The Film4 FrightFest 2008 Diary – Day 5 first published by Little White Lies, 25 Aug 2008
Made for what first-time Scottish director Kerry Anne Mullaney describes as “lower than microbudget”, The Dead Outside turns this lack of resources into something of a virtue, offering a familiar apocalyptic scenario (pandemic virus turns the infected into flesh-hungry killers) within an unusually intimate frame. Too bad that lead actress Sandra-Louise Douglas SHOUTS ALL HER LINES in a truly one-note performance, and that several key plot points have been edited down to the point of incomprehensibility – but Mullaney proves effective in creating an atmosphere of paranoia and quiet dread, while the title, ironic in a film that is really concerned with the dead inside, also captures rather well the way everyone who has made it this far in the Festival is now feeling, both outside and in…
After an excellent feature-length showcase of (mostly comic) short films comes the UK premiere of The Disappeared, Johnny Kevorkian‘s moody transposition of a classic psychological thriller/ghost story to the unlikely but effective setting of a London council estate. Most viewers will be way ahead of the plot, but there is plenty of chilling atmosphere on display here, as well as a fine leading performance from Harry Treadaway.
Fresh from his brilliant remake of The Hills Have Eyes, Alexandre Aja (Switchblade Romance) turns to another remake with Mirrors – although it relates to the Korean original Into the Mirror in much the same way as its characters relate to their alarmingly autonomous reflections. Mirrors starts out with what seems like a conventional, rather tired set-up, as Kiefer Sutherland‘s damaged ex-cop security guard is assigned to night duty in the burnt out wreckage of a once grand old New York department store, and uncovers a haunting mystery amidst things going bump in the dark – but at some point Aja appears to have decided that he cannot be bothered with all this remake malarkey, and instead he just goes completely ape with his plotting. Soon Sutherland has morphed into his character from TV’s 24, and by the time he is shown declaring “Don’t make me threaten you!” to a nun, you do not know whether to laugh or cry (not longer after, he points a gun in her face). This was definitely one of the most dumb-assed films of the Festival, but it was also one of the most hilariously entertaining, and could well go on to become a cult classic.
Also a ‘remake’, and just as outrageously daft, is closing film, the Jason Statham vehicle Death Race. Pitched somewhere between Rollerball, The Running Man and The Rock, Paul W.S. Anderson’s high-octane prison-set demolition derby (in heavily armed cars) will probably seem to the male adolescents at which it is firmly targeted like the greatest film since, er, The Fast and the Furious. To everyone else, it is a balls-to-the-wall tankful of amiable idiocy, fast-paced enough to keep anyone’s eye on the road.