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Frightfest Glasgow 2015

Written by Katie Bonham

As an avid attendee to the 5 day event in London every August, this was my first Frightfest in Glasgow. With the Scottish arm of the festival lasting a mere 2 days, it was gone in a big horror flash – nevertheless, it was a fun filled weekend with the trusty Paul, Ian, Greg and Alan at the helm. I am ashamed to say that I only managed to catch 5 films, I know, I know - shameful – especially for a fully-fledged reviewer, writer-director and general advocate of all things horror. I did have a tiny excuse though, my short film, The Paper Round, was screening there for its world premiere; don't worry I won't be doing anything as narcissistic as to review it... although... nope, only joking.

atticus institute poster

The opening film on Friday morning was the European première of The Atticus Institute, written and directed by Chris Sparling, writer of Buried. The Atticus Institute is a mockumentary about a research facility that tested and documented people who had telekinesis, clairvoyance and other extraordinary abilities. Then the facility was mysteriously shut down in November 1976. Set in the present day, we meet those who worked there during these experiments as they document each of their experiences. A very slow and tiresome film made up of lengthy to-camera interviews, with the rest padded out by vintage stills and the 'found footage' taken from the experiments. The script is dire, and the long over-emotive monologues from the characters spark no sympathy or offer any believable reality to the story. The film falls into the 'made for TV' category and lacks intrigue. A weak film to open such an iconic film festival with.


paper round posterthe hoarder poster

Next was a short film called The Paper Round introduced by a very nervous me. This was my first ever premiere for one of my films and screening it at my second home and in front of my horror community was an awesome experience. The audience seemed to really enjoy the film and I was overwhelmed when people approached me to tell me so afterwards and thank you to everyone who did so! Keep your eyes peeled for my next short Keepsake!

The Hoarder screened subsequently for its world premiere, directed by Matt Winn, and follows an over obsessive fiancé, played by Misha Barton (Star of TV series The O.C) who decides to break into her partner's storage unit to see if he has been cheating on her, only to find a horrifying surprise lying in wait. Trapped in the levels of the underground storage unit, she and five strangers must survive and escape. A good premise that offers potential, but the stilted script and inconsistency of the characters leaves the film falling flat. The shots where the characters have delayed pauses, along with an over lingering camera as they both wait for the impending doom, means it looks staged and loses momentum (see the man trying to pick up money from the floor - it would never have taken that long; and at the end, her very lingering arm above the drainage shaft). Enough said.


the asylum poster

The world première of the The Asylum played as the closing film for Friday, written and directed by Marcus Nispel, director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th remakes. The Asylum was originally named Backmask (which is the playing of a vinyl in reverse, revealing a hidden message by the band) and has absolutely nothing to do with the film, so no wonder they dropped the original title. The Asylum is a surprisingly clever and well scripted story about a group of youths who hold a house rave at an abandoned Asylum (I know, right, what could possibly go wrong?) The acting is strong and some of the dialogue is comedy gold, as are the death scenes. The only downfall is the ending, as the reveal is completely over the top and not carried out well enough to be believable. Also there are some horrible SFX moments, such as the fake fire, which never looks good and never will. A very promising first half, unfortunately loses the plot at the end.


clown dvd small

Second day in and opening film is the UK première of Clown, directed by Jon Watts. There was a lot of hype around this film due to the extraordinary story behind its conception. A team of guys put together a fake trailer and introduced it as directed by Eli Roth. It went viral on YouTube and Roth himself ended up seeing the trailer. He liked it so much he ended up funding the Clown short into a feature. The storyline is simple yet genius: a father has to dress up as a clown at his son's birthday party when the original clown cancels. Cue a screaming sugar infused children's party; however, when Kent (Andy Powers) comes to take off the suit, he is unable to - the nose, hair and costume have all become part of him. We then watch with fascination as this poor character begins to turn into a grotesque clown demon. The transformation is impressive, and as time goes on his make-up becomes more caked, his clown self becomes more demonic and he has developed a taste for children. I was personally happy that they had the clown eating children, something I expected them to gloss over, everyone knows clowns eat children :). The violence and gore is plentiful and the scenes at 'Chalky Cheese' will leave you avoiding ball pits forever. A fun, gory celebration of clowns and their dark beginnings.


the woods movie poster

The Woods Movie is a documentary that follows the conception of The Blair Witch Project, one of the most important films to be released in the past 20 years. The Blair Witch Project changed the face of horror cinema forever and Russ Gomm offers behind-the-scenes footage documenting the production process for them. Instead of focusing heavily on the film itself and referring continuously back to footage of the film, Gomm stays solely behind-the-scenes. We follow the pre-production meetings, audition process, test footage, documenting the actual shoot and the success of their first preview screening at Sundance. An interesting film and obviously a real labour of love for Gomm, who was specifically asked by the directors' to put together this documentary and entrusted with hours of footage. A thoughtful and intriguing piece which sparks the indie film-maker in all of us.


It was an awesome two days of horror film viewing, I thoroughly enjoyed the festival and will definitely be returning next year. It was a great atmosphere and Frightfest always has a great horror community, whether in the cinema or standing outside in the bar discussing films. I can't wait for the next Frightfest installment in August to see what horror delights the guys come up with and where I will hopefully be returning with my next short, Keepsake.


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