Every year, for two and a bit days, FrightFest takes over the Glasgow Film Festival, invading the biggest screen in the festival’s home at the Glasgow Film Theatre. In what has now become something of a tradition, the event is typically blighted by freakish meteorological phenomena (high winds, snow storms), leaving those select few who make it there feeling the same sort of survivor solidarity as the ensemble from John Carpenter’s The Thing. In spite, or perhaps because, of this character-building ‘curse’, Glasgow is my favourite fixture in the annual FrightFest calendar – a cosily intimate minifest that brings all the audience together into one auditorium for eclectic genre fare, helped down by goodwill, whisky and Irn Bru.
This year’s instalment (the 14th) opens on the evening of Thursday 28th February with a screening of Lords of Chaos, Jonas Åkerlund’s brutal and slyly hilarious carve-up of toxic masculinity, as filtered through Norway’s Black Metal scene. The following two days will see a further 11 features, plus sundry shorts and exclusive trailers.
Judging by the personnel involved alone, highlights ought to include: Swedish/Mexican co-production Black Circle, directed by the great Adrián García Bogliano (Cold Sweat, Here Comes The Devil, Late Phases, Scherzo Diabolico), and with its iconic star Christina Lindberg (They Call Her One Eye) in attendance; The Rusalka, Perry Blackshear’s follow-up to They Look Like People (2015); Automata, the latest from mannerist maestri and local FrightFest faves Lawrie Brewster and Sarah Daly (The Unkindness of Ravens, The Black Gloves); The Dead Center, from director Billy Senese (A Frankenstein Story, aka Closer to God) and starring Shane Carruth (director of Primer and Upstream Colour); and closing-night Canadian comedy The Hoard, from the team (Jesse Thomas Cook, Matt Wiele, Tony Burgess) behind Pontypool, Septic Man and The Hexecutioners.
Half the fun of FrightFest, though, is discovering filmmakers for the first time. So look forward to the institutional uncanny of Danishka Esterhazy’s Level 16, the murder-mystery merriment of Jack McHenry’s Here Comes Hell, the freaky formication of Ron Carlson’s Dead Ant, the ultraviolent superheroics of Park Hoon-jung’s The Witch Part 1: The Subversion, the football and fetishism of Søren Juul Petersen’s Finale and the genre-blurring escapism of Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein’s Freaks.
People say that horror fans make the most forgiving, and least discriminating, of viewers. Perhaps, though, genre’s 1000 faces just offer more for the eyes and the brains, for those at least who are willing to weather the storm.
The full programme can be found here: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/2019films/index.html?fbclid=IwAR3XJr0iMbxwn10XaJiiJvCAkHxGgruOoMJeEqduARifKDz9DS1nrBCeCxY
And ticketing information is here: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/tickets.html
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