So far at Grimmfest festival goers watched Pollyanna McIntosh play an action heroine in Let Us Prey, they joined Matthew Gray Gubler in teaming up with Kat Dennings to save a small american town from a vicious ghost in Suburban Gothic and watched in awe as Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin played live to a screening of Suspiria! With a truly suberb Opening Gala Night and a very successful second day Grimmfest was clearly on full speed ahead.
So after being woken up by my alarm in the morning on Saturday it was time to begin my morning routine and get ready for day three of Grimmfest. Not only was it my birthday but I was looking forward to staring the day off in style with the Short Film Showcase which featured seven short films from four different countries.
Due to a slight technical hitch it was decided that films were going to be played out of order. As such, kicking of the showcase was Nick Person‘s tale of Demonic possession THE VISITANT. In the short actress Amy Smart (The Butterfly Effect) plays a mother whom is forced to protect her children from a demonic intruder played by Doug Jones (Hellboy). The short featured some amazing creature effects that must have taken hours to apply in the make-up chair.
Andy Green‘s short VOMICA was up next. Set in World War 2, the film follows the interview of a sole survivor of a commando raid into occupied territory. Returning from his mission with his mind shattered and limited memory his secrets are revealled by the extreme actions of the British government. Overall it was dark and gritty in places, I didn’t particularly like Vomica but i think it has more to do with the fact that it failed to engage me as this impacted my enjoyment of the piece.
All the way from Spain, Daniel Muñoz Caniero‘s DON’T PLAY WITH THE FOOD was a delight. Taking place during a family dinner, Caniero tells the story about a rebelious daughter who is forced to reconsider her recent love for the sake of her family. Very dark, very funny and very much outthere, I enjoyed this one as it provided a much needed injection of comedy.
Perhaps one of the most bizzarre shorts I have ever seen is Ben Steiner‘s THE STOMACH. Featuring a unique method of channeling the dead, the short follows Frank a spirit medium who gets tangeled in an argument between a petty criminal and his dead partner. There’s not much to say about this one other than it’s a good watch in an outthere way. If you ever get a chance to watch it make sure you do then you will be stunned at how bizarre this short really is.
Up next was Matthew Barker‘s short ALL I KNOW IS NOTHING. A tale about a posessive boyfriend who can’t quite accept the fact that his girlfriend wants to break up. So what does he do? He kidnaps her and uses technology to find the reason why she wants to leave him. This short was not my favourite and for good reason too. I found it dull and for a short film that’s only on screen for three minutes that is a bad thing. I hope there are people who liked this one but for me it failed.
Fredrik Hana caused quite the stir on the festival circuit last year for his amazing short Angst, Piss and Drid. To learn that he is back with his short AUTUMN HARVEST was simply music to my ears. I couldn’t wait to see it and I hoped it would be just as good… and it is in every possible way. The short provides a portrait of a grief-stricken sailor turned serial killer and is shot entirely in black and white. Very moody, superbly directed and perfectly scored, there was nothing I didn’t like about this short. I can’t recommend it enough.
Finally, rounding up the Short Film Showcase was the UK Premiere of Andy Stewart‘s stunning short SPLIT. Starring Austin Hayden and Shian Denovan, Split short tells the story of a man who awakens one day to discover that his guilt over his infidelity begins to eat him away, literally. The film balances its drama and horror elements flawlessly and is supported by some truly outstanding special effects from the care of Grant Mason (Sleepy Hollow). Overall, Stewart has proved that he’s no one-trick pony after shocking audiences with Dysmorphia because with Split, he takes a mighty step forward in his career defining himself as a filmmaker to keep an eye on.
After the shorts it was time for a quick break before the Northern Premiere of Oliver Frampton‘s British horror THE FORGOTTEN. Shaun Dingwall and Clem Tibber star as as a father and son who are forced to squat in an empty council estate scheduled for demolition. Not long after his arrival 14 year old Tommy starts to hear strange noises coming from the borded-up flat next door. One morning he wakes to find his mattress, sleeping bag and himself dragged across the room pressed up against the wall. Is someone – or something – trying to get his attention?
From the producer of The Borderlands, the film had its World Premiere at Film4 Frightfest over the August bank holiday and is described as “a tensely plotted, superbly acted, gritty urban supernatural horror.” Following the film there was an exclusive Q&A with Director Oliver Frampton and cast members Clem Tibber and Elarica Gallacher.
Next up and in perfect time to lighten up the mood of the festival was Gerard Johnstone‘s dark comedy HOUSEBOUND. Starring Morgana O’Reilly and Rima Te Wiata, Housebound is the story of Kylie Bucknell who is force to return to her parents house when she is put on home detention. Fed up by her situation Kylie is quick to act out against her well-intentioned mother Miriam who is convinced their home is haunted. However, when she bares witness to the unsettling whispers & strange bumps in the night, Kylie begins to think that the house might just be possessed by a hostile spirit.
Hilariously entertaining and packed with a surprising amount of tense moments, I really enjoyed this one. It made me laugh out loud, it made me jump out of my seat and was superbly directed by Gerard Johnstone who takes the dark comedy elements of The Loved Ones and combines it with the freaky moments of The People Under the Stairs. However, the success of the film would be nothing without the solid performances from Morgana O’Reilly and Rima Te Wiata who play their parts brilliantly.
Following that wonderful slice of Kiwi Comedy-Horror was a film that has been taking the festival circuit by storm for quite some time, COHERENCE. Directed by James Ward Byrkit the film takes place on the night of an astronomical anomaly where at the same time eight friends are enjoying a dinner party. As a comet passes above the friends are thrust into a chain of events that will leave them (and the audience) stunned.
One part sci-fi thriller and one part drama, I couldn’t help but become mesmerised by Coherence. It’s set-up may be considered simple but the film is far from it. Highly effective in slowly drawing you in with its puzzles and paradoxes I can honestly declare with my hand on my heart that this film is very worthy of its hype. I demand that you check it out if you get the chance to do so.
Up next was Jamaine Clement & Taika Waititi‘s epic vampiric mockumentary WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADDOWS. Following the undead lives of Viago, Vladislav and Decon, What We Do In The Shaddows documents the adventures of the three flatmates whilst they try their best to balance life’s obstacles with being an immortal vampires. Expect plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in this film which is described as This Is Spinal Tap with vampires.
This film was hilarious. By the time the end credits began to roll my eyes were watering and sides were killing me from laughing so much, especially at the sandwich joke. Perfectly paced, nicely acted and a very sharp-witted script, What We Do In The Shadows was quite the surprise for me and I loved every bit of it.
Next it was time to get messy with director Kevin Kolsch‘s STARRY EYES. Sarah, a waitress working in a dingy diner who is desperate to book her first real acting gig receives a callback after a very strange audition she is thrilled but her excitement soon fades when she realises the true cost of fame and fortune. Described as an occult tale of ambition and possession Starry Eyes also stars Noah Segan, Pat Healy, Amanda Fuller and Shane Coffey.
Smartly written, superbly acted and nicely directed, Starry Eyes is a film that draws your attention from the get go and takes you on a journey filled with horrific imagery and shocking scenes of gore underlined by a commentary about the more grittier side of casting in LA. The effects reminded me of last year’s Discovery film Contracted about a young girl who contracts a deadly STI from a one night stand so if you have seen that you have a basic idea of just how disturbing this film can get. But if you’re not too bothered about overly gross out moments (head bashed in with a dumbbell or a combination of maggots and body parts) then this is a film worthy of your time.
Bringing the evening to a close was a screening of Jordan Rubin‘s ZOMBEAVERS. Described as American Pie meets Critters, Zombeavers stars Lexi Atkins, Rachel Melvin and Cortney Palm as a group of college kids who decide to go to an isolated cabin by the lake for a weekend of fun and debauchery. Shortly after their arrival they find themselves fighting back against a swarm of deadly zombie beavers that have taken up residency in the nearby lake. Queue plenty of laughs, some very out there moments and some shocking beaver animatronics.
I enjoyed the film but was disappointed with the fact that it kept repeating the same joke time and time again. That said, Zombeavers made for a perfect midnight movie and offered just the right amount of fun, gore, and silliness. So if you’re stuck for what to watch late night on a Friday or Saturday night after a few drinks then you won’t go wrong with this film.