The full 2010 Film 4 Frightfest roster was unveiled yesterday, and it made me very happy indeed. By now most of the All-Weekend passes will have been sold, but there's still going to be a good number of day passes and tickets for individual movies up for grabs. So, assuming you aren't already in for the long haul, what are the highlights? Is anything truly unmissable?
I'll go chronologically here, with my top ten picks for the Fest from opening night to closing gala, including trailers where possible.
Hatchet 2: The world premiere of Adam Green's axe 'em up sequel. I don't know if you've seen the 2006 original, but it's a definite callback to the golden days and blood-red nights of the best slasher films, and in Victor Crowley, Green has created his own grue icon.
This second installment promises an abundance of practical effects, primarily devised to show blood-gushing bodies being splayed and innards getting outed – fountains of scarlet catharsis, particularly for CG haters. And it's worth noting that Green has really honed his filmmaking chops film on film so that by now his pictures are always something to look forward to. Hatchet 2 should be the perfect spark to get the Frightfest fireworks fizzing for another year.
Dead Cert: It's a British gangsters-vs-vampires film with a bunch of familiar faces, including Matthew Vaughn perennials Jason Flemyng and Dexter Fletcher. If nothing else, I really want this to be good. That Frightfest have seen fit to give it a World Premiere in the hot slot of 11.15pm on their opening night is very encouraging. Director Steve Lawson has promised to blend Hammer Horror with Fright Night. I predict a riot.
Here's a trailer:
Red Hill: Starring True Blood and The Knights of Badassdom's Ryan Kwanten, this is a much-buzzed-about Australian "horror western." Don't think Jonah Hex, think more No Country For Old Men. Despite being only 1 minute and 20 seconds long, the teaser trailer (below) flaunts a decent fistful of cinematic flourishes that have me convinced we're in for something that's at the very least stylish and moody.
Alien vs. Ninja: It seems like every year there's a title on the Frightfest program that just seems so on-the-nose it's hard to resist, and then every year, that title somehow ends up delivering at least what it promised. Last year there were two: Human Centipede and Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. This year there's Alien vs. Ninja, and as you can see from the following trailer, a false marketing lawsuit is very unlikely.
Monsters: Gareth Edwards' debut feature promises to be a shoestring marvel, blending low-budget laptop-powered FX and a compelling road movie narrative. There's something District 9-y at work here, but I'm also reminded of Cloverfield or even Miracle Mile, for example: smaller stories set against the backdrop of something huge.
Instead of a trailer this time, here's a promo video published by Best Buy in which Gareth Edwards explains just how a film like Monsters is possible on such a meagre budget. It's inspiring stuff, and a clever bit of marketing on the part of the electronics retailer.
The Pack: They had me at "French werewolf picture." French horror directors have been on something of a run for a good few years now. Indeed, Frightfest has pretty much catalogued this whole "nouvelle vague du sang" and has given most of them their UK premieres. Time for the next entry in that most respectable of histoires, then, and yet another film on the program to have built up an intense wave of advance buzz.
A Serbian Film: Speaking of advance buzz, geez…. Here are a few choice quotes from folk who have already seen A Serbian Film:
- Twitch said, "This is a film that left me feeling dirty and assaulted, a film that will surely spark protest and deservedly so. A film that contains a flurry of genuinely shocking imagery sure to spark genuine horror and revulsion from its audience."
- Bloody Disgusting said, "You don't want to see Serbian Film. You just think you do. You've been far too desensitized. You've laughed at people that fainted in theaters, snickered at legends of grown men and women who walked out of movie premieres and puked on lobby floors. You think you've seen it all and after this, you'll wish you had."
- At FearNet, Scott Weinberg called this "a film that's so shocking, so outrageous, and so legitimately disturbing that it boggles the mind," and said it is "practically unreleasable in its current state," and that he will "never watch it again. Ever."
How can I resist a film that's going to impact upon my life so strongly? Isn't that we want from art?
The Dead: Howard and Jon Ford's feature debut is the only zombie film on the schedule and, thereby, gets included by default. Having said that, it would easily earn its place on advance buzz (again) and a trailer full of old school, tried and tested zombie business.
Red White and Blue: Simon Rumley's The Living and the Dead was one of the most interesting Frightfest films of 2006, though by all accounts he's outdone himself somewhat with his latest. What scares you the most? For me, it's my mortality. (Of course it is, that's the most frightening thing there is.) Rumley seems detemined to run headlong into that particular fear with this film and, for me, that's already got me feeling a little bit apprehensive. You might find me a little shaken up after this one.
This trailer is not safe for work.
The Last Exorcism: This year's closing film is the debut feature by Daniel Stamm and is produced by Eli Roth. Okay, it's another faux-documentary, another film about an exorcist getting out of his depth, and it's another PG-13 rated horror film, but is it scary? Apparently, it's very scary. That's what we want, right?
After the festival, I'll tell you which ten films actually were the best, but at the moment these are the ones I'm most excited to see.
There are also a few special events:
Andy Nyman's Quiz From Hell is paired with a selection of international short films; Jake West's documentary on the Video Nasties scandal will be followed by a panel of "horror celebrities" discussing the issues raised; and Tobe Hooper will be attending for screenings of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and his rarely-seen debut film Eggshells before being given the inaugural Frightfest/Total Film Total Icon award.
Tickets are available now.