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Arrow Video FrightFest Day 3: A Gary Oldman ghostship, a killer drone and a Happy Face

Day 3 was another jam-packed schedule of brand-new horror at Arrow Video FrightFest and from the bazillion movies playing we decided to check out Mary, Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary, Feedback, The Drone and Happy Face.

These five films run the gamut of big-screen fear and typify both the amazing diversity in the horror genre at the moment and that FrightFest can most definitely not be boxed in or thought of as only a horror festival. 

FrightFest feels riskier and more eclectic than ever, broadening its scope and the tastes of its audience, and pushing at the boundaries of the genre. It’s an exciting time and place and that’s what’s kept people coming back for twenty years.

Check out our Arrow Video FrightFest coverage


Starring Gary Oldman (Leon), Emily Mortimer (Mary Poppins Returns) and Jennifer Esposito (Summer of Sam), Mary is from the writer of The Shallows (Anthony Jaswinski) and Michael Goi – who has directed episodes of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The Rookie, American Horror Story and Swamp Thing.

When fishing tour captain David (Oldman) lays eyes on a creepy clearly haunted boat at an auction he is drawn to it and sinks all of his family’s money into buying and renovating it for pleasure cruises.

But when the ghost ship’s maiden voyage sets sail for the Bermuda Triangle with David’s wife Sarah (Mortimer), two daughters and first mate aboard things get unsurprisingly choppy. The spectral Mary begins possessing the more vulnerable members of the crew and making them do horrible things to themselves and each other. Now in the middle of open water with their sails slashed, David and his family have nowhere to run.

Told via flashbacks during an interview with Esposito’s intimidating and awesome FBI agent, Mary is a well-paced and well-executed thriller, but starting at the end does spoil who lives and dies before we have even started.

Mortimer is very good – holding her family together while dealing with the guilt of a recent fling and playing detective at the same time, while Oldman is his class self throughout and also making time for one of his great freakout moments.

Mary is a high seas high stakes horror that in Goi’s safe hands is a jumpy claustrophobic close-quarters aquatic Amityville.

Mary does not currently have a UK release date.



Written and directed by Fabricio Bittar, Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary a.k.a. Exterminadores do Além Contra a Loira do Banheiro (Exterminators of the Blonde from Beyond the Bathroom) is a horror-comedy from Brazil.

When some kids playing “Bloody Mary” in the high school toilets accidentally conjure up the bloodthirsty spook herself the headteacher calls in loser YouTube Ghostbusters knock-offs the Ghoulhunters to battle her and save the school.

There is plenty of gore and crazy Ash vs. Evil Dead style creature battles — like a foetus that wanks off into a Ghoul Hunters face and a possessed poop that attacks a security guard — that certainly make an impression, but the accompanying humour goes beyond being un-PC to just being offensive and grim. The constant misogyny leaves a bad taste and doesn’t feel like a joke, and the barrage of gags about abortions and AIDS are out of touch and out of order.

Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary does not currently have a UK release date.



Feedback stars Eddie Marsan — last seen toting a flamethrower in Hobbs and Shaw — as a talk radio jock held hostage live on air by masked mentalists who want him to own up to something he swears he didn’t do to his listeners.

Mostly feeling long and drawn out, even at 97mins, Marsan is fully committed, but Feedback is at times as tedious as talk radio and belabours and delays plot points and supposedly big reveals that are obvious from the get-go.

Anthony Head appears for a few scenes to cheer up Buffy fans and there is an insulation chase through a wall that has never been done before that is very cool.

Feedback does not currently have a UK release date.



Zombeavers director Jordan Rubin and its writers Al and Jon Kaplan reunite for another extremely funny straight-faced tongue in cheek high-concept horror with The Drone, which stars Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes), John Brotherton (Fast & Furious 7) and Anita Briem (The Tudors).

The Drone is a gloriously and hilariously OTT self-aware spoof about a pervert serial killer known as “The Violator” who gets hit by lightning just as the cops are about to apprehend him and has his soul zapped into the drone he used to spy on his victims.

Now the possessed UAV has his sights set on Rachel (Essoe) and will not let his new form stop him from stalking her and her neighbour (Briem) and killing anyone who tries to stop him.

Starry Eyes‘ brilliant Alex Essoe sells the absolute shit out of The Drone, with a performance that somehow belies that she is in on the joke while giving nothing away and making you really believe that she really believes a psychotic drone is trying to kill her. Brotherton is good too as the douchey photographer boyfriend that gets relentlessly set up by that sneaky drone, and Briem’s oddball seductress next door is a joy in every scene she steals.

Every po-faced line read and reaction to the drone’s antics is extremely funny and Rubin somehow manages to make the drone amusing or threatening as required with nothing but its movement and his timing and angles. You will swear you can see a smirk on its face as it sneaks sideways out of a room and nearly be able to hear it maniacally laughing as it sinisterly sits rocking in a rocking chair.

Gory, ridiculous and a bit brilliant, this self-aware tech-y toy would make a great adversary for the new Chucky, so fingers crossed for a Child’s Play crossover asap. The Drone is silly spot on Saturday night midnight movie programming.

The Drone does not currently have a UK release date.



Written by Joelle Bourjolly and directed by Alexandre Franchi (The Wild Hunt, both), Happy Face stars Robin L’Houmeau (Le jeu), Noemie Kocher (That Day), Debbie Lynch-White (Unite 9) and Alison Midstokke (Chained For Life).

In a bid to reconnect with his mother, Augustine (Kocher), Stan (L’Houmeau) begins attending meetings for people with facial disfigurements. Vanessa (Lynch-White), who runs the group, is battling her own issues and her attempts at getting the group — who are burned, scarred or born with faces that make them feel different for everyone else — are failing.

When Stan takes over leadership of the group and introduces a more radically confrontive therapy the results are at first positive and the members and the public’s perceptions of them are altered, but when he pushes things to the limit and the gang find out that he is a faker will they be strong enough to stay together and stand up for themselves and their right to be treated the same as everyone else?

L’Houmeau’s is a great lead and gives Stan an empathy and pain that fuels every scene. Lynch-White takes Vanessa from an infuriating front woman to an understandably hurt and flawed human being who just wants to be happy, and Kocher’s mother is at first a manipulative monster who we gradually sympathise with as we learn what she is dealing with. 

The whole film revolves around these changes in our feelings and opinions about everyone and each other and no-one does this better than the host of great facially disfigured actors. Each character and their sub-plot is given time as we learn just how awesome each one of them is in their own way and that no matter what anybody looks like, we are all fighting our own battles and need to be loving and kind – gifting each other the very acceptance and understanding that we all crave.

Happy Face is a compelling and bittersweet gem about longing to belong that lingers in your heart and thoughts long after the credits have rolled. Truly special, it is a film that could make the world a better place.

Happy Face does not currently have a UK release date.

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