Tuesday 30 August 2011

Fright Fest Round Up- Part 2

So day two of FrightFest. The first screening of the day was Israeli horror Rabies, which is actually the first Israeli horror ever made. The first scene make it look like it is going to be a derivative teen horror, however the story takes plenty of unexpected turns and you quickly realise that the story can be read at many different level without never feeling didactic. While it took me some time to understand where this was going, it became obvious than this was a lot smarter than your average horror, and can also be enjoyed as a subtle metaphor for the ongoing conflict in Israel. The two directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado were present and came across as really likeable and full of enthusiasm for the genre.

Then came The Inkeepers by Ty West. I have yet to catch up with his previous film, loving 80's tribute The House of the Devil yet was still really looking forward to that. It has been intriguingly described as a Shining, slackers style yet this was a big let down and featured one of the most annoying male lead to ever grace our screen (very similar to the type of sarcastic and bitter retail staff who thinks he is better than his job, plenty of them around). While I admire the effort to build up some slow burning tension, and the old school ghost story style, free of CGI, this was far too straight forward with few surprises, and scares that have been seen a million times before (a ghostly bride, really?). Only the presence of Kelly McGillis (on a roll this year after Stake Land), as a boozing, ageing actress, lights this up. And the poster is rather lovely.

A bit of Christmas celebration followed, only, this being Fright Fest, here Santa, (or actually Saint Nicholas), turned out to be a murderous spirit with a burned face, alongside ghost pirates he seemingly borrowed from The Fog, in Dutch horror Saint. This felt like an old fashioned slasher with the added twist of a very unusual murderer, and the film took full advantage of the snowy Amsterdam's landscapes, especially in an impressive scene with St Nicholas galloping over the roofs of the city. Fun if forgettable. It has to be noted that the children's body count in here is so high it might lead Michelle Bachmann and her Tea-Partiers to declare war on Holland. Still, it was good to hear from director Dick Maas, renowned in the 80's for the infamous The Lift, and Amsterdamned.

And last film of the day, and one of the most anticipated of the festival, Kill List, by Ben Wheatley. I had already seen the director on stage at Empire Big Screen and he seemed a little annoying but I had put that on the count of nerves. I can confirm after seeing him again that he is indeed rather annoying, the kind of person who thinks using the "c" word in front of a full audience is the height of controversy. This was a huge disappointment, all the more frustrating since so many seem to love it. I defy anybody to claim that the film had a better audience reception than The Woman however, it seemed strangely muted from a sizeable part of the audience when the credits rolled in.

While I kind of enjoying the slow build up and the carefully crafted spooky atmosphere, the final act certainly did not bring all of the mystery I was hoping for. There are films where unexplained loose ends bring mystery, others where it just feels like a random mess and I am afraid this was the latter here. The director claimed he would not explain it during the Q&A but there was no need to as it was rather straight forward, we are certainly not talking Mulholland Drive in here! As for the oh so controversial ending, I will not spoil it, but mix * ******* **** and *** ****** ***, with a twist of **** **** **** and you got it.

And that was it, after two days, eight films copious amount of coffee, far too many jumpscares I can handle in such a short period of time and the firm promise to go back next year and do the full five days of the festival!

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