Grimmfest is back! Manchester’s International Festival of Fantastic Films is celebrating its 13th Edition – a number normally associated with ill luck and bad omens, except in the inverted world of genre, where everything is seen through a glass darkly, the ominous, the unfortunate and the suspicious are desirable qualities. This year, Grimmmfest 2021 will be a monster of an event, coming in suitably hybrid form. First there will be the usual live edition, from 7-10 October, with parallel programmes spread over two screens at the Odeon Great Northern; and then, for those who cannot make that weekend or are nervous about crowds in these plague times, there will be, from 14-17 October, an online edition showing films as double features. Details on the various full festival passes and day passes can be found here.
Included in the line-up are Stefan Lernous’ grimy psychological staycation Hotel Poseidon, the ritualised grief of Jeremiah Kipp’s Slapface, the doom-laden limbo of Alex Kahuam’s Forgiveness, the subcultural satire of Richard Bates Jr’s wiccan King Knight, Brad Baruh and Meghan Leon’s backward-looking road movie Night Drive, the pandemic pandemonium of Rob Jabbaz’s The Sadness, Conor Boru’s serial-killing mockumentary When The Screaming Starts and Craig David Wallace’s twisty maternal thriller Motherly.
The director and co-writer of that last film is no relation to the actress Dee Wallace, who nonetheless is celebrated here with retrospective screenings of Joe Dante’s The Howling (1981), Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) Stephen Herek’s Critters (1986). I’m also really looking forward, on the strength of the directors’ past filmography, to Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury‘s The Deep House, Marcel Sarmiento‘s Faceless, Daniel de la Vega‘s On The 3rd Day, and Jim Cummings amd PJ McCabe’s The Best Test. There is also very loud and urgent festival buzz around Jane Schoenbrun’s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair – but as always, half the pleasure of a festival is discovery of the new and the unknown, where often the greatest surprises lurk.
The full feature programme for Grimmfest 2021 can be found here.
© Anton Bitel