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Grimmfest Day Four Main



Written by Daniel Benson

the harbinger poster feed me poster

The Harbinger fourstars

Finally feeling like I should drag myself in for the day's first feature, I caught The Witch in the Window director Andy Mitton's follow-up feature, The Harbinger. Setting a horror movie against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and having its existence-sucking demon take the form of a plague doctor might be a bit on the nose. Still, Mitton knocks another home run with this finely crafted tale that utilises a small cast and minimal locations. It also captures the paranoia and concern that we all felt while under various restrictions, like lockdown, isolation and wearing masks, in a time capsule we can look back on if we ever doubt how serious the situation was.

Feed Me twostars

From Hosts directors Adam Leader and Richard Oakes, Feed Me opened the afternoon. The case of Armin Meiwes inspires the story, the German cannibal who gained notoriety by killing and eating a voluntary victim he found online. This version sees recently bereaved Jed (Christopher Mulvin) spiral into depression after his wife's death and somehow realise that the way out of his suffering might be to let an eccentric American, Lionel Flack (Neal Ward), eat him.

The film flip-flops between being an emotional study of grief and loss (absolutely nailed by Mulvin) and a goofy, gory comedy where a hapless cannibal eats a different part of his still-living victim each day. In isolation, either of these two moods would have worked, but together it's like a constant back-and-forth rally of tonal tennis.

vesper poster do not disturb poster

Vesper fourstars

Lo-fi science fiction piece Vesper was next on the schedule, which spent the best part of two hours building a dystopian futurescape where society has been divided into the haves and have-nots and death is never far away for those on the wrong side of the fence. Vesper is a 13-year-old girl who lives as a semi-outcast with her paralysed father. When she finds a downed spacecraft from one of the Citadels, where the privileged live, she rescues a strange woman called Camellia. The pair bond and it becomes apparent that Camellia holds a secret that could immeasurably improve the lives of the less fortunate. That is, if she can keep the Citadel forces at bay for long enough.

Those looking for high-octane excitement will likely come away disappointed; Vesper has a considered pace and a commitment to its strong female characters and an overriding theme of generational conflict.

Do Not Disturb twoandahalfstars

Late afternoon gave us John Ainslie's tale of a newly married couple whose honeymoon turns into a literal bad trip as they experiment with unknown drugs given to them by a strange guy they meet on a beach. Seriously, who does that? Some amusing moments early on as the couple lose track of time and their grip on reality, but the latter half of the film dives into dark and sinister places that don't match the tone of the opening. A stark warning, if one was needed, about the dangers of toxic substances and toxic relationships.

dark nature poster the lake poster

Dark Nature twostars

Three friends head out to the wilds for a camping trip organised by a new age psychiatrist as therapy for damaged women. No prizes for guessing that their individual traumas aren't the only thing stalking them in the great outdoors. Taking far too long to get going, the film meanders for the first two thirds, with whispers in the woodland and point-of-view shots from behind branches, only to wrap up quickly after a less-than-satisfying final confrontation.

The Lake threestars

Transplanting all the classic beats of a Japanese kaiju movie to Thailand, The Lake was the final film of the night and the closer to Grimmfest. When a young girl, May, finds a giant egg near the lake on which the fishing village she calls home is located, we know that things are not going to go well. The action kicks off almost immediately with a heady mix of both CGI and practical effects that render the attacking creatures. There's barely room to breathe, let alone tell a story, but somehow, they manage it among all the carnage. The ending strays away from typical monster movie conventions, never more so than with the 15 minutes of Buddhist introspection that's tacked onto the end as contemplation on the events that have unfolded.

So that was Grimmfest for another year. As to my question in the Day One report on whether the shift of focus for the festival from horror to 'fantastic film' is a wise move, it's honestly hard to tell. For the most part, this was Grimmfest classic, with the vast majority of films being true horror but a few genre-adjacent titles thrown into the mix. It's nice, sometimes, to have a break from the horror with something lighter like Moon Garden or Vesper. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.

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About The Author
Daniel Benson
UK Editor / Webmaster
Fuelled mostly by coffee and a pathological desire to rid the world of bad grammar, Daniel has found his calling by picking holes in other people's work. In the rare instances he's not editing, he's usually breaking things in the site's back end.
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