In just a few short days, the Cineworld on Leicester Square will undergo its annual transformation from a regular old cinema to home of the biggest and best horror and genre film festival in the UK. Four and a half days hiding away in the dark with a few hundred like-minded horror fans who are all in the same boat…
HOW IN THE FREEZING BLUE HELL ARE WE GOING TO DECIDE WHAT TO WATCH?
Five days, four screens and more than eighty films and events to choose from. Perfectly planning the weekend in London for FrightFest is an impossible task. But as you read this, I’ll be packing my shampoo, ironing my pants and preparing to scrap for the hard-fought-for discovery screen tickets.
So here, for your reading pleasure, I bring you the first – okay, second if you count the scuffle for weekend passes on ticket day – big part of FrightFest weekend: trying to figure out an itinerary.
Here’s what I have so far *
*Subject to change. Dependant on ticket availability and losing track of time in the pub.
This is a simple one. Apart from one year where I skipped out on seeing Death Note, every opening night in my short FrightFest career has been spent in the main screen. This year there’s a stellar-looking line up that would be impossible to turn down.
Elijah Wood’s genre bending, gross-out shocker Come To Daddy opens the show. If whispers heard to its quality are true, this UK premiere of director Ant Timpson’s feature debut will be setting a high watermark for the rest of the weekend. Stealthily swimming up behind is legendary director Alexandre Aja’s (Switchblade Romance) Crawl. The first of two previews tonight before these films hit general release the day after, Crawl has been on my radar for a long time and I’ve sacrificed the opportunity to watch a couple of recent previews in order to watch it with the FrightFest crowd. It’s where it’ll land best; it’s where I want to be.
The same can be said for The Autopsy of Jane Doe director André Øvredal‘s Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. The Guillermo Del Toro produced pseudo-anthology horror based on a series of children’s horror books will be best seen with an appreciative audience like the crowd sat in that IMAX theatre. It’s a perfect way to close out opening night.
Friday starts in the Discovery screens round the corner at the Prince Charles Cinema. A Quiet Place writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck grace the festival with their extreme haunt based slasher Haunt – a film whose trailer reminds me ever so slightly of Rob Zombie’s 31. Tickets for this one will be fiercly fought for on release day I reckon, luckily dark sci-fi Dark Encounter is over in the main screen and comes highly recommended if tickets are tight.
Film two of the day is creepy house drama The Girl on the Third Floor, from We Are Still Here, 68 Kill and Starry Eyes producer Travis Stevens. The first of the weekend to feature former WWE star CM Punk. Over in the main screen, German serial killer thriller Cut Off from Antibodies director Christian Alvart looks excellent and makes a great alternative if tickets vanish too quickly for the Prince Charles. Either way, it’ll be back to the main screen for Jennifer Reeder’s Knives and Skin. Described as David Lynch meets Sofia Coppola with a high school drama twist, there has been nothing but praise and excitement for this one. I’m expecting a packed screen.
Back to the Prince Charles Discovery screen for the next two. First up is a video game preview event, of all things. Supermassive Games – the makers of the critically acclaimed horror adventure Until Dawn – will be bringing their latest creation, Man of Medan, to FrightFest. An unexpected addition to the lineup, but one that should fit perfectly. I’ll be staying in the same seat for the return of FrightFest Glasow favourite Freaks. One on the long list of films missed at previous events that needs to be experienced with a crowd.
The completely bananas looking Bullets of Justice, a Danny Trejo starring bizzaro film about human-pig hybrids in World War III seems like the perfect way to end Friday’s antics.
Horror mockumentary Death of a Vlogger will be where Saturday begins. Following a youtuber into the hellish depths of internet fame seems far too real a concept to turn my nose up at. Back to the main screen and sticking with the youtuber theme for the UK premiere of gross-out Brazillian comedy Ghost Killers Vs Bloody Mary. Described as Braindead meets Ghostbusters, I’m sold.
Dan Bush’s The Dark Red and Pedro Alonso’s Feedback fight it out for the middle film of the day. Both look decent and would easily be choices if they weren’t up against one another in the schedule. The Dark Red will be the priority on ticket day, but no tears will be shed if Feedback wins out.
After dinner, it’ll be an evening in the main screen for me. Gadget based slasher Drone looks like it’ll be a fun hour and a half. Followed closely by Jason Mewes’ star filled directorial debut Madness in the Method. Knowing little about many of these movies, the film to reunite Mewes with Kevin Smith is all the information I need to sit for this one. Saturday’s final choice falls between sci-fi chiller Volition, gory Russian Comedy Why Don’t You just Die and the possibility of going to the Duke Mitchell Film Party: a guest filled couple of hours in the PCC that I’ve always threatened to go to but never made it. A tough decision to be made on the day I guess.
Sunday’s start was never in doubt. I’ve been looking forward to stalker slasher The Furies since I heard the premise of a group of victims each assigned their own killer to outrun and survive. It sounds like a slasher version of Battle Royale. Say no more. Idle Hands director Rodman Flender hits the main screen with rom-zom-com Eat Brains Love which seems like a great way to start the afternoon.
One of the surprises of last year’s festival was Padraig Reynolds’ fun stalker thriller Open 24 Hours. Today the director returns to the festival with sci-fi horror Dark Light, a haunted house thriller with an alien twist that looks very exciting. The same Discovery screen sees Pollyanna McIntosh return to FrightFest with her directorial debut and follow on to 2011’s excellent The Woman, Darlin‘. It’ll mean skipping out on a restoration screening of David Cronenberg’s Rabid, but the third film to follow McIntosh’s feral woman has a lot of fans excited. To pass up the opportunity to see it would be crazy.
Sunday Night needs a bat crap crazy crazy film to close it out. Tiredness is setting in and there’s still karoke to get to after the last film. Nekrotronic, a gory, balls-to-the-wall ozsploitation flick from the guys that made the similarly bananas Wyrmwood should be just what the we all need to pump us up for the night. Playing the latest short from Brandon Cronenberg just adds a cherry to this already delicious looking cake.
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The closing day is a piece of cake for the most part. Almost the whole day will be spent in the Main screen. The day also brings my most worrying Discovery screen ticket, it’s going to be a tense day on ticket day.
For We are Many, a massive anthology film that includes work from a whole handful of festival favourites has a supremely cool premise of telling a different story based on a different demon tale for each part. Portmanteau isn’t always my favourite sub-genre, but this has me intrigued.
Fangoria’s latest dip into film is one of the most highly anticipated and most critically hailed film of the weekend. Wrong place, wrong time is the order of the day as a pizza delivery driver Sam when her last job for the night sees her interupting a ritual that she would be the perfect sacrifice for. Satanic Panic has been the talk of festivals for months and it’s finally hitting UK screens today. It’ll be a sprint to the Prince Charles afterwards for my most anticipated trip to the Discovery Screens. The Three Don’ts director Paddy Murphy’s The Perished is a dark look at the religious dominance and social stigma of abortion in Ireland. A horror that can’t help be laced with an emotional charge straight from the issues of today has the look and feel of being THE film of the weekend to bring the cold, pit of your stomach feeling while shining a light on one of the biggest taboos from that part of the world.
Monday, and the festival, comes to an end with a one-two punch in the main screen.
The legendary Soska sisters, Jen and Sylvia, last at the festival with the sublime American Mary are bringing us their re-imagining of Cronenberg’s 1977 classic Rabid – CM Punk appearance number two. Festival goers have been champing at the bit for Rabid since we were treated to a mouth-watering preview at the festival’s Halloween event last year. The twisted twins are finally back and the world premiere of their new film is going to be a blast.
Road Games director Abnor Pastoll closes out the weekend with his latest film: the highly anticipated A Good Woman is Hard to Find. While it looks less like a classic horror and more like an ultra-violent crime thriller, the Sarah Bolger starring world premiere looks like the kind of film that the entire audience will be able to get behind and, I’m betting, gets a cheer or three when those cool looking kills come along.
After all that… Pub. And Sleep. For about a week.
What are you looking forward to at FrightFest 2019? Tell us in the comments. You can also follow our daily coverage of the event.