FrightFest announces its 2020 Halloween line-up – again.
There is a type of figure familiar from horror who just will not die. No matter what acts of bodily trauma they endure, no matter how often they are stabbed, axed, shot, dismembered, dissolved, or destroyed, no matter how dead – even how buried – they become, they will always spring back up for a final-act surprise, a coda or a sequel, sometimes in mutated, monstrous form.
This year, that is something like what has happened with FrightFest. For, confronted with the ravages of Covid-19, the festival, far from simply lying down and succumbing to the deadly infection, has just put on another mask and repeatedly transformed itself. First, its August Back Holiday weekend event – normally FrightFest’s biggest manifestation in the calendar year – had to shrink down and shift online – where it thrived. Then it was announced that the Halloween FrightFest – usually a one-day, six-feature bijou affair – would be massively extended over two weekends, the first a live event with 35 features, the second an online, only partially overlapping affair with roughly the same number of films (but not all the same films). Once again Covid has killed the live event dead, so now both proposed Halloween FrightFests have hybridised into a single, large-scale all-digital behemoth, running from 22-25 October, and boasting 45 features running in parallel strands. And of course, no matter what guise FrightFest adopts, we will, like any decent final girl, be ready to face it.
You might lament the absence of a venue-based gathering, you might miss laughing, jumping, cringing and recoiling in an auditorium full of fellow viewers of vice, violence and viscera, you might hanker to meet in the Imperial or the Phoenix for a post-film dissection, but if there is one thing that August’s online event taught us, it is that the collective experience which makes FrightFest what it is can still happen in the ether. Sure, it looks and feels different, but FrightFest is still waiting in the shadows to return to new life. It just needs our eyes to feed it.
The full Halloween line-up can be found here. Both passes and individual tickets are also available from 6pm today.
© Anton Bitel