I wasn't that impressed with the 2009 line-up but looking back on it after this year I have fond memories of the variety of films it contained. Last year I was in the Discovery Screen for about half the time and missed a few films that would probably have made 2009 even better for me (House of the Devil, Trick or Treat) but, as was, I felt even it lacked decent 'horror' films.
I was hugely bored by most of this year's line-up and I think my definition of horror is much more narrow than Paul et al. I don't think revenge films (for the most part) are horrific. I understand that it's accepted as part of modern horror, but I don't think they should be. Horror, for me, comes from you putting yourself in the character's position and thinking how bad it'd be to try and get out, but revenge films rely on the audience connecting with abusers first and then being terrified of the retaliation.
You can argue (probably quite well) that the horror is from the initial act of abuse and then the audience is given resolution/release through the vengeance; but I just don't find that at all scary. You know the main character will survive and you know the abuser's death is a given. It's the fear of what could happen that is scary, not foregone conclusions.
That said, last year's The Horseman was one of the highlights but the revenge films this year were just nowhere near as good. Indeed the biggest issue this year is that all the films were slow and the same. Not so much the sub-genre itself.
Having had a quick recap in my mind, I think most of the films this year on the main screen were technically horror, but the ones that weren't stood out so much that it really put a block in my mind as to how many were. It feels like the whole weekend was marred by these out of place films.
Films that (I feel) belonged there:
Hatchet 2, Primal, Dead Cert, TCM, F, The Tortured, 13 Hrs, I Spit On Your Grave, (missed Dream Home but expect it was fitting), The Pack, We Are What We Are, Damned By Dawn, Buried, The Loved Ones, The Dead, The Last Exorcism
Films that belonged there that were actually any good:
Hatchet 2 (passable), Primal, TCM, F, The Pack (passable), Buried, The Loved Ones, The Dead (passable), The Last Exorcism
Films that (I feel) didn't belong that were actually good:
Monsters (loved it), Bedevilled (bit slow but at least made sense which is a rarity for Asian cinema), Red Hill (dodgy CGI panther aside)
Films that didn't belong that were bad or worse:
Isle of Dogs, Alien vs Ninja, Eggshells, Christopher Roth (saw it place of Cherry Tree Lane)
Red, White and Blue
holds a weird place for me, because it was fantastic up until the guy started killing people. Seeing as how that was the point of the film though, it's hard to say it was actually good.
Things that worked:
Video Nasty doc (brilliant, one of the highlights), the previews before films, Douche Brothers (natch), the timing between Main and Discovery screens this year.
Things that didn't work (or at least work as well):
The Quiz (has to be hard to separate the winners, but leaves out those less familiar with the genre), the short film showcase (far too many to watch all at once, had me pleading for it to end despite some great shorts in there), Q&As with people from films that were bad, goody bags were a bit poorer this year though I appreciate there's not too much you can do about that (besides which I'm not there for the free stuff).
140 (or less) character reviews of the films I didn't like:
- Wasn't as terrible as everybody else thought, but certainly wasn't any good. Possibly deserved it's place.
- Terribly written and acted, seen worse gore when making chicken soup.
- More bad British horror; contrived and tired. Still, Gemma Atkinson with low tops in crawl spaces. The 15yr old in me thanks you.
- First couple of kills were very good, rest of film is fully 'meh'.
- Slowest film of the weekend, feels like an over extended first act and is useless without it's sequels
Damned by Dawn
- Shoddy. Suffered immeasurably from Evil Dead comparison (and attempt to imitate). Oversold.
Isle of Dogs
- Seriously shit. Not even close to horror. Not even close to good.
Alien vs Ninja
- At least I knew roughly what I was getting into. Didn't expect it to be quite so bad though.
- Understand the reason for putting it on, but really, why bother.
- Only horror if you consider something like The Da Vinci code horror. Also confusing and not very good.
So, that brings me onto my suggestions.
1) More variety
I want a couple of slashers, I want a couple of monster films (including zombies
), I want a couple of paranormal/ghost/dark fantasy films, I want a couple of Euro-horrors, I want a couple of Asian horrors, I want a couple of world cinema films, find good
British films, I want a couple of comedies, I want a good revenge film, I want a good gore film, I want an animated film, I want an experimental film, I want a film that'll make me sleep with the lights on, I'll even take a 3D film!
Anything that means I don't get bored by watching the same slow film play out over and over again.
2) 9pm blockbusters
I want films that are going to get a mainstream release. I don't care if they're coming out in the next couple of months. I don't care if there's a moratorium on reviewing them. I just want to be entertained in the 9pm slot.
Wasn't actually too bad this year with Buried, Monsters and The Last Exorcism, but I want more. Devil, Resident Evil, Saw 3D. I want people to be jealous that I've seen it before them.
I know this'll be the hardest request to fill (Kaboom! not wanting shown until closer to release a prime example), plus I don't think everybody feels the same way.
3) Lose the crap
I appreciate the need to appease film makers and distributors, plus what I think is crap other people may think is gold (Jerry! GOLD!), but anything that doesn't have a real chance at being somebody's
favourite film, punt to the discovery or better yet drop.
4) Make the Discovery screen for real Cinephiles
Extended Q&As, more documentaries, put the experimental stuff in here, shorts in here, have a director/cast commentate over their film (a reshowing of a main screen film perhaps). Make the Discovery screen about discussion. Show first cuts/test screenings and get the audience to participate to improve a film. Show the originals for films getting Hollywood remakes.
There are always films in the Discovery that would be better than some of the crap on the main screen. Sort it out. Tighten up the requirements.
5) Sort out the breaks/ let us know what's coming up
I want an hour for dinner. Getting to something like Bella Italia and back in 45 minutes is tight and I don't want to eat McDonalds 5 days in a row.
Appreciate this is hard to do as well, but if you tell us when and what the special previews are before which film in the morning I can decide if I can afford the extra 15 minutes to eat.
Whinging aside, you guys all do a great job putting Frightfest on and perhaps it's more indicative of the state of horror rather than anything you guys could have done but if I could have had a realistic but better FF it might have looked like.
Hatchet II - Primal - Devil's Playground
Julia's Eyes - TCM - Tobe Hooper - Burning Bright - F - Devil - The Incite Mill
Rammbock - Box of Shadows - Outcast - ISPOYG - Tucker & Dale vs Evil - Dream Home
The Pack - The Violent Kind - Damned By Dawn - The Loved Ones - Buried - Deserted House
Video Nasties - Shelter - The Dead - Rubber - The Last Exorcism
To be honest I'm pretty sure the guys on this forum could do better, and I've deliberately left in some films I didn't like because they fit and could be someone's favourite film, but I feel this is more representative of a wider range of horror that we could have done with.
Anyway, this is too long now and I've lost what I was aiming for. I had fun, but not as much fun as last year, will see you all in October hopefully