The spooky season is upon us. FrightFest 2020 has promised us a fine and frightening selection of features from across the world, each with their intriguing tale to entwine and trap us within, like a spider to a fly. I got the chance to cover the festival for the first time, which has always been a dream of mine – and I wasn’t disappointed with what I found. While not everything was up to par, there were some absolute knockout hits that’ll infect your mind, and remain there for weeks.
What begins as a familiar but interesting premise quickly spirals into a rapidly confusing and undercooked mess – the sound design is a particular point of critique, with some phone conversations sounding as the person is merely in the other room, shouting. With a cast of characters that appear as two-dimensional as they are expendable, it’s difficult to find yourself rooting for anyone in this slasher. The sound itself seems to dominate the image at times, with it taking over your viewing experience and minimizing the horror completely. It’s disappointing to see a feature with such potential fail in this manner but Heckle seems to be worthy of its own heckle.
Babysitter Must Die
While its cliched cultists tend to ham it up, Kalli Therinae’s Sadie comes through to deliver an entertaining and delightful reversal of the home invasion – there are shades of You’re Next baked into the blueprint for this, and it shows. Babysitter Must Die does posit some interesting ideas and creative visuals in regard to explaining the cult’s plan with the fun graphics, in addition to Sadie’s multiple badges; the film could’ve benefitted massively from submerging itself in the camp, rather than dipping its toe in. If you’re looking for a simple slasher this FrightFest season, tune into Babysitter Must Die.
As absurd as it is disgusting, Cyst is a delightful symbiosis of 1960s B-movies and 1980s creature features. With a cast of cavalier characters, each more eccentric than the last, this love letter to everything monstrous and grotesque packs a lot of references into its material – The Thing, Plan 9, The Blob to name a few. With the surprise inclusion of Greg Sestero of The Room fame (great to see him getting work!), Cyst will open up your comedic pustules and have you erupting all over your walls.
Sci-fi holds two avenues to greatness – a bombastic, expansive story backed by a monolithic budget, or a isolated, contained story, pushing one element to the forefront. Dune Drifter achieves the latter, with some gorgeous production design and location scouting – the desolate planet truly feels other-worldly, as we watch Adler battle against a horde of threats, most deadly of all, her decreasing sanity. With hints toward a greater narrative web without compromising the sharp thread that’s woven through this adventure, Dune Drifter is a for-sure recommendation for this FrightFest.
Patricio Valladares’ wild and ever-shifting sci-thriller in the vein of Species and Blair Witch displays the triumph of creativity above all for crafting a good horror. A triptych of stories that could each be the core of their own individual features, unfortunately held back by budgetary constraints, teasing an incredibly gruesome and frightening feature within the bones of what we’re given, with some frightening Lovecraftian horrors teased in what may be possible concept art in the final moments. It must be noted his creativity extends to transplanting his own actual home video footage, invigorating it with a horrifying narrative that seems to blend remarkably well. The creative spark is clearly there for Patricio, he just needs the funding – take a chance on this Chilean sci-fi thriller this FrightFest.
Alien on Stage
This heartwarming documentary touched me deeply, and I knew that a paragraph wasn’t enough to possibly contain all my thoughts – read my full review here, and once you’re done, go and watch this brilliant female director duo.
You can read my full review of Hosts in the coming days, but suffice to say it’s one of the best films at FrightFest, and you should absolutely check it out as soon as possible.
I HIGHLY recommend you go and watch Slaxx, because you will not disappointed. One of my favorite films of the festival, and of the year. Full review coming!
Woman of the Photographs
This is a beautiful piece of art. This is my ultimate favorite, the king of FrightFest – I have a full review and interview with director Takeshi Kushida coming in the following days, but if you haven’t seen Woman of the Photographs yet, change that. Right now.