Overall Thoughts

All the news, gossip and information about FrightFest 2017
Alex J
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Overall Thoughts

Post by Alex J » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:02 pm

Just some random thoughts on the festival films overall.

Trends included fun films and horrors directed by / starring women.

Maybe I didn't make the right screen selections and perhaps the films aren't out there right now, but there was a scarcity of hard-hitting, suspenseful or thought-provoking films this year, with maybe a few too many fun movies. I enjoyed many of the films in the latter category, so don't get me wrong, but perhaps the main screen line-up would have benefitted from one or two more in the former category.

The Glasgow line-up was awesome this year and funnily enough the best films were very much of the darker side of horror, so maybe the best examples were all used up there!

Appreciate it isn't easy to balance the mixture and you'll never please everyone all of the time, plus of course there are constraints on what is available and what can be procured, so hopefully this is taken as more of an observation rather a criticism.
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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by DJBenz » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:36 pm

Some of my own random thoughts:

The standard was very high overall this year. On the flipside it meant that it's difficult to pick standouts as I enjoyed pretty much everything. A couple of lowpoints, but nothing major.

There seemed a definite shift more towards the 'fantastic' and less straight up horror this year.

Aircon in the Arrow screen was very efficient, to the point of being bloody freezing at times. Leg room in the same wasn't great, with no option to stretch legs out during a film (except to the sides, if no one was there).

Atmosphere in Arrow was dire. No way to put it nicely, the spirit of Frightfest was non-existent in there. I'm hearing it was good in the Horror Channel screen, which makes it an even more bitter pill to swallow. Atmosphere at Shepherd's Bush and Vue was better in recent years.

Fuck me, the price of a pint is ridiculous in the West End.

Toilets seem to be better now, than the last time we were there.

Hang on to your shoulder goodie bags from previous years if tote bags are the new thing.

Great festival overall, though, I can't believe how quickly it was all over.

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by WraithApe » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:46 pm

Agree with Alex J that there was a predominance of fun stuff. Not much I saw that was scary or disturbing. Still, great festival and it fairly flew by this year.

Big screen in the Horror Screen was fantastic and great sound system too. At 6'4, I found the leg room was a little tight and there was no slouching unless you wanted sore kneecaps! The main problem though was the aircon. Bloody arctic! I took to putting on a hoodie when going into the film and taking it off again when going outside! I was even considering bringing gloves and a blanket by the second day...

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by Oswald Cobblepot » Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:18 pm

Had a great time this year, very happy to be back at the Empire, a better selection of films, and a good atmosphere in the main screen. I'd rather the arctic AC and wear more layers than it being too hot and have no options, but agree that the leg room was pretty tight.

I was pretty down last year, it felt to me that there was too much choice, too many films in discovery, some terrible films in the main screen and much better films in Discovery that should have been in the main screen. The balance was off. The atmosphere last year wasn't great, partly because loads of weekend pass holders spent most of their time in the Discovery screens.

I know this won't probably be a very popular opinion, but for me Fright Fest is about the atmosphere and the (largely) shared experience. Going back to the Empire meant a curtailment in the size of the festival in terms of numbers of films, and also all the weekend pass holders back in one auditorium rather than split across 3. As a result it felt for me like a much better experience, and a much better atmosphere.

Thanks to everyone involved for all the effort put in as usual.

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by scarebear » Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:24 pm

Personally, i had a great time. And i agree with Oswald.

Couldnt do the whole thing as i had to work Thursday and Friday i couldnt get there till the late afternoon/evening and i had to work Sat morning! (buggar). Maybe i chose the right movies but i was well entertained and there were only a couple of real duds.

Anyway, i was in the Arrow Screen Sunday and Monday and for 3 films on Friday. Had 2 discovery screen films, Ruin me and 3rd Night and there was great atmosphere there.

I was surprised the Arrow screen wasnt full, and maybe thats why the atmposphere was "dire". However it wasnt like that all the time. I think certain films got better reactions than others. I found the seats comfy with just about enough Legroom but if you were too close to the screen (in the first 3 or so rows), you may have had a crick in your neck by the end of the 5 days! Aircon was good, im not one for heat so i found it comfortable considering it was warm outside. Toilets were Ok and looked like they were being constantly cleaned. Getting a drink was easy too, so well done all the Cineworld Staff.

What i found that was great this year was that it was easy to get to chat to your moviemakers as they would just be hanging out in the foyer area. And all of them were quite happy to converse.

I do have one gripe though, When premieres were being shown at the Prince Charles, there was just not enough room to get everyone together downstairs. I was there on Sat night for Eat Locals and the hideous Canaries and i just wanted to stay in the bar between the films, but there was no chance, and it was like a furnace down there. To add to the fact that most people were off their head down there, it was very loud and you couldnt hear yourself speak. The funniest thing though was how pissed everyone was who watched Canaries, i think 70% of them were related to the film and it was probably one of the funniest times ive had in the cinema not related to the film!

So my suggestion is, Maybe allow a bit longer between films at the Prince Charles next time!

Anyway, i hope we come back to the Cineworld again next year with nearly the same set up, i for one will be buying a festival pass and sampling the delights of the Horror Channel Screen!

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by Persephone » Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:40 pm

I had a fantastic time. As a slightly lazy Frightfester who tends to stay in the main screen I thought the standard of the films was stronger than it has been in years. So many fantastic surprises. Lots of films that didn't particularly sound all that interesting from their write ups (Double Date, Radius, Better Watch Out, even Tragedy Girls) were fantastic and there was only one film I genuinely disliked (Jackals) and a couple I found mediocre. Like Oswald I came away last year a bit disheartened at the quality of the film on the main screen. It felt that either the quality control had slipped or perhaps the venue wasn't deemed fancy enough for studios to be happy showing their films there. No such issues this year. Yes there wasn't a single film that actually scared me but I still had a fantastic time.

Loved the atmosphere in the Horror screen, loved the venue. Only issue for me was the total lack of leg room. I'm 5 ft 2 and it was painful even for the short arses like me. I don't think I've ever been in a cinema with so little leg room. By day 5 it was actively uncomfortable and my legs are aching today. I don't know what the difference in size is between the arrow screen and the horror screen. I don't want to be in the screen with no atmosphere but do want leg room.

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by kickasschewgum » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:11 pm

Couldn't agree more. The atmosphere this year was a definite return to the old, awesome FrightFest experience rather than the fractured, somewhat more soulless experience of the last few years (which was an inevitable side effect of being split across several multiplex screens).

Personally I didn't have any issues with the legroom (nor did any of my friends) and the AC felt just about right to me (with the exception of a couple of films where it was a bit hot if anything). I really hope everything stays exactly the same next year as I feel that this year was as close to a perfect FrightFest as I've ever attended.

Honestly, who cares if the films are 'scary' so long as they're great. And on that front Team FrightFest outdid themselves as this was BY FAR the best line-up in the festival's history, in my opinion. No small feat, given how much competition there must be from the increasingly prominent Cult section of the London Film Festival. So well done to Paul, Alan, Ian and Greg. You really knocked this one out the park!

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by Persephone » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:17 pm

kickasschewgum wrote:
Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:11 pm

Personally I didn't have any issues with the legroom (nor did any of my friends)
Interesting. Where were you sitting? Everyone I spoke to the first thing they talked about was the lack of leg room so it would be good to know if some rows were roomier than others. I was in row B and my knees touched the seat in front of me

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by WraithApe » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:19 pm

kickasschewgum wrote:
Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:11 pm
the AC felt just about right to me (with the exception of a couple of films where it was a bit hot if anything).
I can only think some seats are directly under an air vent then or I'm particularly prone to feeling the cold because it was freezing in there most of the time.

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by Persephone » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:20 pm

WraithApe wrote:
Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:19 pm
kickasschewgum wrote:
Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:11 pm
the AC felt just about right to me (with the exception of a couple of films where it was a bit hot if anything).
I can only think some seats are directly under an air vent then or I'm particularly prone to feeling the cold because it was freezing in there most of the time.
yeah it was super cold. I would carry a hoodie to put on during the films and take off the second I went outside

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by DJBenz » Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:47 pm

WraithApe wrote:
Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:19 pm
I can only think some seats are directly under an air vent then or I'm particularly prone to feeling the cold because it was freezing in there most of the time.
I was on the Impact Balcony in Arrow and yeah, I'm pretty sure that's the origin for the AC as it was freezing there too. In fact, in the quieter moments, you could hear it - it sounded exactly like the chill wind you might hear as a horror film sound effect!

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by hingethunder » Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:42 pm

Overall, a brilliant few days, thanks to everyone involved! Felt like the strongest line-up for a few years.

The main screen is a fantastic venue and it's great to be back at the centre of things in Leicester Square.

Downside was the loss of the "community" feel which I thought the Vue Shepherds Bush was better at - many more opportunities there for bumping into people for random chats as we were all in the same venue or a small number of bars.

Also the smaller Discovery screens were a shame, and I found the front row far too close to the screen in the Cineworld Disco screen. Maybe splitting the seats lengthways rather than widthways could be looked at to give more choice?

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by cineBAKA » Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:08 pm

My slightly long and rambling thoughts I posted elsewhere:

In the last weekend of August, summer’s last gasp before the dark nights draw in, FrightFest lurches into London’s Leicester Square. For years I’ve wanted to attend, and finally did so this year, and what a line up of films to pop my cherry!

Day One
Don Mancini, Jennifer Tilly and Fiona Dourif are in attendance for the premiere of Cult Of Chucky, and it feels more than a little bit special. Cult manages to avoid the pitfalls of Curse, closing in a more satisfactory manner, delivering the same blackly comic sensibilities, but in general just much more adept at doing so, it’s smarter and funnier. Death Note’s adaptation of the source material was disappointingly thin, understandably they can’t include everything, but what was left undermined the smart interplay between protagonist and antagonist. It was however, an entertaining, if stupid, ride, visually arresting, featuring a breathtaking chase sequence, it was paced perfectly. Psychopaths really lost the audience; a lot of people hated the movie. The narrative was all over the place, not at all coherent, but I adored the masks. Looking like a cross between those used in Sugar & Spice, and the Vault Boy from Fallout, the masks were creepy, and the film was brimming with atmosphere and effective scenes, just never able to sufficiently knit the pieces together.

Day Two
The audience really connected with Freehold, but I found myself unable to. It felt a little out of place and clearly not at all the type of film whoever commissioned the poster was hoping for. I felt it could have gone farther, stretched the boundaries more. For a film designed to gross out the audience, it felt a little twee to me. Sequence Break continued my split with the majority of the audience, I heard many people bemoan that the film went nowhere, but to me that felt very much a commentary on gaming and the old fashioned arcades at the heart of the film. I loved the film, it felt very much like a love letter to Cronenberg by way of Shinya Tsukamoto’s Testuo. I was a little disappointed no one brought up Tsukamoto in the Q&A. Radius has a silly concept, but executed in a captivating way. The mystery is engaging, and deftly unfurls to the viewer, until the groan inducing reveal. 68 Kill was an experience; the audience very much at their most boisterous. Matthew Grey Gubler and AnnaLynne McCord imbue so much life into this riotous thrill-ride of a film. It feels effortlessly funny, seek it out and sink a few beers. Leatherface was definitely an improvement over Texas Chainsaw 3D, understandably so given the pedigree of the talent working on it. Being brought to us from the team behind Inside, Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, it’s hard not to be disappointed that it isn’t anything more than competent and enjoyable. The sleight of hand with the viewer falls a little flat too. Dead Shack sailed us through past midnight, and it was the perfect experience to do so. Hilarious, kooky and cool, with a core of endearing characters that feel straight out of an ‘80’s classic, mined in a similar fashion to Stranger Things.

Day Three
The Bar was completely unexpected, I’d never seen anything from the director before, and I was even considering applying for a discovery screen ticket instead of attending, but I’m glad I did. It was hugely funny, very reminiscent of Almodovar, completely enthralled the audience, despite not being the type of film one would typically expect to see at a horror film festival. I was really looking forward to Alone, I didn’t need to read further than ‘From David Moreau, co-director of Ils/Them…’, but my heart sank when I came into the screen and saw the poster. Looking very much like a young adult adaptation in the vein of The Hunger Games and the Divergent series, I got the fear. But I found it very engaging, the leads and the interplay between them was endearing, and even a woeful twist didn’t hamper my enjoyment. Jackals was another I was really looking forward to, from that guy who did that Saw sequel that was actually good, a home invasion movie featuring creepy masks (those are always a plus). Disappointingly it never really did much to elevate itself from just being good. The family at the heart of the film were forgettable, the cult decoding elements were underdeveloped, and the set-pieces never really elevated beyond competent. I decided to skip Attack Of The Adult Babies, it looked horrifically bad, and I saw Redwood instead, which I’m pleased I did, judging from the reaction Attack Of The Adult Babies seemed to garner. Redwood does a lot of good with clearly very little. Nicholas Brendon’s casting elevates the script with a playful self-awareness, and a satirical wink, his last line takes on a completely new meaning in the actual film than to the trailer. He’s not in it a lot, but enhances what might have otherwise seemed very journeyman-like. Developed in secret for two years, Victor Crowley, the fourth Hatchet film received a glowing reception from the audience; the experience of seeing a film with such a reactive and receptive crowd is intensely fulfilling. It also helps that the film was really good, I think perhaps my favourite of the franchise. It’s disappointing to hear the distributor’s want to cut both the best kill and best gag in the movie. I pray neither get cut, especially the kill, as it’s ingenious, not just because of what happens, but because of who it happens to. It’s very much in the same vein as Hatchet 3, completely silly nonsense, not at all attempting to take itself seriously, or overly dredge us in the mythos. Game Of Death is a dark spin on Jumanji, and is a superbly executed experience, but one that ultimately feels a little smug. I can’t deny it’s a really good film, but something winds me up a little about it. I think it was the inordinately long spinning bullet sequence.

Day Four
I tend to be hit and miss with Ozploitation, I’m more of a fan of things like Patrick and Next of Kin, rather than things like Wolf Creek. Despite being more towards the Wolf Creek end of the spectrum, I enjoyed Killing Ground. It definitely lacked a bit of an edge though, and whole sub-plots seem almost pointless and end up going nowhere (the nightmares, the baby and the dog). The End? was a bit of a struggle, a film laden with a gimmick that would suit a short, but stretched, not even to 90 minutes, but 100! Compared to so much else at the festival it felt lacking in the experience it offered, it didn’t thrill, or scare, or even entertain all that much, to be honest. Double Date seemed to win the crowd back, but not so much me. I’m just not a fan of these English ‘blokey’ comedies. There’s a wonderful fight sequence, and the best friend raises the most chuckles, but little else was of worth. For years I’ve wished Joe Lynch would be as capable of making a movie as good as he is at talking about them. Finally he has! Mayhem is a lot of fun, significantly aided by the performances and chemistry of the two excellent leads, Steven Yuen and Samara Weaving. Lynch’s Q&A was a captivating experience too; his passion is endearing and infectious. The Villainess was one of my most anticipated films of the festival, and it didn’t disappoint in the slightest. The fractured narrative seemed to deter some people, but the breathless delivery left me gripped. The action sequences are a joy, the opening in particular like one of those old arcade light-gun games crossed with that sequence from Old Boy.

Day Five
The final day kicked off with Still/Born, which Alan Jones claimed was the most sold film at Cannes (which I assume means it didn’t sell the most, just to the most territories?), and you can tell why, it’s so bland and generic. It felt like typical multiplex fare, offering little in the way of originality, invention and content to leave the envelope un-pushed. Lowlife was perhaps the biggest surprise of the festival, not at all something I would expect to see at Frightfest, but definitely one of the most endearing experiences. Smart, funny, completely oft-kilter, and featuring the nicest character you’ll ever see sporting a Swastika on their face. It’s hard to talk about Better Watch Out without spoiling it; the film doesn’t quite go the way you expect. The film offers all the fun of Home Alone, grounded in a bloody reality over slapstick hijinks, with the psychopathy of American Psycho. I was genuinely shocked to hear Universal picked this up and intend to put it out for Christmas, it could definitely be very controversial. The Terror Of Hallow’s Eve doesn’t quite play to its own strengths, abandoning some stellar practical effects work for a partially CGI leaden antagonist that lacks anywhere near the same level of impact. It seems a confounding decision, as the Trickster hinges all the other set pieces together. The film’s heart was clearly in the right place, but one misstep seems to have sabotaged much of the good work. They saved the best for last with Tragedy Girls. It almost feels like this movie was made for me, I’ve always been a huge fan of films from that wave of referential, self-aware horror movies in the latter half of the nineties, the likes of Scream, and The Craft, hell when director Tyler MacIntyre name checked Jawbreaker I almost squealed! MacIntyre literally nails everything from the dynamic between the characters, the death scenes (‘That’s some serious Final Destination shit’), the caustic sense of humour and sharp script, to the pacing, which is completely on point. To see a film like this with an audience that appreciated it was an experience. I adore the **** out of Tragedy Girls, I’m going to hunt down MacIntyre’s prior film Patchwork, and set alerts to his IMDB page to ensure I don’t miss anything he does in the future. It’s that ****ing good.

There’s not a chance in hell I’m missing out on FrightFest next year. Coming to the end of the festival was so bitter-sweet, the selection of films for the most part was hugely consistent, and ending on such a high a note as Tragedy Girls just makes you never want it to end, but it’s a gruelling experience, surviving on very little sleep, living on fast food, because there’s very little time to grab anything else, and sugary soft drinks to keep you awake. It’s no way to live, but I kinda feel like I’ve found a home away from home and a second family.

I loved the experience from start to finish. I am slightly concerned one of my neighbours vanished after Day Two, never to be seen again. I was also hugely apprehensive when on the first night my other neighbour got pissed and fell asleep during two of the three movies! :lol: Him and his friend seemed really nice though.

I'm pleased that you seemed to have enjoyed your first FrightFest. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on what you liked and what you didn't at the festival. Although we are a horror and fantasy event once you been a few times you will begin to realise the huge range of films we include. When selecting the films as horror fans if we like them we reckon that FrightFesters will as well, hence they will be included. Most horror and Fantasy fans just don't watch horror films, well I don't.

It can be a bit overwhelming first-time round and I'm delighted to hear that you will be back next year.

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by LeighM » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:43 pm

Despite what I felt was a fairly lacklustre lineup, this was my favourite FrightFest to date. It's the first time I'd been able to do the weekend properly due to living closer but also the beautiful weather really helped as it meant you could take proper breaks between films instead of being stuck inside hiding from the rain. The atmosphere in the Horror Channel screen was fantastic also and really contributed to the overall feel good factor.

My only gripes are around the main screen as the seats felt really crammed in and legroom was non existent for a fairly lanky 6'3" person. I also thought the screen itself was far too big and made films like The Bar and The Villainess a bit of chore to watch as I found I was having to move my head up and down to watch the film and also read the subtitles, however, if it's back here again next year I'll just try and get seats further back to counteract that!

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Re: Overall Thoughts

Post by TheDukeAbides » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:14 pm

I'm short so leg room is never an issue, what is an issue are the stair spacing on the Imax screen, they are not for anyone of any gait to walk up or down in any efficient manner.

Upstairs in the Prince Charles is still quite uncomfortably hot sometimes, downstairs is lovely and it was the best place to get a drink...given the expected expense in and around Leicester Sq I'll happily pay £5 for an exotic bottle of something than the same about for a pint of fizzy piss.

I do hate Leicester Sq, tourists and street performers but especially aggressive beggars, all of which have got worse in just 2 years.

I still yearn for an Arrow trailer like the "why is this happening" one of 2014 - something that the audience can quote by the end of the festival - sort it out Arrow.

I would like more "Turn Your Phone Off" trailers too.

I'm here to watch horror/fantasy films, I don't need someone ranting about Trump or anything else deemed to be terrible, I aware of the world outside, I don't need your virtue signal to remind me of it, I came into the cinema to forget about that shit for a few hours.

I would like a properly creepy film every now and then, something to actually provide the Fright to the Fest.

I still would prefer it if people turned up to a screening on fucking time. You've got lanyards, you know the films start on time usually, don't be wandering in the dark to your seats which are always in the middle of the row.

We need microphones in the Imax for question asking and also a fairer way of delivering goodies rather than relying on a director with a great throwing arm.

Overall it was one of the best years for films and my own personal enjoyment.

No, really, I mean that.

Honest.

Are you sure?

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