Landing in London’s West End over the August bank holiday, Frightfest returns for its 20th festival of all the finest horror joints that cinema has to offer.
With over 75 films in its schedule, it can be a daunting prospect to know what to check out at the festival. There are films to meet all genre tastes from the lightest of horror touches to full-on, gore-drenched cinematic nightmares.
The below ten films are the ones I’m initially excited about, but each perusal of the programme uncovers another hidden gem in the UK’s most exceptional genre festival.
Come to Daddy
The festival kicks off with the queasily intriguing Come to Daddy. Ostensibly about a son reuniting with his estranged father, the film is directed by Ant Timpson and written by Toby Havard, whose fingerprints have been on such genre gems as The Greasy Strangler, Turbo Kid and Housebound.
If nothing else, this’ll be an opening few are likely to forget.
Director, Alexandre Aja on a good day can put together a terrifically tense horror film, with past career hits including The Hills Have Eyes and Haute Tension (aka Switchblade Romance). Crawl follows the long summer tradition of toothy beasties terrorising people, this time with crocodiles in a house during a hurricane.
Away from the main screen, Frightfest has a further three screens packed with films that might otherwise be missed by audiences. Among those is Dachra, Tunisia’s first-ever horror movie. Drenched in folklore, the film takes in witchcraft, cults and cannibalism as it follows three journalists deeper and deeper down a dark rabbit hole of an investigation.
Knives and Skin
The Frightfest blurb for Knives and Skin manages to fit in comparisons to Heathers, Mean Girls, Sofia Coppola, David Lynch and High School Musical. It’s safe to say this warped coming-of-age story about the aftermath of a tragedy in a small American town, is one of the festival’s most intriguing choices and one definitely worth checking out.
Freaks/Here Comes Hell
This entry is a bit of a cheat.
But these two previously played at Frightfest Glasgow and went down a treat. One (Freaks) is a stickily-claustrophobic sci-fi-tinged tale of a father who won’t let his daughter out (there’s sure to be a twist in the mix).
The other (Here Comes Hell) is a black and white spoof, mixing Agatha Christie with The Evil Dead. Both are ones to not be missed.
I Trapped the Devil
Almost worth a watch for its name alone, I Trapped the Devil promises a late-night chillfest. Neatly falling into the surprisingly populous subgenre of Christmas horror films, this picks the rather fabulous set-up of a couple arriving at the husband’s estranged brother’s house, only to find he’s trapped an old man in his basement.
The brother claims this individual is none other than the Devil.
Ready or Not
Hollywood has teased bloody treats and ghoulish thrills from the likes of a Ouija board game and the Sunday funday activity of an escape room, so why not hide and seek. From the directing duo behind one of the better sequences in V/H/S (‘10/31/98’), Ready or Not finds a newlywed bride taking part in a bloody version of the children’s game that may very well lead to her demise. Expect something a little goofy and a lot of fun.
With one of the best names of the festival, Satanic Panic comes with hints of The Invitation and The House of the Devil. A pizza delivery driver finds herself in a lot of trouble when her final job of the night takes her to the house of an elite Satanist cult on the lookout for a human sacrifice. With an 80s setting (a must in most modern genre films) and a cult cast to die for, this promises to be a punchy, gory hoot.
It’s always dicey to remake a master of the genre.
But if there’s anyone who can breathe new life into David Cronenberg’s early works, it’s the Soska Sisters. The geniuses behind American Mary turn their gaze to Rabid, telling the story of a model needing an extensive operation after a devastating accident.
From this starting point the Soskas shape a body horror both true to Cronenberg’s original and a satire for today’s image-focused culture.
A Good Woman is Hard to Find
Playing the prestigious closing slot (previous festivals have climaxed with the likes Train to Busan, The Orphanage and, aptly, Climax), A Good Woman is Hard to Find looks to end the 20th festival on a high note. Chronicling the aftermath of a brutal gangland murder, it follows the victim’s wife as she seeks justice, going to extreme measures in what promises to be a taut thriller drenched in suspense.
Frightfest runs from Thursday 22nd to Monday 26th August at the Empire Leicester Square and the Prince Charles Cinema.