Film Event: Horror Channel FrightFest 2016 - Part I

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It's the event I look forward to all year long - Horror Channel FrightFest and this year was bigger than ever before. I can't quite believe how quickly it has been and gone but here's a look at Part I of my time at the festival as well as a look at some of my top horror flicks...

Horror Channel Frightfest 2016
Shepherds Bush FrightFest
For those of you who don't know (because I don't talk about it enough), FrightFest is the UK's biggest international film festival, running for five days and celebrating all things scary on screen. As with previous years, I joined forces with MovieRamblings yet again to see the best (and not so brightest) films the event had to offer. This year, I was fortunate enough to be blessed with my own personal press pass, leaving me with free reign to experience the festival full throttle.

If you've followed my coverage from the previous two years, you'll know that FrightFest is usually held at Vue Leicester Square but with more movies and more tickets sold than ever before, this year's festival found a new home at Shepherd's Bush across several screens. As usual, the press wall was filled with horror's best loved and up and coming talent, giving us a glimpse at some of the best (and worst) horror flicks. As with every year, it did not disappoint and I visited across two days to review some of my top picks. Here's some of the films I managed to fit in to my schedule...

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Beyond The Gates is a comedy/horror which follows the story of two brothers, John (Chase Williamson) and Gordon (Graham Skipper) who return to their home town following the disappearance of their father. Whilst packing up the video store he left behind, they stumble across a mysterious VCR board game they believe to have something to do with their dad.

The cheesy VCR (video tape) board game era may have died a death long ago but it's now it's very much alive and serving as inspiring in Beyond the Gates. Produced by and starring the ultimate screen queen, Barbara Crampton, this was always set for greatness from the start. Combined with a sexy soundtrack and stylish neon mise en scene, BTG is as amusing as it is utterly bizarre. With some genuinely entertaining scenes and a well written narrative, Beyond the Gates is an enjoyable flash back to an golden age and gets a Sophie star rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars - without a doubt, my favourite from this year's FrightFest and it even received a few collective cheers throughout.


Knucklebones horror film
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A group of bored teens enter inside an abandoned factory in an attempt to cheer up their depressed friend, Neesa (Julin Jean - Cherry Bomb, 2009). Once inside, the group discover a box of mysterious items including a game of knucklebones. Little do they know, however, that the game will summon an evil Nazi demon who will hunt them down one by one. 

Plagued with every horror cliche going, it’s hard to understand whether this is on purpose or just whether it was intended to be. Whilst there are many attempts at adding depth and some might argue the narrative features a bit of a concluding twist, Knucklebones is easily one of the worst films previewed at FrightFest so far. Knucklebones gets a Sophie star rating of 1 star. You can read my full review of Knucklebones here. 

Cruel Summer film
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Inspired loosely by true events, a teenager with autism, Danny (Richard Pawulski), ventures into the serene countryside as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award. Little does he know, however, that classmate Nicholas (Danny Miller from Emmerdale) is ruthlessly tracking him down as a result of a vicious lie created by Julia (Natalie Martins). Having also recruited Calvin (Reece Douglas) to join them, the group begin to close in on Danny but Nicholas' behaviour spirals out of control and Julia must decide whether to continue the lie.

Ultimately, Cruel Summer is a story of peer pressure and bullying taken too far. The themes that play throughout are made all the more disturbing as they are not only relatable within British society but they are entirely possible. Despite a few cheesy moments, Cruel Summer is beautifully shot and with some acceptable performances, it acts as an interesting look at modern day youth culture and deserves a watch. You can read my full review of Cruel Summer here. 

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Having lost his job and been jilted at the alter, Paul (Johnny Galecki - The Big Bang Theory) decides his life is in desperate need of a detox, signing up to a retreat designed to cleanse toxins and emotional baggage. However, once part of the programme, unexplainable events go from surreal to horrific when Paul and his fellow patients discover the cleansing process unleashes something far greater than traumatic experiences.

The Master Cleanse offers a witty yet darkly humorous blend of Cronenberg-esque body horror though it's genre often seemed blurred. Offered as a comedy/horror hybrid, it sometimes seem to fall under neither of those categories but is enjoyable just the same. Using a physical embodiment of our inner fears and negativities, the film is able to offer an interesting and entertaining tale of killing your bad habits before they kill you. With an all star cast including Johnny Galecki, Anna Friel and Anjelica Houston, this was clearly a standout premiere for me this year and it did not disappoint. I'd say this was one of my favourite film from the festival and gets a Sophie star rating of 3 stars.

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Alex (Jordan Coulson) and his friends head to Ibiza for a lad's holiday but are joined by Alex’s ex girlfriend who seems less then impressed. Having ditched the ex, the boys head to a club where chained up zombies are the main attraction.

Dubbed "The Inbetweeners meets Shaun of the Dead”, the narrative opens to the expected scantily clad party goers as they party on the beach before introducing our antagonist and club owner, Karl (Matt King - best known as Super Hans from Peep Show). With one of his disobeying henchmen gagged and bound, he reveals his entire diabolical plan before unleashing a flesh-eating zombie upon him. Sounds great, right? Wrong. Ibiza Undead is far from the witty, hilarious writings it claims to be a combination of but it is really the acting and dialogue which makes this so hard to watch. The film attempts to recreate characters from The Inbetweeners but instead falls flat on it's face in this cringe-worthy sorry excuse for a 'teen' zombie flick. Ibiza Undead gets a Sophie star rating of 1 star.
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That's it for Part I of my FrightFest fun - stay tuned for Part II to follow very shortly. Have you ever been to FrightFest? What do you make of the films I've mentioned above? As usual, I love reading your thoughts so please do leave me lots of lovely comments below.

Until next time horror fans,




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16 comments:

  1. Fright Fest sounds fab, but always seems sooo expensive! Out of all of these films I'd definitely give Beyond the Gates and The Master Cleanse a watch, but the others sound pretty disappointing!

    www.moreaboutcat.co.uk

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    1. Yeah it can be expensive if you buy a whole festival ticket or a day pass. I think it was £60 for a Saturday or Sunday Day Pass and cheaper on the weekdays. The good thing is that you can buy tickets just for individual films if you don't want to see all of them. That way you still get the FrightFest experience without staying all day long! :) x

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  2. Hmm, I had to google VCR board games to understand the concept. So Barbara Crampton had cameos in several FrightFest films this year? I have a dvd of Re-Animator somewhere where the late David Gale expressed his shame on the dvd commentary for a scene where he had an especially lecherous and creepy scene with Barbara. But that was a great movie. Anyway, I hope for your sake that there weren't too many 1 star experiences throughout the festival, Sophie!

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    1. Ha unfortunately 1 star films are to be expected with FrightFest but there are some great ones too! I actually saw one of my favourite ever films there, a NZ film called Housebound. Yes Barbara Crampton always appears at least once at FrightFest - she's some what of a FF queen! She's a producer also so she's always working :)

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    1. Yeah that would be fun! I'll keep an eye out for some for you :) x

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  4. The master cleanse and beyond the gates sound pretty good! :)

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    1. Yeah they were definitely my favourites from the festival :) Hopefully they'll see the light of day in the UK x

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  5. How exciting! I've never been to FrightFest but I wonder if there is something similar near me in the US. I will be keeping an eye out for these films as some seem great. I love Johnny Galecki in Big Bang Theory :)

    Ashley C xx
    http://www.imamovienerd.wordpress.com

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    1. I hope there is - seems a shame not to! I'll ask around for you :) Ha yeah tha was definitely one of my favourites from the festival this year - hope you enjoy them x

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  6. This just sounds so brilliant (though I might spend some of it behind my couch...)!

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    1. Haha ah I promise you it's not scary really - they're all so cheesy there's nothing scary about them xx

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  7. This was a great read, and I'm definitely gonna be adding Cruel Summer & The Master Cleanse to my watchlist :) I can't believe that I'd never heard of the Horror Channel FrightFest.... and I call myself a horror fan! :D haha looking forward to reading Part Two.

    Raiin Monkey

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    1. Don't feel too bad, for years it was called Film4 FrightFest (personally I think that had a better ring to it haha) Just depends who is sponsoring the event. I think you'd really enjoy it as a horror fan though :) xxx

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  8. Cruel Summer and Beyond The Gates sound awesome, I will definitely have to check them out. You definitely watched a mixed bag of movies haha! x
    Emily
    www.thebelljarblog.com

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    1. Yeah I'll have to send you some screeners! I really did haha they were so random - Beyond the Gates was definitely a stand out film for me though - very funny and stylised. Thanks for reading my reviews babe xx

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