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Live for Films at Film4 FrightFest 2015: Day 1

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Yay! It’s that time of year again! You can keep Cannes, and London Film Festival is lovely, but, for me, Film4 FrightFest is the one. An incredible five day festival of fear that showcases the very best in horror and genre cinema from all over the world. It’s my blood-drenched Woodstock, my jump scare nirvana.

The Thursday of Film4 FrightFest is kind of a toe dip. With just the three films, and not kicking off until 6-ish, it’s like getting acclimatised with a nice little paddle, before diving into four full-on all-day days that will scare you, and show you things you’ve never seen – and may have never wanted to.

As always, I had been fretting over my press pass (hooray for insecurity), so once I finally had it around my thankful neck, I relaxed, and started to get excited. Very, VERY excited. This year was set to be another cracker, and I was back in the seat I fell in love with last year in the Horror Channel screen (the best one FYI).

There are tons of films I’m looking forward to this year: Turbo Kid, Hellions, Bernard Rose’s Frankenstein, Deathgasm, Nina Forever and Tales of Halloween, to name but a few, but Day One was all about Cherry Tree, Turbo Kid and Stung.

But before kick off, there were treats! I already knew that the Horror Channel screen ruled, but a goodie bag full of swag including my new work mug and a t-shirt only proved it. And if there was still any shred of doubt in the room, the dual threat of the Deathproof soundtrack blasting, and the presence of Horror Channel scream queen Emily Booth blew it away.

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David Keating, the director of Cherry Tree, came out to introduce his film, along with stars Minnie Phippsand Elva Trill (Ripper Street). Keating not being able to remember his lead actresses names was not a good sign…

Cherry Tree was very disappointing for an opening film. I really liked Keating’s last movie: Wake Wood, so was hoping for similarly polished witch-based shenanigans. Unfortunately, the whole thing was a mess, that sometimes made no sense and was full of constant shots of CG centipedes.

Schoolgirl Faith’s dad is dying of leukaemia, so she makes a deal with a local witch to have him cured. But in return fifteen year old Faith must play surrogate to a devil baby for the coven to sacrifice.

Cherry Tree could have been The Craft meets Rosemary’s Baby, instead it was all over the place, riddled with plot holes and embarrassing contrivances, and somehow too serious and too silly at the same time. HOWEVER, it did have the first entry to my Best Kills award this year: death by burning motorcycle helmet.

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Although not the start I’d hoped for, I shook that off and went to play video games. Playstation have installed two PS4 cabinets in the bar, so I nipped downstairs to play new horror game Until Dawn for thirty minutes.

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A noisy bar was probably not the best environment to play a suspenseful interactive slasher movie game in, but testament to the game – I still had great fun with it. The visuals are absolutely gorgeous, with environs and characters that look hyper-real, and the sense of danger was ever-present. The demo saw me plunged into the middle of things – on a cliff edge, surrounded by pissed off deer. Using basic commands to make my decisions (left or right to choose what to say), and a button at a time to climb, examine, etc. I felt like a lazy player and was worried I’d get bored and feel like I was in the backseat, but the story swept me up and it was quite relaxing not having to remember a million different commands.

Crap! Put down the pad and get upstairs – IT’S TURBO KID TIME.

Well, nearly Turbo Kid time, first there was another surprise – those lovely sneaky Soska Sisters(American Mary) popped up on the screen to show us their new hair do’s and a peek at their new movie Vendetta, which is out available now to download, and on DVD in the UK on the 31st of August.

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Turbo Kid was every thing I had hoped it would be. A revved-up turbo-charged, totally radical throwback splatter movie. The eighties post-apocalyptic VHS-aesthetic world is perfectly done, the story flies along like a freshly oiled BMX, the gore is hilarious and horrid, and the characters are unforgettable. Frederick the Arm Wrestler, Zeus (Michael Ironside) and Turbo Kid are all awesome, but the show was completely stolen by Apple (Laurence Leboeuf).

Apple is possibly my favourite film character of the year thus far: a super sweet, naïve, pink-haired lonely robot sidekick, who just wants a friend… and to batter bad guys with her homemade weapon – a gnome-stick. If casting directors everywhere could now make a note to put Laurence Leboeuf in everything for me from now, that’d be great. Thanks.

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The synth-y score is infectious, the action and gore rules, the cast is clearly having a blast, and writer-directors Francois Simard, Anouk Whissel and Yoann-Karl Whissel throw so much love at it all that you can’t help but jump onto the pegs of their bike, throw your head back and scream with pleasure for the whole thing. I need to own Turbo Kid as soon as possible, so I can watch it all the time, and show it to everybody.

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Stung rounded off the day in a great way – killer mutated wasps a-go-go.

I’ve got a separate full review of this bad boy, so go check that out.

Floating home after a banging first day, I needed to get my sleep in – Day Two was massive and I had a planned line-up that would see me flit between the Main Screen and two of the Discovery Screens for: Pod, The Diabolical, Hellions, We Are Still Here and Final Girl.

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