FrightFest Friday Report 2015
News and reviews from the opening day of the horror film festival at this year’s GFF
There’s no better audience in the world to watch horror movies with than the FrightFest faithful. They know the genre inside and out with an encyclopaedic knowledge of film history. And with a banner proudly proclaiming ‘FrightFest the Dark Heart of Cinema’, organisers Alan Jones, Ian Rattray, Paul McAvoy and Greg Day took to the stage to welcome us to 2015’s Glasgow edition and promised us that every film showing at this year’s event had never been screened before in the UK before.
It kicked off with fake documentary The Atticus Institute ●●● in which the eponymous institute is dedicated to the study of psychic phenomenon; however, Dr Henry West (Lost’s William Mapother) struggles to control psychic Judith (Rya Kihlstedt). Intermittently creepy, it relies on a few cheap scares and gets a bit Exorcist-y towards the end.
Quirky short The Paper Round was a nice wee bonus before The Hoarder ●●●. Director Matt Winn was on hand to introduce his slasher/creature feature hybrid, starring Mischa Barton, as several strangers get trapped in a storage facility for a suburban spin on The Descent, only for the entire set up to be spun on its head in the final act. Entertaining enough, but the longer you think about it the less it adds up. Winn filled us in on the back story, and on working with Barton, in an illuminating Q&A after.
Another exclusive treat: FrightFest Glasgow had the first audience in the world to see two clips from Paul Hyett’s forthcoming werewolf feature Howl. Hyett and star Shauna Macdonald put in guest appearances and the film looked like an interesting spin on an old monster. The zombie genre has become pretty stale in recent years but Wyrmwood ●●●● injects the undead with a much needed shot of adrenaline, being genuinely funny but balanced with enough little human moments to elevate the cast beyond cannon fodder. This mashed-up stew of Bad Taste, Mad Max and Dawn of the Dead is packed with action, blood, guts and gore gags, and while the science might not stack up it easily won film of the day, judging by the whoops and laughs from the FF crowd.
Thriller 88 ●● just about earned its place at FrightFest, with plenty of blood and shoot outs, deliberately throwing you into a state of confusion by means of multiple timelines and seemingly multiple personalities from lead Katherine Isabelle as Gwen/Flamingo. In the post-film Q&A, writer/actor Tim Doiron seemed like a lovely guy, with some interesting tales from behind the scenes; but 88 just doesn’t hang together, coming across like a stilted Quentin Tarantino wannabe.