- Category: Features
- Written by Daniel Benson
- Published on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 11:32
FRIGHTFEST 2014 - DAY FOUR
Opening the schedule for Sunday we had Nacho Vigalondo's devious desktop thriller Open Windows with Elijah Wood (who, given his love of horror, is a surprise he's never appeared at the festival). The film starts off with a cheesy sci-fi movie being premièred at a convention (it was actually filmed at Austin Fantastic Fest) while a young blogger, Nick (Wood), watches via a live stream from his hotel. The unique point about this film is the entire thing takes place via a series of windows on Nick's laptop, hence Open Windows. In the first 10 minutes it seemed unlikely that this gimmick could be sustained for the runtime, but it not only does so, it also weaves a tightly-paced thriller around footage from various devices such as webcams, mobile phones and video cameras. Its end twist is slightly convoluted, but by that time you're fully immersed in the virtual world and it doesn't really matter.
Faults definitely kicked things down a couple of gears with its slow-burn story of a down on his luck expert on cults and mind control hired to extract a couple's daughter from the clutches of a group called Faults. Superb performances from Leland Orser as Ansel, the cult expert, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead his charge, along with some extremely dry humour, but an odd change of pace and direction in the second half which didn't entirely work. Still, an engaging little thriller but tough to get through after the late night I'd had before.
I had no idea what to expect from Among the Living, the latest film from French directors Julien Mary and Alexandre Bustillo. Their previous efforts Livid and Inside are on my wall of shame, having never checked out their brand of French extreme horror. Among the Living is a fairly straightforward slasher movie in which the main protagonists are three 14-year-old boys who've just started their summer break by discovering a young girl being kidnapped and held in an abandoned movie set near their homes. As genre tropes dictate, neither the police nor the boys' parents believe their tale, but the maniac who's been rumbled is not taking any chances and hunts them down. While many horrors would use kids as a plot device, but make them untouchable, there's no such kid gloves here. Just as the adults are fair game in a slasher movie so are the kids in this one and they receive the same punishment. It's taught and inventive with some incredibly brutal kills and really did the job to wake my brain from its fatigued state.
Till Kleinert's psychosexual German slasher The Samurai brought a sword-wielding, dress-wearing killer to the screen for the delight of the audience. Undeniably well made and acted, with beautiful cinematography, it's big on its concept of alter-ego but not my kind of film. Hamzah Sarwar was much more impressed by it and you can read his full review HERE.
Described as 'Glee meets Friday the 13th' Jerome Sable's Stage Fright is the epitome of a love it or hate it film. Generally I dislike musicals, but this blend of catchy and hilarious tunes along with some impressive gore makes this story of a musical summer camp's attempts to put on a long lost show a real delight. The great thing is you know if you're in or out within the first 10 minutes, so if you're a hater then you're not wasting any time to get invested. The songs are as catchy as Frozen and the bloodshed is as liberal as Braindead. See it with a crowd for the ultimate horror party.
Nicholas McCarthy's Home (now released in the US as At the Devil's Door) was the film to finish off my evening. Sadly the previous night's excesses were too much for me and I could not stay awake any longer. Precisely relevant to the film, Home was where I had to go. Fortunately, Zig has checked out the US release in perfect time, so you can check out his full and positive review HERE.
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