It’s that time again. From February 25th-27th, Film4 FrightFest returns to Glasgow for the eleventh year with one of the strongest lineups in its history. Eleven premieres and two preview screenings are due to land over the weekend, and with less than a week to go before things kick off, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the films that I think will be the biggest talking points of the festival.
So with that, I give you Shock Street Horror’s Five Must-See Films of FrightFest Glasgow.
5. Anguish – Friday 26th February, 3.40pm
This one has real dark-horse potential. A new thriller from the producers of The Strangers, Anguish promises a complex, compelling combination of the supernatural and the psychological, married with a storyline that has plenty of room for emotional resonance. Ryan Simpkins (who I last saw battling valiantly against bland, uninspiring material in Francis Ford Coppola’s Twixt) stars as Tess, a troubled girl who has spent years on a rigorous programme of anxiety medications following a disturbing incident in her childhood. When she and her mother relocate to small-town Texas, things take a darker turn, and it’s around then that it becomes apparent that her psychological problems may not be all that they appear. Having drawn favourable comparisons in tone to It Follows, Anguish looks to be one of the more atmospheric offerings on paper in a day filled with a remarkable spectrum of sub-genres.
Better still, the screening is preceded by three short films, namely Jon Mikel Caballero’s Ashen, Cat Davies’ Keen-Wah and Katie Bonham’s Mindless. Her second FrightFest world premiere in as many years, Katie’s follow-up to the understated, quietly devastating The Paper Round is a real cause for excitement.
4. Martyrs – Saturday 27th February, 9.30pm
Possibly a controversial selection, the Goetze brothers’ Martyrs remake has been dividing opinion in the horror world ever since it was first announced. While I’d agree that Pascal Laugier’s 2008 original is a modern horror classic, I’m not as quick as some to dismiss the idea of a remake outright.
I’ve never really subscribed to the idea that a remake can in any way harm the original film. I’ve seen remakes I’ve enjoyed as much as the original films (We Are What We Are), ones I feel have improved on the originals (Franck Khalfoun’s blistering 2012 rework of Maniac) and ones that bring nothing to the table and make no case whatsoever for their own existence (Let The Right One In‘s English language remake, which begins with a wildly inappropriate re-titling and skirts pointlessly downhill from there). In any and all cases I’m able to look at each one as a separate entity, and can’t ever think of an instance when the status of an original has been harmed in my mind by a shoddy remake.
From their press appearances in the run up to this screening, it doesn’t seem as though the Goetze brothers are interested in rigorously re-treading the ground of the original, and that’s something that I think the film may benefit from. I’m open to the idea of a re-imagining, and while some will write this off from the word go, I’m game for giving this a chance. Win or lose, if it inspires anyone who hasn’t seen the original to check it out, there’s something to be said for that.
3. The Devil’s Candy – Saturday 27th February, 11.30pm
Anyone who saw Sean Byrne’s explosive 2009 directorial debut The Loved Ones will understand why this one was a dead cert to appear on our hit list for this weekend. Seven years on from when that film deservedly took both critics and audiences by storm, all eyes are on him, and The Devil’s Candy certainly promises big things on paper. Troubled artists, metal music and psychological horror all collide in this year’s festival closer, and with a cast including Pruitt Taylor Vince and The Guest‘s Ethan Embry, it’s fair to say that Shock Street and the FrightFest audience at large are expecting big things.
2. Southbound – Saturday 27th February, 12.10pm
This is, without question, my top pick for the film on this year’s lineup that might come in under a few radars and steal the show. Already on VOD release in America, this set of five interconnected stories all taking place on a desolate stretch of road is proving to be a rare commodity: an anthology film that is winning praise for its consistency. With the initial buzz suggesting that there’s not a weak one in the bunch, I’ve got a seriously good feeling that this is going to surprise a few people. A number of the segments are directed by the team behind VHS and VHS2, and while the former was unquestionably patchy, the latter is as strong an anthology as I’ve seen, so I’m tipping this one to be a surprise smash.
1. Baskin – Saturday 27th February, 7.05pm
There’s not too much left to say about Baskin that you haven’t heard before. The Turkish film centres on policemen who inadvertently stumble through a doorway into Hell after discovering a Black Mass in an abandoned building, and has drawn multiple reports of audience members being driven to leaving the theatre because of the film’s tougher moments. It’s been a while since a film on the Glasgow lineup inspired that kind of reaction from audiences, and with a huge level of buzz coming from the film’s festival run so far, I can’t wait for this one.
Of course, if the film turns out to be a little too much for you, then you can take it up with director Can Evrenol himself – he’ll be introducing it and holding a Q&A after the screening.
Screening before Baskin is Fredrik Hana’s unhinged, excellent short Sister Hell. I caught this one late last year, and it’s a bold, confrontational, dark and hugely entertaining rumination on sin. This tale of a nun trying to pursue the life she really wants will make a perfect warm-up for Evrenol’s film.
It’s definitely time to get excited for FrightFest Glasgow, and if you want to join in the discussion, I’ll be tweeting reactions from all the films, as well as extra touches here and there, over at @ShockStreetBlog – give it a follow and let’s do this!