Grimm Up North - Day 4 Round Up
Well, the last day of the festival came round pretty damn quickly, but that's how things go when you're having an absolute blast. The final day of Grimm Up North didn't intend to hold back or slow down, so I sat in my usual spot in the theatre when the doors opened. Here is a round of my final day at the festival.
The Whisperer in Darkness
The day started with this HP Lovecraft tale that is shot in an RKO style. Following floods in rural Vermont, weird creatures are found floating in the rivers and soon the neighbouring farms realise they are not alone in their isolated surroundings. They call in help from a university lecturer who is a firm believer of science over the supernatural, but some things are not easily explained with just science. The style was very fitting for the story it is telling and the look of the film is definitely its greatest achievement. There were some very creepy moments and I liked how it didn't hold back towards the end, but it took a while for me to get into as this isn't normally the kind of film I would go for. A good take on a classic story though.
The Dead is a rather unique zombie film, unique mainly in its location and its visual style. It is set in Africa where a zombie epidemic has taken over and nowhere is safe. The film follows two soldiers as they strive to make a way to their families. Visually, as I've said, this film is stunning. They use their location to its advantage and it really makes this film stand out. Most zombie films are based in cities or American towns and the weather seems to reflect the impending doom. However, in The Dead we see zombies emerging from deserts in scorching heat only adding to the misery of these soldiers trying to find a way out. The zombies are particularly cool looking; they are classic zombies, very reminiscent of Romero. The only problem I had with The Dead was with the slow storyline and how predictable it inevitably was. Although this is an interesting take on a zombie film, it is still the same basic zombie storyline underneath all that.
A nuclear apocalypse has happened and a group of people seek shelter in the basement of an apartment block, but their cabin fever may just be a bigger nightmare than their outside world. The Divide is one of those films that I'm pretty sure I've seen before in some form, I can't quite place it, but I've definitely seen something exactly like it, which is why I didn't really get into this one at all. It didn't do anything new, or anything I hadn't seen before and it's bleak tone just bored me. I was pretty happy when it was over. It's not a terrible film, but it just didn't excite me in any way. There were a couple of good performances and some comic moments, Milo Ventimiglia especially held the creepy end of the film, but apart from that, it did nothing for me.
The Theatre Bizarre
A young woman intrigued by an abandoned theatre goes in and finds herself the sole viewer of some short films introduced by a freak show. The six short films we were treated to in Theatre Bizarre ultimately tried far too hard to be quirky and failed to make much of an impression. Probably the best short wasn't the one that was violent or gross, but the tender and thought provoking short called The Accident, which sums it all up really. To have an effect on an audience you do not need to go to the lengths that some of these shorts did. There are some cool Creepshow elements here and there, but the script is never strong enough. Also I don't want to be a prude, but did every short (bar The Accident) have to have at least one have a naked woman? Every single one?
The Wicker Tree
The festival ended with The Wicker Tree, which was a pretty exciting end purely for the fact that Robin Hardy was in attendance and came to introduce the film and even did a Q&A after the feature finished.
The Wicker Tree is not a sequel to the The Wicker Man, but follows on from its predecessor. Two Christians from Texas travel to Scotland to spread the message of the Lord and try and save the "heathens" they encounter, but they couldn't have imagined what the friendly town that welcome them in are capable of. I don't think anyone was expecting much from this film; it's been nearly 40 years since the original was made and it seems rather disjointed to have this one come out so far down the line. I pretty much got what I expected, the film doesn't have much soul to it, so it felt flat compared to The Wicker Man, and it really is hard to watch this movie without comparing it to the 1978 film, believe me. It is all rather "paint by numbers"; nothing could really shock after The Wicker Man, however, there are some enjoyable moments as the humour was rife throughout and a lot of the dialogue is very tongue in cheek. Robin Hardy was a really nice way to end the festival as he spoke at length about his projects both old and new and seemed like a really nice guy. I'm really glad he made it down to the festival and that there was a good crowd in attendance to support his film.
On the final day of the festival, the film of the day has to be The Dead for its style. It was unlike any other zombie film I'd seen in those respects, it's just the story was slightly lacking.
The four days at the AMC theatre have been really fun, Grimm Up North has given the North West a chance to showcase some films that may not have been easily accessible otherwise. The festival has run pretty smoothly, the only minor let downs have been a few guest speakers (Lucy Davis, Adele Silver) not being able to turn up, which was a real shame. However, all those that did Q&A's were insightful and a great addition to the particular screenings.
I have met some truly cool people who share a love of all things horror, seen some truly bizarre, exciting, disgusting and terrifying films and I already can't wait to do it next year. See you then!
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