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Arrow Video FrightFest 2020: Day 2 – Vampires and explosions

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Day 2! After checking out the short film showcases yesterday, Day 2 was the day the fierce full length features reared their terrifying heads in an evening double bill that you could craft yourself.

As I started saying yesterday, the way it works is that for every time slot there are two virtual screens: Arrow Video Screen and Horror Channel Screen. Both have different delights to unleash on you, and after a squizz at the synopses you can choose which path sounds most appealing.

Check out all of our FrightFest coverage

For the Friday night we selected one of each: There’s No Such Thing as Vampires in Arrow Video Screen and then Triggered in the Horror Channel Screen. Both worked perfectly with no technological gremlins spoiling our fun as we just straight HDMI’ the laptop into the telly, wallop, easy, and as much as I miss the theatrical experience, there’s something to be said for FrighFesting with a dog on your lap while you wait for your takeaway to turn up.

If you like the sound of FrightFest and are just hearing about it – Welcome! – unlike usual years when it sells out in seconds, tickets and passes are still available here and there are horrid heaps of histrionics inducing hits to check out every single day until next Monday. So go get involved.

Anyhoo, Hi! I’m Alan and I will be Live for Films’ brave adventurer into the demonic delights of daily death and destruction for the next five days and IF I SURVIVE jumping on here to let you know what sights I witnessed and what I thought. If you want an early sniff or just like your hot takes a little fresher and more instantaneous, I will also be tweeting reactions over on the Live for Films twitter: @Live_for_Films.

 

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS VAMPIRES

Directed by Logan Thomas, There’s No Such Thing as Vampires is written by Thomas and one of its stars – Aric Cushing (The Yellow Wallpaper) – and also stars Emma Holzer (Barely Lethal), Josh Plasse (Grey’s Anatomy) and genre legend Meg Foster (They Live).

Beginning like a breakneck bat out of hell, Logan Thomas’ There’s No Such Thing as Vampires only stops to catch its breath a couple of times, for the most part relentlessly thundering forward like The Terminator crossed with Near Dark.

Shirtless hunk of beefcake with pecs for days Joshua (Plasse) is desperately speeding through the desert night at midnight on All Hallows Eve, pursued by a hooded, razor fanged monster in a truck. With a soundtrack that absolutely slaps and sounds like Brad Fiedel’s The Terminator duking it out with John Carpenter AND Alan Howarth, it’s one heck of an opening statement.

Temporarily run off the road, Joshua takes up with Ariel (Holzer) who lends him a shirt and her car and the pair take off toward a friend’s house for sanctuary. Along the way they pitstop at a dusty church where Meg Foster’s nun classes up the joint before devouring all the scenery and a police station full of sight gags, a kickass cop – take a fucking bow Chiquita Fuller as the awesome Detective Lowery who I demand a spinoff movie for immediately – and a brilliant suspense scene that is reminiscent of the raptors hunting Tim and Lex in Jurassic Park.

The film’s aspirations and influences are clear to see but it always still feels like its doing its own thing – just giving you tingles that remind you of some cracking films as it does it. For the most part. An extended sequence where Ariel and Joshua stop at a friend’s house for aid devolves into some clunky expository narrative gymnastics – a DVD of silent horror shorts that juuuust so happens to hold the clues to why Maddox is pursuing them – and a cringey horror history lesson that feels like Thomas frantically trying to prove his horror credentials to us when we are already firmly in his camp and aren’t demanding to see them.

There’s No Such Thing as Vampires is an action-horror road movie that invokes Cameron and Bigelow and overcomes budgetary and practice restrictions through a very visible love and embracing of genre cinema that will leave you wanting to see how the adventure continues.

TRIGGERED

Written by David D. Jones (The Passenger), directed by Alastait Orr (From a House on Willow Street) and starring Liesl Ahlers (Friend Request), Reine Swart (Z Nation), Steven John Ward (From a House on Willow Street) and Russell Crous (Escape Room).

A camping trip reunion of old school friends turns bad when after a few drinks and arguments they get knocked out with sleepy gas and wake up strapped into tamper proof suicide vests. FULL OF EXPLOSIVES.

Everyones vest has a timer ticking down and the group figure out that if they kill one of their number they get therir remaining minutes added to their timer. It’s a clever mechanic that makes for a film that is like Highlander meets In Time meets Battle Royale.

Even with an MIT genius putting the pieces together to save time, it still seems to take a while for things to get going but when they do, jeez, Triggered becomes a gore and explosion packed stabathon. It is properly all against all with friendships fractured and new alliances formed and folk getting stuck or chopped with whatever’s handy unles they’re timer runs out and then BOOM – the explosions are huge and brillint and leave the remaining survivors sheltering from a sudden shower of limbs.

With the one wooded location it is hard to keep track of where everyone is and where they are in relation to each other. The constant just forest with no discernible landmarks makes for a lack of visual geography that could have added a lot more tension and made things more gripping. It is also quite hard to keep track of who is who. Most everyone is fairly unlikeable anyway, but apart from the genius and her wannabe rockstar boyfriend most everyone looks and sounds the same when they’re coated in the blood of their best friends.

The one character you will never forget though is Russell Crous’s Kato. Quickly descending to psychopathic depths, Kato is truly foul and Crous makes the most of the foul but killer lines Jones’s great script affords him. Kato has a right mouth on him and says some truly vile stuff but it’s delivered with such flair by Crous that you’ll laugh in disbelief and hate him even harder.

Now our horror muscles are warmed up, flexed and primed, stuff is about to get real as Day 3 tomorrow is the first full day of the festival with four films. You’ll have to come back then to see what we selected and what we thought of it, but if you promise not to tell anybody, we’re most looking forward to The Columnist and Blind.

Arrow Video FrightFest: Digital Edition runs until Monday and tickets are still available here.

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