GrimmFest Day Two
Written by Daniel Benson
Day two of Grimmfest and the first full day of films, stretching through from 10.30am to 11pm. A strong opener for the morning was Justin McConnel’s Lifechanger, following the fortunes of a shape-shifting skinwalker whose time is running short and the longevity of each host is reducing as time goes on. Some impressive body horror sequences punctuate this story, which is quite heartfelt and emotional at its core. Read Joel Harley's full review here.
The post-lunch slot was taken by the short film programme presenting a collection of high-quality shorts from around the world. Sweden’s Mystery Box sees a fisherwoman take home a mysteriously padlocked box caught in her net. The only thing to logically follow is that she opens it somehow…
RFLKTR is a short sci-fi piece that does an awful lot with its short runtime and single location. A great example of solid storytelling bolstered by an excellent female lead.
The Dollmaker deals with themes of loss and how far people will go to hold onto their loved ones. Poignant and moving with a nice twist in its tail.
Instinct is a glossy short based around an art gallery owner who meets a stunning performance artist. A little easy to predict its end-game, but extremely impressive in its production values.
A Death Story Called Girl is a unique piece that will only suffer from not being seen on a big screen with a powerful sound system. Its aural onslaught is its standout feature and makes the viewer fully aware, perhaps more so than usual, of the importance of sound in film.
We Summoned a Demon is a fun throwback to '80s horror as two losers perform a satanic ritual in a warehouse in an attempt to harness the skill of impressing women. It manages to pack old-school cool, some great laughs and awesome gore into its 6-minute run time.
Finally, from the UK, Dead Cool is a short that starts out dark and just keeps getting darker until its finale. Superbly acted, blackly funny and even shocking, it rounded out an excellent selection of shorts.
Late afternoon brought us the UK premiere of Office Uprising, a film that bears a striking resemblance to both last year’s festival hit Mayhem and office lockdown shocker The Belko Experiment. It’s a shame that this film will no doubt be seen as pretender to both, despite work being started on the script as far back as 2008. It follows the story of a group of slacker friends trapped the the offices of weapons manufacturer AmmoTech after the rest of the workforce drinks an experimental energy drink that turns them into psychopathic maniacs. Sounds familiar because it is, and if it had been released before its peers then it would have fared better. As it stands, it's fun but nothing you haven't seen before.
Early evening was time for festival guest Barbara Crampton to take centre stage again with Dead Night. It's a busy little film about a family taking a vacation at a remote cabin and coming under attack from a coven of witches after they rescue a mysterious woman (Crampton) they find unconscious in the woods. Lots going on and the film plays with its timeline, giving the audience sneak peeks of what is to come later in the narrative. Will definitely take another watch or two to pick up all the details. Read Stuart Monroe's full review here.
Issa Lopez's darling of the festivals, Tigers Are Not Afraid was up next. It's the moving story of a group of Mexican street kids trying to survive in their hostile environment while dealing with the loss of their parents and the ever present danger of the street gangs. Equal parts moving and unsettling, it wrings out some fantastic performances from its young cast. Read Ryan Holloway's full review here.
Rounding out the night came the '80s inspired Summer of 84, from the directing team behind Turbo Kid. Its Stranger Things vibe is undeniable even though, apparently, it was written before the hit Netflix show. It does the whole '80s thing extremely well, but feels over long, telling the story of a bunch of kids investigating their neigbour, a cop, whom they believe to be a serial killer. It seems to revel for far too long in its retro-chic before actually getting to the point and wrapping up with an ending that is out of sorts with the rest of the film. One for the synth-wave completists. Read Joel Harley's full review here.