While many devote their August Bank Holiday weekend to desperately soaking up the last rays of the summer sun, there are some who will be spending Thursday to Monday in a dark that never seems to come early enough. Yes, it's FrightFest time again, when a motley crew of genre fans gathers to confront its fears, chew the fat and embrace the shadows.
This year will see some changes. A new V(en)UE. The Main Programme split and staggered over three separate screens rather than the usual one. Two screens for the Discovery Programme (with only one shot at each Discovery title). Yet from its opening years at the Prince Charles Cinema, on to Odeon West End, then Empire and now VUE, FrightFest has always moved with the times, even as the cobwebs of nostalgia continue to hang over it – and the fact that London's few barn-sized theatres (like Empire 1) are gradually being divided up and replaced with smaller auditoria merely reflects the way our viewing habits have been transformed by the online era.
Of course, what really counts at FrightFest is the programme of films on offer, and in this regard the organisers Alan Jones, Paul McEvoy, Ian Rattray and Greg Day have excellent past form, as their own divergent tastes guarantee an eclectic mix of the ghastly, the gory and the grotesque. This year's festival opener is insidious thriller The Guest, from the same writer (Simon Barrett) and director (Adam Wingard) who have previously wowed FrightFest with A Horrible Way to Die (2010) and You're Next (2011). The closing night film is buzzworthy techno-SF The Signal, written and directed by William Eubank whose little seen debut Love (2011) was a do-it-yourself marvel of ambitious independent filmmaking. If The Signal is even half as good as the film of the same name that screened at FrightFest 2007, we are in for a mindmelt finish.
Adam Wingard's 'The Guest'
In between there's a veritable smorgasbord of splatter, sin and social subversion, with a dish to satisfy every palate. This year there's a record-breaking 64 features, including 38 UK or European premieres and 11 world premieres. There are plenty of known quantities and established names in the Main Programme: Eli Roth's The Green Inferno, Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins' Show Pieces, Tommy Wirkola's Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo's Among The Living, Fabrice Du Welz's Alleluia, Nacho Vigalondo's Open Windows and Extraterrestrial, John McNaughton's The Harvest, Adam Green's Digging Up The Marrow, Nicolas McCarthy’s Home, Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson's All Cheerleaders Die, Adrian Garcia Bogliano's Late Phases, Greg Mclean's Wolf Creek 2, Eduardo Sanchez's Exists and Milan Todorovic's Nymph.
Yet half the fun of FrightFest is encountering new talents and unexpected pleasures, whether in the main or discovery strands – and with such an unprecedented number of films on offer, it will be more important than ever for FrightFesters to familiarise themselves with the programme in advance and decide where their preferences and priorities lie. For in the end there can be no greater horror than missing out on that discovery that has everyone else talking.
Full details, as well as ticketing arrangements, can be found here.
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