Sunday, 27 August 2017

Frightfest 2017 Day Three

The Bar

          A group of people trapped in a bar in Madrid as an unseen sniper picks off anyone who dares venture out is the starting point for Alex de la Iglesia's latest. And is really is just the starting point. With a great plot, excellent character interaction, some fine writing and a decent dose of satire, this one's a candidate for best film of the entire festival.


           Director Kevin Greutert (SAW VI & JESSABELLE, both of which are very much worth seeing) ticks the torture porn, home invasion and based on true events boxes with this one. Sadly, JACKALS does absolutely nothing new or different with the concept. The family who 'rescue' their son from a cult with the intention of having him de-brainwashed are so boring and normal you assume the film is going to side with the cool costumed and masked cult members, but no, it's just another one of those films where the 'heroes' do sillier and sillier things and the 'villains' remain a faceless opposition. Eminently missable.

Where the Skin Lies

          Oh dear oh dear. The central premise of this one is daft but intriguing - six survivors of a hostage situation decide to have a reunion (what?) and to commemorate the occasion they all independently get tattoos with the number 6. They spend the weekend at a house in the country that has horrible curtains and soon they find they can't leave without the tattoos counting down to zero, which equals death. Very much more a rough draft than an actual film, I hope what we saw was a rough cut because this needs a hell of a lot of work to get it into shape - crucial shots are missing and the dialogue needs some serious work. The only way to really salvage the daft non-existent script (at least I hope the dialogue was improvised) would be to have gone full 1980s Italian with flamboyant characterisation, over the top gory deaths and lashings of style so that nobody would care if it didn't make sense. Any independent distributor back in the day would have puffed on their cigar and said "Guys, this needs a hell of a lot of work."

Eat Locals

          British 'horror comedy' that was neither funny nor scary, although the invited cast and crew members sitting at the back of the cinema seemed to find it hilarious. I'm glad someone did. In terms of the subgenre, this one offered fewer laughs than LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS but didn't quite reach the depths of appallingly unfunny stuff like STRIPPERS VS WEREWOLVES. Jason Flemyng is a very competent director and if this had been a straight film it may well have worked much better. As it is, the only thing EAT LOCALS made me fear for was my sense of humour. Sorry.


          Just as I was beginning to worry I was indeed becoming humourless along came this to save the day. Time travelling aliens fight drunken Welshmen on New Year's Eve in a movie that's reminiscent of Peter Jackson's early pictures. Very low budget, and the monsters are essentially blokes in yellow macs with long fingernails, but this had heart and soul and I'll definitely be catching up with Peter Stray's next project. Thanks for letting me finish the day on a positive note, Peter.

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