Oh, man. It’s over already? This year has totally flown by – in part due to it being cussing great. I settled into the new venue straight away and didn’t have any issues. Nipping between screens was easy, and each was top notch, with no technical or seating problems. I also found a new writing nook, that even had it’s own electricity!
I’ve started thinking about my Top 5 already, and am hoping a few things from the final day make it in there too. Monday held in store: hell in Holland, a killer car, potentially upsetting Mexican incest horror, the world’s first 3D found footage film – as well as a chat with the cast and crew – and Korean zombies on a train.
THE WINDMILL MASSACRE
Jennifer (Charlotte Beaumont) is an Aussie au pair in Amsterdam who is sacked by her boss after he discovers she is not who she says she is. To get out of town and off the cops’ radar she takes off on a bus tour of the Dutch countryside with a group of travellers who also have dark secrets.
The coach conks out in the middle of nowhere and Jennifer heads off to a mysterious not-on-the-map windmill for help. En route she witnesses a fellow passenger get murdered by a seven foot tall man with a burned face and a scythe – The Miller. The group take refuge in a near-by barn and are picked off one-by-one in gory and inventive ways.
The Windmill Massacre has brilliant gore and kills – including one that is the best death of the festival – and the clogs clad killer is suitably iconic. A miller who made a deal with the devil and was burned to death when villagers torched his whirligig, now he’s the devil’s doorman – confronting sinners with nightmarish visions of what they did before offing them with blades, chains, or a wooden clog kerb stomp until their eyes pop out.
Directed by Nick Jongerius, The Windmill Massacre is a blast with a twist. The Miller’s make-up is bad, but this is a very fun old school supernatural slasher, with some fantastic kills.
The Windmill Massacre does not currently have a UK release date.
The Monolith is a completely safe super car, with body armour, bulletproof windows, and “vault mode” – which puts the car on complete lock down. Ex-pop star Sandra (Katrina Bowden) is driving her new Monolith to her mother’s house with her toddler son, David, when she begins to suspect that her record producer husband is having an affair.
Abandoning the trip to grandma’s house, Sandra sets off to LA with David to confront her fella and halfway through the desert they hit a deer. While she is outside, David manages to arm the Monolith’s vault mode, leaving Sandra stuck outside with her baby boy trapped in the vehicular fortress. She must now try everything possible to crack the car open before David roasts to death in the desert heat.
The design of the Monolith is very cool, and child-microwaver or not, you will really want one. With a futuristic all black exterior and a dash that is a massive touch screen, and even AI, it’s a great centre piece for the film. Unfortunately Sandra is supremely unlikeable as a main character. A terrible mother who seems to be going out of her way to make the worst decisions at all times, she also gives up too much – and too easily. Long stretches of her hopeless inactivity, and a lack of much incident, makes for a thriller with half the amount of beats it needs, and an unbelievably unbelievable ending.
WE ARE THE FLESH
In a post-apocalyptic Mexico a lonely middle-aged man, Mariano (Noe Hernandez), is self-sufficiently surviving trading his home-made gasoline for eggs. One day his flat is infiltrated by a brother and sister, Lucio and Fauna (Diego Gamaliel and Maria Evoli) seeking refuge. Mariano accepts the two in exchange for them helping him construct an enormous papier-mache fuck cave.
Over the course of the film Mariano manipulates his young lodgers into both incest and cannibalism in unflinching scenes that feature full penetration and cum shots – all captured and relayed via director Emiliano Rocha Minter’s visionary and assured direction. The use of colour, world creation, and even world-within-a-world creation is highly impressive, and the cast are completely fearless.
Truly extreme, We Are The Flesh is the kind of film that you cannot believe has been made – let alone you’ve been allowed to watch. It is certainly not everybody’s cup of tea, and even the fearless will have their boundaries tested by Minter’s bacchanalian free-for-all.
We are the Flesh has been passed uncut by the BBFC, and will be Arrow’s first new release in November
FOUND FOOTAGE 3D
A group of filmmakers and their cast head off to a haunted cabin to make the world’s first 3D found footage film in Found Footage 3D.
Making a 3D found footage film about a 3D found footage film allows writer-director Steven DeGennaro to have his cake and eat it too. Found Footage 3D is both an absolutely hilarious take down AND a love letter to the sub genre, and with its cliché destruction and genre deconstruction plays like a Scream of The Blair Witch Project.
Comedy and horror are notoriously hard to juggle, but it is pulled off well here, and sometimes not even from scene to scene, but back and forth during one single sequence. A late cameo from Scott Weinberg of horror blog Fearnet could have felt unnecessary or spell breaking, but instead feels natural and if anything grounds the film more before the supernatural elements run riot in the glorious and scary final act.
TRAIN TO BUSAN
All aboard the final film of FrightFest 2016, and it was a cracker. “Day Return of the Dead”, Train to Busan is like a Korean World War Z, but better than World War Z.
When a zombie virus outbreak hits Korea, one unfortunate group of people are mid-train ride. As the infection works it’s way through the carriages, the passengers are divided with a group trying to rescue people trapped at one end of the train, and a group only looking out for themselves at the other.
The undead in Train to Busan’s vision is based on movement, like an undead T-Rex (now THERE’S a movie), and they lose track of you in the dark, which makes for some tension soaked scenes as our heroes try and creep past the zombies while the train is in a tunnel. Stop offs at stations provide set pieces that are often jaw-dropping in scope with millions of creatures piling through any available space to get at the survivors. This was done in WWZ too, but in Train to Busan the weight and force of this enormous volume of bodies is often terrifying and used to fantastic effect.
Ferocious and epic, Train to Busan is not just a super impressive zombie flick, it is also a study in selfishness versus selflessness and will leave you with a tear in your eye.
Train to Busan does not currently have a UK release date.
And like that, we were done already. As I said my goodbyes and thank you’s over the course of the day, I remembered I have now been attending this festival for 10 years. Which is crazy, but I think I love it more than ever and will be coming for at least another 10, as every year I feel a little deeper entrenched: there’s a few more people I know to meet irl, there’s a few more new seat mates to make friends with, and of course more horror films from all over the world carefully picked and put together by FrightFest’s four organisers – Alan, Greg, Ian and Paul – to see and talk and write about. Massive thanks to the festival for having me, and the FrightFest family for making me always feel happy and