by Stephanie Allard
“I just don’t see the appeal in horror movies!” The words uttered by an usher to an audience member as the seats filled up for the beginning of Frightfest 2017. It is a common opinion to not “see the appeal” in the genre. But it is the collective enjoyment of all things horror which fills screen one of the Glasgow film theatre every February. This year was no different as creators Alan Jones, Paul Mcevoy & Ian Rattray ensured the audience were in for a weekend full of great films from all over the world and from the many sub-genres of horror. For the most part, this was undoubtedly the case. Below is a brief summary of the best films worth seeing out of Frightfest, and the films that should the title appear on the Netflix “Recently Added” bar, avoid it.
The film, which kicked off Frightest, was Gore Verbinski’s new horror/mystery A Cure for Wellness. A film about a young, success hungry man who is tasked by his corrupt company to head to Switzerland and retrieve a valuable board member who since checking into an isolated spa has decided never to leave due to the power of “the cure”. It is delightfully obscure with a plot that twists and turns from a mystery tale to a gore fest. Although too long, the mix of thriller and gore was a perfect way to start the weekend . A Cure for Wellness like some of Verbinski’s past works, is not a masterpiece of the genre, but is indeed worth a watch for an enjoyable, intriguing story and some on screen carnage! The film is also out in cinemas currently.
Day two started off poorly and very likely drew some to question the worth of buying the £70 weekend pass. Warriors Gate, while produced by Luc Besson, was a cringe-tastic attempt at a 21st century American martial arts film by throwing the element of computers games in the mix. To start a horror festival off with a teen flick was a risk not worth taking! Droves of audience members walked out within the first half hour, and the ones that stayed noticeably regretted it by the time the lights went up. This slip up was however rectified in the evening as the audience was treated to a modern vampire story set in area of New York damaged with gang violence. A pre-teen, socially awkward boy believes he is a vampire after viewing the gruesome death of his mother, and once month needs to feed. He spends the rest of the month watching classic vampire movies to relax his hunger. However, with the introduction of a girl and of his participation in gang violence, the boy is forced to reconsider his lifestyle. Transfiguration is a courageous drama that although most definitely a horror film, is also a provocative story about growing up in an unstable, often toxic environment, and living and fighting with being different. Not for the extreme slasher fans but a film to look out for this year.
By day three it felt like the first film slot was more of a time filler than anything else. The found footage film Cage Dive steps out of the sub-genre’s usual realm of ghosts & haunted houses and into shark infested waters. A love triangle involving two brothers and an indecisive middle woman is introduced as the three travel to Australia to film them swimming with sharks for a “Who’s the craziest idiot out there” show…or something like that. A freak wave capsizes their boat and they are suddenly fighting for their lives in waters filled with sharks. Mind-numbing story with acting just as bad, the one reason to watch is if found footage is something which appeals, the film brings a new take that some may find interesting. Also shark slasher enthusiasts may get a kick out if it despite the apparent lack of much on-screen shark action. Once again, it was up to a feature of the evening to save the day. The last film to mention was the star of the weekend. French film does it again with Cannes champion RAW. A girl joins her older sister at veterinary school, but as part of her initiation week she is forced by both her rebel sister and her peers to eat unsavoury animal parts. This is difficult for a girl whose family is religiously vegetarian. However, after her first taste, Justine is drawn into the taste of raw meat, slowly increasing the extremes from raw chicken out of the fridge, to her sisters finger. After battling the lust, which slowly appears to be something in her family’s genes, Justine begins to loosen up and embrace this liberating and stimulating addiction she has adopted. Typical of a French film, RAW is stylish & witty with an absurd story of family and self-discovery paired with cannibalism. Sure to entertain even the least likely of horror followers.
Fear not those who missed this weekend of non-stop horror entertainment. Frightfest London is in August this year. If the films in this piece rouse your interest, book your seat for London and in the meantime, watch the best and worst of Glasgow’s Fest to occupy your time. August is only four months away…