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FRIGHTFEST 2014 - DAY THREE

 

 

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John McNaughton's The Harvest was the opening film of Saturday, but it was also crossed off the list due to a prior engagement with Till Kleinert, director of soon-to-be talking point The Samurai. With that out of the way it was on to Starry Eyes, a sordid tale of a young girl's quest to be an actress and the shady film company that wants to offer her a break, but at the expense of a vast amount of sacrifice. Playing heavily on its message on the price of chasing fame, its third act turns incredibly bloody as Sarah decides that fame is what she desires above all else. Carried spectacularly well by the lead, Alex Essoe, it's both a cautionary tale and a blood-spattered head trip.

 

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Lucky McKee set discussions alight a couple of years back when his film The Woman screened at Frightfest, and his latest effort, All Cheerleaders Die, has done the same again. I wasn't a fan of The Woman and Cheerleaders continues that trend with its blend of witchcraft and reanimation in a high school cheerleaders squad. There's a huge lack of focus with the film as it meanders all over the place, never really knowing what it wants to be. Not nearly as satirical as it thinks it is either. Your mileage may vary, of course. Mike Sabourin took a look at it for the site and came away much more impressed than I did. You can read his review HERE.

 

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Drop a gear and get ready for some light-hearted romantic comedy with the undead. Life After Beth is the story of a young guy who is torn apart by the death of his girlfriend. Seeking solace with her parents in an attempt to feel closer to her, they start acting strangely and shut him out. The reason, he finds out, is that Beth has come back from the grave and rather than worry about the mechanics of how it happened, they're focusing all their energy on spending time with their now alive daughter. As all horror fans know, everyone who comes back from the grave does so as one thing only and true to form Beth begins to deteriorate both physically and mentally. It was a middle-of-the-road film for me; perfect if you have a significant other who doesn't like horror as it's low on zombie tropes, but also low on laughs for what's supposed to be a comedy. An easy waste of 90 minutes, but nothing that'll satisfy the dedicated horror fan. You can check out Ted's review HERE.

 

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The weight of expectation for this low-budget Australian horror movie was so high it was almost certain The Babadook wouldn't deliver. It follows a mother, single through the death of her husband, struggling to raise her six year-old son who has constant nightmares about monsters. Things only get worse when the pair read a sinister bedtime story called Mister Babadook, about a monster that you should not let in to your house. Naturally they do and all hell breaks loose. It seems that if the emotional hook of the film taps into your childhood fears then you'll find it utterly terrifying. For me there wasn't that connection, so while I could appreciate the incredible achievement of the film (having been made on a shoestring, but being so incredibly well made and acted), it didn't scare me in the slightest. One person whose psyche was tapped in the right way was Hamzah Sarwar, who posted a full, five-star review HERE

 

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What should have been an ideal midnight movie fell flat to end the day. I Survived a Zombie Holocaust is another New Zealand production that's screened at the festival. It's meta horror in the extreme, as a zombie film set gets overrun with an actual zombie apocalypse, pitting those that play zombies and zombie killers against the undead. Despite the opportunity for hilarity, I found most of the humour basic at best and not the fun I was looking for. Charlotte Stear did find this one fun though, and you can read her review HERE

 

 

 

 

 

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