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Joel's Top Ten Films of FrightFest 2022

Written by Joel Harley

It speaks to the strength of FrightFest's 2022 line-up that so many great movies are excluded from this list. Had they dropped in any other year, then films like Fall, Sissy, Piggy, Candyland and Torn Hearts would have been surefire inclusions. However, those movies (and so many more besides!) had the misfortune of appearing on one of the strongest FrightFest line-ups to date. And, so, because I like to make life difficult for myself, I set to narrowing it down to a Top 10.

Sure, I could have made it a top fifteen, or even twenty, and there are some films that I still didn't get around to seeing (Stalker, Bitch Ass, Walking Against the Rain), but these are my Top 10 festival highlights from FrightFest 2022. Ask me again tomorrow, I'll probably have another ten for you.

small-coverBuy from Amazon 10. Lola 

The second time travel film of the festival (after Friday night's The Visitor From the Future), this sci-fi doesn't actually go anywhere. After inventing a TV set that allows them to intercept broadcasts from the future, two sisters attempt to change the course of World War II. Best intentions go awry when the women accidentally sabotage the British war effort. Oops. A unique take on the found footage subgenre, featuring two excellent lead performances and a great soundtrack. Neil Hannon - yes, of the Divine Comedy - steals the show.

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9. A Wounded Fawn

Shot on film, Travis Stevens' stylistic cabin in the woods feature infuses The Evil Dead with Greek mythology deep cuts. Sarah Lind and Josh Ruben are well-matched as the serial killer and his would-be victim - I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the other boot to drop. When it does, A Wounded Fawn goes truly off the chain. A work of vividly depicted, dizzying madness. 

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8. H4Z4RD

'Just a guy having the worst day of his life' is one of my favourite action subgenres. In this case, Noah's car is probably having a worse time of it than the driver, but nobody is having much fun here. Apart from me, and H4Z4RD's audience, that is. Crank meets The Fast and the Furious in this high-octane action comedy. Features the most troubling sex sequence since David Cronenberg's Crash.

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7. The Harbinger

Set during the early days of the pandemic (come on, you know which one), this supernatural horror film examines the toll that isolation and paranoia takes on the scared and the lonely. Horror mythmaking for the COVID age, its boogeyman should be up there with the Freddy Kruegers and the Babadooks of the world. Its jump scares were so intense that I nearly fell out of my chair. 

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6. Super Z

When a group of zombies escape from the underground bunker where they were created and experimented upon, they form a family unit out in the woods. A demented sitcom chock full of sex, gore and violence, Super Z drops Day of the Dead's Bub into the rave scene, pumps him full of drugs, and turns the volume up to eleven. Hilarious.

Full review here.

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5. Deadstream

'Can a movie be so scary you'll be pissing your pants and also so scary that you'll be shitting them at the same time?' I asked, on Twitter, after the almost-midnight premiere of Joseph and Vanessa Winters' found footage comedy horror Deadstream. The answer, if the stains in my underwear are anything to go by, is yes. 

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4. Follow Her

Another film about a streamer slash influencer (see also Sissy, Deadstream, Mean Spirited), this erotic thriller follows the game of cat-and-mouse between a content creater and the sketchy guy she meets on the Internet. Cleverly constructed, sharply written, and a further reminder (as if you needed it) to stay the hell away from CraigsList, even if you're one of the perverts on CraigsList. 

Full review here.

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3. New Religion

A film so mesmerising that I watched it twice, just to ensure that I didn't miss anything. This quasi-supernatural chiller is a rich, soulful exploration of grief and loss, and one of the festival's most special releases. Director Keishi Kondo has a believer in me.

Full review here.

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2. Barbarian

Note to the overlords at Disney, who prefaced FrightFest's penultimate screening with a surprise embargo on reviews - this is not a review. Zach Cregger's Barbarian is [redacted, but it's no.2 on this list for very good reason]. Deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible, with the biggest audience possible, but The Corporation will probably just dump it on Disney+ in the UK. Once again, not a review.

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1. The Leech

Two things I love: Christmas horror movies, and Eric Pennycoff's Sadistic Intentions. The director returns with The Leech - one of the darkest, weirdest and most surprising films of the festival. My favourite film of FrightFest and, come December, probably the year.

Full review here.

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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer - UK
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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