Must-See Movies at FrightFest 2018

The biggest monster in 2018 is my dear friend who has chosen to get married abroad this August Bank Holiday weekend.

Ahem, I jest. It is, of course, a privilege to be invited to his wedding. Plus, it means I shall spend the next 12 months catching up with the fantastic films listed below. An all-year-round FrightFest? There’s an idea…

Arrow Video FrightFest 2018 sees the festival entering a remarkable 19th year, and showing no sign of easing up on the shocks, surprises, special guests and treats.

Located at Leicester Square’s Cineworld and Prince Charles Cinema, the celebration of shivers runs from Thursday 23rd to Monday 27th August.

Over these five days FrightFest will showcase a record breaking seventy movies from eighteen countries. There are 20 World premieres, 17 European premieres and 22 UK premieres.

Here’s a taste of what awaits…

Amongst guests attending are Poldark star Aidan Turner for the offbeat The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot. FrightFest 2018 marks the first year a female directed film launches the festival, and Jenn Wexler will be in attendance with her shocker The Ranger.

Hannah Arterton, star of Netflix’s Safe, is accompanying the religious chiller Heretiks, and director Issa Lopez is over from Mexico to promote Tigers Are Not Afraid. This latter movie caused a storm at Glasgow FrightFest in March this year and is playing the main festival due to popular demand.

Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson will be providing a live commentary for their chiller Ghost Stories. Also intriguing is Roxanne Benjamin’s short Final Stop, shot on a smart phone and, using the Sennheiser AMBEO headset, recorded in full binaural sound. This creates a 3D soundscape that makes the audience feel they are in the movie and has to be experienced with headphones (which will be supplied). Will this sound like the future of horror?

As with other years, space is being made for classic titles to enjoy a big screen outing. In 2018, to celebrate an upcoming FAB Press book on the much-missed Scala cinema, FrightFest presents screenings of The Great Rock n’ Roll Swindle and Blue Sunshine. The former, a notorious retelling of The Sex Pistols’ brief time as Public Enemy Number One, features FrightFest co-director Alan Jones, whose introduction will recount the film’s wild creation.

Now, without further ado, here are the nineteen movies most exciting us at FrightFest 19…

THE RANGER – UK Premiere
(Thursday 23rd – Cineworld Arrow Video Screen 6pm, Cineworld Horror Channel Screen 6.30pm)
Jenn Wexler’s 80s set debut looks like Green Room meets Friday the 13th and opens this year’s festival. When a gang of punks hide out in a national park after a botched drug deal, they discover someone out there is just saying no to letting them live. The trailer has a nice retro feel and any film with Larry Fessenden in the cast must be worth scoping out.

(Thursday 23rd – Cineworld Discovery Screen 8.50pm, Saturday 25th – Prince Charles Discovery Screen 2 6.45pm)
Whatever you do, don’t ask if there’s a Doctor in the house! David Tennant is fiendish as a serial killer whose secret is discovered by Robert Sheehan’s small time crook when robbing his home. Cat and mouse games ensue as Tennant’s psycho punishes the petty thief for his snooping. Dean Devlin, one of half of the creative team behind Independence Day, directs with breakneck efficiency and a glee for ratcheting up the De Palma style suspsense.

(Friday 24th – Prince Charles Discovery Screen 1 11.10am)
A documentary 19 years in the making, Chris Collier’s film about the UK’s biggest horror film festival features footage from every major FF event. Plus, talking heads including Gareth Edwards, Eli Roth, Adam Green, Joe Lynch, and presumably FrightFest’s own four horsemen, organisers Alan Jones, Paul McEvoy, Ian Rattray and Greg Day. Likely to be funny, nostalgic and affectionate… and shocking to those of us who remember FrightFest Year One like it was yesterday.

(Friday 24th – Cineworld Arrow Video Screen 9pm, Cineworld Horror Channel Screen 9.30pm)
Pascal Laugier stunned FrightFest back in 2008 with his five-star classic Martyrs. Ten years later he’s back, with his first film since 2012’s criminally underseen The Tall Man. 16 years after enduring a violent home invasion, a successful horror author returns to the same house and discovers some things do not stay buried. With a sensational trailer, and we have high hopes this will match Laugier’s previous horror greats.

DEAD NIGHT – European Premiere
(Friday 24th – Cineworld Discovery Screen 9.15pm)
Brad Baruh’s gorgeous looking horror movie features Scream Queen Barbara Crampton as a woman discovered in the wintry Oregon woods by a family holidaying in a cabin. But, this is a case of rescuing the frozen snake as Crampton’s character proves to be an unwelcome guest indeed. The lovely-in-real-life Crampton will be in attendance at the festival.

CRYSTAL EYES – European Premiere
(Friday 24th – Cineworld Discovery Screen 11.30pm, Monday 27th – Prince Charles Cinema Discovery Screen 2 1.35pm)
Every FrightFest has its neo-giallo and past gems have included Amer and the underrated Tulpa. In 2018, the punderfully titled Crystal Eyes may be the giallo-inspired gem getting everyone excited. In mid-80s Buenos Aires, on the anniversary of a fashion model’s death during a photoshoot(!), magazine staff members begin disappearing… The trailer resembles a gloriously camp love letter to Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace and Dario Argento’s Suspiria, so no complaints from us!

(Saturday 25th – Prince Charles Cinema Discovery Screen 2 1.45pm)
The Japanese Meatball Machine Kodoku won the “Mad As Arseholes” award in our FrightFest round-up last year. One Cut of the Dead, with a single 37 minute take depicting a zombie takeover, is an MAA contender for 2018. Writing in The Japan Times, Japanese film expert Mark Schilling called it “brilliant”. Who are we to argue?

(Saturday 25th August – Cineworld Arrow Video Screen 3.45pm, Cineworld Horror Channel Screen 4.15pm)
For the organisers slaving to put on a five-day film festival, FrightFest is a labour of love. Fitting then that Michael Mort’s Chuck Steel receives its UK premiere here. First delighting audiences as a short movie way back in 2013 (where it one-upped the film it preceded, R.I.P.D) Chuck Steel is back and feature length! Looking like the product of Aardmann Animation tackling Stallone’s Cobra and Dawn of the Dead, we may be witnessing the birth of a new action hero.

PIERCING – English Premiere
(Saturday 25th – Prince Charles Discovery Screen 2 4pm, Sunday 26th – Prince Charles Discovery Screen 2 6.30pm)
Nicolas Pesce’s The Eyes of My Mother is one of the most unusual horror debuts of recent years. So we are excited for his adaptation of Audition-author Ryu Murakami’s outrageous source novel. A business man with a perfect family hires a prostitute so he can satiate his murderous impulses. But, nothing’s ever that simple. James White’s Christopher Abbott, Victoria’s Laia Costa and Stoker’s Mia Wasikowska head up a fantastic indie cast.

(Saturday 25th – Prince Charles Cinema Discovery Screen 1 4.20pm)
Numerous religious inflected horror is on offer at FrightFest 2018. Paul Hyett’s Heretiks. Darren Lynn Bousman’s St. Agatha. Gonzalo Calzada’s Luciferina. We’re most excited by Aislinn Clarke’s The Devil’s Doorway. The first female written and directed Northern Irish film, the trailer suggests a 1960s set found-footage shocker reminiscent of the mighty The Borderlands.

(Saturday 25th – Cineworld Arrow Video Screen 6.20pm, Cineworld Horror Channel Screen 6.50pm)
On the eve of their first wedding anniversary a couple find themselves fighting for their lives in a supposedly idyllic forest getaway. So far, so familiar. But, what has us excited about this is writer/director Colin Minihan and star Brittany Allen. They revived the tired zombie apocalypse formula at last year’s FrightFest, with the stunning It Stains The Sands Red. Early reports suggest this LGBT+ thriller will do the same thing in 2018.

UPGRADE – Special Preview
(Saturday 25th – Cineworld Arrow Video Screen 8.45pm, Cineworld Horror Channel Screen 9.15pm)
In the spirit of full disclosure, we’ve seen this one. Saw and Insidious writer Leigh Wannell’s sophomore directorial effort is a wonderful slice of outrageous B-movie sci-fi slashing. After a violent attack, a paralysed man receives a microchip implant that allows him to walk again. And track down the gang who murdered his wife. Oh, and the chip is self-aware and can turn him into a lethal killing machine. Outrageous fun that will have audiences howling.

(Sunday 26th, Cineworld Arrow Video Screen 6.15pm, Cineworld Horror Channel Screen 6.45pm)
Sometimes you just need a straight-up ghost train ride and this Argentinean shocker looks like a blast. The teaser trailer itself packs one good jolt. When malevolent paranormal activity descends upon a sleepy suburb, experts in the occult are recruited to bust the ghostly goings-on. But, nothing will go gently into that good (fright) night…

(Sunday 26th, Cineworld Arrow Video Screen 8.30pm, Cineworld Horror Channel Screen 9pm)
For horror fans, FrightFest is Christmas come early. Appropriately then, the festival always programs a Christmas movie or two and this year is no exception. Billed as Shaun of the Dead gets Footloose with High School Musical, this Song-Zom-Com could be a festival favourite. Let the head-lopping and toe-tapping commence.

THE NIGHT SITTER – World Premiere
(Sunday 26th, Cineworld Discovery Screen 8.45pm)
If you’re feeling festive but are not musically minded, while Anna and the Apocalypse plays on the main screen, this holiday chiller is also showing. Amber, a con-artist posing as a babysitter, attempts to scam a wealthy occult enthusiast. But, her mark’s son accidentally conjures up demonic witches The Three Mothers and a white Christmas turns vermillion. The Suspiria references extend to the striking colour scheme in this intriguing looking horror.

TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID – English Premiere
(Sunday 26th, Prince Charles Discovery Screen 1 9pm)
If this is on your list, we recommend you buy your tickets now. After wowing audiences at Glasgow FrightFest in March this year, it is coming to London for one showing only. After that Glasgow screening, Twitter ignited with excitement and adoration for Issa López’s must-see movie, described as Pan’s Labyrinth meets City of God.

(Sunday 26th, Prince Charles Discovery Screen 2 4pm)
A South Korean/Japanese co-production, this LGBT+ horror is reportedly a genre blend of melodrama, romance and splatter. When the Japanese Miyu travels to Seoul searching for her missing sister, an encounter with a renowned plastic surgeon will irrevocably change her life. South Korean cinema is expert at massive tonal shifts in their movies, and this looks to be no exception.

(Monday 27th, Cineworld Discovery Screen 1 3.45pm)
Regular listeners to the Arrow Video Podcast will know this is the directorial debut of co-host Sam Ashurst. Adapted from James Swanton’s acclaimed play, and featuring Swanton as the titular creation, this is the Frankenstein story from the monster’s point of view. A vivid sounding blend of cinema and theatre, we cannot wait to see this fresh take on a world of gods and monsters.

CLIMAX – UK Premiere
(Cineworld Arrow Video Screen 8.45pm, Cineworld Horror Channel Screen 9.15pm)
Gaspar Noé is cinematic Marmite par excellence and his latest movie should end FrightFest with a divisive bang. In a school assembly hall a dance troupe rehearse for an imminent American tour. Then someone spikes the mid-session sangria with LSD, inhibitions evaporate, and Hell erupts. Reportedly based on true events, this promises to be another unforgettable experience from the director of Irreversible and Enter the Void.

As is tradition, the final word goes to FrightFest co-director and horror guru Alan Jones:

“We have celebrated the astonishing vibrancy of this truly independent genre for nineteen years now, and our audience knows that over five joyous days with us they will experience being jolted, shocked, saddened, terrified, provoked, transported, challenged and even transformed. So come and join us on another fabulous voyage of discovery into places many except the bravest FrightFester won’t go”.

Official Arrow Video FrightFest site

Ticket purchasing information

Frightfest 2018 Sponsors

Rob Daniel
Twitter: rob_a_Daniel
iTunes Podcast: The Electric Shadows Podcast

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