Friday morning at FrightFest tends to be the morning you realise that your body isn’t as young as you want it to be. There’s nothing wrong yet, but it was a bit of a late night and waking up this morning is gong to be fine, but you know damn well that come Sunday, you’re going to be struggling.
But before we get to the point that we are regretting going to bed, it’s time to shake the feeling back into our legs and get back to Leicester Square for the second day of this insanity. And it’s straight round to the Prince Charles to kick off.
Haunt – International Premiere
Directed and introduced by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck (the writers behind A Quiet Place), Haunt taps into the same energy as recent festival entries Ruin Me and the three “Fest” movies Hell, Fright and Blood, Haunt hits the current trend of exploiting the love of all things “horror experience” at Halloween.
This time around, it’s an extreme haunt that six teenagers head to looking for a good time and instead find a murderous group of mask-wearing psychos running the joint.
Run-of-the-mill and predicable in the most wonderful of ways, Haunt takes all of those well used tropes from the slashers we all love and moulds them into a really fun, if almost entirely unoriginal, stalker slasher. Its unique selling point is the bit that will keep audiences talking and, without spoiling, is worth the price of admission alone.
There was a bit of a break as I got caught up chatting. Such is the way sometimes. And here, in this hallowed place, I’d rather miss a film that interrupt people watching stuff to drag my arse into their field of view. So next up was…
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Knives and Skin – UK Premiere
A high school coming of age drama centered around the hunt for a young girl missing since she was left mid-date by one of the football team. Love, loss, grief and happiness are all gazed upon in this film that managed to lose me less than halfway into it.
The wonderful thing about FrightFest is the sheer volume and variety of the films we get to see. We get to watch some sublime cinema here. But sometimes we get to watch a film that includes teenage girls swapping random bric-a-brac that they’ve been storing in their most intimate of places with each other. A ritual that, I discover through conversation post-film, is something that happens in real life. After attempting it, it was suggested that I don’t try and swap trinkets pulled out my arse in the pub. A horrendous double-standard.
Not many films leave me questioning my intelligence like this one. I thought I had missed something, or just wasn’t understanding something. I just didn’t “get it”.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan – Special Presentation
Made by the team that brought us the PlayStation 4 exclusive Until Dawn in 2015, Man of Medan looks to take the blueprint of their previous game – that was a wonderful exercise in making the player feel like a horror film director and encouraged others to join in with the playing – and bring us a massive ghost ship story to experience.
Supermassive Games developer Tom Heaton was in attendance to give us a talk on the development of the horror experience, the process of writing, acting and creating a game while trying to keep it scary. It was an all-too-brief 90 minutes that flew by in a haze of stories of development, experiences brought forward from previous games and a highly informative Q&A session. Man of Medan is looking like THE horror game of 2019, and it was a pleasure to spend time listening to Mr. Heaton.
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Bliss – UK Premiere
The Mind’s Eye Director Joe Begos introduced his latest film for the audience to put into their eyes. With his long time producer Josh Ethier’s first directed short, Gutter, making a punchy and bloody introduction to Bliss, this experience was a brilliant one-two punch.
Experience is the word, too. As Begos’ hyperactive, cocaine-fuelled vampire flick took the entire audience on the most insane trip since that one time in Amsterdam of the weekend so far.
A painter with the worst creative block she’s ever faced turns to extremes to get her head in the right space to create the masterpiece she’s trying to put together. When one wild night ends with her having a near unquenchable thirst for blood, she has to try to fight her new found addiction while facing the reality that it is exactly that that is helping her paint.
A brutal mind-fuck vampire flick, made all the more intense on that enormous IMAX screen in the Arrow horror screen. No one knew what to expect with Bliss and Joe Begos gave the entire audience the sensory ass whooping they didn’t know they wanted or needed.
That wiped me out. Some fresh air was definitely required after that. Maybe an early night. Maybe a quiet bottle of Peroni and bed. Maybe.
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