Vue Cinema, Shepherd's Bush (studio)
25 August 2016 (released)
06 September 2016
One of highlights of the weekend was Fury of the Demon. A ‘documentary’ that purports to unravel the truth behind La Rage Du Demon but doesn’t quite as the highly renowned contributors seem to be having a ball trying to play it straight. The basic premise is that this long lost film was screened in France in 2012 causing riots and hysteria. The history of the film is traced back to other periods when the film was still in distribution but eventually ‘lost ‘after a riot in 1939. The various contributors site George Méliès as the possible director but further investigations suggest that is was likely to be his associate Victor Sicarius a renowned occultist. Whatever the ‘truth’ this is a highly enjoyable hour with some great clips, and explanation of Méliès work. In fact, this could just be an advert for Méliès wonderful films, of which not many survive.
Elsewhere The Creature from Below is a debut feature from Stewart Sparke which has oodles of ideas but lacks the discipline to reign them in. While testing a new deep-sea suit, marine biologist Olive is attacked by a monster. This damages the suit and Olive is sacked however not without taking the souvenir egg that the creature has left. Hiding this in her home the egg hatches and through some trial and error finds out that it feeds on blood. The creature plays on her mind, and starts to become obsessed. Olive also shares the house with her boyfriend and flirty sister, so there’s an air of inevitability about this scenario. The dialogue is a little ropey, the acting enthusiastic, and there’s some dodgy CGI and creature effects. But despite the shortcomings its enjoyable.
Broken is a harrowing film of abuse, drugs, dependency and madness. Evie (Morjana Alaoui) is in England for a fresh start as a helper and has been placed by an agency with John (Mel Raido) a tetraplegic patient and former rock star. He’s moody, rude, demanding, basically a complete tosser, but as her boss says he’s in transition. His transition includes trying to maintain his old lifestyle of whores, drugs and drink; he’s the centre of attention with some semblance of control. Away from the parties he’s the centre of attention too but this time his meals are made, he’s helped in and out of bed and has his backside wiped. There’s moments of when you think the abuse may relent; Princess he calls her, please don’t she asks. Slowly it unravels that Evie is tormented by flashbacks, bad dreams and visions. Shaun Robert Smith’s direction is unremittingly bleak and lays bare the frustrations of caring and being cared for. It’s very difficult to have sympathy for John but maybe there is a little understanding. Our sympathies are with Evie from the beginning, gradually hardening as the film progresses and we learn of her background. It’s a gruelling watch that leads to a very violent conclusion. Brilliantly acted throughout the characters’ frustrations and indignities are palpable. The writing is un flashy and you can imagine people saying these words.
Egomaniac was one of Frightfest’s highlights telling the story of a naive, enthusiastic film-maker Catherine (Nic Lamont) trying to get the finance for her zombie film, and coming up against some Grand National sized obstacles. As Catherine pitches her film she comes across sleazy executives, dodgy producers and deluded actors; all the industry’s detritus. The film switches between the director’s quest for finance, and her imagination as she tries to write the film, struggling to accommodate barmy ideas while maintaining some dignity and integrity. Eventually it all gets to be too much with devastating results. It’s in the details and observations that the film comes into its own. The sequences in the record shop and with the photographer are wonderfully observed. The script by writer/director Kate Shenton is cynical, razor sharp and very funny, with the actors clearly revelling in it. In amongst all the laughs however there’s a darker seam running about the treatment of women in the industry, which is very uncomfortable.