As temperatures stubbornly sit at apocalypse levels, you know what you need? A good chiller. Preferably more than one. Luckily, this year’s Arrow FrightFest has over 70 movies to shiver the skin and freeze the blood.
Running Thursday 25th to Monday 29th August, this year’s festival promises to be a bloody good Bank Holiday to remember. Real life may be a horrorshow, but with over 17 countries represented, the 23rd FrightFest is a world of horror we can get onboard with.
Masters of the genre will be out in force. Terror royalty Dario Argento will be in attendance to present his new film, Dark Glasses. Neil Marshall will introduce his new movie The Lair, which opens the festival, plus the 4K restoration of Dog Soldiers, showing in the Discovery screen for its 20th anniversary. Tom Felton, Draco Malfoy himself, will present his latest, the World War 2 shocker Burial.
French cult icon Brigitte Lahaie is introducing the must-see documentary Orchestrator of Storms, which charts the career of the extraordinary horror director Jean Rollin. Dazzling directorial duo Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson will introduce their latest mind scrambler, Something in the Dirt. And in Duelling Egos: An Audience with Alan and Mark, FrightFest co-director Alan Jones will be swapping anecdotes and comparing the size of his movie knowledge with fellow horror guru Mark Kermode. Phew.
With over 70 movies playing at London’s Cineworld Leicester Square and the nearby Prince Charles Cinema, selecting the 10 we are most anticipating is a challenge. Foolhardy even. But, we’ve never let that stop us in the past. Before moving onto those 10, we have been lucky enough to see some of the titles screening already. Embargoes prevent us from posting reviews. So we’ll just say The Harbinger, Hounded, Deep Fear, The Eyes Below, and The Summoned and you can insert the positive emoji of your choice.
But, without “fear”thur ado, let us reveal those movies we cannot wait to see at this year’s cinematic santa sangre.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE 2022 ARROW FRIGHTFEST
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETING INFORMATION
THE LAIR – WORLD PREMIERE
(Thursday 25th August – Arrow Screen / Shudder Screen – 5.30pm/6pm)
Neil Marshall knows a thing or two about mixing action and horror. 20 years on, his debut Dog Soldiers is still one of the best examples of ballistic terror. Ditto The Descent. Marshall’s latest has an RAF pilot (Charlotte Kirk) shot down during her final mission in Afghanistan. Finding refuge in an abandoned bunker, she stumbles across evidence of a Russian plan from the 1980s to blend human and alien DNA. She quickly discovers that project did not stop at the theoretical stage.
Marshall describes his latest outing as “The Dirty Half Dozen meets The Thing,” which has us drooling. If it has half the monster mayhem of his underrated Hellboy, we’ll be sitting there in hog heaven. At the very least, expect a lean, inventive, action splatterfest from one of Britain’s best directors.
ORCHESTRATOR OF STORMS – EUROPEAN PREMIERE
(Friday 26th August – Discovery Screen Two – 3.50pm)
Dating back to its inaugural year, FrightFest has always programmed first rate film documentaries. One of the best was Dima Ballin and Kat Ellinger’s The Magnificent Obsession of Michael Reeves, about the brilliant, tragic British film director. The pair return this year with a feature length study of French film director Jean Rollin. Rollins’ distinctive horror films (often based around vampirism) boasted generous helpings of sex and violence. But the beautiful visuals, rich atmosphere, surreal plotting, and complex themes of innocence, corruption, and liberation through transgression are what have ensured his work continues to find new audiences.
Rollins’ heyday was the 1970s, during which he directed almost 30 movies. But, this documentary promises to journey back to his childhood, traversing his whole life up to his death in 2010. Ballin and Ellinger are respectively publisher and editor of the indispensable Diabolique magazine, making them perfectly placed to be Rollins screen biographers.
FINAL CUT – UK PREMIERE
(Friday 26th August – Arrow Screen / Shudder Screen – 8.30pm/9pm)
We are wary of horror remakes, particularly ones that come hot on the heels of the original. But, sometimes the movie gods smile down upon us, and we get a film that at least does not disgrace the original. Hopefully, this is the case with Final Cut, the French remake of the Japanese gem One Cut of the Dead. We adored One Cut… and are optimistic that The Artist’s writer-director Michael Hazanavicius and lead actress Berenice Bejo, along with The Beat That My Heart Skipped’s Romain Duris, will do justice to the original. While bringing their own energy to the party. This must also be the first time a Cannes Film Festival opening movie has featured in the hallowed FrightFest line-up?
SOMETHING IN THE DIRT – UK PREMIERE
(Saturday 27th August – Arrow Screen / Shudder Screen – 10.30am/11am)
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have built a devoted cult following around their distinctive, genre-defying movies Resolution, Spring, The Endless, and Synchronic. For Something in the Dirt they also step in front of the camera, playing neighbours who believe recording supernatural events in their apartment building could rescue them from their nothing lives. But the road to wealth and happiness is often bumpy, and the pair are in for a rocky ride. Apocalypse anxiety, dark humour, and paranoid conspiracies are just some of the treats promised in the latest movie from a filmmaking team yet to put a foot wrong.
DARK GLASSES – UK PREMIERE
(Saturday 27th August – Arrow Screen / Shudder Screen – 6.30pm/7pm)
10 years have passed since Dario Argento’s last movie, the ill-advised Dracula 3D. His film before that was the deliriously duff Giallo, which star Adrien Brody blocked from having a US release. But, Argento has enough classics to his name that we will always greet the arrival of a new movie with excitement. We could be setting ourselves up for a fall, but isn’t that half the fun?
The plot sounds like classic giallo on weaponised hallucinogens. A serial killer is murdering sex workers with cello strings. His next victim must team up with a blind Chinese orphan to reveal the killer and save herself. For our money, the last good Argento movie was 2005’s made-for-TV film, Do You Like Hitchcock? Reviews of Dark Glasses have been mixed, but we’re hoping the master’s latest puts those negative notices in the shade(s).
WOLF MANOR – WORLD CINEMA
(Sunday 28th August – Arrow Screen / Shudder Screen – 6.30pm/7pm)
Dominic Brunt has quietly carved a niche for himself as one of Britain’s most interesting horror directors. Before Dawn and Bait were rough and ready shockers that terrorised you into admiring their ferocity. Attack of the Adult Babies was a weird, erotic take on 1970s sexploitation. Evie, co-directed with Jamie Lundy, is a disturbing, heartbreaking, possibly supernatural tale of family trauma.
Wolf Manor sees Brunt on lighter ground than in Evie, and may be his most mainstream movie to date. A film crew making a vampire flick in a large Shropshire mansion discover a werewolf may prowl amongst them. Expect a winning blend of gore and guffaws, as a cast of recognisable faces (James Fleet, John Henshaw, Nicky Evans) contend with a hair-raising situation.
TORN HEARTS – INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
(Sunday 28th August – 101 Films Discovery Screen Two – 6.30pm)
There are always two FrightFest films that hook our attention and then clash. This year it is Wolf Manor and Torn Hearts. We’re going to recommend Torn Hearts anyway, because it is directed by Brea Grant. Grant wrote 2020’s Lucky, directed by Natasha Kermani and one of our favourite horror films of recent years. She also stars in Night Sky, which plays on FrightFest’s main screens on Friday 26th.
A case of never meet your heroes, Torn Hearts looks to be a blast as it inverts the Misery formula. Abby Quinn and Alexxis Lemire are a country music duo who track down their reclusive idol, played by Katey Sagal, to pitch them a sure-to-be-chart-topping song. But, the veteran songstress has other hits in mind. Katey Sagal never fails to impress, and watching her deliver a full-on horror performance should be worth the price of admission. But, we’re also interested in what Grant brings to her latest directorial outing.
THE PRICE WE PAY – WORLD PREMIERE
(Sunday 28th August – Arrow Screen / Shudder Screen – 8.45pm/9.15pm)
Kitamura Ryuhei delivered one of FrightFest’s best movies with 2008’s The Midnight Meat Train. His horror credentials also include the outrageous No One Lives, the nail chewing Downrange, and Versus. The Price Way Pay has him putting Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff through the wringer as stick-up men fleeing a botched robbery. Saddled with a feisty female hostage, they need to find a place to hide out. The farmhouse they end up in could not be a worst choice.
The story will be familiar to horror fans, but we expect Kitamura to bring his trademark craziness to the direction and plot twists. Mad Max 2 and Commando alum Vernon Wells appears as “The Doctor,” so the needle on the zaniness meter is already starting to twitch. The only question remaining is, who will survive, and what will be left of them?
BURIAL -WORLD PREMIERE
(Monday 29th August – Arrow Screen / Shudder Screen – 4pm/4.30pm)
Horror cinema has delved into World War 2 multiple times for inspiration, but Burial’s plot is a doozy. Russian soldiers escorting Hitler’s body back to the Motherland find themselves under attack from a Nazi “Wehrwolf” division. Though this wolfpack is more than just wolf-ish.
Writer-director Ben Parker previously wrote the memorable chiller The Girl on the Third Floor, and penned and directed the claustrophobic The Chamber. He has a bigger canvas here, and a great cast including Tom Felton, Charlotte Vega, Harriet Walter, and Barry Ward. With Dog Soldiers also playing FrightFest ’22, Burial is in formidable company. But, we can’t wait to check it out.
FALL – WORLD PREMIERE
(Monday 29th August – Arrow Screen / Shudder Screen – 9.15pm/9.45pm)
Fall may not have a horror premise, but this vertiginous thriller is likely to put audiences’ hearts in their mouths. Annabelle: Creation’s Grace Caroline Currey is grieving the loss of her husband in a rock climbing accident. To find closure, BFF Virginia Gardner suggests they climb a 2,000ft radio mast to scatter his ashes. But, when sections of the mast begin breaking off, the women find themselves facing multiple dangers, and gravity isn’t being friendly. The quality of this year’s FrightFest looks to reach dizzying heights, making Fall a good movie to end on.
Podcast: The Movie Robcast