With three days gone and having now seen some truly amazing films in the form of Adam Wingard‘s The Guest, Eduardo Sanchez‘s Exists, Kevin Kolsch‘s Starry Eyes and Adam Green‘s Digging up the Marrow I started day four with a massive smile on my face despite knowing that the festival will soon be over. However, today would start differently as I would be missing screenings of Faults and Among the Living to conduct two very special interviews.
The first interview took place in the basement of the rather exquisite Raddison Blue Hampshire hotel situated in Leicester Square across from the the cinema. It was here that I would interview director Till Kleinert and actor Pit Bukowski about their film Der Samaurai which was due to be screened later in the day. Both of them were complete gentlemen and were a pleasure to speak with. Sadly the interview has been embargoed until the films official release later in the year but I can assure you that it will make for an interesting read for anyone interested.
Shortly after the interview it was time for me to return to the Vue West End and up to the Beaver Bar, kudos to the staff of Vue as they had marketed the bar area perfectly as there were posters everywhere, flyers on the tables, and a reasonably priced bar. So I bought my drink and took a seat on the far side of the bar to relax before what was to be my biggest interview to date. Sure enough my time came and I was asked to the green room where sat on the sofa was none other than Robert Englund himself. He reached out his hand and I shook it as we introduced each other.
During the interview we spoke about his role as Freddy Krueger, his audition process and his overall feelings on the popular horror franchise. Englund is one of the nicest men I have ever met and it took everything to calm my inner fanboy. Nonetheless the interview went really well and I even got my own personal copy of A Nightmare on Elm Street signed by him. I did not want to leave the room as I was having so much fun but he was needed to attend an exclusive Q&A for the screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street that was showing in the Discovery screen.
As I had a fair bit of time on my hands after the interview I was able to sneak into the screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street just as the end credits were playing. Sitting on the very front row I had settled myself just as Alan Jones appeared and welcomed England to the stage. This Q&A was easily one of my favourites of the weekend as Robert Englund engaged his audience and recited famous lines, answered questions about his role in the film, his opinion on horror films in general. I quickly looked around during the auditorium during the event and everyone had a smile on their face. Sadly, like before Englund was escorted out of the room but the auditorium was still buzzing with excitement from the fans.
So the first film of the day for me was the UK Premiere of Nacho Vigalondo‘s OPEN WINDOWS. The film plays out as a multi-screen Hitchockian thriller and follows Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood), the owner of a website dedicated to the famous actress Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). Invited to a posh hotel after winning a competition online to conduct an interview with her, Nick is thrust into a scam set up by a mysterious superfan. Also starring Neil Maskell (Kill List), Open Windows is a prime example of multi-platform storytelling.
Essentially what is possibly modern interpretation of Rear Window, Open Windows is a film that is both entertaining and thrilling. As director Nacho Vigalondo has crated a film that is rich of tension and looks flawless on screen. I liked this film, it does not lag and I was glad to see that the multi-screen approach never became distracting but served to heighten the overall effect of the film. As for performances I was pleased to see that the entire cast delivered fantastic performances (especially Wood who has proven time and time again that the man can act).
For the next film I remained seated in the Film4 screen ready to watch the UK Premiere of Jerome Sable‘s STAGE FRIGHT. IThe film follows Allie MacDonald (House at the end of the Street) as Camilla Swanson, the daughter of a Broadway diva (Minnie Driver) who was savagely murdered on the opening night of the musical ‘The Haunting of the Opera’. Working with her brother Buddy (Douglas Smith) at a musical theatre summer camp owned by musical producer Roger McCall (Meatloaf), Camilla is given the chance to take on her mother’s iconic role when the camp decide to put on a production of ‘The Haunting of the Opera’ unaware that there is a masked killer on the loose who loathes musical theatre.
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy the film. The performances are average and some of the songs will make you laugh but considering the fact that it is packed with plenty of quirky moments and a killer you can really get behind, Stage Fright is a fun and commendable feature debut for Jerome Sable. Not only has he crafted a creative slasher film but he has given horror fans something they have always wanted… something different so think of Friday the 13th and throw in elements of Glee and what you have left is this movie. Go see it and have fun!
Up next was a film that I had not heard much about. HOME is a demonic horror from Nicholas McCarthy, the director of The Pact. Starring Catlina Sandino Moreno (Magic Magic) and Naya Rivera (Glee), the film tells the story of an abitious real estate agent who crosses paths with a distrubed girl. As she delves deeper into the mystery she becomes the target of a supernatural force which soon pulls her sister into its web resulting in a sinsiter fight for survival against demon possession.
Just like with The Babadook I was left disappointed with Home (retitled to At the Devil’s Door for the US release). It failed to deliver anything scary, instead it moved along at a snail’s pace and borrowed elements from every supernatural film I have seen in the past decades offering nothing new. So yes, regrettably Nicholas McCarthy failed to entertain me with this snorefest just like he did back in 2012 when The Pact came out. This said, the film did look great on the screen and it had a couple of effective jump scares. However, these elements were not enough to stop me from being bored during the film which should never happen when you’re trying to scare someone.
Bringing the day to a close was my most anticipated film of the day, DER SAMURAI. After chatting to its director and star at the beginning of the day I was excited to see the film. But for those of you who don’t know about this film it is the story of a young police officer Jakob who receives a package addressed to Lone Wolf. After receiving a call from a man who asks him to deliver the package to him immediately, Jakob follows instruction and finds a man wearing a wedding dress. After opening the package, the man is delighted to see a samurai sword inside and immediately breaks free of the room running into the night. Determined to stop the man Jakob runs after the man only to witness what can only be described as carnage when the man tears through the sleepy woodland town with his newly acquired sword. Determined to save his town Jakob works on a plan to bring the Samurai down.
I was concerned at first that this film would pale in comparison to the hype but thankfully it doesn’t. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and I can understand why it has been hailed a Gay Liberation film. As the film continues the strange attraction and relationship between the two leads intensifies without reason until the very end and it is in the payoff that this film really delivers. Yes, the pacing is somewhat slow in the beginning and plays to the usual thriller tropes but it accelerates once the carnage begins. Some scenes may surprise audiences due to their graphical nature but as director Till Kleinert manages their effect superbly and with taste. However, whilst I am talking about the film I could not do so without giving credit to Pit Bukowski as his performance as the sword wielding assassin is phenomenal. Overall, you can tell that I am a fan of this film and strongly urge anyone even remotely curious about this film to watch it.
This brings a close to my recap of the fourth day at Film4 Frightfest. My least favourite film of the day was Nicholas McCarthy‘s Home as it failed to deliver on multiple levels. However, my favourite film of the day and cutting the heads off the competition was Till Kleinert‘s Der Samurai which tops my list for the very reasons stated above.