After being woken up by my alarm early on the Friday morning, I started my morning routine excited about the second day of Film4 Frightfest. This day would also see the opening opening of the Discovery Screens which would each show a film alongside the film playing on one of the main screens. It would also see the first and last three films of the day play in a different order across the Arrow, Film4 and The Horror Channel screens.
In the Film4 Screen, the day was kicked off by the English Premiere of Eli Roth’s cannibal horror THE GREEN INFERNO. The film had already played in Glasgow earlier in the year with Roth in attendance but for Frightfest, it was confirmed a while ago that Roth would not be attending the screenings. This is disappointing (especially for his fans) but considering the fact that there have been problems surrounding the general release of this film, we were all very lucky to see the film.
Inspired by such cannibal films like Cannibal Holocaust, The Green Inferno follows a group of student activists as they travel to Peru to stop the destruction of an ancient tribe by a corrupt construction company. After delaying the workers the students climb aboard their plane in good spirits only to find that their plane has been sabotaged. Forced to make a crash-landing those who survive the wreckage are kidnapped by the very tribe they were working to protect.
So The Green Inferno is Eli Roth’s return to the directors chair after a six year absence but it also serves as a homage to the Italian cannibal genre. As a film it is brutal and unrelenting. It goes to some very dark places and will no doubt have everyone squirming in their seat with its savage imagery and impending sense of doom. However, the only thing this film does is to shock. The plot is very simple, the acting is very basic and the scares are in short supply but the make-up effects are fantastic and seem a little bit too realistic for my liking. But, if you are a fan of Eli Roth then you should check this one out… if you ever get the chance to do so.
Next up was the World Premiere of SHOCKWAVE DARKSIDE 3D, a film from the producers of last years shocker Banshee Chapter 3D. Directed by Jay Weisman, Shockwave Darkside is a thriller set in the future where the Earth’s water supply has been poisoned by a neo-plague. In hope to save humanity a team of soldiers are despatched to the darkside of the moon to harvest water. When their ship crashlands behind enemy lines, the surviving members of the team have a limited air-supply and discover a secret that will shock their world.
Right off the bat, this had to be the worst film I have seen in quite some time. The 3D was awful, the sound quality was substandard and the film itself looked awful on screen. There is a chance this might have something to do with the format the film was played in but either way, nothing in this film was entertaining or engaging. I sat through its 92 minute run-time in hope that it might eventually get better but it didn’t. It feels more like someone has collected a bunch of cut-scenes from a computer game and edited them all together to get this mess of a film. So if you ever get the chance to see this one make sure you approach with caution as I certainly don’t recommend it.
I decided to skip the Q&A with Jay Weisman in search of sustenance but I returned to the Film4 Screen to watch the UK Premiere of LATE PHASES. Directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano (Here Comes the Devil), this film offered a unique take on the werewolf genre. Starring the film tells the story of a wounded war veteran Ambrose (Nick Damici) who has recently moved to his new home within a gated retirement community. During his first night he bares witness to a savage dog attack on his neighbor and quickly learns that old age is not the only killer in this neighborhood. After narrowly escaping an attack himself, Ambrose grows determined to stop the perpetrator of the vicious attacks during the next full moon.
This film was a superb breath of fresh air after two disappointing films. Bogliano’s direction was great and the film looked amazing on screen. As for performances, Nick Damici (We Are What We Are) and Ethan Embry (Cheap Thrills) do a fantastic job to bring a sense of realism to their roles but the true star in this film is the special effects. The wolf transformations are both fun and from what I see is done entirely in practical effects and was in the same class as An American Werewolf in London. I simply couldn’t stop smiling. So this is one that I can recommend and it is certainly one that will join my film collection on its release.
As we moved into the second half of the day Robert Englund’s latest project The Last Showing was being shown on the Film4 Screen but I decided not to see it as I was going to venture into the Discovery screen to check out a screening of Eduardo Sanchez’s bigfoot found footage horror EXISTS. Starring Dora Madison Burge, Samuel Davis, Denise Williamson and Chris Osborne as a group of colleague students who decide to head to a cabin in the woods. After a car accident leaves the front of their car damage the group arrive at their destination unaware that their cabin is situated right in the middle of a monsters lair.
During the introduction we were told that Eduardo Sanchez wanted to make a credible Sasquatch film that not only had an amazing monster but he also wanted to give it a sense of intelligence and rationality about it. So after watching the film I can say that Sanchez fulfills his intention and really delivers with Exists. Not only is is entertaining and tense but it has some pretty gnarly kills under its belt not to mention one of the most effective scares of the weekend. Sure, the cast aren’t that great but I am willing to let that go as the rest of the film is nicely polished. For those of you who were disappointed by the lack of any action in last years Willow Creek you should seek this one out as Exists is action-packed and twice as scary.
Next up was Tommy Wirkola’s highly anticipated sequel to Dead Snow. DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS DEAD picks up right where the first one ended and sees the return of Vegar Hoel Stig and Frode Heriksen in this laugh-a-minute tour de force. After having losing his arm in a vicious fight with the evil Zombie leader Herzog, Martin (Stig) is found unconscious and taken to hospital where he is accused of the murder of his friends. Unlucky (or lucky depending on how you see it) for him, Martin has had an arm stitched onto his body only this arm isn’t his but belongs to Herzog. After breaking out of Hospital Martin learns that Herzog is still alive and is intent on wiping out everyone in his way. But with a little help from a long-dead army of fallen Russian soldiers, Martin is determined to put a stop to Herzog and his zombie army once and for all.
Bigger, Better, Bolder and Bloodier than the first, Dead Snow 2 is a prime example of how a sequel should be. Wirkola has exceeded all expectations and keeps up the ante on this excellent comedy horror that will have you in pain from the number of laugh-out-moments in this film. There is no denying that this movie isn’t fun, in fact it played superbly with the frightfest crowds who reacted perfectly with gasps, sniggers and uncontrollable laugh-out-loud moments. You won’t believe what Wirkola does with a tank and a sandpit, a crushed ribcage and one hell of a love scene. Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead is a film that has to be seen with an audience and I have yet to speak with anyone who did not enjoy it.
The last film of the day in the Film4 screen was Gerard Johnstone’s Housebound. However, considering that my own wishlist of films for this years festival included Wolfcop and The Drownsman it was a cruel twist of fate to find out that they played against each other so I knew I had to give Housebound a miss. So based on the fact that I knew WolfCop was due for release in the UK on 13th October I made a decision and got a ticket to see Chad Archibald’s latest project THE DROWNSMAN which was playing in the Discovery screen.
Pitched as a homage to such films as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser, The Drownsman introduces a different kind of screen villain. Starring Michelle Mylett and Ry Barrett, the film follows a woman called Madison (Mylett) who finds herself scared to death of water after almost drowing in a lake. After becoming convinced that she is being haunted by something supernatural, Madison’s life is at risk of falling apart. As a last attempt to resolve the problem those closest to her hold a seance to prove her visions aren’t real. But when one of them breaks the circle the monster haunting Madison is given the ability to cross over and begins to take her friends one by one forcing her to face her fears and stop The Drownsman before she becomes his next victim.
Borrowing elements from A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Craft, Chad Archibold has crafted a whimsical horror film that explores the notions of lost, struggle and personal demons. I liked the film and although it is clumsy at certain parts I was happy with the end result. As a film it was engaging enough to hold me in my seat and I thought Ry Barrett did a fantastic job as the title character. He was both imposing and menacing. Overall, the film had more positives than negatives and that fact alone deserves the thumbs up from me. So if films like A Nightmare on Elm Street float your boat then The Drownsman is something you should look out for.
I might not have particularly enjoyed The Green Inferno and I know that I didn’t like Shockwave Darkside 3D but overall, the second day of Film4 Frightfest was a success. My film of the day was Eduardo Sanchez’s Exists closely followed by Tommy Wirkola’s Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead.