Film4 FrightFest Glasgow is just under two weeks away, with a line-up that includes some of the most highly-anticipated horror films of the year. With UK premieres of shockers that have been building up buzz on the festival circuit and the welcome return of some old favourites, this year’s line-up looks like a very strong selection of some terrific indie horrors with subjects from aliens to serial killers, multiple personalities to home invaders, cults to censorship. Prepare yourself with this preview of what’s in store and what you can’t afford to miss.
This debut feature from Cliff Prowse and Derek Lee won the Best Special Effects Award at Belgium’s Sitges festival, as the duo write, direct and star in a found footage horror that isn’t about people getting lost in the woods or finding a poltergeist in their house. They play two Americans whose Eurotrip goes horribly wrong when a sexual encounter leaves one with a horrifying condition. The pitch sounds like Chronicle meets body horror, which sounds like a lot of fun and could make for an eye-catching, stomach-churning first effort.
Joe Begos’ first film arrives in the UK having made quite the impression at Toronto’s Midnight Madness. It’s an alien abduction story with a twist, as our hero Seth starts to believe his abducted friend Mark has returned. However, as bodies begin piling up, it soon becomes clear that Mark is not the same man he was when he was taken. With the promise of buckets of inventive gore and one loving eye on its ‘70s and ‘80s predecessors, Almost Human has crowd-pleaser written all over it.
If we had to pick out one film that you simply can’t afford to miss, it would be the Mo Brothers’ Killers. The makers of Macabre (one of whom, Timo Tjahjanto, directed The ABCs of Death’s stunning ‘L for Libido’ and co-directed V/H/S/2’s amazing ‘Safe Haven’ with Gareth Evans) bring us this brutally violent serial killer story. A journalist-turned-vigilante in Jakarta and a preening serial killer in Tokyo become linked on a horrifying, blood-drenched journey. Killers promises to be a hugely powerful experience and we can’t wait to see it.
From gore to more cerebral chills, Mindscape is presented by Jaume Collet-Sera, director of the hugely entertaining Orphan, and boasts an impressive cast. The always dependable Mark Strong takes the lead as a detective who can enter the memories of his patients. The subject of his latest case is Anna (played by American Horror Story’s Taissa Farmiga) could either be a traumatised victim or a manipulative sociopath. With Brian Cox, Indira Varma and Noah Taylor providing support, director Jorge Dorado’s murderous riff on Inception‘s dream-wandering should be a welcome break from the splatter.
Zack Parker’s Proxy deals with a pregnant woman who is assaulted and joins a support group, where she begins a friendship with another woman who lost her child. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that one of these women is far more psychologically damaged than she is letting on. The FrightFest preview draws comparisons to Von Trier, De Palma and Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs, and we have our fingers crossed for an intelligent, daring horror rather than an exploitative one. The presence of excellent indie filmmaker and actor Joe Swanberg (You’re Next, Drinking Buddies) in the cast is reassuring.
Savaged’s outlandish storyline has a pull-quote friendly hook: I Spit On Your Grave meets The Crow. It’s also a hook that could go very wrong in the wrong hands, so we’re interested to see whether writer/director Michael S. Ojeda can pull it off. A deaf-mute woman is savagely attacked while attempting to stop a crime, but when a Native American shaman tries to save her, she is possessed by a vengeful, murderous Apache spirit. The ticking-clock element of her own decomposition is an intriguingly horrible twist, and we’re approaching this one with an open mind.
American indie horror figurehead Ti West follows up his superb The House Of The Devil and The Innkeepers with this found-footage story of two Vice journalists (AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg) accompanying their photographer friend to the remote commune where his long-lost sister (Aimee Seimetz) lives. Is their society as perfect and free as they claim, or are Father’s (Gene Jones) motivations more sinister? With a great cast and West’s keen eye and meticulous pacing, The Sacrament is a very tense piece of work indeed.
John Suits’ film of Dan Schaffer’s graphic novel (Schaffer also wrote the script) boasts one of the most intriguing casts of the festival, with Joss Whedon veterans Eliza Dushku and Michelle Trachtenberg and Arrow’s Katie Cassidy backed up by brilliant character actors Garret Dillahunt, Michael Imperioli, and Gina Gershon, while adult film star Sasha Grey makes one of her increasingly regular film appearances. Cassidy leads as Suki, a woman with multiple personality disorder who finds the residents of her halfway house are dying and her treatment is producing terrifying side-effects. We’re definitely excited about this one.
The long-overdue comeback of Ginger Snaps‘ Katharine Isabelle continues after her brilliant turn in American Mary with this Canadian home invasion horror. She plays Sarah Morgan, who travels with her husband and troubled 7 year old stepson Liam to their house in the country. They soon realise the house has not been empty in their absence when a murderous family returns, and they’re very interested in young Liam…Director Jordan Barker previously helmed the underrated The Marsh, and, with some very creepy masks and the presence of the always excellent Stephen McHattie , this looks very promising.
Jake West and Marc Morris follow up their rightly acclaimed documentary Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape with a look at what came next. Their previous doc was hugely entertaining and extremely informative, and for those who are interested in the subject matter (which, given the audience, we’re going to assume is pretty much everyone), this should be an equally fascinating look at British censorship in the 1980s.
Finally, Greg Mclean’s sequel to his much-loved (if love is the right word) 2005 slasher Wolf Creek has arrived. Mick Taylor was one of the most enduringly horrifying creations to come out of the mid-noughties resurgence of nostalgically grim and grimy horrors and Mclean’s presence as writer and director, not to mention the return of John Jarratt as the outback’s most savage monster, makes this follow-up an exciting proposition. We’ve been promised a bigger, broader scope for the film, so we look forward to seeing whether Mclean can retain the bleak desolation of the original.
On February 27th at 9PM, Ti West will take to the stage to talk to Alan Jones about his career in horror. From his 2005 debut The Roost, through to the stunning The House Of The Devil and the deeply chilling The Innkeepers, to his recent work on anthology horrors V/H/S and The ABCs Of Death, right up to The Sacrament, West has proved himself as one of modern horror’s most exciting talents. This is the perfect way to kick off the festival.
For tickets and more information about FrightFest Glasgow, which runs from 28 February to 2 March, visit the website.