FrightFest 2017 – Day One

“Come join the cult”

August bank holiday weekend has finally arrived. Whilst most people look forward to the frivolity of a good birthday drink or the suicide inducing family time that is Christmas; for Brooker, FrightFest is all that and more rolled into one. So begins his journey into “The Dark Heart of Cinema”.

I can’t believe it was only a couple of months ago I was looking at the newly released film list for this year’s premier horror film festival, excited for what was coming and worried about whether or not I would be able to squeeze in those discovery films I was looking forward to.

I can’t believe it has been two months since the mad panic to get my weekend pass, terrified I was going to miss out. But here I am, it’s opening night, and boy has the bar and tone for the weekend been set high.

Living legends Barbara Crampton and Kane Hodder have followed “The Douche Brothers” Adam Green and Joe Lynch in opening the greatest cinema experience in the world. I’ve already met some very cool people, I’m settled in for the upcoming five days, my arse print is firmly moulded into this seat and there’s a dude outside screaming about Jesus and the Devil. Won’t you join me on this ride?

Cult of Chucky (World Premiere)

An honest-to-goodness, crowd pleasing, world premiere. Director Don Mancini, puppeteer Tony Gardner and stars Jennifer Tilly, Fiona Dourif and Adam Hurtig were all in the Horror Channel screen to introduce the seventh instalment in the Child’s Play franchise to a roar of applause.

Four years after the events of Curse of Chucky and Nica (Dourif) is a resident of a psychiatric hospital, having taken responsibility for the bloody events of the previous instalment. Quickly, serial killing Good Guy doll Chucky finds his way to the same facility and Chucky does what Chucky does.

Lots of blood – and a couple of brilliantly brutal head stomps that reminded me of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II in their hilarity – over a gorgeously pristine hospital leaves the atmosphere sitting somewhere between every Nordic thriller and 2002’s D-Tox. Except it’s much better than how I make it sound. Where Curse went back to the series’ roots and made it much more of a horror film, Cult takes a step back and brings back the meta-jokes, the pop culture references and the big laughs. To mixed reactions when I talked to people after.

Seeing as Bride, and it’s perfect comedy horror blend is my favourite of the franchise, and this one aims for those highs, it’s a winner for me. Brilliant.

Redwood (World Premiere)

I said I would try to make this one, not only am I not really that enthused by Death Note, but as I type this, it’s only a couple of hours away from its Netflix release. So I zipped across the foyer to the tiny Splice Media screen for this running in the woods horror.

After an opening scene that explains nothing, we jump forward a little bit to a pair of campers out for their jollies in the woods for a few days. In a “I want to do more of this before I die” kinda trip, it doesn’t take long for the hikers to ignore all safety precautions and find themselves in harm’s way. As chaos ensues and blood curdling screams fill the nights, a surprisingly low amount of things actually happen to these idiots. Certainly not as much as two douchebags walking around in the woods in skinny jeans deserve.

Of course, there’s a twist. It’s telegraphed from five minutes in and made the end a little anti-climactic. But it’s a fun enough film to watch. Made and shot in a month on a shoestring budget, I enjoyed Redwood, but you won’t be missing out on anything world changing if you skip it. But when it rolls round to Sky Movies next year as the premiere on a random Thursday, give it a look.

Psychopaths (European Premiere)

So tonight went downhill fast. The guys that stayed back for Death Note said I wasn’t missing much, it only got worse when Mickey Keating’s latest one began.

A handful of psychopaths, completely unrelated on the surface, are somehow brought together by mystical forces let loose upon the execution of a crazed killer. Stories slowly merge together and things get bloodier as they do. I was excited for this one, I came out so disappointed. And given the amount of people bugging out early to catch the last tube, I wasn’t the only one.

Keating was clearly aiming for a Tarantino-esque narrative, Pulp Fiction style, where all of his really interesting stories of killers and their victims all meet and blow the lid off of wherever they end up. Adding some Natural Born Killers flavoured psychedelics to the mix just made the already kinda poor film and just headache-inducing.

The bar of awfulness has been set now. Let’s not drop any lower, please? It’s ok, you can’t win them all. And tomorrow is another day.

An interesting opening night, more or less as successful as my trip to day one last year. An amazing experience with Cult of Chucky, even if I did make myself look like a right twat as I tried to get a picture with the beautiful and super-friendly Fiona Dourif. Nothing could match those lofty highs set by the comedy splatter-fest, but we can but try.

I’ll be back tomorrow. Ready for more.

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