film accompanied by cheesy acting and pointless random chunks of narrative. As the brother’s night terror unfolds and the monsters enter next-door neighbour’s territory, it appears that the threat is no longer restricted to under the bed - perhaps it should have been.

  • After **
Two strangers survive a road accident and wake up to find that they are alone in their small hometown which is now an unfamiliar and unworldly existence. Being slowly engulfed by a foreboding black mist that conceals ravenous creatures, the two form an unlikely alliance to work out the truth about their lonely isolation. The sci-fi thriller goes through the motions of a struggle to understand the strange happenings in a race against time but the outcome is realised by the viewer long before the characters figure it out. AFTER is visually impressive in its bold exploration of dreamlike and imaginative atmospheres and, following a similar pattern than that seen in Gareth Evans’ MONSTERS, the blossoming relationship of the pair is a welcome diversion from the hardships of the situation. But again this falls short to being unconvincing and predictable- a severely dull watch after the visual splendour of the dark fantastical ‘world’ is appreciated.

  • Outpost II: The Black Sun **
During the close of WW2, German scientist Klausener worked on a terrifying new technology with the power to create his own immortal Nazi army. Now a NATO force is being deployed to go to Eastern Europe and stop whatever is relentlessly killing everyone in its path. Ruthless war investigator Lena teams up with adventurer Wallace to track down infamous war criminal Klausener. But when the duo are confronted by a swarm of Nazi Storm Troopers, they find themselves in dead mans land and are forced to team up with the Special Unit forces in an attempt to stop the supernatural machinery behind their monstrous regime. While containing some brief references, the sequel lacks considerable relevance to OUTPOST, replacing originality and horror rudiments with 100 minutes of explosively brutal action set pieces. The narrative and script is lifeless but coherently sustained - at least until its conclusion takes several bizarre turns, one of which in the purposeless, cackling wicked-witch type nurse who chases the good guys around the tunnels with a hypodermic needle! The characters are not in the slightest bit interesting (if anything too serious for a zombie flick), nor has anything been noticeably advanced with the race-running, knife-stabbing zombies- they’re still the blood-thirsty, human digesting brutal blighters we saw in the first! After the mediocre success of its predecessor, one wondered where else the franchise could go. But with this sequel set for a straight to DVD release and with a prequel in production, prepare for yet more Nazi Zombie regimes!

  • Hidden in the Woods **
Chilean director Patricio Valladares treats us to a large slice of exploitation of the rawest kind! Brought up in forest isolation, tormented sisters Ana and Anny seize the opportunity to escape their sexually abusive father when the social services call. Taking their incest son/brother with them, the trio journey through in the woods to flee their former lives. But big time drug boss Costello and his hot-headed henchmen are determined to stop them in their tracks to find out where their now imprisoned father is storing a multi-million dollar drug stash. Rape, revenge, prostitution and cannibalism drive the shock factor in this Chilean frenzy. But unfortunately this can only make up for the unrealistic and seemingly motiveless madmen mafia pursuit, which too heavily features exaggerated machismo gun shoot-outs that boast plenty of violent carnage, but cop out of showing any respectful special effects.


More Gore to look out for:

  • Paura 3D          
  • The Seasoning House
  • [Rec] 3: Genesis 
  • Maniac
  • Tower Block
  • Sawney: Flesh of Man
  • Before Dawn
  • Berberian Sound Studio
  • We are the Night
  •  Inbred
  • The Arrival of Wang
  • Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut
To see more about the event, this year’s films and what FRIGHTFEST has in store for future dates and festivals, visit http://www.frightfest.co.uk/

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