#100DaysOfHorror 2020 Part 4
More FrightFest coverage here, with one nineties nature-gone-amok horror and a contemporary robbery-gone-wrong film, too.
Oh and if you’re wondering why I’ve not included The Swerve here, I did at first, but then realized it didn’t actually feel like horror to me. But today, I’ve discovered that the director does consider it to be horror, so I shall treat it as an honorable mention, and point to it here.
#70 They’re Outside (dirs Sam Casserly, Airell Anthony Hayles, UK, 2020)
Not a brilliant film, but enjoyable. It’s nice to see the blending of folk horror and found footage with modern elements such as social media and online personalities though, and I think this film did it well. I like seeing familiar genre faces like Emily Booth and Nicholas Vince, but I’m convinced they could do better.
It’s really interesting seeing how some of the virtual FrightFest titles can resonate with our current mixed feelings about going outside. Will we look back on this summer (or year?) and think about virtual festivals, what we watched at home, rather than at the cinema, or films that made good sense in that context? Read more in my full review.
#69 Playhouse (dirs Fionn Watts, Toby Watts, UK, 2020)
Great story, fabulous location and atmosphere, but rather patchy acting. The direction was good here, and I have no doubt the writing will improve. (Don’t tell him, but I found the lead actor a little annoying though.) The full review can be found here.
#68 Blind (dir Marcel Walz, USA, 2020)
Bad film in several ways: the shallow characters, the ableism, the couldn’t-be-bothered quality of the dialogue writing, the style over substance, the ableism, the barely-there plot.
Especially the ableism. The director tried to reassure me that “there is no discrimination to blind people! We worked with 2 blind people on this movie to make with respect”. The best way to show “respect” would be to hire some, but I don’t know that any were even auditioned or considered. I think I was a bit more diplomatic than that in my full review.
#67 Skull: The Mask AKA Skull: A Máscara de Anhangá (dirs Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman, Brazil, 2020)
This was one that had mixed feelings amongst the FrightFest audience, but even though it’s a bit of a mess, I found it to be an enjoyable one. I do like seeing how various styles and tropes are applied in different countries, and I’d be interested to find out about the myths behind this gruesome film. Read more (about the gore) in my full review.
#66 Hall (dir Francesco Giannini, Canada, 2020)
A film that felt like an extrapolation of the pandemic times we’re living through. I loved the characters, the style, and the soundtrack, despite the queasy subject matter. I just really wish there had been more to the plot: there was definitely a lot more to be explored. A film like this could inspire an anthology TV series, perhaps, with backstories (or escape stories) of people residing on different floors of the hotel. I had a bit more to say about it in the full review.
#65 Aquaslash (dir Renaud Gauthier, Canada, 2019)
This film did not deserve to be included in the FrightFest programme. Sure, it was well made, but it was dull, humourless, with largely interchangeable characters and a plot that made little sense. Granted there was an impressive and drawn out multiple-death scene, but I got sorely tired of waiting for it. Read about it, instead of watching it, via my full review.
#64 Blinders (dir Tyler Savage, USA, 2020)
Now, this was more like it: an interesting and amusing noir thriller, which turns into an uncomfortably tense horror about a stalker, identity theft, and very modern stranger danger. The writer toys with the audience’s expectations just nicely, keeping one on your toes and distinctly intrigued. You guessed it: there’s a full review to read here.
#63 Dark Stories (dirs Guillaume Lubrano and François Descraques, France, 2019)
Dark Stories is one of the best anthology horror films I’ve seen. There is a variety of content, without too much change in tone (I’m looking at you, Nightmare Cinema). Beautiful production and acting quality, and plenty of female characters who didn’t feel like tokens. It’s creepy throughout, without being too scary; and neither is it too violent or gory for a teen audience. I’m looking forward to showing my son (when he’s in the right frame of mind for subtitles). Here’s my review.
#62 Ticks (dir Tiny Randel, USA, 1993)
After covering as much of FrightFest as I could in one go, I dipped back into horror fan favorites from earlier decades; this is what the #100DaysofHorror challenge was originally about, after all. Ticks was disgusting fun, with insects, putrid growths, and a lead geek that I’d only known from Buffy until now. In between new and festival stuff, I’m definitely going to go back in time: there are a hundred years of horror films to dig into, after all.
#61 The Owners (dir Julius Berg, UK, 2020)
I think I might want to be like Rita Tushingham’s character in this film when I’m old: sure, she’s loopy, but she has real zest and doesn’t cave in to stress. And although some of the characters are a bit dim, and the writing lightweight to match, I really liked the surreal flow of the story, and it made perfect sense that it had come from a French graphic novel. The full review is here.
Alix has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. They cover a wide variety, including genre festivals, and especially appreciates wit and representation on screen.