Friday 25 August 2023

FrightFest: Get me out of here

The 24th FrightFest kicked off in London last night, and runs over the long weekend with a programme of scary movies for genre fans. There's a wide range of films in the programme, and as usual I'll see as many as I possibly can. Horror is my favourite genre, simply because they are so hard to make well. If a movie can actually scare me (rather than jolt me with a loud noise or sudden edit), I'm in! Here are some highlights from Friday...

The Dive
dir Maximilian Erlenwein; with Sophie Lowe, Louisa Krause 23/Ger ***.
Filmed on location in Malta, this tightly contained thriller plays out almost in real time as two sisters fight for survival. With engulfing underwater cinematography, director-cowriter Maximilian Erlenwein avoids distractions, resisting adding something menacing like a hungry shark. Instead, the narrative expands to evoke the history between these siblings, adding some melodramatic touches to a series of frantic life-saving efforts that continually take our breath away ...FULL REVIEW >

What You Wish For
dir-scr Nicholas Tomnay; with Nick Stahl, Tamsin Topolski 23/US ****
Beautifully filmed in a lush corner of Colombia, this thriller starts out loose and relaxed before writer-director Nicholas Tomnay begins turning the screws. This starts with a skilfully orchestrated moment of silent horror, which spirals quietly into something chillingly nasty set against the contrast between the haves and the have-nots. Moral questions swirl throughout this film, so the narrative becomes startlingly involving as the events twist and turn.

It Lives Inside
dir-scr Bishal Dutta; with Megan Suri, Mohana Krishnan 23/US ***.
After a moody-nasty prolog sets the tone, this film cleverly shifts into the usual story about a social-media obsessed American teen. But everything is tinged by the characters' Indian heritage, which is linked to the horror that's unleashed. Writer-director Bishal Dutta tells the story skilfully, keeping the people and settings grounded while indulging in flurries of hyperactive movie grisliness. And the chaos escalates steadily to an outrageously nasty finale... FULL REVIEW >

New Life
dir-scr John Rosman; with Sonya Walger, Hayley Erin 23/US ****
Intriguing and enigmatic, this increasingly nasty thriller creates a tense situation long before any plot details begin to fill in the picture. Central themes connect to the process of starting over, while the plot becomes more intensely horrific in an eerily real-world sort of way. With slick, visual style, writer-director John Rosman skilfully keeps everything grounded, which makes the bonkers craziness and excellent makeup work that much more effective.

That's a Wrap
dir Marcel Walz; with Cerina Vincent, Monique T Parent 23/US **.
So meta that it's virtually a pastiche, this horror comedy continually references both scary movies and the moviemaking process itself. Director Marcel Walz keeps things moving, but the uneven pacing reveals the inexperience of the cast and crew. Still, the idea is strong enough to sustain the film through its rather long rough patches. As does the mix of witty red herrings, and a playful use of expectations.

The Weird Kidz
dir-scr Zach Passero; with Ellar Coltrane, Tess Passero 23/US ***.
Using an inventive and distinctly handmade animation style, writer-director Zach Passero spent eight years creating this witty horror comedy. With an amusing collection of teen characters, it's a pastiche of 1980s monster movies. A steady stream of hilarious banter and rude gags will appeal to the 12-year-old within most viewers. And the story takes some genuinely scary turns along the way, with moments that are tense and violent.

Reviews of these and other films will be linked at SHADOWS' FRIGHTFEST page when possible

For details, FRIGHTFEST >

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