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2010 FrightFest Special

Posted by: Matthew Turner 03/09/2010 @ 14:40
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 326
Films seen this week: Isle of Dogs, F, The Tortured, 13 Hours, I Spit On Your Grave, Monsters (again), We Are What We Are, Damned By Dawn, Buried, The Loved Ones, Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape, After.Life, Fanboys, Red, White and Blue, The Last Exorcism (again), Jonah Hex, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, Back to the Future

FrightFest Post-Mortem
Last week I attended my third FrightFest film festival and a bloody good time was had by all, so I thought I'd make this week's blog a FrightFest Special. I saw a total of 18 films in five days (see above, plus Hatchet II, Primal and Burning Bright), only four of which were terrible, which is a pretty good strike rate. Actually, strictly speaking, I saw 21 films overall, as I'd seen five of them beforehand and one of those was one of the worst films I've seen this year (Escape to Vampire Island), so the actual total is 21 films and 5 terrible ones. Highlights of the festival included: meeting the stars, producer and director of The Last Exorcism (and Peaches Geldof telling me she “loved my tweets”) at the after-party; chatting to Human Centipede director Tom Six (who's had, it's fair to say, a wild ride of a year since the film had its debut at last year's FrightFest); the sheer weirdness of seeing Tony “Candyman” Todd in unofficial post-FrightFest watering-hole the Phoenix (I wonder how many times he heard the word “Candyman” while he was here?); discovering that Rutger Hauer has made a film called Hobo With A Shotgun; the replacement for A Serbian Film turning out to be Buried (the worst-kept secret of all time), which meant I got to see Back to the Future last night instead; and, of course, the films themselves, although the scariest thing I saw all festival was definitely this.

The only real lowlight was the choice of Tobe Hooper for the onstage Total Icon interview, as he proved to have very little to say and was uncomfortable to watch. There were also the usual projection-based fuck-ups (such as playing the first couple of minutes of The Last Exorcism instead of I Spit On Your Grave), but even they seemed to have a bizarre charm of their own this year, such as the opening scene of Burning Bright, which had Garrett Dillahunt and MeatLoaf negotiating over the sale of a tiger in weirdly high-pitched voices. Anyway, my FrightFest Top Ten (with release dates) is as follows:

1. The Loved Ones (see Trailerwatch, below)
2. Burning Bright (see DVD of the Week, below)
3. The Last Exorcism (out this week)
4. F (stylishly directed British school invasion horror, out September 17th)
5. Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape (well-researched and thoroughly entertaining documentary, due out on DVD soon)
6. Fanboys (enjoyable comedy about four nerds trying to break into Skywalker Ranch to steal The Phantom Menace, with Jay Baruchel and Kristen Bell, out on DVD on October 4th)
7. Buried (delivers everything you could want from a movie about Ryan Reynolds in a box – out September 29th)
8. Red, White & Blue (chilling revenge drama with Noah Taylor)
9. Monsters (out 26th November – see Edinburgh review here)
10. We Are What We Are (Mexican cannibalism drama that reminded me a lot of Let the Right One In, out November 12th.

Trailerwatch: The Loved Ones
Australian shocker The Loved Ones was the only midnight movie I saw at FrightFest this year and it was hands-down my favourite film of the festival. Directed by Sean Byrne, it stars Robin McLeavy as Lola Stone, a deranged high school girl who kidnaps the boy she likes (Xavier Samuel, last seen playing Riley in Twilight: Eclipse) and forces him to attend a gore-soaked prom for two in her living room, aided by her doting father (John Brumpton). Robin McLeavy is utterly terrifying throughout (her pink satin dress is sure to become a favourite at cult movie-themed Halloween parties) and there's terrific support from both Brumpton and Samuel. The direction is superb, with strong use of colour, some truly nasty twists and turns, inventive gore scenes (“Fetch the hammer, daddy...”) and impressive use of music, all of which adds up to a pretty intense 84 minutes or so. The trailer is quite spoilery and doesn't quite do the film justice, but you get a good sense of McLeavy's performance and it does manage to keep at least one particularly nasty detail under wraps. I particularly like the fact that it gives a potted, literal example of the How To Write A Screenplay credo that all scripts should supposedly adhere to, namely: “Act One – put your hero in a tree. Act Two – throw stones at him. Act Three – get him down again.” This is due out on DVD soon, but there's also a slim possibility that it'll be getting a brief theatrical release, so watch this space, as it's definitely worth seeing with a large crowd.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Despite the huge number of new films out this week (13 in all), only one of them is good enough to make it into the top ten. Fittingly, given the theme of this week's blog, that film is FrightFest closing night horror The Last Exorcism, starring Patrick Fabian as a disillusioned preacher who gets more than he bargained for when he invites a documentary crew to help him expose the behind-the-scenes tricks of a faked exorcism. Interview-wise this week you can still read our press conference interviews with Scott Pilgrim stars Michael Cera, Brandon Routh and Jason Schwartzman and we have exclusive interviews with both Juliette Binoche (for Certified Copy – watch this space) and Janet Jackson and Tyler Perry for Why Did I Get Married Too?

1. Toy Story 3
2. Inception
3. Scott Pilgrim vs the World
4. Mother
5. The Secret in Their Eyes
6. The Last Exorcism
7. The Illusionist
8. Salt
9. Avatar: Special Edition (3D)
10. Piranha 3D

DVD Of The Week: Burning Bright (out Monday 6th September, price £12.99)
Continuing the theme, this week's DVD of the Week was my second favourite film at this year's FrightFest. Directed by Carlos Brooks, Burning Bright stars Step Up 2's Briana Evigan as 20-year-old Kelly, who lives with her step-dad (Garret Dillahunt) and her young autistic brother Tom (Charlie Tahan), who screams the house down any time someone touches him. When Kelly and Tom wake up during a hurricane, they find that all the doors and windows have been boarded up and their step-father is nowhere to be found. They also discover that they're sharing the house with a very hungry tiger. Despite its deceptively simple premise, it is fair to say that Burning Bright delivers everything you could possibly want from a film about Briana Evigan being chased by a tiger, not least because she spends almost the entire film in skimpy night attire, though it's a shame they couldn't somehow have worked in her trademarked shakey ass-dance from Step Up 2. The film makes strong use of actual tigers (three in all) rather than resort to CGI or a man in a tiger costume and it's edited extremely well, even if you never actually see Briana and a whole tiger in the same shot. Only one extra on the DVD though and it's the worst of all possible extras – the trailer. Definitely worth seeing though.

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