Arrow Video FrightFest 2022

The good bad news about Arrow Video FrightFest 2022

Arrow Video FrightFest 2022 announces its programme of features for August

Clowns in control making all our lives a hellish circus. A deadly pandemic which, no matter how many times it seems to have been put down, keeps popping back up to kill again. A disastrous climate meltdown playing out before our very eyes. The patriarchal powers-that-be making ever more mainstream their polarising demonisation of the Other (non-male, non-white, non-abled, non-het, non-cis, non-binary). A steady dismantling of rights and protections. The return of war, both Cold and Hot. Indeed the return of the past, of the primitive, of the repressed, as we look back to an illusory, idealised history of imperial supremacy to define who we are while feeding the monstrous id within. This is a dark period in human history, but bad times famously generate good horror. Horror cinema, after all, allows our anxieties about (looks around) everything to be framed and projected onto the screen as cathartic, palatably storied entertainments which bring real-world problems down to a scale more readily processed. In horror, social, cultural and psychological ills assume monstrous form – and can, sometimes, be defeated. And even when evil is seen to triumph, at least the audience still comes out winning.

So if you are looking for the (bad) news of the world, the UK’s biggest genre festival FrightFest has been dishing it out in bloody, bite-sized chunks for over two decades. This August Bank Holiday weekend will see in their 23rd annual edition – 23 being a significant number in occult circles. For five days over this August Bank Holiday weekend, the festival will showcase the very best – and occasionally worst – of the year in horror, with a host of features (including 32 world premières, 22 international/European premières and 18 UK premières), TV series previews (Netflix’s The Devil’s Hour and the BBC’s Wrecked), filmmaker Q&As, shorts programmes, exclusive trailers, a special event (Duelling Egos) hosted by Alan Jones and Mark Kermode, the return of the Duke Mitchell Film Party, a pre-fest quiz hosted by The Evolution of Horror, as well as all the camaraderie of friends and freaks reunited. 

The festival will open with the world première of Neil Marshall’s The Lair – and if its military-vs.-monsters scenario recalls Marshall’s feature debut Dog Soldiers (2002), he will be on hand to introduce a 4K restoration of that too. It will close on a literal edge with Scott Mann’s vertiginous survival thriller Fall. In between, there is a veritable cornucopia of carnage. I’ve already reviewed Joseph and Vanessa Winter’s Evil Dead-esque live-footage horror comedy Deadstream, Addison Heimann’s lycanthropic take on mental illness Hypochondriac, Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes’ influencer inferno Sissy, Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s buddy-SF anomaly Something in the Dirt and Bill Posley’s retro, race-reversed slasher Bitch Ass, and I have seen and can heartily recommend Eric Pennycoff’s psychotic passion play The Leech, Andy Mitton’s pandemic psychodr(e)ama The Harbinger and Dima Ballin and Kat Ellinger’s Jean Rollin doc Orchestrator of Storms. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine as to what to pursue. If you liked the originals, you might want to go for sequels like Damien Leone’s Terrifier 2, Alexis Bruchon’s The Eyes Below and Aaron B. Koontz, Alexandra Barreto and Anthony Cousins’ anthology Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge. If you are an apocalyptic nihilist, you might be drawn to the titles of Ian Tripp and Ryan Schafer’s mockumentary Everybody Dies By The End and David Hebrero’s Everyone Will Burn (Y todos arderán) – and to complete the latter title, Elise Finnerty’s The Ones You Didn’t Burn. Or sometimes it is the filmography of the director which might be the attraction, like Dario Argento with Dark Glasses, Ryuhei Kitamura with The Price We Pay, Travis Stevens with A Wounded Fawn, Quentin Dupieux with Incredible But True, Erik Bloomquist with She Came From The Woods, Brea Grant with Torn Hearts, Jacob Gentry with Night Sky, Emily Hagins with Sorry About The Demon, Dominic Brunt with Wolf Manor, Tyler Cornack with Tiny Cinema and Patrick Rea with They Wait in the Dark.

Still, one of the great joys of FrightFest has always been the discovery of fresh blood and new talent – those films that you have never even heard of before, and which might just be the genre’s future. So, obtain your pass, befriend the people sitting around you, choose your films wisely – or just randomly – and get set to catch up with all the latest horror news through a glass darkly.

Arrow Video FrightFest takes place 25th-29th August at London’s Cineworld Leicester Square and the Prince Charles Cinema. Programme here.

Tickets on sale from Sat 16th July at noon

Single tickets on sale from Sat 23 July at noon