Population Zero (2016) Review

rsz_pz1Population Zero (2016)

Directed by: Julian T Pinder, Adam Levins
Written by: Jeff Staranchuck
Starring: Julian T Pinder, Julian Robino

Out NOW on demand from Frightfest Presents

“In 2009 three young men were killed in a remote part of Yellowstone National Park. The only thing more shocking than the crime itself are the bizarre events that followed.”

I do not consider myself a gullible person. As the old joke goes, I can almost always tell when a dinosaur in a movie is real or not. And yet, when I got to the end Population Zero, I jumped onto Google to try and find out if I’d watched a movie or a documentary. And, even though I now know it was only a movie, I’m still unsettled by the truth that underpins the story.

Population Zero is presented as a documentary. The phrase mockumentary, although technically accurate, seems to suggest a light-hearted tone in the mode of This is Spinal Tap or The Office. However, rather than focusing on humour, Population Zero narrates a puzzling story that begins with a brutal and motiveless murder, goes on to expose a cruel legal loophole, and carries on with further twists and turns that never overstep the bounds of plausibility.

rsz_pz2According to Wikipedia, “the filmmakers were inspired to make the movie after learning of the existence of the “Zone of Death”, a small portion of Yellowstone National Park, that under the Sixth Amendment’s Vicinage Clause, would enable “The Perfect Crime”.” The perfect crime in this case is the unmotivated murder of three innocent young men. It’s a perfect crime because, thanks to a legal loophole, even though the murderer has confessed his guilt, he is able to walk free.

This sounds like a ridiculous notion but the idea is based on a hypothetical argument from American lawyers and it’s presented in a truly convincing way. The footage of TV reporters discussing the Yellowstone Murders, the in camera court drawings, the grainy still photographs and the crackly confession from a police station’s CCTV footage, all lend a sense of credibility and gravitas to the story’s not-that-fantastical premise. Also, since we’re discussing a country that has elected Trump as president, the idea that America contains a fifty-square mile strip of national park where motiveless murders can be committed without repercussion, does not seem so farfetched.

Julian T Pinder, who usually stays on the director’s side of the camera, carries himself well as the too-curious-for-his-own-good documentary maker at the heart of this story. Pinder was the director of the 2012 documentary, Trouble in the Peace, an exploration of the poisons and upsets that come with fracking. Cleverly, giving the storyworld a more focused sense of reality through intertextuality, Trouble in the Peace is mentioned as Pinder explains why he thinks he was contacted with information about the Yellowstone Murders.

rsz_pz3This was an intelligent film that suggested fear on so many levels. There are the fears that come from a system that fails the community it’s meant to protect; there are the fears that come from the potential brutality of the unknown and irrational amongst us; there are the fears we share of being abused by greedy and uncaring corporations; and the fear that any one of us could become a real victim to the boundless appetites of any of the above.

Well worth watching. 10/10

Some Kind Of Hate (2015) Review

somekoh1Some Kind Of Hate (2015)

Starring: Ronen Rubinstein, Grace Phipps, Spencer Breslin, Sierra McCormick

Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer

UK DVD Release May 9th 2016 from Icon & Frightfest Presents

Some Kind of Hate is the greatest teen-angst horror since Ginger Snaps‘.

I am most definitely not in the habit of making ‘greatest’ statements, and gave this movie long and careful thought, but no matter how I tried, I could find no fault with it. It is the first movie I have reviewed for UKHS that I am giving a perfect 10.

I have always been a fan of proper teen horrors – the dead teenager kind are still a hoot, but I refer to the ones that really focus on the hardships of adolescence – and Carrie was always my favourite. Having been the weird, unpopular type for the majority of high school and understood what it was to feel isolated, depressed and hateful, these movies have always spoken to me. This movie is the first in a long time to be so perfectly in tune with a difficult adolescence, and to reflect this narratively and visually with such strength.

skoh4Lincoln (Rubinstein) is from an abusive home, in which his Hell’s Angels-type father rages at him and beats him up. At school, he is physically abused by the jocks. He bottles all of his rage, and one day stabs his aggressor in the face with a fork. As a result, he is sent to the Mind’s Eye Academy, a half-baked hippy retreat/criminal rehab facility for troubled teens, described as a place where they will ‘attune’ themselves and ‘destroy the impulses that got them there’. The place is as if random patches of a run-down city suburb had been ripped up and sporadically transplanted in the dusty valley, but it is really pretty beautiful.

Although he meets a girl, Kaitlin (Phipps), who is a great match for him and completes a really strong onscreen duo with brilliant chemistry, even the Academy has its thug population, a trio of idiots who promptly settle on Lincoln as their next target. When their victimisation of Lincoln finally releases his pent up rage, he unwittingly summons the ghost of a former campmate who committed suicide as a result of bullying. This is what sets in motion the horror premise of young people who we don’t really care for being slaughtered until (perhaps not even) the only likeable ones are left.

skoh2One of the movie’s unexpected turns is the almost Dickensian introduction of the ghost as a real character, and not the manifestation of the need to make the audience jump every 12 minutes or so. Moira (McCormick) is something of a reflection of Lincoln, a worst case scenario of entrapment in eternal rage and torment as a reflection of a troubled life. Her character is used to an extent so moving and unknown to this sort of a film, and it is one of many qualities that makes it so brilliant.

So much is unique about this film, which is great for a subgenre that many are quick to dismiss. A troubled adolescence is portrayed with such truth, striking balance between madness and the glimpses of bliss the right person can bring. It is emotive and passionate, and speaks veritably without false idealisations of a lost time. The movie plays with many interesting ideas and never goes where expected. It is stylised and directed like a rock music video, with beautiful use of colour to set moods and excellent visual narrative. And despite its very slick and professional production, it maintains its sense of indie grass roots.

skoh5So what, I found myself wondering, is there not to love about a movie that is beautiful to look at, wonderfully acted, intensely emotional and relatable, original, expressive and still scary? Ultimately, I decided it was as near to a perfect teen-angst horror as modern filmmakers could achieve, and subsequently fell in love a little.

Rating: 10/10

After Death (2015) DVD Review

afterdeathdvdAFTER DEATH (Dirs- Gez Medinger, Robin Schmidt-UK-2015)

Starring- Miranda Raison, Sam Keeley, Daniella Kertesz, Elarica Johnson, Lorna Nickson Brown

Out now on UK DVD & VOD from FrightFest Presents and Icon UK

If anything its safe to say that any plot synopsis of AFTER DEATH can not come with the proverbial spoiler warning that can be found in many reviews now (see SIGHT AND SOUND for proof) as the films central character’s are already dead, plus the title kind of gives that away as well. However what we have on offer here is an intriguing take on what happens after death pondering the age old question of whether life exists once our bag of bones has breathed its last breath and it does this in a considerably mature and impressive fashion.

A woman, Robyn (Raison) wakes up on a beach,washed up and wet and wondering where the hell she is, when suddenly a menacing almost demonic black cloud springs up and starts to pursue her. She ends up at a creaky looking old cottage meeting up with 4 other strangers, Seb (Keeley), Patricia (Johnson), Livvy (Brown) and Onie (Kertesz), who inform her that she is dead and that they are in the after life. All of them have been involved in a fatal accident at a nightclub and have found themselves in a sort of limbo, with only brief moments of loud crippling pain caused by a lighthouse beam from outside. Is this limbo or is it hell or is it a waiting room of sorts to something worse? They have to try and figure out why they are here and whether past deeds have caused them to end up in this position and also to worry about the black cloud figure that wants to possess them or stop them from attaining any chance to get back to existence.

afterdeathdvd3Admittedly you can point out that the makers certainly utilise their budget to it’s advantage as rather than focus on delivering grandiose set pieces in an alternative after life universe, Medinger and Schmidt place their characters in a small location in this case a cottage. The inside of the cottage is a manifestation of key points of the characters lives mostly from childhood memories. The cast themselves work considerably well to create believable and realistic characters. At first I found some of them annoying and maybe that was the intention of screenwriter Andrew Ellard, whose script contains moments of humour peppered through the dark situation, not surprising since he previously was a scribe for RED DWARF. Though as the film progresses, soon traits start to shift, from Robyn being the managerial leadership type, and Seb being the jack the lad put upon alpha-male of the group, which allow for the characters to develop and with whom you start to emphasise with whilst being convincing and believable.

Though I will point out that Seb made the right point in somehow bringing a crate of vodka taken from the club he died in into the after life somehow (hey if your gonna be stuck in limbo you might as well bring some booze). Yet this device allows the character’s to engage in a game of truth or dare to reveal what sins they have committed in the past that may have led them to this point and this further uncovers revelations that confound our impressions of this unfortunate group. Whilst it does tackle big themes the film doesn’t leap into preachy or symbolic gestures or even religious ideas of the after life, rather finds it being grounded in something more profound, realistic in a way and makes us wonder how we would perceive what happens once we are six feet under. Most horror deals with the cause of death and can be handled a lot of the times in grim and often gory ways.

afterdeathdvd2But it’s a great method that the makers have employed here that their main players are already dead, as many after life themed films would have this trait as a twist reveal at the end. This allows the filmmakers to create a world around these souls and to have them confront the head on (un)reality that they are no longer earth bound and to figure out what that evil dark cloud is and why it seems to want to harm them further. There is also an interesting trait in having the character of Onie to keep jumping in and out of the after life, as it suggests that she is possibly still alive or in a coma and that she might be the one chance to escape before the others have to face the possibility of going to the next realm which doesn’t seem all that appealing.

Credit should also be given to the cinematography and production design which manages to create a grey looking world, with a bleak landscape that has a beach that seems to have not seen any sun in years and a cottage that is perfectly framed to represent a last chance saloon so to speak for doomed souls. Whilst some of it may falter in the second part, and certain traits of the character’s become slightly one sided (particularly in the only male of the group, Seb), plus you kind of want to see more or possibly an expansion on the themes explored and the world in which its portrayed (though this might be constrained by budget), there is no denying that AFTER DEATH is an impressive début feature from Medinger and Schmidt.

afterdeathdvd1Whilst life after death is not new in horror, its refreshing to see a film that handles a common theme for the genre and tackles it in an intelligent manner offering a glimpse of what might lie beyond and it’s a subject that is universally recognised in many different cultures as its obvious we do not know what awaits us. AFTER DEATH, despite a few flaws, offers a unique glimpse of the after life and is bolstered by impressive performances and a strong visual style that will make whatever project Medinger and Schmidt make next, worth checking out.

7.5/10

Night of The Living Deb (2015) Review

notldeb1NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB (2015)

Starring Maria Thayer, Michael Cassidy and Ray Wise

Directed by Kyle Rankin

Written by Kyle Rankin and Andy Selsor

Out on DVD May 2nd from FrightFest Presents and Icon

“After a girls night out, endearingly awkward Deb wakes up in the bed of the most attractive guy in Portland, Maine. She’s thrilled, but she can’t remember much of what got her there. Pretty boy Ryan only knows it was a mistake and ushers her out of the door…into a full-scale zombie apocalypse. Now, a walk of shame becomes a fight for survival as the mismatched pair discovers that the only thing scarier than trusting someone with your life…is trusting them with your life”.

Coming from the Frightfest Presents banner, Night Of The Living Deb comes at you like a Judd Apatow zombie film. It’s a patchy affair, with as many hits and misses in its gag ratio, but there’s some great work here in a film that was clearly a lot of fun to make.

notldeb2Redhead Deb (Maria Thayer) is on a quest for love. But she very rarely has luck due to some…unconventional social skills. She’s consistently inappropriate and quotes poetry every ten minutes. When metrosexual neurotic Ryan (Michael Cassidy) wakes to her in the morning, he wants her out. But pretty soon, the hangover and walk of shame isn’t the problem. It’s the zombie apocalypse. Not that it seems to bother Deb much. She approaches the situation like she does every other, with irreverence and optimism. And so the two go on a journey of self-discovery and survival, running into Ryan’s father (Ray Wise) and knucklehead brother (Chris Marquette) on the way.

The zombie and romantic comedy genres seem to be good bedfellows recently. Burying The Ex and Life After Beth both worked to varying degrees of success, and Zombieland became an instant hit. But the daddy, the one that all must be judged by, is still Shaun Of The Dead. And Night Of The Living Deb, even with its punny title, doesn’t really compare.

Where Shaun had likeable and relatable characters in a heightened but still recognisable reality, Deb has fairly insufferable characters and a cartoony gloss that only looks cheap and superficial.

notldeb3Deb and Ryan are greatly realised characters, don’t get me wrong. The details of each of their neuroses are fully formed and never falter, but they are also incredibly unlikable. They’re funny, but you’re never laughing with them. It’s a shame, as the ideas behind each character is full of potential. And Thayer and Cassidy are totally committed. But the decision to set them in almost a sitcom environment really harms audience engagement.

Director Rankin shoots the film in a very clean, easy to grasp manner, but it’s too damn bright and bland. While thoroughly professional, it looks like one of those teen TV dramas. And the dreaded CGI blood pops up too regularly.

How about the zombies? They’re OK. They’re your usual zombies. Some get shot in the head, some eat people, the usual. Like the film in general, they’re just a bit bland and seen it all before.

But the performances save the day here. Like the leads, the supporting cast do well. Ray Wise always classes up any joint, and Chris Marquette has some great comic timing, like a gun-toting brainless Jason Biggs.

notldeb4And while the story is predictable, the script provides some great zingers, even in the odd scene providing some genuine insight into relationship stuff. In the end, like most rom-coms, it’s quite feel good. Perhaps that was the aim here was, to put more weight on the rom-com aspect instead of horror. If that was the case, it works.

It’s just a shame the film didn’t have more ambition. It moves at a brisk pace and is never not fun, but why would you watch this zom-com when you can watch Shaun Of The Dead again?

6/10

The Lesson (2015) Review

lesson-1THE LESSON (2015)

Starring Robert Hands, Evan Bendall and Michaela Prchalova

Written & Directed by Ruth Platt

UK VOD Release 29th Feb from FrightFest Presents

“Two schoolboy delinquents learn a lesson they will never forget when a teacher at the end of his tether decides to abduct them”. Via IMDb.

I remember in Secondary School I took Art as a GCSE because, like many, I thought it would be an easy pass, a lesson where I could mess about and relax between Maths and Science. Our regular teacher took ill, and a lovely young lady was put in as substitute. She was nice, and nervous, and fairly inexperienced, and that was like red to a bull to the majority of my classmates. She was ridiculed, disrespected, and after a couple of weeks, she burst into tears in front of us. It was pointless, nasty bullying, but probably a fairly mild case compared to others.

But what if that substitute teacher snapped? What if she went home that night, and came up with a plan to really teach us all a lesson, by any means necessary?

Lesson-4That’s the basic logline of The Lesson, but that’s only on the surface. Beneath it as about so much more.

Fin (Bendall) is your average youth of today. Fairly popular among his peers for his willingness to be a little shit and hide his actual intellect (because that’s my cool), he however comes from a broken family that has rendered him ignored and with no role model. Through flashbacks we learn that he was once close to his mother, but she has passed. His father left, and his older brother Jake (Tom Cox) is an asshole and resents Fin. The only positives in his life are his bad influence best friend Joel (Rory Coltart) and Jake’s beautiful, good hearted girlfriend Mia (Michaela Prchalova).

As Fin is going through his daily trials and tribulations, he, and his friends, are oblivious to the suffering of their teacher Mr. Gale (Robert Hands). A once idealistic teacher, Gale has lost control of his pupils, and is receiving daily abuse and intimidation. Until he’s had enough…

Lesson-3I don’t think I’ve ever watched a horror film and actually felt more intelligent and educated after it before. But such is the power and eloquence and intelligence of Ruth Platt’s script. Once the film shifts into act two and Gale’s plan kicks into gear, we are treated to the same lessons involving weighty themes such as imperialism, putting us in Fin’s confused, transfixed headspace. The Lesson deals with growth through suffering, evolution through pain, and it does so in an exceptional way. The slow build nature of the story allows plenty of breathing space to develop each of the leads, with effortless characterisation, authentic dialogue, and with a realistic edge that really sucks you in.

Realism is also the keyword for Platt’s direction. The camera trails the characters like a fly on the wall, the un-fussy framing and editing reminding us of Ken Loach and Shane Meadows, lingering for as long as necessary on the faces of the actors.

Lesson-2Performances are top notch for the most part, Gale somehow grabbing our sympathy even as he commits atrocious acts. He isn’t a natural killer, he has been pushed to the edge. His motives are actually genuinely positive, but his execution is deranged. Bendall is great as a wounded animal who is smart enough to blend in with his peers but not smart enough to know that he doesn’t need to.

Any flaws? Only in the third act, when the script, acting and direction becomes slightly less grounded in an effort to build to the climax. Also, a subplot involving Mia’s mother goes nowhere and feels like filler.

But those are minor nitpick in an otherwise edgy, thought provoking British thriller. It seems like we have finally gotten past the phase of demonising our youth on film. While both entertaining and powerful films in their own right, F and Eden Lake really exploited the Right-Wing view of hoodies in a pretty unhelpful way in the long run, painting youths as pure evil straight from hell. But with The Lesson, and the recent Cruel Summer, the hoody generation is painted in a more authentic, more disturbing shade of grey. “You can’t be foreign if you’re English” states Fin early on in an off the cuff comment, and it’s a much more telling piece of dialogue than it seems. If society refuses to properly educate and provide inspiration for the young, whether it be at home, school or through the media, then can we be surprised at their behaviour? And even if the young are wise enough deep down to know their peers are wrong, how safe is it for them to say so?

Lesson-5Like the film itself, the characters in The Lesson, from Fin, to Jake, to Mr Gale, all have much more going on than what they outwardly show to each other. A great lesson in sustained tension and character driven horror, Ruth Platt has made a stark future cult classic and I can’t wait to see what’s next from her. Perfect for those who like to use their brains as well a see them splattered all over the floor.

9/10

Icon Film Distribution Announces Further Titles For ‘FrightFest Presents’ Label!

ICON FILM DISTRIBUTION ANNOUNCES FURTHER TITLES FOR ‘FRIGHTFEST PRESENTS’ LABEL

Icon Film Distribution (IFD) and FrightFest, the UK’s leading horror fantasy film festival, have announced a further three films which will be released under the curated banner ‘FrightFest Presents’.

The new titles are as follows;

Night of the Living Deb-WEB1NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB, directed by Kyle Rankin starring Maria Thayer (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Michael Cassidy (Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice), Christopher Marquette (Just Friends, The Girl Next Door) and Ray Wise (Infestation, Twin Peaks).

After a girls’ night out, endearingly awkward Deb wakes up in the apartment of the most attractive guy in Portland, Maine. She’s thrilled, but can’t remember much of what got her there. Ryan only knows it was a mistake, and ushers her out the door into a full-scale zombie apocalypse. Now, a walk of shame becomes a fight for survival as the mismatched pair discovers that the only thing scarier than trusting someone with your life… is trusting them with your heart.

Some Kind of Hate-WEB1SOME KIND OF HATE, directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer starring Ronen Rubenstein (It Felt Like Love), Sierra McCormick (Disney’s ‘’Ant Farm’’), Grace Phipps (Fright Night, Tales of Halloween), Noah Segan (Starry Eyes, Looper), Lexi Atkins (Ted2, The Boy Next Door, Zombeavers), Spencer Breslin (The Happening, The Kid), Michael Polish (The Astronaut Farmer)

When a troubled teen is subjected to severe bullying, he accidentally conjures Moira Karp. Once a teenage girl pushed to suicide, Moira is now an unstoppable force on a mission of gruesome retribution. But when she goes too far, he must prevent her from spiraling out of control in this passionate and vividly supernatural thriller.

Some Kind of Hate is being sold for International by Devilworks.

Last-Girl-Standing-WEB3LAST GIRL STANDING, written and directed by Benjamin R Moody starring Akasha Villalobos (Where the Red Fox Lies), Danielle Evon Ploeger and Brian Villalobos.

Five years ago, a masked killer brutally murdered a group of friends. Since then, Camryn (Akasha Villalobos), the lone survivor, has struggled to reclaim her shattered life. Wracked with guilt and paranoia, Camryn leads a depressingly lonely existence until Nick (Brian Villalobos), a new co-worker, befriends Camryn and attempts to integrate her into his group of friends. Just when she might be ready to start a new life, Camryn’s past comes back to haunt her. Can Camryn ever have a life again, or is she destined to be alone?

All three titles recently had their UK theatrical premières at the FrightFest five day festival at the Vue Leicester Square.

frightfestpresents

The exclusive Icon and FrightFest partnership, first announced in April, will see titles released across the UK and Ireland via the distributor’s digital partners (including iTunes, Virgin Movies, Sky, Google Amazon, Xbox , Blinkbox, Google, Wuaki, TalkTalk and Volta) giving film fans instant access to some of their favourite FrightFest titles.

‘FrightFest Presents’ launches officially on 19 October with a consumer campaign pushing out from the beginning of the month. Each release has the collective backing of IFD and FrightFest across all marketing, PR and social channels.

Previously announced titles include AAAAAAAAH!, THE SAND, AFTERDEATH, LANDMINE GOES CLICK, EMELIE, THE LESSON and ESTRANGED.

Since FrightFest was set up 15 years ago, it has grown in size and stature, and is today internationally renowned for discovering exciting and original horror fantasy genre films. Last August, the festival screened 74 of the best horror films from around the world to UK audiences, with many world and European premieres. Over the years the festival directors, Greg Day, Alan Jones, Paul McEvoy and Ian Rattray, have also brought masters of the genre to the festival including Guillermo del Toro, George Romero, Dario Argento and Sam Raimi. FrightFest has developed into a brand leader for horror film, expanding its footprint in the UK by hosting special strands at other festivals to great success, such as the recent three-day event at the Glasgow Film Festival.

IFD has a longstanding track record in releasing genre films, from breakout hit PARANORMAL ACTIVITY which grossed a phenomenal £10 million at the UK box office to the cult vampire thriller 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, as well as re-issues of classic Hammer titles including DRACULA and THE MUMMY. Most recently, IFD released the critical and box office hits IT FOLLOWS and THE BABADOOK, Jennifer Kent’s psychological horror story, which burst out of FrightFest’s August festival to become one of the most talked about horrors of 2014.

Icon Film Distribution & FrightFest Announce Launch Titles for ‘FrightFest Presents’

FrightFest Presents logo-1ICON FILM DISTRIBUTION AND FRIGHTFEST ANNOUNCE LAUNCH TITLES FOR ‘FRIGHTFEST PRESENTS’

Icon Film Distribution (IFD) and FrightFest, the UK’s leading horror fantasy film festival, have announced the first films which will be released under the curated banner ‘FrightFest Presents’.

The seven titles selected will all have their UK theatrical premieres at the FrightFest five day festival in August at the Vue Leicester Square and represent some of the most exciting genre filmmakers working today.

The exclusive Icon and FrightFest partnership, first announced in April, will see titles released across the UK and Ireland via the distributor’s digital partners (including iTunes, Virgin Movies, Sky, Google Amazon, Xbox , Blinkbox, Google, Wuaki, TalkTalk and Volta) giving film fans instant access to some of their favourite FrightFest titles.

‘FrightFest Presents’ launches officially on 19 October with a consumer campaign pushing out from the beginning of the month. Each release has the collective backing of IFD and FrightFest across all marketing, PR and social channels.

The seven titles to be released under ‘FrightFest Presents’ are:

AAAAAAAAH_ONESHEETAAAAAAAAH!, the world premiere and feature directorial debut of Steve Oram, co-writer of Ben Wheatley’s cult UK hit and British Independent Film Award-winning and Cannes selection feature Sightseers. Oram also stars with Noel Fielding (The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh), Alice Lowe (Sightseers), Lucy Honnigman (The Ex-PM), Julian Rhind-Tutt (Lucy), Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh, Nathan Barley) and Toyah Willcox (Quadrophenia),

‘Alpha Male’ Smith and his Beta, Keith, move to take over a local community. They hook up with restless Female, Denise, igniting a deadly feud in which emotions run high and deep-seated grudges resurface amongst the tribe. Are we not men? Or are we simply beasts?

THE SAND, a creature feature directed by Isaac Gabaett and starring Mitchel Musso (Monster House), Dean Geyer, Nikki Leigh (Unlucky Charms), Brooke Butler (All Cheerleaders Die), Jamie Kennedy (Scream) and Meagan Holder (Jersey Boys).

After an all-night party, a group of hungover twenty-somethings awake to a beating sun and a seemingly carnivorous beach that devours anything with a heartbeat that touches the sand. His fourth film as a filmmaker, Gabaett is also known for his work on The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Men in Black 3 and The Place Beyond the Pines.

afterdeathAFTERDEATH, a sci fi-horror from directors Gez Medinger and Robin Schmidt (Gumball 3000: Around the World in 8 Days) starring Miranda Raison (24: Another Day, Silk), Sam Keeley (Monsters: Dark Continent) and Daniella Ketesz (World War Z).

Five young people wake up dead. Washed up by the tide they scramble to an abandoned beach house, soon realising that the perpetual night and blasts of pain suggest this is some version of hell. Between in-fighting and attacks by a demonic shadow creature, they recall the collapse of the nightclub that brought them here – and begin seeing hope of a second chance in the cabin’s two mysterious paintings.

LANDMINE GOES CLICK, a tense thriller from director Levan Bakhia (247°F), starring Sterling Knight (Melissa & Joey, Mackenzie Falls), Spencer Locke (Resident Evil, Cougar Town) and Dean Geyer (Glee, Terra Nova).

Three American tourists are crossing the desolate mountains in the formerly war-torn republic of Georgia. Daniel has just proposed to Alicia and has asked Chris to be his best man, so they stop to take a celebration photograph. Chris steps to the right, the step goes click and he finds himself standing on a landmine. From that moment on Chris cannot move or he’s dead. But then secrets are revealed, dark motives uncovered, an outside threat appears and the real nightmare unfolds. For what happens on that terrifying afternoon will become a harbinger of doom for all lost innocence.

emelieEMELIE, a home invasion horror from director Michael Thelin (SXSW Grand Jury nominated Matisyahu: Run + Return) which had its world premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and stars Sarah Bolger (The Lazarus Effect), Joshua Rush (Mr Peabody and Sherman), Carly Adams, Carl Bailey and Thomas Bair (Manhattan Nocturne).

When their regular babysitter calls to say she’s unavailable, the Thompsons find a last minute replacement to look after their three kids Christopher, Sally and Jacob while they celebrate their 13th wedding anniversary. But no sooner have the unconcerned parents pulled out of the driveway than it becomes clear that Anna is no ordinary babysitter. As the evening creeps along the children begin to realise they might be in serious danger from the psychologically disturbed woman who has invaded their home.

THE LESSON, a thriller from director Ruth Platt, starring Tom Cox, Rory Coltart, Robert Hands (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) and Dolya Gavanski (Our Kind of Traitor).

Fin and Joel are two teenage wasters running wild. But they get a taste of their own medicine when a teacher at the end of his tether decides to teach both schoolboys a lesson they will never forget.

estrangedESTRANGED, a sinister psychological thriller from director Adam Levins (Population Zero), produced by Steven Schneider (Insidious series, Paranormal Activity) and William Borthwick (City Rats, Population Zero) starring Amy Manson (Once upon a Time, Atlantis), Nora-Jane Noone (Brooklyn, The Descent), James Cosmo (The Legend of Barney Thomson, Game of Thrones), James Lance (Bronson, Northern Soul), Simon Quartman (HBO’s Westworld, The Devil Inside) and Craig Conway (The Descent, Doomsday).

January is forced to return home after a near-fatal accident whilst travelling abroad. Temporarily wheelchair bound and depleted of her long-term memory, she is accompanied by her boyfriend Callum. Not only has she forgotten her family, but her childhood as well and is surprised to discover that her home is a stately manor in the middle of the countryside. As January tries to settle in, she finds herself becoming even more estranged from her family, who just want their daughter back. January soon discovers the family are not as loving as they seem to be. Was there a dark reason why she left them in the first place?

Paul McEvoy, Co-Director of FrightFest says, “We are thrilled and delighted to be working with Icon in bringing a diverse range of top tier genre titles to the UK audience. These and our other exciting forthcoming titles brilliantly showcase the breadth and quality of work being produced in the worldwide fear and fantasy arena.”

Zak Brilliant, Head of Distribution for IFD says, “Working closely with the FrightFest team we have brought together a terrific range of titles for the launch of the label in October and beyond. It’s a slate full of scares and surprises that we can’t wait to unleash”.

Sophie Wong, Head of TV and Digital Sales for IFD says, “We have had a great response from our digital partners to the FrightFest Presents label and the collection of titles; a really strong indication of the market potential for genres with committed fans who are allied to an established brand.”

Since FrightFest was set up 15 years ago, it has grown in size and stature, and is today internationally renowned for discovering exciting and original horror fantasy genre films. Last August, the festival screened 74 of the best horror films from around the world to UK audiences, with many world and European premieres. Over the years the festival directors, Greg Day, Alan Jones, Paul McEvoy and Ian Rattray, have also brought masters of the genre to the festival including Guillermo del Toro, George Romero, Dario Argento and Sam Raimi. FrightFest has developed into a brand leader for horror film, expanding its footprint in the UK by hosting special strands at other festivals to great success, such as the recent three-day event at the Glasgow Film Festival.

IFD has a longstanding track record in releasing genre films, from breakout hit PARANORMAL ACTIVITY which grossed a phenomenal £10 million at the UK box office to the cult vampire thriller 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, as well as re-issues of classic Hammer titles including DRACULA and THE MUMMY. Most recently, IFD released the critical and box office hits IT FOLLOWS and THE BABADOOK, Jennifer Kent’s psychological horror story, which burst out of FrightFest’s August festival to become one of the most talked about horrors of 2014.