The Horror Honeys: Monster Honey's Fright Fest Recap - Day 3 & 4!

Monster Honey's Fright Fest Recap - Day 3 & 4!

You can catch up with my adventures on Day 1 and Day 2 of the festival anytime! 


Saturday

My most packed day of the festival; with five movies, including two of my most anticipated of the weekend!

If I have to listen to that elevator music
ONE MORE TIME
Abattoir
This was an odd film because there were things I absolutely loved about the concept, but I’m not so sure about some of the execution. Julia, a real estate journalist, is devastated when her sister is murdered. When the house goes on the market, someone quickly buys it, does some renovations, and removes the room where the murder took place. Looking into things a little deeper, Julie discovers that someone is building a very specific kind of collection and that she may be more connected to what is happening than she could have realised. The idea of someone building a patchwork house out of tragic locations to collect the ghosts of the people killed is a really cool and creepy idea and could have potential as a kind of twisted Winchester Mystery House. The problem then is that towards the end it all becomes a bit complicated with the history of the small town where Julia’s search leads her and the motives of the villain, a weird and creepy old man named Jebediah Crone, played with relish by Dayton Callie. Also, the ghosts would have been a lot more effective if we could actually see them rather than them being obscured by smoke all the time. But, director Darren Lynn Bousman does infuse the film with a lot of style and personality, so it’s definitely worth a watch.
Abattoir gets 3 crime scenes out of 5

It was during a break between films that I decided to take a look at a VR experience for TV’s Fear the Walking Dead. The experience was fine, if a little short. You stand on a beach and two walkers slowly approach you and attack. That’s it. I will say that the movement and environment is effective. On my way out I guessed that there might be someone about to jump out and I was right, but that didn’t stop me from having possibly the most British reaction ever of yelling “MUST YOU REALLY DO THAT?” Rick Grimes I am not.

Silent terror from the dawn of cinema!
Fury of the Demon
Time for something a bit different. A short mockumentary, only an hour long, which delves into the mystery of a potentially cursed silent film La Rage du Demon that causes riots and chaos whenever it is screened, with the most recent case being in 2012. Various real directors, film critics, and journalists weigh in on this artefact, thought to potentially be linked to father of genre filmmaking Geroges Méliès. This film is just such a great little curiosity, very creative and mysterious. It’s even oddly convincing at times with how straightforward it is, which makes it even creepier. It’s also a love letter to the magic of film and especially to Méliès’ work, particularly to his more fantastical films and his approach to special effects. I wanted to look up and start reading a biography of the man afterwards. A wonderful and weird must-see.
Fury of the Demon gets 5 forbidden film reels out of 5




I told you guys we should have played Monopoly!
Beyond the Gates
I have been looking forward to this film for a very long time, ever since Barbara Crampton, queen of my little Horror Honey heart, introduced a clip at last year’s FrightFest. The trailers then promised 80s nostalgia aplenty with a story of two brothers who are clearing out the video store of their missing father and find a strange VCR-based boardgame (remember those!?!) which may have something to do with their fathers' disappearance. This film really appealed to me because I loved VCR boardgames as a kid, and have very fond memories of playing Nightmare (called Atmosfear here in the UK) with my family. Plus, horror Jumanji, what’s not to love? So I’m happy to say that I had an absolute blast with this one, it’s just so much fun. It’s silly in places, oddly heart-warming in others, and just all round a great entry to the 80’s throwback subgenre complete with the synth soundtrack. If you’re not a fan of this kind of thing Beyond The Gates won’t do much to change your mind, but I unashamedly love it and am going to be dragging many a friend to experience it for themselves.
Beyond the Gates gets 4 VHS tapes out of 5

The Unkindness of Ravens
One heck of a tonal shift here. Soldier Andrew comes home to Scotland with PTSD and a crippling fear of ravens. At the advice of his therapist he goes to an isolated cabin in the country to help with his recovery. Whilst there, his inner demons take on a more physical form and seem determined to rip him apart. I find this approach of horror through the lens of mental illness but without being clichéd or patronizing to the topic to be utterly enthralling. Director Lawrie Brewster drew a lot from the real experiences of soldiers suffering from PTSD and it really shows in moments of Andrew’s paranoia and thought process. It also makes the frightening imagery all the more potent when you understand the place it’s coming from. The creatures stalking Andrew, unnerving humanoid raven warriors who rip out the eyes of their victims, are really creative and have a folk inspired look to them which I loved. There are some less than great effects, but that can easily be put aside for the story. Also the ending, whilst not ruining the really strong stuff that came before, does go a bit crazy and overly long with its point. However, any faults the film has are worth dealing with for something really moody, harrowing, and different from anything I’ve seen for a while.
The Unkindness of Ravens gets 4 menacing corvids out of 5

Sometimes the worst corner of hell is within your own mind.

Sadako vs Kayako
If you’ve spoken to me for more than five minutes, you know that I am an absolute maniac for Asian horror movies, especially the Ring and Ju-On films. So this film bringing together the two franchises and ghosts of Sadako and Kayako in this way was always going to be something I was ready to enjoy, and I did. Both ladies have really stepped up their game in recent years; with Sadako using a new cursed tape to the original one and killing people in two days rather than seven, and Kayako (and Toshio and that bloody jump scare cat of course) dispatching anybody foolish enough to enter the cursed house quite quickly. 

Kayako is more of a laserdisc person.

Now a pair of girls have watched the tape and the answer to this is to put the them in the crossfire between the two ghosts and hope that the spirits will destroy each other in the fight. Most of this movie is played completely straight, with some moments that had me freaking out. However, then things get a bit weird. Kooky exorcist characters, crazy special effects and a lot of unclear action all drop almost out of nowhere. This will be familiar with anyone who knows of writer-director Kôji Shiaishi’s previous work, particularly 2009’s Occult with its Lovecraftian tentacle monsters, but it was something the film didn’t need when it was doing so well before then. Even so I enjoyed it and think that any long-time fan of both these ladies will feel similarly.
Sadako vs Kayako gets a (somewhat biased) 4 cursed idiots out of 5

Sunday
And so, Saturday becomes Sunday, the day of rest. However what’s the point in resting when there are movies to see?

Johnny Frank Garett’s Last Word
I have to thank the fates for intervening here as I was originally supposed to be watching a different film but, due to travel disruptions, I found myself with a gap and this fit into the time-slot quite nicely. Based on a very true case of a man who was convicted of the rape and murder of a nun and the mysterious deaths of people connected to the case after his execution, this is an unsettling, raw, and occasionally trippy supernatural drama as a juror attempts to find the bottom of a supposed “curse” before it claims the life of someone close to him. It is a very dark and uncomfortable look at small town hysteria and the consequences that comes with it. It also contains the most amazing pencil related death since The Dark Knight which had the audience applauding. 
Johnny Frank Garett’s Last Word gets 4 pieces of evidence out of 5

After Johnny Frank Garrett, I then attended a horror writing workshop hosted by James Moran, writer of such British horror films as Severance, Tower Block, and a personal favourite of mine Cockneys vs Zombies. It was a really fun and interesting session as Moran laid out his planning and rough draft writing process. I found this personally quite helpful as (for me) it’s always the starting of a writing project that is the most daunting part. He then had us all brainstorm an idea together using local newspapers for inspiration. We worked from a story about a person’s accidental death at a James Bond themed swingers party at a mansion, and from there weaved a bizarre sex toy based spy drama that included art thieves, murder (of course) and a possible helicopter finale, although I doubt that would have been in the budget. So, who knows, maybe one day I’ll write something that could be made and then screened at FrightFest. Unlikely, but a girl can dream.

You want to tell a tale of zombie love,
they want you to twerk with a chainsaw.
We've all been there
Egomaniac
Very fitting film to watch after a writing workshop. Catherine Sweeney is a filmmaker who just wants to make the zombie romantic comedy masterpiece of her dreams (as you do), but every step of the way she’s made to compromise. She’s even pushed to add a talking dog to the story. Catherine becomes increasingly frustrated, but also even more determined to make *her* movie at any cost. I had the delight of meeting writer-director Kate Shenton the other night (ahhh FrightFest karaoke, where dreams and regrets are made) and what she has crafted here is a smart, sharply written, hilarious (and above all else) true experience of being a female horror writer and director. Each joke had the audience roaring with laughter, and even more so when the jokes had an edge of tragedy to them. It is a bonkers but sincere film about struggling to make your dreams come true. Although I’m sure Kate isn’t advocating murder, or at least I’m reasonably sure...
Egomaniac gets 4 talking dog sock puppets out of 5

His name is Stripes and he's going to make me a rich and famous!

Am I being too nice, or have I just gotten really, really lucky with my film choices this year? Well, with one more day to go it could either all finish in a glorious explosion of terror, or be the cinematic equivalent of blowing a broken party horn... Stay tuned!