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Grimmfest 2014: Part Three

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On waking up on Sunday 5th October it was a shame that Grimmfest was almost over but instead of moping around it was time to get excited about the films yet to come. The previous day wasn’t just my 32nd birthday but so many good films played such as the Kiwi comedy horror HOUSEBOUND, the mind-bending COHERENCE and potentially my favourite of the entire festival so far WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (the sandwich joke still gets me). As for today there would be fun and chills in form of DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS DEAD, WOLFCOP and the highly anticipated film from Director Ivan Kavanagh‘s THE CANAL which was going to close the festival.

grimm_opegraUnfortunately I missed the first film of the day which was being shown at Gorilla as the final part of the Grimmfest Fringe strain. But OPEN GRAVE was directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego and stars Sharlto Copley (Elysium) as a man who wakes up in the wilderness, in a pit of dead bodies. With no memory he searches for answers to determine if the murderer is one of the strangers who rescued him or is he the killer. I might have missed the screening but this is one that I will keep on my watch-list for when I do get the chance to see it.

Moving on, arriving at the Dancehouse it was time to enjoy a few more solid hours of horror thanks to Team Grimm. However, what I thought was going to be a screening of Dario Argento‘s SHIVERS turned out to be a screening of the bloody fantastic DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS DEAD.

grimm_deasnoDirected by Tommy WirkolaDead Snow 2 is a prime example of how a sequel should be. Picking up a few hours after the ending of the first instalment the film follows the lone survivor of the Nazi battalion as he wakes in hospital to not only find that he has been arrested for the murder of his friends but he has also had the arm of his arch nemesis surgically attached to him granting him the power to raise the dead.

This was the second time that I have seen this movie and I am delighted to say it remained just as much fun to watch as it was the first time. It is fantastic! It exceeds all expectations and had the entire crowd laughing along with the outrageous moments of the film.

Up next was a very special screening of the post-apocalyptic short GET SOME. Directed by Adam and Joe Horton, Get Some is a short set in the near future after a viral pandemic turns the majority of the worlds population into flesh cravin mutants. Following TV adventurer Hunter Smith whose job is to fight back against the infected population of the world by presenting a reality tv-show called ‘Get Some’ where he tracks and killed the infected for the entertainment of the surviving population.

Imagine Bear Grills with a shotgun fighting against a horde of the undead and you’re almost there. Very funny, nicely paced and expertly directed by the Horton Bros, Get Some not only raises a few laughs but its actions scenes are immensely enjoyable so it gets the thumbs up from me.

Up next was Jeff Baena‘s LIFE AFTER BETH. Starring Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) and Dale DeHaan (Chronicle), the film follows Zack who is distraught after his girlfriend Beth has died as a result of a snake bite whilst hiking alone in the nearby hills. Things take a swift turn when Zack visits his late-girlfriends parents house to discover Beth is alive. Over the moon with the news and unable to fathom what happened Zack reconnects with Beth but soon discovers there is something different about her like her rotting corpse scent, short-term memory and hunger for human flesh.

grimm_lifbetBoth emotional and heartwarming, Jeff Baena does an incredible job with Life After Beth is another credible romantic zombie comedy that is really a pleasure to watch. The script is sharply written and the performances from the cast are sound but the true star in this movie is without a doubt Aubrey Plaza as her performance utilises her comedy skills that help her to steal every scene she is in.

Following Life After Beth was going to be DER SAMURAI which was a film that I was extremely looking forward to revisiting. However, after a problem with the film Festival Director Simeon Halligan was forced to make a quick change to the line-up and gave festival goers a choice. That choice was to either attend an exclusive Q&A with SFX make-up guru Shaune Harrison or they could watch another Pollyanna McIntosh classic, Lucky McKee‘s THE WOMAN.

As the audience decided it was time for me to nip into the Grimmfest Green Room where I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Oram (Sightseers) and Kelly Byrne who were at the festival to promote their film THE CANAL. After the interview was complete (look out for it here on Cinema Chords) I was interested in the Q&A with Shaune Harrison but it was already underway so I took the opportunity to quietly sneek into THE WOMAN and enjoyed every minute of it.

As the evening was coming to a close it grimm_wolfcopwas time to reach the penultimate film of the evening. So with the auditorium buzzing with excitement it was time for us all to let out a massive howl in anticipation for Lowell Dean‘s WOLFCOP. One part dirty harry one part wolfman, Wolfcop stars Leo Fafard as the alcoholic cop Lou Garou in a film that feels very much like a Troma classic but with a much higher budget.

The film follows Lou who is called to investigate a disturbance in the nearby woods only to be caught up in a ritual sacrifice and cursed to living life as a werewolf. As the solar eclipse approaches the mystery behind his change is revealed and it’s up to Wolfcop to save his own skin… one change at a time.

A definite crowd pleaser the film features some truly hilarious moments and a werewolf transformation that begins in a place you will never have imagined. Inventive, enjoyable but suffering from pacing issues, Wolfcop is a pretty good and a sequel has already been announced for 2015 so i’m interested in seeing what Lowell Dean has planned for that.

Now it was time to embrace the last film of the festival which was to be the Northern Premiere of the incredibly creepy thriller from Ivan Kavanagh THE CANAL. Starring Rupert Evans (Hellboy), Steve Oram (Sightseers) and Kelly Byrne, The Canal is the story of a film archivist David (Evans) who moves into a new house with his pregnant wife. Shortly after the birth of their child David comes across a film that reveals that his home was the scene of a brutal murder. Becoming more unhinged with the discovery his life is turned upside down when his wife goes missing and it’s not long before he begins to suspect that the presence in his house is not only supernatural but has something to do with the grimm_canaldisappearance of his wife.

This film is genuinely chilling, nicely written and superbly acted but it also contains images that will send icy cold chills down your spine as a result. As director Kavanagh does a wonderful job in setting up the story and steadily building a sense of overpowering dread that builds to a terrifying conclusion. Certainly rewarding for the patient viewer The Canal is highly engaging and incredibly tense and it is for this reason that it is one of the best horror films i’ve seen in a very long time.

So that marks the end of day four and this years Grimmfest so it was time for the majority of festival goers to head over to the festival after party for the perfect opportunity to celebrate a very enjoyable weekend. However, for those not quite ready to say goodbye to the festival it was announced that because of earlier technical difficulties there would be a special screen of Till Kleinert‘s fantastic DER SAMURAI to take place that evening.

My favourite film of the day was without a doubt Ivan Kavanagh‘s The Canal and my honourable mention of the day goes to Lowell Dean‘s Wolfcop. Overall, I was happy not just as a festival goer but as a horror fan in general as Simeon Halligan and the rest of Team Grimmfest have certainly delivered plenty to my taste and made my birthday weekend truly special… here’s to Grimmfest 2015.

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.