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FrightFest 2017 is almost upon and the line-up is as scarily exciting as ever. The event is a dream for horror lovers, giving audiences and filmmakers alike the chance to screech their lungs out in a room full of fellow fans. Ask genre fans and they’ll all agree: there are few better places to watch a horror movie.
From grindhouse to art-house, feel-good to squeal-good, blockbuster to ghostbuster, FrightFest runs from 24th August to 28th August and will debut 64 new feature films from 14 countries, including world, European and UK premieres. It all takes place in the Empire in Leicester Square, now run by Cineworld but still something of a homecoming for the event.
For some, though, London is a little too far to make the pilgrimage. Even for those who do make it, it’s not always possible to see everything. Luckily, though, horror and VOD are best buddies. Whether it’s Creep, starring Mark Duplass, premiering on Netflix UK, or FrightFest’s own digital label (FrightFest Presents) releasing a wave of festival favourites from last year’s event on VOD, or AMC’s new subscription streaming service, Shudder, which has snapped up a number of FrightFest hits, digital distribution means that it is easier for genre titles to reach a wide audience, even when theatrical deals prove elusive.
It’s only fitting, then, that in its 18th year, as the festival officially comes of age, its opening night sees the premiere of Adam Wingard’s Death Note, Netflix’s new remake of the classic manga, which is released the following day. It’s preceded by opening night film Cult of Chucky, which heads to Blu-ray, DVD and digital in October.
So once again, we’ve picked our way through this year’s catalogue to find the most promising films, as well as when they’re available to stream. Whether you’re looking to catch up on an unseen gem or relive a crowd favourite, here are some of 2017’s best screamers. (Single tickets are still available to purchase for screenings throughout the festival here.)
Information about where you can watch the films will be added as and when it becomes available, along with reviews. Have a horror film you want us to shriek about? Get in touch on FrightFest[at]VODzilla.co.
Cult of Chucky – out on 3rd October
Confined to an asylum for the criminally insane for the past four years, Nica Pierce is erroneously convinced that she, not Chucky, murdered her entire family. But when her psychiatrist introduces a new therapeutic “tool” to facilitate his patients’ group sessions – an all-too-familiar “Good Guy” doll – a string of grisly deaths begins to plague the asylum, and Nica starts to wonder if maybe she isn’t crazy after all. Don Mancini returns to the helm for the latest in the Chucky franchise, with Jennifer Tilly and Fiona Dourif joining him at the festival.
FrightFest screenings: 24th August – 18.00
Death Note – out on 25th August
Based on the famous Japanese manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Death Note follows a high school student who comes across a supernatural notebook, realizing it holds within it a great power; if the owner inscribes someone’s name into it while picturing their face, he or she will die. Intoxicated with his new godlike abilities, the young man begins to kill those he deems unworthy of life.
FrightFest screenings: 24th August – 21.00
Voice from the Stone – out on 28th August
Games Of Thrones star Emilia Clarke plays a young nurse attempting to unravel sinister secrets in a Tuscan castle, in this tantalising mix of ghostly mystery classics The Others and The Woman In Black. Fans of Clarke will be pleased to note that the film is released the same day the final episode of season seven of Game of Thrones is broadcast.
FrightFest screenings: 25th August – 11.00
The Villainess – out on 15th September
Trained killer Sook-hee (Kim Ok-bin) is the architect of an unforgettable opening sequence, breathtakingly shot from a first person point-of-view, as she breaks into a warehouse and lays waste to the multitude of thugs contained within. When the pregnant young woman eventually goes down, she’s picked up by the mysterious National Intelligence Service. Given the choice to join them or die, she reluctantly accepts a new identity and trains in order to complete a future assignment and eventually win freedom for herself and her daughter. Matters are further complicated by the feelings arising from the murder of her father, a past relationship with a gang-boss ex-lover and the tantalising chance at a happy future offered by an undercover agent with a mission to win her affections. This South Korean revenge thriller bursts into UK cinemas and on Digital HD on 15th September.
FrightFest screenings: 27th August – 20.30
Freehold – out on 2nd October
The feature debut from commercials director Dom Bridges and written by Rae Brunton (the OUPOST franchise), Freehold is a dark urban morality tale with a streak of jet black comedy. Hussein, a wide-boy estate agent, doesn’t realise he’s sharing his apartment with a forgotten stranger, a master of concealment… until his malicious campaign of deranged sweet revenge starts to really hit home.
FrightFest screenings: 25th August – 11.30
Fanged Up – out on 9th October
Daniel O’Reilly, aka. Dapper Laughs, makes his feature film debut in a vampire comedy about a wrongfully arrested man thrown into a high-security prison for the weekend when his blood group is revealed to be very rare. But once incarcerated, there’s no way out as the warden is a top-level bloodsucker, the guards are his pet zombies and the inmates are their unwilling victims.
FrightFest screenings: 25th August – 21.00
Our Evil – out on 23rd October
A man with spiritualist powers is told by his mentor that a demonic entity is returning to destroy his daughter’s soul and that he should take drastic measures to prevent this from happening. In the seedy underbelly of San Paolo, the desperate exorcist searches for the one person who will carry out his wishes for a large fee and no questions asked.
FrightFest screenings: 25th August – 18.45 / 27th August – 15.45
Replace – out on 31st December
The inimitable Barbara Crampton (who last appeared at FrightFest with Sun Choke – now on Shudder) returns with this debut from German director Norbert Keil. A stylishly viral love story about reverse aging, it follows the young and beautiful Kira, who is afflicted with a dermatological disease that causes her skin to crumble away. The solution? Go on a killing spree to borrow the skin of other people…
FrightFest screenings: 27th August – 15.30
Leatherface – out on 9th January 2018
The eagerly-awaited, nerve-shattering prequel to the legendary The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, exploring the chilling origin of the fearsome horror icon, from the directors of the extreme French masterpiece Inside, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo.
FrightFest screenings: 25th August – 21.00
Mayhem – Early 2018
Joe Lynch returns to FrightFest with the European Premiere of this thriller about lawyer Derek Cho, who suddenly finds himself without a job after being stabbed in the back by a colleague. Enraged, Derek marches to his boss’ office – just as ID7, a virus causing the infected to lose their inhibitions, starts spreading through the entire building. Doors are locked, the government shows up and an 8-hour countdown begins until the viral contagion subsides. The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun stars, which helped the film to be snapped up by AMC’s Shudder for the UK, Ireland and the US.
FrightFest screenings: 27th August – 18.15
Sequence Break – Early 2018
A surreal sci-fi romance written and directed by one of FrightFest’s favourites, Graham Skipper, star of Almost Human, The Mind’s Eye and Beyond the Gates. A reclusive video arcade technician encounters strange metaphysical forces that result in bizarre bio-mechanical mutations when a new console appears in his shop. Reality itself threatens to fracture as he works to solve its mystery. AMC’s Shudder has acquired the rights to the film for the UK, Ireland and the US.
FrightFest screenings: 25th August – 13.45
Cold Hell – Early 2018
80’s slasher meets Żuławski, Cold Hell is a relentless, brutal and violent journey into the heart of dark Vienna. Özge is a cab driver – a second generation Turkish woman distant from all life & its parts. One day she witnesses the latest crime of a brutal serial killer from her apartment and finds herself the target of his insanity. But there’s a catch: Özge is no easy prey. She is tough and determined and oh, did we mention a brilliant kickboxer? Add in the director of the excellent Oscar-winning The Counterfeiters and a whole lot of buzz and you have a film that’s already been snapped up by AMC’s Shudder in the UK, Ireland and the US.
FrightFest screenings: 26th August – 21.00
Still/Born – Early 2018
For Mary, the joy of her infant son Adam’s birth is overshadowed by the devastating stillborn death of his twin brother Thomas. Concerned husband Jack relocates them to a spacious new home in secluded suburbia while Mary makes fast friends with their neighbor Rachel. But fresh faces, new surroundings, and even post-partum medication can’t spin Mary’s haunted motherhood mindset off its deepening descent into horrifying depression. Soon she’s convinced that an otherworldly evil wants to claim her remaining baby for its own. AMC’s Shudder has acquired the rights to the film in the UK and Ireland.
FrightFest screenings: 28th August – 10.45
Alone – Date TBC
From David Moreau, co-director of ILS/THEM, artist Bruno Gazzotti’s best-selling French/Belgian comic book becomes a major motion picture epic. After going to a funfair the night before, Leila wakes up in an empty city. Where are her parents? Where has everyone gone? Thinking she must be the sole survivor of an unthinkable catastrophe, she wanders the weirdly deserted streets – until she meets four other mystified strangers… Backed by Studiocanal, you can expect this to appear eventually on Amazon Prime Video.
FrightFest screenings: 26th August – 13.20
68 Kill – Date TBC
Chip (Matthew Gray Gubler, star of ‘Criminal Minds’) is a hapless nice guy who pumps sewage for a living and is completely infatuated with his out-of-control girlfriend, Liza (AnnaLynne McCord). Realising she wants a better life outside of their trailer park, Liza informs the besotted Chip of her plan to prosperity: jack the $68,000 currently residing in her sugar daddy’s safe and take off together for greener pastures outside of Louisiana. But when their robbery attempt goes crazily wrong, she shows her true, off-kilter colours.
FrightFest screenings: 25th August – 18.30
Psychopaths – Date TBC
The paths of multiple serial killers cross over one single, blood soaked night. Which psychopath will survive through to morning? Veteran FrightFest director Mickey Keating is always worth watching, with Pod one of our favourites from recent years. Kaleidoscope are distributing Mickey’s latest, and they’re no strangers to day-and-date releases in the UK.
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