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FrightFest 2013 – The Ultimate Round Up
By James Whittington, Sunday 1st September 2013

FrightFest Poster 2013With 51 movies, countless shorts and a fine list of surprises both on and off screen, Film 4 FrightFest 2013 was the biggest and most varied one yet. Thousands of fans packed the Empire, Leicester Square for 5 days of the very best in horror entertainment from around the globe. Here’s some of the highlights from this awesome event.

The whole event kicked off with the sombre and dark sequel The Dead 2: India, a film which showed gut-munching movies still have life on them but was over shadowed by another sequel, Curse Of Chucky which played after it. This perfectly pitched piece gave the franchise a much needed boost with some smart camera angles and plenty of practical effects rather than CGI overload. There seemed to be more sequels showing than ever before, most of which improved on previous instalments. V/H/S/2 was a far stronger and much more entertaining anthology than the first, whilst Hatchet III brought the blood-splattered franchise to a satisfying conclusion. I Spit On Your Grave 2 took much from the original (well, remake of the original) and did exactly what you expected but Outpost: Rise Of The Spetsnaz (or Outpost III to some) proved that you can make Nazi zombie movies that are incredibly entertaining and are not just bland excuses for gut-munching.

Looking beyond sequels several movies stood out. The Dyatlov Pass Incident, apart from its strange REC style creatures during the final reel was a big return to form for Renny Harlin whilst R.I.P.D 3D was huge fun even if it did feel like a paranormal version of Men In Black. More Hollywood gloss was seen in Odd Thomas which proved that big budget fantasy can have an even bigger, truly wondrous heart. A more traditional FrightFest movie that really did impress was the clever and well paced home invasion movie You’re Next. Packed with a smart script and tight performances, You’re Next has given the slasher genre a much needed kick in the pants.

As you’d expect FrightFest delivered some controversial pieces but none that would trouble the regular festival goer too much. The Dark Tourist stood out is a stunning dissection of the mental breakdown of an abused man and the horror he inflicts on others. Containing a career best performance form Michael Cudlitz this is raw horror at its best. More dark horror in The Conspiracy, though at times it did feel like a mature version of the The X-Files it gave some food for thought for some of the more bizarre conspiracy theories out there.

Israel is proving to be a real mover in the world of horror and FrightFest gave us some of the best from this country. Cannon Fodder is packed with so much social comment that you can almost hear the nodding approval from George A. Romero whilst Big Bad Wolves expertly straddled the line between what should and what shouldn’t be covered in movies. Spain delivered the beautiful fantasy The Last Days. Slightly sentimental in tone, this emotional science fiction piece proved that FrightFest can touch upon nearly every emotion possible.

Weronika Tofilska, director of 6 Feet Under was the winner of the Horror Channel, Movie Mogul sponsored 666 Short Cuts To Hell Competition bagging £6,666 courtesy of Horror Channel and the opportunity to develop a feature film under mentorship from Movie Mogul. Apart from the honour of being showcased at the UK’s biggest genre festival, all six finalists will also have their films screened on Horror Channel. Talking of shorts there were some real corkers, Dominic Brunt’s Shell Shocked in particular proved that this form of storytelling can be as powerful as a main feature.

As usual I'd like to thank the fabulous FrightFest fellows; Alan, Paul, Ian and Greg for giving us full access to all of the guest who attended. To all of the staff at the world famous Empire Cinema, thank you for looking after us as we dumped our kit in various locations in the foyer. To all the FrightFesters who let us record their reactions to some of the movies, your honest comments will form parts of original content that you'll be able to see on the Horror Channel very soon.

As you may have noticed Facebook and Twitter played a big part in my blogs this year so if you missed any updates go and check the exclusive pictures taken as the festival unfolded. All the blogs I wrote for the Horror Channel website will remain live so if you need reminding just how good this year or past festivals have been then check them out.

So, all that remains for me to say is from all of the Horror Channel crew Gillian, Giovanna, Rich, Emily, Zuzka, Charlie, Jon and myself, we say an emotional farewell to FrightFest 2013 and are already looking forward to teaming up again for FrightFest 2014.


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