Film Four FrightFest 2014: Thursday 21 August 2014

FrightFest 2014

Now in its fifteenth year, the annual Film Four FrightFest is back once more to show yet again why it is so loved by fans and why it is considered to be the best horror and genre film festival in the UK, Europe and arguably the world. With around sixty-five films on show over five days and guests aplenty, the festival continues to grow, this year Frightfest makes its first appearance at its new home the Vue cinema in London’s Leicester Square.

Easing people in on the first day of the festival is a fine looking triple bill of goodies including a charming houseguest who is more than he seems, a return to once again meet Marv and the inhabitants of Sin City… and some killer zombie beavers. No… really!

The Guest

The Guest

Opening this year’s festival in great style is the UK premiere of The Guest, directed by festival favourite Adam Wingard (You’re Next). When military veteran, David arrives at the home of the bereaved Peterson family claiming to be a friend of their son who has died in action, he is invited to stay and quickly proves himself to be the perfect guest. When people connected to the family start being killed however, the suspicion slowly points to this charming stranger in their midst. Is it David and if so, what can they do to stop him?

With its nods to both slasher horror and 80s style action flicks, The Guest proves to be a very entertaining ninety or so minutes under Wingard’s direction. An obvious love for the aforementioned genres runs throughout. Going with the violence when needed, it never does so without a twinkle in its eye and this is where the movie really succeeds, as the audience are readily brought into the twisted joke of what is actually going on with this new houseguest who has suddenly appeared in the families midst. It is ex-Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens that is the undoubted star of the show however, as he plays the seemingly perfect David, with a fantastic performance that could not be more removed from his Downton days and will undoubtedly propel him onto bigger things in Hollywood.

Although it does lose its way very slightly at points in the last reel, The Guest is still a total winner and is a must-see for horror and genre fans alike, or indeed anyone else for that matter.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (3D)

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Nine years after 2005’s Sin City was unleashed to much acclaim around the world, the long awaited return to Basin City is finally here with Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. So the big question is, has it been worth the wait? The answer unfortunately is a resounding no. Sure, it looks absolutely stunning, the brilliantly executed 3D only adding to the on screen spectacle, and there are some good individual set piece moments to be had, but the problem is it’s just boring.

With multiple characters you just don’t care enough about and a repetitive formula of ‘grumbling monologue/car chase/violent outcome’ moment to ‘grumbling monologue/car chase/ violent outcome’ moment, it drags and drags badly – and with a running time of two hours, it makes it hard work to get through.

It has to be said though that both Eva Green as femme fatale Ava Lord and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as gambling man Johnny put in great performances. Green in particular playing the smouldering siren with relish, but even they cannot do enough to rescue what is a major disappointment, especially when compared to the first instalment. Whether there will be a third outing to Sin City after this letdown remains to be seen. Don’t count on it though.

Zombeavers

Zombeavers

If there were prizes handed out for movies with stupidly funny titles, then Zombeavers would certainly be in with a great chance of a win. Luckily though, there’s more to this horror comedy flick than just a witty name. When a group of college kids go to stay at a cabin in the woods for a weekend of drink, sex and general debauchery, little do they know that they have stumbled right by a river full of flesh eating beavers that are hungry for the kill after being mutated by toxic waste. As the maniacal rodents go on the attack will the hapless holiday makers survive the rabid frenzy?

Under the guidance of first time director Jordan Rubin, what could have been just another one of those monster/animal combo films that are so popular these days, is actually something with much more wit. As the practical zombeaver puppets go on the attack and the word beaver is squeezed for all of its comedy worth, the cast put in some great performances that always have that slight nod to the audience that lets you know we’re all in on the joke, and that is what makes this film work so well. Sure it’s all very stupid, but it’s a very self-aware stupid that plays with B-movie concepts and horror tropes and zips along to bring some gory fun and laugh-out-loud moments to the screen. Bless those cute, undead, buck-toothed killing machines.

JASON HICKS


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