I've taken a couple of days to recover from this year's Frightfest - literally, as it left me feeling unwell on Monday evening, not through film content, but because it was so damned hot in the screen - and feel I can now give my thoughts on it.
First of all, the venue change worked out pretty well. The thing with us Frightfesters is that we get used to things, and set in our ways. We love our community, and when things change it can be unsettling. This year, instead of all of us being in one main screen, as we were at the Empire, we were split across three screens. But I found that you still had that Frightfest spirit, speaking with your seat neighbours, everyone laughing, or groaning together at what transpired on the screen, and discussing the films at depth afterwards.
Things I felt were improved was the bar/seating area upstairs, which was quite spacious, until everyone came in from the torrential rain that we had over the last couple of days, then it got a little crowded, but there was still more room than at the Empire.
The Discovery Screens were also much larger than before, allowing more of us in. The area outside Screen 8 at the top of the stairs had little space for queuing, and when a popular film like The Shining screened it became very crowded there. However, the screens themselves had a very nice atmosphere.
Although this was touted as one of Frightfest's strongest line ups, I personally felt that it was one of their weakest. Many people I have spoken to did not have a 'wow' film of the festival, as in recent years.
It was great to have a retro screen day at last, where I caught A Nightmare on Elm Street on the big screen for the first time in 28 years, and The Shining, which I had never seen on the big screen, and was unfortunately not the lengthier cut as billed. I would love to see John Carpenter attend next year, with a decent amount of Q&A time allocated.
Things that I feel still need addressing, and I raised this point so many times during the festival to both Frightfest staff, and the VUE staff - who simply shrugged their shoulders - is the deluge of autograph dealers that enter the building, pissing off the staff and the guests so much, that when legitimate festival pass holders attempt to meet the cast and crews, we are told that we can't, and to stop bothering them.
This really needs to be addressed in some manner. We wait patiently, out of the way while the cast work the media wall, and do other interviews, but we're not allowed near them, yet we are the people who pay for festival passes, and have supported the event over the years, while these dealers are there purely for profit and have not contributed to the festival in any way.
What would be nice is if guests could be encouraged not to sign in the foyer, but upstairs for paying attendees, or perhaps a signing session could be set up after the films, especially for popular guests such as Robert Englund, as it was with John Landis etc over at the Empire.
Although it was a good idea to allow all discovery screen tickets to be collected in one go, this led to huge queues in the foyer after The Guest, as attendees waited then took their time choosing screen seats at the tills. I waited for almost an hour, missing a huge chunk of Sin City 2 - which I eventually gave up on seeing. I think it may have been better to allow their sale earlier in the day, so that those of us who get in early, can get it out of the way without disrupting our scheduled screenings.
Also I found it to be unbearably hot in the main screen (5) over the course of the weekend. I can't remember the air con being on at all, and over a while this left me not only tired, but feeling pretty rough by the end of the festival, so much so that I gave up and missed the last film, as I just wanted to get home and to bed.
Despite these points, I felt the festival worked very well at the VUE, and I look forward to returning next year.