For those unfamiliar souls, Frightfest is basically as it says on the tin – a festival of fright and now the leading horror and fantasy film festival in the UK if not Europe. The Film4 organised and sponsored Frightfest was again in effect from August 26th â€“ 30th, running into its 11th year and providing a quality – horror-based -alternative to a lot of the other Bank holiday distractions on offer in London.
Not being a big fan of the horror genre, I accompanied May-Ling to a screening of The Clinic, a new Aussie film about babies being abducted whilst still in the womb. To be honest, this isnâ€™t such a horrific film â€“ nowhere near the experience of watching The Ring or Tobe Hooperâ€™s Texas Chainsaw Massacre (how green am I making myself sound here?). However, having seen the world premiere of The Orphanage at Frightfest a couple of years back I pretty much knew that it would be a good film and Iâ€™m sure May-Ling was gentle with her selection for me. Also consider the fact that over the past decade, nearly 85% of the screenings have been either World, European, or UK premieres. Quite some stat attack, that!
Having been staged initially at the Prince Charles cinema, then the Odeon in Leicester Square, the Frightfest moved to the Empire cinema in 2009. The organizers say that the 1300 seat cinema is the ideal venue and whilst I usually frequent less salubrious theatres away from the West End (or the brilliant NFTs 1,2 or 3 at the BFI Southbank) I was surprised to find myself in possibly one of the smallest screensâ€¦ever. 90 seats only; brilliant. I guess Iâ€™ll have to work out why itâ€™s been voted in the top 10 cinemas in the world with some repeat visits, but they could do with not selling big bags of crisps for punters to munch on throughout suspenseful and hence predominantly quiet, films. OK, thatâ€™s the bitch over â€“ see my new rant for how a cinema really shouldnâ€™t behave.
On a note of controversy to end with, there was finally, no screening of â€œA Serbian Filmâ€ by SrÄ‘an SpasojeviÄ‡. Not that I would have attended myself; but despite the reported scenes of â€˜newborn pornâ€™ and a father raping his young son before penetrating another characterâ€™s eye socket, it was a shame the BBFC decided that almost 4 minutes of cuts were required before even then not guaranteeing a screening.
Iâ€™ll see you there next year!