Well after a great start on Wednesday it was on to Grimmfest proper. This year there was a change as the Grimm team were using the Dancehouse again but during the day they were also having a “fringe” at nearby pub The Lass O’Gowrie.
So eager as ever I was at the Lass at just before 11am on Thursday morning looking forward to a long day of cinematic pleasure.
“Joey suspects his girlfriend of two years, Jennifer, is cheating on him. He is so convinced that he enlists the help of his cousin Steven to create a Video Diary of his attempt to catch her in the act as well as to document the heartbreak she is putting him through. In an attempt to make her feel guilty, he intends to give this tape to her after catching her in the act”.
James Cullen Bressack has earned quite a name for himself since his debut feature Hate Crime hit last year. And while not a fan of Hate Crime I was curious to see how Mr Bressack was evolving as a director.
To Jennifer starts with Joey who is convinced his girlfriend (Jennifer) is cheating on him. He decides to travel cross country with his cousin Steve and Steve’s friend Marty , so he can confront her and catch her in the act. The trio decide to film their journey so they can give it to Jennifer as a present after they arrive.
To Jennifer fails on many levels. It is in your face at 100 mph and full volume at all times, Joey is an uptight arsehole and with friends like Steve and Marty he does not need enemies. The whole cast are genuinely unlikeable and the whole film was just so very hard to watch. I could see from about 15 minutes in where it was headed and (well done me) I was right.
To be fair Bressack makes a slick looking film and to think this was just filmed on an Iphone 5 is really amazing. There is an obvious talent but subject matter , script and style left me feeling hollow and bereft. 3/10
The Gloaming (2013)
Director – Sean Smith 7 minutes
Starring – Kevin McGahern, Tommy Sharkey, Kim McCafferty.
“Ireland, 1849. The Great Famine. As a church bell tolls and the gloaming descends, a father and son working the land are forced to confront an ancient evil”.
A well shot short from Ireland where a father and son are working the land, they are cutting peat from a local marsh when dusk sets in and an ancient evil descends. Very reminiscent of Nosferatu , this was a good atmospheric little short that I enjoyed . 5/10
Next Exit (2012)
Director – Ben Goodger – 13 Minutes
Starring – Cloudia Swan, George Russo.
“A young woman is given a lift home from a wedding by an apparently friendly stranger. But the mood quickly darkens leading her to a destination she could never have imagined”.
This was an odd one. Next Exit started pretty well with a quickly and well defined story. There were moments of unease and the tension was building nicely until the story takes a turn and what was left was another generic lost in the woods with a twist story that quite frankly left me feeling annoyed as the start showed real promise. 4/10 .
Home Sweet Home (2013)
Director – David Morlet 85 Minutes
Starring – Megan Heffern, Adam MacDonald, Shane Benson.
“A young married couple comes home from a date night to discover that they are imprisoned in their own house with a methodical killer inside”.
Directed by David Morlet , Home Sweet Home was a film I was looking forward to as I was very impressed by his feature debut 2009’s Mutants .
Home Sweet Home starts with a lengthy sequence of a man breaking into a home a carrying out various jobs like screwing the windows closed from the inside , and getting dressing in a creepy as hell mask and a scene of crime suit. He then settles himself down and waits. Later a couple come back from a night out and relax, he stays downstairs to enjoy a whisky and some vinyl tunes whilst his good lady retires upstairs to shower and then wait for her husband.
Home Sweet Home is a good modern take on the every so popular home invasion theme. It however differs from the majority of home invasion films as it is slow, superbly structured and wonderfully paced. The film is set in one location “the house” and this is put to great use .
Again this is another film that does struggle with originality and an ending that I saw from miles away , however I enjoyed the build-up and execution of the feature and found it a refreshing addition to a quickly saturated market of home invasion films. 6.5/10
The Borderlands (2013)
Director – Elliot Goldner 90 Minutes
Starring – Aiden McArdle, Patrick Godfrey, Gordon Kennedy, Luke Neal, Robin Hill.
“Follows a team of Vatican investigators sent to the British West Country to investigate reports of paranormal activity at a remote church”.
A small village in South-West England is home to an old church that has been taken over by Father Crellick a few years earlier. He has overseen some renovations but the congregation remain very thin on the ground. Recently however Father Crellick has been witnessing miracles and he has reported these to the church .
So the Roman Catholic church has sent in a team of special investigators to use all the modern equipment necessary to discover whether these are indeed miracles or perhaps something much more man-made.
That is really all I will say about The Borderlands as I don’t want to give anything away. But what I will say is this was indeed the highlight of Grimmfest for me , a superbly dark and highly original story that has moments of true terror interspersed with real humour.
When I heard this was another found footage film my heart sank as the genre in overun with FF films that lack any originality or talent, but The Borderlands just absolutely nails it and is about as highly recommended as possible. Add this to your watch list NOW – you will not be disappointed 9/10 .
Crazy For You (2013)
Director – James Moran 10 Minutes
Starring – Hannah Tointon, Arthur Darvill.
“It’s difficult to find love when you’re a serial killer – when Charlie meets the girl of his dreams, he has to keep that slight flaw a secret from her. Will true love win the day? Or will she become another of his unwitting victims? Crazy For You is a romantic-comedy-horror for everyone who has skeletons in their closet – metaphorical or otherwise… “.
I was looking forward to Crazy For You immensely as I am a big fan of writer James Moran (Severance, Cockneys vs Zombies, Tower Block) . Crazy For You is his directorial debut and was wonderful. Charlie (Arthur Darvill) is a serial killer who falls madly in love with Jessica (Hannah Tointon). The trouble is that Charlie completely loses it when he sees polka dots (ever since he saw his father murdered) , and this is making dating Jessica very difficult. Should he tell her, keep it a secret or will it all come out in time?
Crazy For You was what I expected and even more. It has James Moran’s wicked dark sense of humour along with a stunning bright and vivid style that just lit up the entire theatre. A really great short film that shows what a great director James Moran will one day become. 9/10 .
On Air (2013)
Directors – Marco J. Riedl & Carsten Vauth 104 Minutes
Starring – Markus Knuffken, Charles Rettinghaus, Ronald Nitschke, Jasmin Lord.
“Doc Rock is the host of a pirate radio station Nighthawk, operating in a city where a serial killer The Nightslasher is currently at large”.
On Air was right up my street as I love serial killer films. But in truth I really was so disappointed. The story was poor – A radio DJ has a serial killer phone up and has just 30 minutes to keep him on air or the woman with the killer will die unless DJ Doc Rock can convince the Nightslasher otherwise!
There are many other plot lines interweaving but each as predictable and boring as the last, I cared little for the characters or their situation. I found the whole package to be lacking any substance , style or indeed gravitas. Deeply disappointing and a feeling that seem to permeate through the audience .
At the end of On Air there wasn’t a ripple of applause , yet The Borderlands and Crazy For You were clapped loudly and I may even have heard the odd whoop (how very un-English). I think the silence at the end of On Air was deafening . 3/10
So all in all a mixed bag of films and shorts, but just for The Borderlands and Crazy For You I went home with a massive smile and a head buzzing full of genre magic. So a little sleep was needed until Friday – Hellraiser 2 day!!
About Andy Deen
A horror fan for as far back as I can remember . The first things that scared me were Doctor Who and the BBC ghost stories . As an early teen the video revolution came along and with it the Video Nasty campaign , and through all that I immersed myself in all things nasty. I love Slashers, Haunted House Stories and Devil Worshipping/Panic Films . I watch too much horror , listen to loud Heavy Metal and enjoy the odd tattoo \m/\m/