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This past weekend saw the return of Manchester’s premiere horror film festival as Grimmfest returned for its sixth year. Taking place at The Dancehouse theatre the the festival saw twenty-five features and eleven short films play over four day period.

The line up last year was fantastic and included films such as The Borderlands, Jug Face, Antisocial, The Human Race, Big Bad Wolves and Stalled. Guests attending the festival included Robin Hardy (The Wicker Man), Elliot Goldner (The Borderlands), Paul Davis (The Body), Christian James (Stalled) and James Moran (Crazy for You).

As for this year, Steve Balshaw, Simeon Halligan, Rachel Richardson Jones, Greg Walker and the rest of the team behind Grimmfest delivered festival goers an incredible line-up and it was obvious from the outset that it was going to be yet another incredible year and we are delighted to bring you our own coverage of the entire weekend.

THURSDAY 2ND OCTOBER

Ahead of the Opening Night Gala the first stream of films to be shown as part of the Grimmfest Fringe screenings were held at Manchester’s Gorilla, a quaint bar situated just around the corner from The Dancehouse. The theme for today’s Fringe events was titled WOMEN IN HORROR SHOWCASE and featured films from some of the best women in horror.

SHEThe afternoon’s films began with a screening of Alejandro Hidalgo’s THE HOUSE AT THE END OF TIME. This was shortly followed by Jessica Cameron‘s brutally extreme TRUTH OR DARE which was supported by Chelsey Burdon and Mark Fessey’s notoriously shocking short film SHE. Barely having time to recover after the brutality, those wanting more were treated to exclusive screenings of Matthew A. Brown‘s JULIA and Thomas S. Hammock‘s THE WELL.

By 7:00pm it was time to kick-off the Grimmfest Gala Opening which was opened by the World Premiere of the ‘Vegan Feminist’ short film THE HERD. Starring Pollyanna McIntosh (The Woman) and Charlotte Hunter (Emmerdale), The Herd is written by Ed Pope and Directed by Melanie Light and stunned the entire audience and even its attending cast members into silence.

A deeply shocking short that is not easily forgotten, The Herd sees a bunch of women imprisoned against their will who are enslaved, Inseminated and abused for one reason only – their milk. As a whole, Light’s short is very powerful. It is gritty, harrowing and will certainly stay with you long after watching it.

LETUSPREYUp next was was the English Premiere of Brian O’Malley‘s Irish horror LET US PREY. Starring Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) and Pollyanna McIntosh (The Woman), the film follows rookie policewoman Rachel (McIntosh) who is about to begin her first shift at a neglected police station in an isolated Scottish town. After making her first arrest something sinister is going on and it’s not long before mysterious a mysterious figure (Cunningham) arrives causing all hell to break loose.

I rather enjoyed this film and so did everyone else around me. Not only did it effectively balance action and horror but Pollyanna McIntosh proves that she has what it takes to carry a film and do it superbly so. After the film Director Brian O’Malley and his cast Pollyanna McIntosh, Liam Cunningham and Hanna Stanbridge took the stage to take part in an exclusive Q&A.

SUBURBANGOTHICBringing the evening to a close was the UK Premiere of Richard Bates Jr‘s SUBURBAN GOTHIC which stars Matthew Gray Gubler (500 Days of Summer), Kat Dennings (Thor), Ray Wise (Robocop) and Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator). After graduating from College, Raymond (Gubler) is forced to move back in with his parents to discover a vengeful ghost is terrorising the small town. In an effort to save the day he recruits Becca (Dennings), a local bartender to solve the mystery of the spirit. Regrettably I had to leave the festival before the screening but speaking with other festival goers the film played well and remained a firm favourite amongst the crowd.

FRIDAY 3RD OCTOBER

As day two dawned on Grimmfest 2014 the Fringe strand moved from Gorilla to Odeon Printworks for a morning of lesser known genre titles. Let’s have a look at what was shown.

DEVILSMILEUp first was the UK Premiere of Joseph O’Brien‘s supernatural horror DEVIL’S MILE. Hailed as The Getaway meets Lost Highway, The film tells the story of a trio of kidnappers who take an detour en route to deliver their hostages but somehow manage to accidently kill one of their hostages. As if that wasn’t bad enough the trio and surviving hostage find themselves trapped by hellish forces haunting the road forcing the captors and captive to work together to survive.

Up next at the Printworks was the Northern Premiere of Antonio Tublen‘s dark comedy LFOPatrik Karlson stars in the film as Robert, a man who realises that he can hypnotise with sound and doesn’t waste time on experimenting with his neighbours. After giving into temptation he begins to abuse his power which has severe consequences for the rest of the world.

RECONSTRUCTIONFollowing LFO was the UK Premiere of Dan Bush‘s RECONSRUCTION OF WILLIAM ZERO. Echoing such films as Another Earth and Melancholia, the film tells the story of a geneticist who wakes up from an accident with only fragments of his memory. Forced to relearn who he is via his brother he begins to suspect that he isn’t who he thought he was at all.

Bringing the fringe to a close was the UK Premiere of SORORAL. Directed by Sam Barrett and Australia’s first Giallo film, Amanda Woodhams stars as Cassie, a woman plagued by visions of murder only to be told that they are real murders. Determined to put a stop to the killings when those close to her fall at the hands of the murderer, Cassie is thrown together with a former lover and uncover a shocking evelation that will change everything.

SUSPERIAAs afternoon turned into the evening, the festival was buzzing with excitement for the events ahead as the Italian 70′s progressive rock legends CLAUDIO SIMONETTI’S GOBLIN were going to appear at the festival to perform a live score to Dario Argento‘s horror classic SUSPERIA. Following their performance the evening was brought to a close with Dario Argento’s cut of the George A. Romero classic DAWN OF THE DEAD.Sadly I was unable to obtain a ticket to the show and I could hardly contain my jealousy over the fact that I couldn’t be there as all Day Passes had sold out.

So after two days in my favourite films of the festival so far was Brian O’Malley‘s Let Us Prey and Melanie Light‘s The Herd. It was a shame that I was unable to attend the Goblin event but I am thrilled that those lucky enough to attend had a fantastic time.

Bring on days three and four!

Tags : GrimmfestJuliaLet Us PreySheSuburban GothicThe HerdThe House at the End of TimeThe WellTruth or Dare
Jon Dickinson

The author Jon Dickinson

[HORROR AND SCI-FI EDITOR] Jon Dickinson graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in 2006 with a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Communication Studies with an emphasis on PR and Multimedia. Since graduating he has contributed to several publications and regularly attends some of the biggest film festivals in the UK including Film4 Frightfest.