So, I went to London’s 14th FrightFest 5-day horror love-in at Leicester Square – albeit for two days rather than the entire thing – and saw eight movies. Before we get down to reviewing the three titles that fit in well with Vegan Voorhees’ missive, for anyone interested in the other stuff I saw, here’s a quick overview of what I thought…
THE DEAD 2: INDIA
When people gawk in asking me WHY I don’t watch The Walking Dead, it’s because zombie films leave me on a downer, regardless of how good they are. If there’s no hope of survival, it’s time to pop the anti-depressants.
I haven’t seen The Dead but it didn’t seem necessary for this film, which pits American windfarm-engineer Jim Millson against an army of toddling undead, while he and a ten-year-old orphan try to make it to Mumbai to save his pregnant girlfriend.
The on-location filming is excellent and photography well above par, but I can’t judge how it compares to other examples in a genre I tend to avoid.
CURSE OF CHUCKY
Don Mancini and Fiona Dourif introduced (and took Q&A) on this sixth tale of Chucky’s homicidal lunacy – plus we all got Chucky masks! He gets himself sent to wheelchair-bound Nica (Dourif) and her depressed mother, who mysteriously dies later that night.
Nica’s sister comes to stay with her husband, daughter, and au pair, and brings along Father Frank, and little Alice adopts the dolls as her own. Nica soon becomes suspicious of the ever-moving doll, who poisons, electrocutes, axes, and stabs those in the house one by one. Things end with some surprise cameos by cast members past, the best of which comes at the end of the credits.
I’ve never loved the Child’s Play series but it’s always been consistent and enjoyable enough, though the appearance of one particular character baffled me. As this entry is going straight to DVD, the budget is clearly lower, almost entirely set in one house, but Chucky looks neat and there’s some great one-liners: “It’s a doll – what’s the worst that could happen?” being the one that got the best reaction in the cinema. Full review to follow soon.
A family reunion for a 35th wedding anniversary is crashed by a trio of weapon-toting loons in masks, who spear, slash, stab, and hack the kin to death.
The draw of this pacey home invasion-cum-slasher flick is that the attackers didn’t count on the girlfriend of one of the family sons having grown up at a survivalist camp in the middle of the Australian outback and has no qualms about fighting back with more ferocity than imaginable.
The gung-ho actions of the final girl got rapturous applause as she defeated the assailants one by one, using everything from a meat-mallet to a blender! Despite the free one-sheets we got, I can’t see this doing very well at the box office, but it deserves to.
THE DYATLOV PASS INCIDENT
An unexpected gem, freakin’ RENNY HARLIN directed this found-footage flick, which follows five American students (at least two of whom are played by British actors, who introduced the film) on a Blair Witch Project-style gambit to a Russian mountain where, in 1959, nine professional hikers were found dead in very bizarre circumstances. True story!
Things aren’t quite right. There are footprints in the snow in the morning, strange sounds, a severed tongue, and things just go from bad to worse.
Found footage films aren’t always particularly involving but I really liked this one, subtle by Harlin’s standards – barely an explosion in sight. The ending requires a healthy dose of disbelief to appreciate the threads that are being drawn together.
This wasn’t actually playing but as we didn’t fancy any of the three films available after Dyatlov Pass, we defected to another cinema down the road to finally see this.
Likelihood is you know all about it, so I’ll just say films about hauntings are the only ones that really give me the chills, Insidious being a prime example, and this did not disappoint.
Though the scariest aspect by far was the trailer for the fucking One Direction movie tacked on to the beginning because, y’know, “all trailers are relevant to the main feature…” Guh? Can only pray that the One Direction film is a slasher movie.
The dud of the festival – what I saw of it – was the third and final entry in the never very good Hatchet franchise, which sees Danielle Harris’ Marybeth left in the slammer and blamed for the murders by Sheriff Zach Galligan; his ex-wife Caroline Williams (Stretch from Texas Chainsaw 2) claims she knows how to defeat Victor Crowley once and for all – as it appears that Marybeth’s annihilation of him was futile.
Paramedics, cops, and a SWAT team head back to the swamp and find themselves done in by the invincible Crowley.
Adam Green (who introduced it) handed the director’s reigns over the BJ McDonnell, but there’s virtually fuck all to work with except Kane Hodder killing stupid amounts of stupid people, most of whom arrogantly assume they can finish him off.
More horror cameos crop up, though they’re less interesting than the first two outings. Can only hope that this finale really IS the finale.
If Groundhog Day turned spooky, this would be it. Abigail Breslin is a girl on the eve of her fifteenth birthday. Everyday. She and her Mom, Dad, and squeaky-voiced little brother are stuck in a perpetual ghost loop, living out the final day of their lives in 1985. But only Lisa is aware of it.
The more she investigates her situation, the more she uncovers about what happened in the house before they ever lived there, attracting the unwanted attention of the serial killer who also haunts the place in a parallel timeline, and he’s able to convince the living to commit murders from beyond the grave.
While not quite as clever as it thinks it is and not nearly eerie enough, Haunter is a good movie, though the kind you only ever need to see the once.
I caught the first V/H/S at FrightFest last year but didn’t like it at all, though it did feature a meta-slasher episode, which was kinda fun. Fortunately, this follow up is exponentially better, featuring four shorts that are draped around a couple of investigators who break into a house to look for a missing college kid.
The first video follows a man with a sort of bionic eye after an ocular injury. Trouble with super-eye is that is shows him the spirits of the dead around him. And the more he interacts with them, the more damage they can do to him.
Next is a cycle-helmet-cam shot zombie tale, gory and funny, following a poor forest biker who’s bitten, turns, and them lollops about trying to eat people.
The third section is an Indonesian documentary on a cult leader, who allows a film crew into the compound, which soon reveals itself to have a sinister endgame…
Lastly, annoying teenagers with cellphones mess around when their parents go away for the weekend and find themselves attacked by long-limbed aliens, that make a lot of noise, coloured smoke, and abduct the kids. It’s a difficult one to gauge with given the ever-shaking cameras and that the cute little dog who wears the camera for much of it is cruelly killed off. The kids can die, but not the dog.