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Live for Films at Film4 FrightFest 2015: Day Five – Tales of Halloween, Nina Forever & more

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Day Five began with very sad news to wake up to, finding out that true Master of Horror Wes Craven passing away in the night.

Like every horror fan, Wes was a massive part of my horror education, and managed to blow the genre wide open not just once, or twice, but thrice, with A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and then Scream. Although he will be best remembered for Elm St. and Scream, so much of Craven’s oeuvre is indispensable and untouchable, and other films of his like The Hills Have Eyes, Deadly Blessing and The People Under The Stairs show that he could thrill and scare an audience anyway he damn well pleased. Once you were in front of a film of his, your pulse rate was his for the duration. As may be your dreams later.

Farewell Mr. Craven, we will never forget you, and will always enjoy and share everything you gave us.

Day Five of Film4 FrightFest was obviously going to be dominated by our collective heartbreak, but was also a perfect outlet for us to turn that loss into a celebration. My playlist for the day was: Night Fare, Nina Forever, Curve, Emelie and Tales of Halloween.

Night Fare

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Two former tearaways reunite in Paris. On the way home from a party they stiff a taxi driver, who then stalks them all night, slaughtering anyone who gets in his way.

Starring a former UFC fighter as the unstoppable and unbeatable cabbie from hell, Night Fare initially plays out as a great urban slasher movie: tense, inventive, and chock full of cool kills. In the last gasps though, it crowbars in a silly and forced feeling mythology that ruins any hopes for this being the birth of a new slasher icon.

3-out-of-5

Nina Forever

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Trainee paramedic Holly gets dumped for being “too vanilla”, and then finds herself drawn to suicidal shelf stacker Rob. The two get on well, and Nina sees Rob as her chance to prove how edgy she is. However, whenever they sleep together, Rob’s dead girlfriend Nina’s broken body materialises in a pool of blood beside them. And Nina does not approve of Holly – not seeing why her death should mean her and Rob are no longer still together. Rob and Holly try all manner of things to banish Nina, including a pseudo-necro-threesome, but she refuses to go quietly.

Nina Forever does have its moments, but only has one joke that it flogs to death – Nina appearing at inopportune moments and then saying something cutting. The central romance is hard to care for, and, like Holly, Nina Forever is too preoccupied with trying to prove how dark it is.

2-out-of-5

Curve

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Curve sees Iain Softley (Hackers) direct a Blumhouse horror movie with no ghosts or haunted houses.

Mallory (Julianne Hough) is driving to Denver to get married, but has cold feet. Secretly delighted when her car breaks down delaying her further, she is then rescued by Christian (Teddy Sears), a cheesily charming topless stranger who she is ten miles and a smile away from jumping into bed with. When he turns out to be a maniac who attempts to abduct her, Mallory buckles up, crashes the car, and sends him flying out the windscreen.

But, while he is thrown clear, Mal is stuck in the flipped car at the bottom of a ravine – one of her legs pinned in the wreckage. Christian leaves her and then proceeds to periodically to return to taunt her. Can Mallory escape? And if she does, will it be in one piece, and will she then be able to evade the killer?

Curve is a survival thriller that is like 127 Hours meets The Hitcher. It would be a very generic thriller indeed, if not for the odd nerve-touchingly dirty or horrific line that creeps out of Christian’s mouth to shock both Mallory and us. Mallory is initially easy to root for, but after a series of absolutely ridiculous decisions, and failings to capitalise on obvious ways to get out or get help, we find ourselves falling out of love with her. Some unlocking of Christian’s past, or a twist to his motives in the final act might have elevated Curve from being serviceable, but basic and forgettable.

3-out-of-5

Emelie

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In Emelie, an evil babysitter, Anna, is left in charge of three children. At first the kids dig her antics: staying up late, gorging themselves on cookies and running riot. But, as the night wears on, they begin to realise that their carer is dangerous, and that there lives are in danger. The eldest boy must now step up and protect his siblings until their parents return home.

Randy Langdon’s performance as Anna is nicely devilish, making us – like the kids – side with her, before turning against her. Joshua Rush, as oldest boy, Jacob, is great too, with his arc the mirror image of Anna’s, first coming across as a spoiled SOB, before embracing his inner badass and becoming a tough and likeable eleven-year-old badass. Director Michael Thelin is to be lauded for not only creating a crackling pubescent thriller, but coaxing such performances from such a young cast.

Unsettling and upsetting, Emelie keeps you riveted throughout. There is a missing plot point regarding the parents return near the end that screeches things to a halt, and the kids are perhaps too young for Emelie to be as all-out as it maybe should have been – but it is still a thrill ride that will make you think twice before leaving the kids. Or make you never let them out of your sight ever again.

4-out-of-5

Tales of Halloween

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Anthology horror films are the new black, and this one has been corralled together by Axelle Carolyn(Centurion). Tales of Halloween, features segments from directors including: Adam Gierasch, Paul Solet, Darren Lyn Bousman, Neil Marshall and Carolyn herself. It also features innumerable cameos from horror luminaries such as: Joe Dante, John Landis, Mick Garris and Adam Green. Trick r Treat style, the separate stories all at times overlap each other as characters from previous or upcoming parts walk through, and, keeping it together, Adrienne Barbeau revisits her The Fog radio DJ role to provide a very loose wraparound.

Tales of Halloween is a candy rush of fun, but the Lucky McKee section doesn’t work and feels phoned in, while Bousman’s feels tonally at odds with everything else – like he missed an email about tone. For the most part though Tales of Halloween is total joyous fan service to horror enthusiasts, and with everything Halloween holiday related from trick or treating to pumpkin carving covered, as well as even the odd alien and killer Jack o’lantern, it is a film destined to be watched every year.

4-out-of-5

And, like that, it was all over for another year. 2015 has been a vintage year for Film4 FrightFest, and I’m going to have a tough time whittling down my Top Five – which is a great problem to have, and testament to how much good stuff has screened this year. I hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage, and maybe we’ll see you there next year?

Keep an eye out for that Top Five, when I’ve had some sleep and a think, and in the meantime you can catch up with all of our Film4 FrightFest 2015 coverage here:

Day One

Stung review

Day Two

Day Three

Frankenstein Review

Day Four

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