Here’s a few thoughts on some the FrightFest 2022 films I’ve seen so far.
Probably one the most powerful FrightFest closers ever is The Fall. There is high anticipation for this and rightly so relying as much on the development of the characters that you genuinely feel for as it does on the ultra-high-tension that the trailer and poster can only hint at. It often said but in this case it’s true to say that The Fall can only be properly appreciated on a cinema screen.
I’ll shamelessly mention Piggy (Cerdita) being Spanish but also because it’s an excellent film that focuses on the everyday torment (horror) that the bullied have to go through (even by those closest from whom you’d expect some support), compounded these days by the power of social media to spread hate. It is a very distressing film with the first twenty minutes brutal as Sara is subjected to online pile-ons and systematic personal humiliation. The heat and sun of Extremadura provide an intensity to a film that plays heavily with the conscience of the tormented Sara.
Sharing several of Piggy’s themes is Sissy, though this a very different film with director and actors in sync for a highly manipulative film that again delves into the power of social media as well as mental health and illness. A chance meeting with an old schoolfriend Cecilia (Sissy) is invited to a hen party in a large house in the country setting up a vicious cycle of verbal and physical violence. It has its funny parts though overall it is quite grim. A word or two for the brilliant score that is perfectly synchronised with the images.
The Eyes Below from Alexis Bruchon who gave us the remarkable The Woman with Leopard Shoes in 2020. That was a near wordless exercise in intrigue and suspense. This second in a trilogy is a masterly display of audio/visual and viewer manipulation. Stylistically there are similarities this however is a mind-masher that is both disorientating and claustrophobic, as a film would be that is set in a bed for seventy-seven minutes.
With Deadstream you may initially wonder oh no not another entry in the social media sub-genre that are becoming ubiquitous. But doubts are soon dispelled by our man whom you may come to love to hate. Making excellent use of technology this skilfully blends the absurdity of the online ‘star’ self-creator with some true horror and plenty of laughs as the protagonist gets himself into a right mess in a haunted house. This strikes a much more satirical note than Dashcam, which I should say is a pointer only.
The there’s Pussycake. The Argentinian female rock band Pussycake are down to play an out-of-town dump of a venue that their manager has booked. The venue and town are virtually derelict save for zombies, sort of. The cast are terrific and this is fun, raucous stuff. A mixture of drugs, alien invasion, incubation and milk-vomiting ‘zombies’ it’s lashed with gallons blood and guts as the women try save themselves and get out of town.
Moving into all out comedy and send up is the mockumentary The Once and Future Smash + End Zone 2. This well observed and lovingly made spoof of a couple of actors who both portrayed the character Smash-Mouth in End Zone 2 – a film that has gained legendary status due to the fact it has hardly ever been seen. They don’t like each other and 50 years later they are forced to attend a convention together as the quest begins to see who will star in reboot sequel. As with Spinal Tap the secret is not to alienate an audience with in-jokes just give enough for those in the know to nod their heads. And this does that beautifully featuring a number of well-known horror and fantasy players, it ribs the horror genre as well as conventions.