I may incite the occasional nugget of envy from readers when I speak frequently of the unchained awesomeness that is Fantastic Fest. While I am quite fortunate to live in Austin, TX and therefore able to attend this orgasmic movie geek gathering, I find myself turning a proverbial shade of green when I read up on international film festivals which I am consistently unable to attend due to the conspiring forces of time and finances. One of the biggest agents of my jealousy is U.K.’s Film 4 Frightfest. Apparently in no hurry to allay my envious rage, Frightfest has announced this year’s lineup.
The full story and lineup can be found here courtesy of our friends at Twitchfilm. Here at HND, we thought we’d break down a few of the more standout titles thusly…
What We’ve Seen & Liked…
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil–“I like a lot of horror comedies. They’re obviously not my go-to choice when I think of the genre, but I’m all for horror movies that don’t take themselves too seriously. I’m not including horror spoofs in this category, of course. I’m talking about the Zombielands and the Dead & Breakfasts of the world, not the Stan Helsings. But even though I’m a not-so-closet fan of horror comedies, I rarely find myself calling them hilarious. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is hilarious.”–Peter S Hall
A Horrible Way to Die–“A Horrible Way to Die is a step in the right direction for independent horror films. In fact, so much of its appeal comes from the intimate, well-constructed character study that perhaps the moniker of thriller would better suit the film. However the question of semantics is settled, A Horrible Way to Die is a wonderful film.”–Brian Salisbury
Troll Hunter–“Just when you think the found footage subgenre has run out of gas, Troll Hunter comes along to kick your ass. Taking full advantage of gorgeous Norwegian scenery (which lends the film an often jaw-dropping scope), the film follows a small film crew as they stumble across the titular character, a jaded, government-employed former soldier who helps keep the population of the country’s trolls under check. Combining amazing creature effects, real scares and pitch dark wit, Troll Hunter proves that there is life in this genre yet.”–Jacob Hall
My Sucky Teen Romance–Made by our good friend and Austin filmmaker wunderkind Emily Hagins, we were very impressed by MSTR at SxSW. J.C. Deleon had this to say: “Where My Sucky Teen Romance really excels is the humor. By highlighting teen awkwardness paired with the clumsiness of being new vampires, Emily has delivered the kind of authenticity to the film that many other high school films today simply don’t deliver on.”
The Innkeepers–“Not that the competition has been particularly strong, but this is my favorite horror movie of 2011 so far. With Ti West coming off of The House of the Devil, a lot of people are going to expect this to be another straight-faced nerve jangler, but it’s actually a very funny, sweet-natured movie about how urban legends are created and how they spread.”–Peter S. Hall
The Woman–“Despite the strikingly amateur feel of many of the film’s elements, The Woman is the best film with either Lucky McKee or Jack Ketchum’s name attached. It succeeds where it needs to, diving unflinchingly into dark territory that’s both horrific and shockingly funny while abusively deconstructing the sexual politics of the American family. It doesn’t matter which way it goes, one’s reaction to The Woman is sure to be strong.”–Brian Kelley
Kidnapped–“Home invasion horror has rarely been more brutal or more stylistically impressive. Spain’s entry into the subgenre is sleek, taut, and rather mean to boot. The film’s ‘De Palma’ shot is particularly remarkable.”–Brian Salisbury
What Intrigues Us…
Saint–Our buddy Scott Weinberg was kind enough to chime in on this one: “Dick Maas, director of Amsterdamned and De lift, returns with a seasonal horror treat that mixes colorful horror with broad, dark humor. Sort of a mixture of Trick ‘rTreat, Bad Santa, and your favorite Silent Night Deadly Night sequel, Saint is probably not for all tastes — but should certainly go over well with the Frightfest crowd. (Other FF flicks I’d recommend to one degree or another include Troll Hunter, The Woman, Kill List, and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil in the “main” section, while in the “discovery” section I enjoyed Midnight Son, My Sucky Teen Romance, Atrocious, Rabies, Kidnapped and A Horrible Way to Die.) Truth be told, the Frightfest programmers have outdone themselves this year.”
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark–While personally not a fan of the original film, when the words, “Guillermo del Toro” are added into the equation, I am instantly on board. There is an intensely unsettling story to be mined from the source material and I can’t wait to see it infused with new blood.
Chillerama–Anthology horror films hold a special place in my black heart. Chillerama further piques our interest given the creative minds behind it: Adam Green (Hatchet, Frozen), Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2), Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs), and Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City). The end result of such an unholy collaboration is something I simply cannot bring myself to miss.
The Wicker Tree–The followup to, and from the makers of, The Wicker Man, the anticipation for The Wicker Tree needs little explanation from the likes of me. Based on the novel Cowboys for Christ, written by Wicker Man/Tree director Robin Hardy, The Wicker Tree will expose the dangerous world of door-to-door evangelism as well as bringing Christopher Lee back into the fold.
What We’d Urge You to Skip…
The Dead—The Dead is a piece of shit. Granted, it’s ambitious shit that has the occasional flash of inspiration, but as far as modern zombie films go, it’s pretty bottom of the barrel (which is saying a lot). The plot follows an American soldier stranded in the African wilderness after an unknown contagion has started turning everyone around him into zombies. And by ‘everyone’, I mean a couple of extras who seem to be frequently reused. And by zombie, I mean the extras have some powder splashed on their face. Despite being shot on location, the whole production is painfully amateur and the ultimate message of racial tolerance is as hamfisted as things get. You have better things to do at Frightfest. I promise you this.”–Jacob Hall
Detention–“If you need every single joke in a film explained to you 5 different ways (including writing the punchlines on the screen) then Detention is the movie for you. The single most aggressively obnoxious movie I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen Fred: The Movie), it is compromised entirely of Family Guy “remember that one time” bits. Its major failure is simultaneously thinking itself wicked clever and not being confident in its cleverness. It so desperately wants to be post-‘something’. Post-funny? Post-good? Post-watchable? Whatever, skip it.”–Brian Kelley
The Divide–“I wish I liked this more. I love movies set in one location, I love the end of the world, but Xavier Gens’ films start out strong before becoming style over substance. This one is no different.”–Peter S Hall
And surely some other films that don’t begin with “D.” All in all, a frighteningly impressive lineup.
Tags: A Horrible Way to Die, Chillerama, DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, Frightfest 2011, HND Staff, Kidnapped, My Sucky Teen Romance, Rabies, Saint, The Innkeepers, The Wicker Tree, The Woman, Troll Hunter, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, UK Frightfest