Glasgow 2014 Review

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Alex J
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Glasgow 2014 Review

Post by Alex J » Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:31 pm

Apologies if I have missed this elsewhere.

Firstly, many thanks to Ian, Alan, Paul and Greg for another great festival, as well as all the cinema staff, directors, cast and others that made the event happen and so successful.

Now onto the first batch of reviews:

Savaged
Some absurd and hilarious moments (not sure if all of them were intentional?) in a film that references many others. There are some ridiculously cheesy parts that make it feel like a dodgy '80s flick - I half expected Jan Michael Vincent to turn up! 6 / 10

Proxy
A well acted and plotted thriller that packs a punch, with some genuinely surprising twists and plenty of interesting characters. Original and engrossing, this makes Zack Parker a director to watch. 8.5 / 10

**Spoiler for Proxy** I did have one question though - was the girl taken into the cellar by the husband / father a dream sequence? If not, who was she and what happened to her, as the intruder was supposedly shot dead?

Wolf Creek 2
An inferior sequel, that IMHO replaces some of the brutality and tension of the first one with more chase sequences and more humour - although it is some time since I last saw the original. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the tunnel chase at the end, although I felt the very ending was a little peculiar and didn't work that well - any thoughts? Possibly also the case that due to the time lag between instalments that some of the impact has been lost - not least because of a slew of imitators in the meantime. 7 / 10
No tears, please. It's a waste of good suffering.

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Re: Glasgow 2014 Review

Post by sherbetbizarre » Thu Mar 06, 2014 6:06 pm

Alex J wrote:Apologies if I have missed this elsewhere.
Nope, yours is the first - so thanks!

I look forward to hearing the rest.

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Re: Glasgow 2014 Review

Post by zappa fan » Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:32 am

Yeah it would be really nice to hear what people thought of the films and festival in general.
Mostly for the people who couldn't attend.
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Malky
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Re: Glasgow 2014 Review

Post by Malky » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:50 pm

Spoiler\ Joe Swanberg in the basement sequence was in his head. The blood on his face disappeared after he left the house/ Spoiler. That's how I saw it anyway.

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Re: Glasgow 2014 Review

Post by Alex J » Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:10 pm

Thanks Malky,
I thought that was probably the case, but always useful to have confirmation and I'm not imagining anything myself!
No tears, please. It's a waste of good suffering.

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Re: Glasgow 2014 Review

Post by Alex J » Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:31 pm

The Sacrament
**Possible spoiler**
Powerful and gripping, but sadly a little too predictable for those familiar with a certain real-life incident. Nevertheless, it benefits from an engaging story and strong performances. 8.5 / 10

Afflicted
Almost skipped this when I read about superheroes in the synopsis, but so glad I didn't. Rather than some CGI explosion fest with no depth, instead we have a fresh take on a well-worn horror sub-genre, with a number of effective sequences, a likeable lead pair and an engrossing story. The twist partway through caught me off guard too, but maybe I was just tired by that time of night! 8 / 10

Video Nasties 2
Not as impactful as the first, but this may be because of me being more familiar with this era due to my age. Nevertheless, it is both interesting and important to remind ourselves of those days, so, as Martin Barker would no doubt say, we can guard against them recurring. 7.5 / 10

The Scribbler
An intriguing, graphic novel-based tale featuring a good cast and a plot that keeps you guessing. A little reminiscent of Sucker Punch, but IMHO this is the superior effort. Suki's character was one of my favourites of the whole fest. I'm usually a little sceptical of sequels, but I would definitely like to explore this world and its characters further. In the meantime, I can seek out the source material. 8 / 10

Torment
Not particularly original, being the latest home invasion thriller. Nevertheless, it is a decent enough effort andI found the story to be sufficiently engaging. 7 / 10

Mindscape
A different, twisty thriller that keeps you guessing, with the two leads well played. Taissa Famiga is suitably beguiling too. I kicked myself for not guessing the very final twist in the prison though! 8 / 10

Almost Human
A low budget, Carpenteresque, small town-set thrillride. A good effort given the financial constraints, although the multitude of references to other films does only serve to remind us that this film is not quite in the same class as those classics. Still, it will be interesting to see what the makers do next with this experience behind them and hopefully a bigger budget. 7 / 10

Killers
I liked this one, but was not as blown away by it as some of the pre-film hype suggested I may. A pivotal twist towards the end did catch me unawares and packed a punch. The film is mostly serious, but is laced with some gleefully sadistic black comedy in places. Maybe for the closing film this was a little long (and it's sub-titled too!). 8 / 10
No tears, please. It's a waste of good suffering.

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Re: Glasgow 2014 Review

Post by stewartguitar » Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:45 pm

I just put my thoughts on my blog here stewartguitar.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/frightfest-glasgow-2014

First, the event itself is lots of fun. There’s a good atmosphere, it’s well organised and everyone has a good time. The GFT is the perfect venue with comfy seats, and it’s handy for lots of good fast food places. It’s a place for people like me to go and for once not feel like the freaky pervert. But here is a short review for each film.





PROXY. êêêê



A realistic and well-acted indie film which tackles lots of issues in a fairly subtle way. I can’t tell you much detail without spoilers, but it starts with a heavily pregnant woman losing her baby after a violent attack.



There are four main characters, all of whom are psychologically abnormal in some way. One appears to sociopathic; one is just an attention seeker; there’s a violent psychopath and a full-blown paranoid psychotic. Importantly, they all have secrets and none of them communicate fully with each other or the outside world.



An intriguing film, with some nice touches and genuine surprises, but it rather lacked pace. It dragged a bit in the middle and I found my interest flagging.





WOLFCREEK 2. êê



I haven’t seen Wolf Creek 1 – I don’t like the whole torture porn thing so I never fancied it. So I wasn’t looking forward to this.



It starts with the anti-hero being wrongly stopped by two policemen. Five minutes later the cops are dead, but he seemed not to want to kill them and he only did it because they were being unreasonable. He also seems to have a sense of humour so the audience warms to him. However, as the movie progresses, we realise just how evil he is, and we are invited to laugh along with him as he rapes, tortures and murders his way through the film. And the big reveal is that he does it all to purify Australia – he only kills tourists unless he really as to kill somebody else. So he’s racist too.



It has some things going for it: some of the humour was good and I liked that first victims were a young German couple. We automatically liked them better than we would any English speakers.



My depravity filter is set quite high, but there has to be a reason for it – here the plot was repetitive and derivative, and there wasn’t enough fun to make up for the general yuckiness of it. I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody really.





SACRAMENT êêê



A retelling of the Jonestown massacre story, in found footage form. This is a classy and serious piece of work that stays fairly true to the source material, despite updating to the present. An excellent set-up and some fine performances from the leads but I felt it never really engaged with the issues raised, and I found it a little po-faced for my taste.





AFFLICTED êêêê



The phrase found footage vampire movie would make most horror fans groan and go to the bar, but this proves that with a bit of imagination it’s still possible to make a great movie despite the clichés.



Two young American guys go on a world travel adventure because one of them has a terminal illness. In Paris, the sick guy is bitten by a woman at a party then he gradually develops symptoms – bad skin, aversion to sunlight, nausea. So far so familiar, right?



But the characterisation is utterly convincing, the protagonist sympathetic even as he turns into a monster, and the relationship between the two actors is perfectly conveyed. Also, the make up and special effects are spectacular for this kind of low-budget horror, and it’s not at all romantic. Even the ending, which almost turns into a superhero movie, is logical and in keeping with the mood of the film.



Recommended.





VIDEO NASTIES: DRACONIAN DAYS êêê



A documentary about The Ferman Era – the period from 1084-1989 when James Ferman was in charge of the BBFC. It’s the sequel to Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape, directed by the same guy.



It was quite interesting, but it didn’t tell me much I didn’t know already. It was fun to hear people reminisce about what they had to go through to acquire uncensored horror and erotic videos, and the whole underground distribution network that existed. It’s unimaginable now that anyone could be arrested for owning a copy of Zombie Flesh Eaters or Deep Throat.



I also also that it showed Fernman fairly without demonizing him. He was a product of his time and class, doing a high-pressure job under a difficult legislative regime and trying to balance liberal values with deeply ingrained moral conservatism.



At Frightfest it was followed by a Q&A with the director, some of the contributors and the current head of the BBFC, which is currently implementing new guidelines that came into force in February.



Fun and quite interesting, but probably only for horror enthusiasts.





THE SCRIBBLER êêê



Very much in the comic book style – visually striking with some excellent special effects. It morphs half way through from a crime thriller to a superhero story, set in a halfway house where mentally ill people prepare for their reintegration into society.



The characters have an entertaining variety of disorders, and the protagonist suffers from multiple personality disorder, but it didn’t come across as exploitative – there was no making fun of the mentally ill.



The tone and the fantastic visuals imply some great philosophical profundity, but really it’s all gloss. It’s a bit of fun, and I liked it.





TORMENT ê



I think the Frightfest organisers let me down this time. I go to festivals because I expect the films to have been vetted and the dross eliminated. They must have been drunk when they agreed to this



A clichéd home invasion movie, copied almost shot for shot from a dozen better films – it’s most reminiscent of last year’s You’re Next, which I enjoyed more than most people. A few moments of tension and jumps, but no logic, no explanations, no reason to care. No reason to watch.





MINDSCAPE êêêê



This one is not a horror movie at all, but a complex psychological thriller, somewhat in the style of Inception. The setup is a multi-layered reality, in which memory detectives can enter people’s memories to discover evidence for police or other interested parties.



When one such detective is assigned a disturbed teenage genius the fun begins.



Memories are unreliable, so we never know if what we’re seeing is actually real, or similar to what happened. Very good indeed, brilliantly acted and a twist I didn’t see coming.





ALMOST HUMAN êê



Low budget and a bit trashy, this is in the style of 1980s sci-fi horrors like XTRO. There is obviously an affection for the genre and it gets extra points from me for having been made by enthusiasts with their own money.



However, the writing, acting, effects and dialogue were all pretty ropey, and it never really got scary, but it was a harmless enough way to pass 80 minutes.





KILLERS êêêê



Three main characters, all murderers. One is a despotic politician, one a confused psychopath, and the third a fan of the psychopath’s video channel.



At first viewing it seems to be about voyeurism and sadism, and the things that happen are as nasty as anything you’ll see, even from Japan. But behind all the blood is a sympathetic exploration of two damaged characters (The politician is just evil) and their struggle to find a place in modern society.



A dark but highly intelligent thriller, recommended for strong stomachs.

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Re: Glasgow 2014 Review

Post by ChrisReynolds » Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:03 pm

Overall I enjoyed the festival. This was my first time at the Glasgow festival so it was a good experience though I missed the audience reactions that you get at the London Frightfest: there was appropriate laughter at funny moments but none of the gasps and applause at moments of extreme violence (Savaged and Almost Human would have both benefitted from that). In terms of the films shown my average rating was about the same as for the last London Frightfest and significantly better than the last Halloween all-nighter, but I felt that there were both less terrible films and less great films than I'd expect to see at the London event: so less of a rollercoaster ride but more of a steady level of quality (at least for the first day).

My thoughts on the films:

Savaged (2013) When this was starting off I was inwardly groaning because I thought it was going to be a film full of gruelling rape. Luckily the rape was over quickly and then the film actually became fun with Native American shamans, supernatural revenge, gory deaths and chainsaws. The dialogue and events onscreen are often laughable and the story is pretty much a ripoff of The Crow, but the lead actress was suitably bad-ass and it had a lot of things to enjoy even if it wasn't the most auspicious start to the festival. 4/10

Proxy (2013) Alan Jones, whose taste seems to run opposite to my own, named this a favourite film beforehand and for the first hour I thought I was going to agree with him for once. It's a modern Hitchcock imitation similar to the sort of thing De Palma used to do, with a story full of twists and character reversals, but just about the halfway point, marked by a gratuitous slow-mo shot, there's one twist too many and the film subsequently falls apart, which is a shame as the script up to that point was very well put together. 4/10

Wolf Creek 2 (2014) After the grim first film this goes for the comedy route in the same way that Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 did. The film knows we just want to see Taylor being crazy and don't care as much about the fates of a second group of teens so the film centres on a mix of laughs, action and tension. Pretty decent and just the sort of film I want to watch with a Frightfest crowd. 5/10

The Sacrament (2013) Not as good as Ti West's other films. If you're aware of Jonestown massacre there were no surprises, but there are some shock moments that make the film worthwhile and West can build up tension well. 4/10

Afflicted (2013) I don't know why they decided to have two found footage films in a row, but this was an improvement and had a lot of good points and some impressive special effects. It was entertaining while I was watching but it doesn't really have much of an ending and when it finished it felt rather unresolved. 5/10

Video Nasties: Draconian Days (2014) I loved the first Video Nasties documentary, and though this has a less clear story to tell than the first one it's still very interesting and contains some fascinating and hilarious footage such as Mary Whitehouse arguing with Michael Winner over whether Rambo had caused the Hungerford massacre while a row of shirtless muscle men dressed as Rambo sit behind her, and a woman talking about the time the BBFC board watched New York Ripper and all agreed that no-one in Britain should ever be allowed to watch it. I would have liked more reactions from the old censors to the state of modern censorship rather than just their reminiscences: like what do Graham Bright and the BBFC woman think about the fact that a lot of the films they were banning are now available? The Q&A was fascinating and some of the things that were mentioned (the man debating Alan Jones going to prison; the BBFC woman reacting to the new release of New York Ripper) should have been in the film. 6/10

The Scribbler (2013) Strongly shows its roots as an "edgy" indy comic. It's very stylish, with really good visuals and music, but the story isn't particularly good and the finale is weak. Some people in the audience really liked it so it could end up having some cult appeal. 4/10

Torment (2013) Very generic home invasion thriller where people make dumb decisions and run around in the woods while the villains slowly chase them. This is made even worse by having an incredibly annoying little kid as a central character, incompetent villains, unbelievable events and a pointless twist at the end that has no impact on the story. It has an underlying theme about family but it's badly botched and given a pretentious sheen by opening the movie with a Nietzsche quote. Katharine Isabelle is the only bright spark in the movie and even she isn't particularly good here. The guy playing her husband is a charisma-vacuum and they have no chemistry together and the little kid is a sulky plank of wood. 2/10

Mindscape (2013) A sci-fi mystery heavily indebted to Inception. The story tries to be too clever, accruing significant problems and the answer to the central mystery is blatantly given away far too early. On the other hand, the acting and cinematography are excellent, there's intriguing use of symbolism and it's entertaining. 5/10

Almost Human (2012) Very low-budget alien-possession horror. The directors talked beforehand that they wanted to create a fun splatterfest and wanted a big reaction from the crowd but the gore was actually rather restrained. The film was pretty uneven, but acting and photography were both passable. By no means unwatchable, and a creditable attempt for something just made by two guys on their credit cards. 3/10

Killers (2013) Easily the best film of the festival. Reminded me of Crimes and Misdemeanors except the two main characters are engaged in a succession of brutal serial killings rather than adultery. It has too many flaws to be a great film, with a few dodgy scenes (especially in the Indonesian half), but after a slow start it succeeds in becoming a stylish, intriguing and witty story with a commentary on the public consumption of violent imagery that is subtly done and never becomes patronising. 7/10

The films from best to worst:

Killers (2013) 7/10
Video Nasties: Draconian Days (2014) 6/10
Afflicted (2013) 5/10
Wolf Creek 2 (2014) 5/10
Mindscape (2013) 5/10
Savaged (2013) 4/10
Proxy (2013) 4/10
The Sacrament (2013) 4/10
The Scribbler (2013) 4/10
Almost Human (2012) 3/10
Torment (2013) 2/10

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