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Live for Films at Film4 FrightFest: Day Four

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My goodness, yesterday was fantastic! Wonderful shorts as an amuse bouche, before lunching on the magnificent Frankenstein, and squeezing in a hearty and fulfilling dinner of the rock-and-shock-tasticDeathgasm, and crazy Turkish remake documentary Remake, Remix, Rip-Off for dessert.

Saturday whizzed by in a blur of genre fan ecstasy, and really brought home to me what I love about FrightFest and what makes it so damn special – the mix is eclectic; the choices come good, more than they go bad (though the bad ones bind us together and make the stars shine brighter); and there’s ALWAYS surprises. Things you’ve never heard of, or expected to dig, becoming instant favourites that you will never forget seeing for the first time as part of the Film4 FrightFest family.

Sunday already, which is annoying as it’s gone so fast, but obviously means it’s been a great fest so far. Today, I checked out Road Games and Inner Demon in the Main Screen, hopped over to the Prince Charles for Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key (“Your Vice” from now on, ‘kay?), then back to the Horror Channel Screen for Scherzo Diabolico and A Christmas Horror Story.

road-games

Road Games is another film which stars this year’s honorary guest: Barbara Crampton.

Jack (Andrew Simpson) is hitchhiking through Southern France, but the rides have dried up – there is a killer on the roads and everyone is terrified. After saving Veronique (Josephine de La Baume), a fellow hitcher, from an altercation, Jack starts to fall for her while they try and fail to bum a ride.

After a cuddly campfire night the pair finally manage to score a lift. Charming, but odd, Grizard (Frederic Pierrot) takes the pair to his enormous home for a meal, a rest and to meet his wife – artist Mary (Crampton). But it’s uncomfortable, creepy, and glimpses of Mary’s “unconventional” artworks in the background are unsettling.

Jack wakes the next day to find Veronique gone and Grizard denying all knowledge. Now he must find and rescue her, try and survive, and maybe discover who The Road Killer is.

Simpson is a poor leading man. Wooden reads and zero charisma really show when butted up against La Baume’s excellent French free spirit, Pierrot’s untrustworthy, perhaps pervy paternal nutcase, and a sad but subtly seductive Crampton. But the use of the language barrier to keep Jack out of the loop is smart, and the final twist is exciting.

3-out-of-5

In Inner Demon, two Aussie sisters are abducted in the middle of the night. The youngest is gone, but the eldest, Sam (Sarah Jeavons), escapes, wallops her captors with a tire iron and finds safety in a nearby house. Unfortunately… yeah, it’s the house of her abductors.

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When killer kidnappers Karl and Denise (Andreas Sobik and Kerry Anne Reid) return home, Sam hides in a cupboard. And then stays there for the rest of the film.

What is it about Australian girls? They are all double hard – at least in horror movies – and Jeavons is no different, channeling Sharni Vinson, being fiercely protective of her little sister, performing self-surgery, and never backing down.

It is a shame then that she is not given much to do, bar peek through a hole in the door. Luckily, anything of any narrative importance happens right in front of the wardrobe, and somehow, even though Karl seems to spot her three times, she’s just left, until deciding to give away her position at the worst possible time.

Sobik’s villain is cartoonish and when finally receiving his comeuppance, it unsatisfyingly happens off screen, via an invisible dog. But there’s a nice change up seventy minutes in that’s just worth sticking it out for.

2-out-of-5

Your Vice a slice of giallo, that, even as a massive advocate of the sub-genre, I had not seen yet. So I could not resist hopefully having the pleasure for the first time on the big screen, and in the comfy confines of The Prince Charles.

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Starring giallo queens Edwige Fenech and Anita Strindberg, this 1972 film is about a wrecked writer, Oliviero, a monster of a man who makes his impossibly beautifully cheek-boned wife’s life a misery. Shortly after his niece Flo, a cool and carefree young woman, comes to stay, a string of sickle serial murders begin and clues point to Oliviero being the killer. But that would be waaay too easy…

Newly restored by Arrow, the picture and sound were great for the most part, but the last few minutes were plagued with video freezes and audio dropouts, before falling over altogether. Hopefully, I’ll get to find out how the film ends when the Blu-Ray comes out. While certainly not a classic giallo, Your Vice is a strange and fun whodunnit.

2.5-out-of-5

I had no idea what to expect from Scherzo Diabolico – except that I loved the title – which is a state of ignorance about what I’m about to see that I like to try and keep hold of when seeing films at Film4 FrightFest.

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What it turns out to be about was a man who is not getting the recognition he deserves at work, or the respect he deserves at home. After intricate planning and practice he abducts a schoolgirl and keeps her in an abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere.

Things begin to go right at work, and he releases the girl. Although her life, and the lives of her parents are irrevocably damaged, he now has everything he ever wanted and life is sweet. But as his victim begins to piece together what happened, cracks start to show and lead to a pre-destined hyper-violent climax.

Directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano, who made Late Phases – which was one of my favourites at last year’s FrightFest – I was expecting a lot. Scherzo Diabolico isn’t up to that standard and the slow burn pace is frustrating. Some huge unexplained character and narrative leaps are annoying, and may have been lost in an edit, but, for the most part, that slow burn is very deliberate, and everything cleverly and rewardingly comes together at the end.

3.5-out-of-5

Last up:  A Christmas Horror Story. The first film to make me jump so far felt very out of place in a scorching hot screen during the August Bank Holiday, but thanks to some complimentary candy canes everyone soon got into the (Christmas) spirit.

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A Christmas Horror Story is an anthology film, but organised differently to usual. Instead of each story playing out one at a time with a wraparound, the stories all happen concurrently and we hop between them as they take place. There’s pros and cons to this method though.

When jumping beyween five different stories we have to see each one set up in turn, and with five, that’s an awful lot of first and second acts to work through before anything kicks off. BUT when it does, you’re rewarded for an hours patience and attention with a yuletide blast of pay offs that are scary, funny, and very un-Christmassy.

From killer Krampus’s, to zombie elves, to little kids murdering their dad’s for telling them off for opening the present early; and even a great appearance from William Shatner as a  DJ, A Christmas Horror Story could become a traditional watch for horror fans, and definitely made Christmas come early.

3-out-of-5

The penultimate day done and dusted, I fully intended to drink the last day dry, very aware that I’d have to wait another long year for another Film4 FrightFest. Monday is hopefully going to see us out in style, with Night Fare, Nina Forever, Last Girl Standing, Emelie, and the festival-closer Tales of Halloween, promising a lot.

See you tomorrow for The End.

Catch up on our coverage so far here:

Day One

Stung review

Day Two

Day Three

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