Grimmfest 2021

Grimmfest (2021)

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…

Finding Ophelia

Finding Ophelia (2021)

The title Finding Ophelia might suggest something along the lines of Al Pacino’s Looking For Richard (1996), in which the Academy/Tony-award-winning actor seeks the relevance and resonance of his latest Shakespearean rôle. Yet while Stephen Rutterford’s film is also a feature debut, and certainly evokes Shakespeare (among other things), Finding Ophelia is no documentary, but…

Martyrs Lane

Martyrs Lane (2021)

The first word in the title of Ruth Platt’s Martyrs Lane might suggest that the film is going for something extreme like Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs (2008) – but in fact the lane in question is a leafy country road leading from the village church where Thomas (Steven Cree) is the local priest, to the big…

Superhost

Superhost (2021)

Teddy (Osric Chau) and Claire (Sara Canning) are co-presenters on their travel vlog Superhost, compiling and uploading to-camera pieces about the high-end holiday rentals where they stay. They are also a genuine couple – and right from the opening scene of writer/director Brandon Christensen‘s Superhost, there is a clear tension between their real relationship and…

Lair

Lair (2021)

Lair is in the First Blood strand of FrightFest 2021’s Digital Edition Lair begins with a scene of domestic violence, as a mother lies severely injured in a large London house, and her young son is forced to play hide-and-seek. Neither will survive the brutal onslaught of their assailant. Now in jail for a double-murder,…

We Had It Coming (2019)

We Had It Coming opens with two programmatic sequences. In the first, Katja (Sofie Holland) is woken by the sound of a hardcore porn clip landing on her phone – a video in which, by implication, she features. She then, after grimly donning the transparent platform shoes that are part of her work costume, hangs…

The Advent Calendar

The Advent Calendar (Le Calendrier) (2021)

The Advent Calendar had its UK première at FrightFest 2021 Writer/director Patrick Ridremont’s The Advent Calendar (Le Calendrier) comes frontloaded with a sense of doom. It is not just the direct-to-webcam address made by paraplegic protagonist Eva Roussel (Eugénie Derouand) at the start – but also clearly near the chronological end – of the film,…

The Found Footage Phenomenon

The Found Footage Phenomenon (2021)

The Found Footage Phenomenon had its world première at FrightFest 2021 “The following is based on real events,” reads the glitchy, juddery text that opens The Found Footage Phenomenon, as though we were watching a VHS of one of the very films this documentary celebrates. That, of course, is a crucial point established early here:…

Slapface

Slapface (2021)

Slapface has its international Première at FrightFest 2021 “You know why we have to do this?” says young adult Tom (Mike Manning) to his much younger, scared-looking brother Lucas (August Maturo) at the very beginning of Slapface. “Are you ready?” And then, the title of writer/director Jeremiah Kipp’s feature (adapted from his 2018 short of…

Antidote

Antidote (2021)

Antidote has its UK première at FrightFest A couple of minutes into Peter Daskaloff’s Antidote, Sharyn Berkley (Ashlynn Yennie) is rushed into hospital with acute appendicitis, but after being taken in for an emergency operation, she awakens handcuffed to a bed in a different institution, the scar in her belly already healed, and a softly…

Retaliators

The Retaliators (2021)

The Retaliators has its world première at FrightFest 2021 As a male voiceover intones gravely about sin and choice, evil and justice, we see aerials of remote misty forestland, and a limping figure (with a big set of keys) dumping a wrapped body into a well outside a cabin in the woods. Then we follow…