As morning broke on Monday 25th August I couldn’t help but wake up feeling a little depressed knowing that it was the last day of Film4 Frightfest. After watching a collection some of the best (and some of the worst) genre movies it’s going to be hard to return to normality. Nonetheless, I began my day and arrived at Vue West End in perfect timing to take my seat in the Film4 screen for the first presentation.
However, before the UK Premiere of Milan Todorovic‘s Nymph there was a little surprise for us frightfesters direct from Jen and Sylvia Soska. It had been rumoured that their film SEE NO EVIL 2 was supposed to play the festival but due to the fact that the girls had been working on Vendetta the girls simply couldn’t find the time to do so. However, for the Twisted Twins fans (let’s face it, we all are) the girls had sent a pre-recorded message and an exclusive clip from See No Evil 2.
The clip featured katharine Isabelle‘s character Tamara in a darkly-erotic scene set in a morgue. After flirting with her boyfriend, Tamara climbs on top of Jacob Goodnight (WWE Wrestler Kane) as his lifeless corpse rests on an autopsy table. Queue Goodnight’s resurrection and panic fuelled screams as the clip ends. Even before seeing this clip I already wanted to see the film. However, as there is no set UK release date yet I guess I will just have to hope that the twins will make an appearance at the Glasgow Frightfest.
So after that piece of excitement it was finally time to embrace NYMPH. Directed by Milan Todorovic (Zone of the Dead), Nymph is the story of a group of tourists who visit the abandoned island of Mamula and explore its desolate military fortress. On their arrival the group hide from a local fisherman and discover that he is hiding a secret down a well. After inspecting the well they discover a woman trapped below but during their investigation they discover she is actually a Siren who loves nothing more to lure men in with her song and devour them with her razor sharp teeth.
For a Seburbian film it was a surprise to discover that the film was shot in English but this fact was cleared up during the Q&A after the film. Todorovic told the audience that he decided to shoot the film in English as he casted Kristina Klebe (Halloween) and Natalie Burn (The Expendables 3) in the leads. Furthermore, he believed that the film would be better received around the world by doing this. Nymph was made on a limited budget and is one of very few films to come out of that part of the world which is not overpowered by torture, blood or offensive material. Instead, what Nymph does is merge greek myth with action and adventure to create a nicely paced thriller.
The film looks great on the screen and the locations of the film are characters in themselves. Some of the gore effects are pretty good but there is just something with this film that didn’t sit right with me. Maybe it is the strange CGI effects used to turn the Siren from a beautiful woman into a ghastly creature of the deep, or perhaps it was the fact that there is a forced attempt to anchor how vunerable the characters are in this film by repeating the same backstory time and time again delaying the flow of the film. In short, I didn’t like Nymph as the film felt very bland and failed to meet my expectations which is a shame considering the beauty of the sets and locations used.
Up next was the World Premiere of Luke Hyams X MOOR. When a pair of American tourists set their sights on a £25,000 reward promoted by a local newspaper in North Devon, Georgia (Melia Krelling) and Matt (Nick Blood) devise a plan to capture evidence of a beast that supposedly haunts the remote terrain. It is not until they are deep in their investigation that the couple find a collection of bodies and they soon discover that the beast haunting the moors might not be something supernatural but walks around on two legs.
After Nymph, my expectations for X Moor were drastically lowered and this was probably a good thing because Hyam’s feature debut certainly has some good but it also has some bad moments too. First the film simply takes too long to set up the story and moves at a snails pace but it quickly moves into a deadly game of hide and seek as our two leads are stalked by an unknown assailant deep in the darkness of the woods. Yes there are some incredibly creepy parts which will have you biting your lip wondering what will happen next but just as quick as these moments arise they quickly dissipate. This said, I do give credit to Melia Krelling who knocks out a brilliant performance and manages single handedly to carry the film to its climax. But, as a whole I was thoroughly disappointed with the final product.
I decided to skip the UK Premiere of Fabrice du Weiz‘s Alleluia in favour of the UK Premiere of Jessica Cameron‘s shocking debut TRUTH OR DARE which was being hosted in the Discovery screen. The film has so far been met with critical priase at the various festivals that it has played at and it has also won many awards including Best of Fest Award at Shockfest Film Festival where Cameron picked up the prize for Best Director and Best Actress. Is the hype justified? I was soon to find out.
Truth or Dare follows six colleague students who go under the name of the Truth or Daredevils on YouTube. After their video featuring a game of russian roulette goes viral after one of their team is seemingly killed, it is announced on a talk show that it was a hoax. As the group talk about their next video a disgruntled fan in the audience tries to interact with the team but is quickly shunned away only to appear later at the groups shoot taking control and forcing the team to play their very last game of Truth or Dare.
Despite its microbudget what we have here is a thriller that works well and goes to some incredbly dark places. Brutal, shocking and damn right offensive, Jessica Cameron‘s Truth or Dare pushes the boundaries of acceptability. Its direct mean-spirited approach reminded me of James Cullen Bressick‘s Hate Crime which is also one of the most disturbing films i’ve ever seen. Featuring some truly twisted dares and enough gore to make Hostel look like a saturday television programme, Cameron spares nothing and no one as she crafts a thriller that accelerates in ferocity leaving her audience speechless. As for performances Jessica herself steps in to play one of the leads and is joined by Ryan Kiser, Heather Dorff and Devanny Pinn. The entire cast do a great job to sell the reality of the film without going over the top or feeling forced. Overall, I liked Truth or Dare and despite its bugetary restrictions, I think Cameron did a great job as director. So if the secrets shared during the Q&A following the film are correct then it won’t be long before Truth or Dare 2 goes into production.
For the next film of the day I returned to the Film4 Screen to wait patiently for what was another highly anticipated film of the weekend. Being a fan of found footage and so far loving every bit of the V/H/S franchise I couldn’t wait for the UK premiere of V/H/S VIRAL to begin. This time round Viral features segments from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Resolution), Greg Bishop (Dance of the Dead), Todd Lincoln (The Apparition), Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl) and Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes).
Vicious Circles, the wrap around of the film, follows a group of teens who unwittingly become the next internet viral sensation as they chase a runaway ambulance being pursued by the police through the streets of LA. Meanwhile, In Dante the Great we watch a deranged illusionist who obtains a magical object of great power. In Parallel Monsters a homemade machine that opens a door to a parallel world and in Bonestorm we watch as a group of teenage skaters that unwillingly become targets of a Mexican death cult ritual. Sadly the fourth instalment that is described as ‘a sinister, shadowy organization that is tracking a serial killer’ was missing from the print that was shown to us.
For me this film was a mess. The wrap around felt disjointed from the previous two instalments which set up the idea that if you watched a specific sequence of pre-recorded video tapes it would have a physical effect on you. It would appear this was forgotten with Viral and instead opted for a high-octane car chase between the police and an ambulance was enough to keep the film ticking along. Another point worth mentioning is that this film unlike the previous two is not entirely found footage which does go against the whole point of the V/H/S franchise. I was left asking myself why but thankfully segments within the film are actually good.
My favourite by far was Bonestorm which comes from Aaron Moorehead and Justin Benson who previously directed Resolution. Their segment about a Mexican death cult had all the elements required to make Viral fun to watch. It was funny, the action was nicely choreographed and the effects were fantastic. This also rings true in Dante the Great. Here Greg Bishop delivers an entertaining thriller involving an illusionist with a rather powerful prop. Featuring some amazing stunt work and impressive effects, Bishop left me wanting more and just like last years Safe Haven, it would have worked fantastic as a feature film. This leaves me with Nacho Vigalondo‘s Parallel Monsters. This segment started off slowly and offered audiences an effective blend of sci-fi and horror as a married man crosses over into a parallele universe to discover something very bizarre and nasty going on. After meeting Vigalondo in person the man is bonkers but in a good way so it should come as no surprise that his segment is just as strange if not fun to watch.
So after having very mixed feelings about V/H/S Viral it was time to embrace the last film of the festival which was to be the UK Premiere of William Eubank‘s sci-fi thriller THE SIGNAL. Prior to the start of the film Alan Jones, Ian Rattray, Paul Mcevoy and Greg Day took to the stage to close the festival and say thanks to those involved with the festival. After that it was down to Alan to introduce the last film and the screen descended into darkness.
The Singal stars Laurence Fishburn (The Matrix), Brenton Thwaites (Oculus), Olivia Cooke (The Quiet Ones) and Lin Shay (Insidious). The film opens with three friends Johnah, Nick and Haley who track a hacker called NOMAD to an abandoned house in the middle of the desert. After searching the house Jonah and Nick black out and Hayley is lifted into the air by an unknown force. After waking up in an underground reserch facility, Nick is questioned by a Dr. William Damon and is informed that he and his friends have come into contact with an EBE: an extra-terrestrial biological entity.
This film is not as straight forward as you would think as it takes its time to unravel each part of its mystery but in the process raises more questions than it answers. This said, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie it is a simple yet effective thriller that is expertly directed by William Eubank. Featuring solid performances from the entire cast (and a rather amusing performance from Lin Shay), I found The Signal highly engaging and somewhat thought provoking as it throws in some spectacular visuals in the final act. I imagine this film would not be to everyone’s taste but this won’t stop me from giving the film credit where it’s due.
So that marks the end of day five and this years Film4 Frightfest. There have been some absolute gems and then there have been some that have been pain awful. My favourite film of the day was William Eubank‘s The Signal and my least favourite film of the day was Milan Todorovic‘s Nymph.