Some three and a half months late, my thoughts on last year's Frightfest which was somewhat unusual in there being no Asian
films (though one was scheduled), no French and no Italian ones. What there were provided a mixed bag of both genre and
Another dangers of genetic mutation effort, this time from New Zealand where efforts to produce the wonder sheep proved
deadly. nice scenery and some amusing touches without being too demanding or scary. A nice quiet start to the weekend.
THE SWORD BEARER
A Russian entry set in Kaliningrad for a change with the premise of the hero having a sword in his hand which extends at times of great danger and anger. Well handled with a believable story line to the extent that one all but accepted the rather
over the top ending. The exotically named Chulpan Khamatova who played the heroine was a sight for sore and not so sore
eyes though her engaging in rampant sex with the hero almost as soon as they met was a little hard to accept - or is that just envy.
Basically good idea spoilt by bad acting, bad editing and bad filming which was a waste of time. I wonder if the idea came from Stephen King's 'The Cell'?
Mainstream Hollywood with high production values and first rate performances from John Cusack and a well turned out, almost elegent, Samuel L. Jackson. Confusing backflashes at times but, overall, fairly good.
Glorious scenery and a solid story with a convincing back story which mad what happened believable. Viktopris Winge as the first female victim should have a special award for exposure in minimal underwear in snow and ice! A strong heroine which
has become something of a cliche in slasher films of late possibly to compensate for the untold numbers of women who have
been killed in these films.
Evil seed drama which was poorly acted and directed: with the high production values involved, this was definitely the biggest
waste of money of the weekend though not the absolute worst film, a title which a number of the low budget features deserved.
When things start to go wrong, why do horror heroes and heroines, if those be the right words, press on instead of turning back - haven't any of them seen what happens? A couple lost in shoreline swamps stumble into a marijuana farm where first the two brothers on the farm and then the father terrorize them. Again, the resourcefulness of the heroine, Nadia Fares,
eventually saves the day in what is a rather bloody climax.
WRONG TURN 2
Quite jolly horror comedy set in the boonies where inbreeding and nuclear waste mutants start killing off reality TV contestants. Not as good as the first of this name though. Again, a spunky female lead.
Described in the programme as 'the surprise smash American hit of the year', the surprise being that it was a hit. An updated version of Hitchcock's 'Rear Window' for the teen years, it has a few interesting riffs on the way the main character is
restricted but has nothing other than this to commend it.
JACK KATCHUM'S THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
The revelation of the weekend and, were it not so nasty a true tale, the film of the weekend. Very disturbing indeed with excellent performances from both the eponymous heroine, Blythe Auffarth, her nemesis (brilliant acting by Blanche Baker)
and some less so by the narrator of the events that occur, Danial Manche. Unflashily directed, and all the better for it, by
Gregory Wilson, the film portrays real evil very convincingly indeed.
A romp with scary special effects and a bloody killing spree that was both amusing at times and effectively done. As with a
number of this type of film, a jolly way to pass the timewithout too much strain on the grey matter.
First of a Uwe Boll double bill which reminded me of 'Attack of the Killer Tomatoes' in some ways. Utter rubbish.
The second Boll feature which may have been better but was filmed in next to complete darkness so after 30 minutes or so
I gave up and went for coffee.
WAZ (Middle letter should be the Greek letter delta)
A horror noir based on the theory of a geneticist, George R. Price, that there is no such thing an altruism. A serial killer sets out to prove this or the opposite and is chased by Stellan Skarsgard in yet another solid performance. his path crosses that of Selma Blair, much better here than in 'Hellboy'. The revelation of the film was Melissa George as Skarsgard's partner; a strong well-nuanced performance, all the better for being unexpected.
THE ZOMBIE DIARIES
To call this trips is being unfair to that much unloved delicacy. An English Zombie movie in quasi-documentary style with no
redeeming features apart from its mercifully short length of 81 minutes.
Twin sisters communicate psychically and one is left mutilated and in a coma after a road accident at - Km 31 - after which the walking sister experienced her sister's terrors. It then gets confused but remained, for me, fairly well done without overly
relying on special effects. apparently a big hit in its home country of Mexico, I doubt it will resonate much elsewhere.
Joel David Moore, who co-directed and co-wrote, plays a disturbed and rather dysfunctional young man who is befriended by his employer (a family friend) and is then increasingly involved with a new employee (a sweet performance frrom Amber Tamblyn). When she fails to turn up to him with him at his employer's on Christmas Day, the latter decides she is a figment
of Moore's imagination - until the last moments of the film. I did not like the film much but acknowledge that it was well done.
The sequel to 'Night Watch' and apparently more successful. Again, a strong and believable story line, excellent but not overdone special effects, good performances from the leads, particularly Konstantin Khabensky, with a merit award to the good girl, Mariya Poroshina, and her bad counterpart, Zhanne Friske, for reasons which have nothing to do with acting - see
their fellow countrywoman in' The Sword Bearer' to complete the trio.
The final film of what was a very interesting weekend with a number of other films which were missed either because of thei
late timing - getting home after the Underground stops is no longer fun - or because they did not appeal. This was the best film of Frightfest with some strong contenders - the two Russian films and 'Jack Ketchum's...' running it close. Not a film with lots of gore but a psychological fantasy of the highest orde directed by Juan Antonio Nayona with a supber central performance by Belen Ruenda. From the opening sequences with the backflash to the history of the setting for the film through the moving fairytel ending this is a film to be treasured and watched again and again.
Here goes Ms Anonymous as the owners of your blog would call me even if I do give my name where asked.
By and large I agree with most of your assessments (well she would, wouldn't she) although I am a little surprised that (in retrospect) you reacted so favourably to 'Day Watch' which I found definitely something of a disappointment.
I particuarly like the way your blog organises itself into blank verse for reasons unknown. it must recognise the poet in your soul.
Con mucho amor....
(A short explanation of the final comment - although entered as a regular set of lines, when reproduced, the text often came
out in a series of irregular line lengths).