Grimmfest – Sunday 6th October – A Review
After a really good nights sleep I awoke refreshed and invigorated for a full final day at Grimmfest 2013. First I had to take my youngest son to his football game where his team won 5-2 putting them top of the league, so as I arrived at the Dancehouse Theatre in Manchester a smile was already on my face. I missed the only film at the fringe today which was the almost unpronounceable and at times almost unwatchable Thanatomorphose , which I had already seen and reviewed here on UKHS – check out my review HERE.
Director – Johnathan Zarantonello. 87 minutes
Starring – Barbara Steele, Ray Wise, Erica Leerhsen, Heather Langenkamp.
“Ann, a reclusive elegant lady, with an obsession for butterflies, is surprisingly befriended by the eerily beautiful young Alice. Using her seductive innocence, Alice establishes a disturbing mother daughter relationship with Ann. Lured into her twisted world, Ann soon discovers that she is not the only recipient of the girl’s affections”.
Barbara Steele gives a quite wonderful performance as Ann, an elderley lady who has an obsession for butterflies. She lives in an apartment block where she has an entire room dedicated to all different species of pinned and mounted Lepidoptera. She looks after the young girl (Julie) in the next apartment who is regularly left home alone by her mother , she teaches Julie all about butterflies and even gives her a beautiful book on them . Ann is also having visits from Alice who is another young girl that Ann met in a local shopping mall, Ann starts to coach Alice in French and even gives the girl a regular allowance which keeps Alice visiting.
The Butterfly Room is a fantastically dark thriller that has a wonderful giallo feel , in fact you could be watching a late 60’s Eurochiller. Barbara Steele is amazing as Ann , she just brings the whole film to life and is one of THE performances I have seen this year. Also the more horror geeky amongst us may notice a few names that seem familiar in the cast listing. In fact there is a plethora of genre names here – Heather Langenkamp (Nightmare on Elm Street), Erica Leerhsen (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Adrienne King (Friday 13th), Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave), P.J. Soles (Halloween), James Karen (Return of The Living Dead), Now that is a stellar cast!!
I really enjoyed The Butterfly Room, it was visually very appealing and a story that was not unique but not far from it. I am not sure who it will appeal to (outside genre and giallo fans) , but this deserves to be seen and is a really good , enjoyable watch. 7/10
Director – Christain James 80 minutes
Starring – Dan Palmer, Antonia Bernath, Tamaryn Payne.
“A janitor gets trapped in a women’s restroom and encounters an all-out attack by a hoard of zombies”.
During an office Christmas Party, a caretaker gets trapped in the female toilets. He is hiding in one of the cubicles when a pair of female office workers enter and start chatting and drunkenly making out with each other. One of the females has a small bite which she explains was from an over amorous colleague , but soon she is feeling unwell and then she suddenly attacks her friend eating her alive.
Poor old maintenance man W.C. (geddit) is now trapped in a women’s toilet while all around him is a zombie apocalypse. However 2 stalls down W.C. Finds that there is a female survivor and the two strike up a conversation . Can they escape the restroom of doom and see if there is any hope outside?
Stalled is a genuinely interesting idea and is shot and acted really well. Comedy horror is a very difficult genre to pull off and Stalled does it very nicely. The trouble however is that I really didn’t like the (sorry) toilet humour and gross out moments, maybe I am just a miserable old git but I just didn’t enjoy Stalled although I did love the concept and ideas within the film.
Judging from the crowds reactions and applause afterwards I would deem Stalled a great success but unfortunately just not for me 5/10 .
Director – Paul Davies 15 minutes
Starring – Alfie Allen, Hannah Tointon, Christian Bassington, Jack Gordon.
“ The tale of a murderer (Allen) who uses the cover of Halloween night to causally transport his latest victim from the scene of the crime to his final resting place. Wrapping the body in tarpaulin and dragging it through the busy streets of London as a bloody Halloween prop, all goes to plan until an old school mate (Brassington) recognises the murderer and drags him along to a swanky Halloween party nearby, where a chance meeting with a beautiful girl (Tointon) takes his evening on an even bigger turn for the bizarre! “.
I remember at Grimmfest 2012 one of the stand-out shorts was the utterly brilliant Him Indoors, a lovely story of an agoraphobic serial killer played by Reece Shearsmith, so when I saw that ther writer of Him Indoors (Paul Davies) had now written and directed a short , it was something that I couldn’t miss.
The Body is a brilliant story (read above). It is very funny , very dark and very British. Alfie Allen and Hannah Tointon work wonderfully together and I just can’t wait to see Paul get to make a feature film. He is hugely talented and will be one of THE stars of UK genre film-making very soon. A must see 9/10 .
Director – Dominic Brunt 12 minutes
Starring – Geoffrey Newland, Anthony Mark Streeter.
“ Two soldiers from opposing sides seek temporary salvation from the battlefield. A tense, life or death stand off at gun point ensues with a growing realisation…they were safer where they were… “.
Another huge success from Grimmfest was Before Dawn . A gritty, nihilistic zombie film made by Dominic Brunt and Joanne Mitchell, so again when I saw Shellshocked was directed by Dominic and written by Joanne then Shellshocked was another must see for me.
Shellshocked is a very claustrophobic short, the entire 12 minutes are shot is a small underground space where two soldiers from opposing sides sit with guns drawn having some respite from the horror above. But the horror above may be preferable to what could be down below with them.
Gloomy , dirty and claustrophobic – Shellshocked is a great little short and with quite wonderful sounds booming from above and dirt and soil falling from the tunnels , Shellshocked certainly is as atmospheric as it gets. Great stuff 7/10 .
Director – Caradog W. James 90 minutes
Starring – Toby Stephens, Caity Lotz, Denis Lawson.
“Two computer programmers fall in love as they create the first ever piece of self-aware artificial intelligence, which is designed to help humanity. But things go wrong when the MoD steal their breakthrough and teach it to become a robotic weapon”.
So onto the final film of Grimmfest 2013. The Machine is a simply stunning looking film, it’s visuals and the complete set design is something that I have rarely seen in a film. The time, effort and cost must have been substantial but it is well worth it as The Machine just stands head and shoulders above anything I have seen in a long while.
So you can have all the visuals you want and make your film look as good as possible, but you still need a couple of things to make your film work. Firstly the script was just appalling at times, it was clunky and poorly paced. And secondly the cast just didn’t work together, lines were delivered in an almost read from script manner with no feeling or characterisation whatsoever.
It is such a shame as all the work that went into making The Machine is really just lost as all that will happen is this will fade into obscurity and the majority of people will never hear of it let alone see it. The Machine could (and should) have been a triumph but instead falls well short , which is truly a shame as I so wanted to like this . 5/10
Well that is that. Grimmfest is over for another year and we all troop out tired from our five day marathon but also envigorated by having seen some of the very best of new genre films and shorts from across the globe.
Grimmfest is something very special and I am so pleased to have been part of the event through UKHorrorScene.
Grimmfest is a film festival run by film fans FOR film fans. The Grimm team work incredibly hard behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly and I must thank them all for all their hard work.
I will be at all the Grimm Up North screenings that will run monthly and I am already looking forward to Grimmfest 2014.
A huge thanks to everyone I met over the five days and everyone who takes the time to read my musings . And finally thanks to all the Grimm team for their help and for running a superb film festival , and onwards to 2014.
Andy Deen !!