This year’s FrightFest arrives at that awkward time just as the summer is coming to a close, right when people are just beginning to get into fall mode. What better way to celebrate that some quality horror releases? Read on for our full coverage of 2022’s FrightFest!
Set in 1945, Burial follows a small group of Russian soldiers in Berlin given a secret task: transport Hitler’s remains to Stalin in Russia! Each night on their travels, the group must bury Hitler’s coffin underground. This way, if they are killed, the precious cargo will forever go undiscovered. Soon enough, an ambush occurs, throwing them all into survival mode as they are picked off one by one. The film is bookended by an old woman who thwarts a burglary attempt, handcuffs the vigilante to her radiator, and forcibly recounts this story circa 1991 London. If Burial wasn’t taken so deathly serious throughout, a premise ripe for supernatural occurrences and creeping moments of horror could have emerged. Instead, Burial just feels like a generic thriller struggling to overcome its predictability. Also of note: this is not a werewolf movie.
CULT OF VHS
Physical media is the way to go in my opinion. I may be one of the few people I know who still collect Blu-rays and TV-seasons, but there is no denying the power that comes in physically owning a piece of media, than being able to hold it in one’s hand. Cult of VHS transports us to a simpler time, when a plethora of VCR and Blockbuster ads could be seen on one’s local stations. Before YouTube and the internet gave easy access to movie trailers, all audiences had to go by when perusing the local video stores were the stunning cover art of a title! Segments of this documentary gave me the warm feeling of nostalgia—remembering the first time I ever tried to record right from the TV and edit out the commercials, a fuzzy wave of recollection washed over me. Cult of VHS needed more of these types of moments. Instead, its heavy focus on VHS collectors subsequently emphasizes the lack of big names involved in this documentary. It was cool to hear fellow fans being passionate about horror, but at a certain point I wished Video Nasties and actual highlights from said films were showcased more heavily.
Deep Fear, just from the premise and the eerie opening, was giving me vibes of one of my all-time favorite horror movies, The Descent. Unfortunately, the movie is never able to measure up to those lofty expectations, instead falling somewhere between disappointing and misguided. Mainly set in 1991 Paris, we follow a group of three youths as they head down into the catacombs for some off-the-wall fun and excitement before one of them is shipped off for military service. Their tour guide warns of an unexplored “white zone,” and the passages being unstable. This, being a horror movie, I was waiting for them to all get to this “white zone” for the veritable shit to his the fan. Deep Fear boils down to four people stalked in the catacombs by a bunch of crazy Nazi skinheads. I didn’t find anything scary here, though director Gregory Beghin does occasionally wring some tension out of the premise. For a much better movie set in the Paris catacombs, check out As Above, So Below instead.
The Ghosts of Monday
(Written by Allison Brown) The Ghosts of Monday is far better, more complex, and layered than the film I had envisioned upon pressing play. I am so glad I didn’t read the spoiler-filled description sent through with the screener prior to watching, as it is necessary to go in as blind as possible; other synopses were thankfully much vaguer. The film follows a recently divorced couple, Sofia (Marianna Rosset) and Eric (Mark Huberman), as they prepare to film the pilot of a ghost hunting show in the legendarily haunted Grand Hotel Gula. The host of aforementioned show Ghosts Of The Old World is Sofia’s father, Bruce (Julian Sands). Allegedly, there are not many ghost sightings, so Bruce wants to spice the pilot up with bogus hauntings. Foreshadowing that seems to comically spoil characters as ghouls, leads to an entirely different narrative by the conclusion of the film. It takes more than half the run time for deaths to occur, but once they do, they are plentiful. However, the murders are poorly performed with an incredibly cheesy score. I laughed at several moments where I am not sure that was intended. The final scenes of the conclusion were far too abrupt, with very little elaboration as to what is portrayed. I wish the ending were better developed. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed writer/director Francesco Cinquemani’s film. I was genuinely surprised at every turn and on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next. I highly recommend checking out The Ghosts of Monday, as it is one of the better titles I have watched from FrightFest this year.
THE GHOST WRITER
(Written by Intern, Lauren Vega) Can the past be re-written? In The Ghost Writer, a struggling author seethes in the shadow of his famous father and soon discovers the blemishes and demise of what may or may not be his father’s past. In this film, Director Paul Wilkins demonstrates the inner workings of the mind and how the past can return to torment generations. While watching, I began questioning the distinction between fiction and reality, the lines blurring between Gilliger’s vices and hidden demons. Editor Nigel Galt did an outstanding job of abrupt cuts, jilting my line of sight, making me feel uneasy and almost paranoid of everyone in the film. The ending was ambiguous and sadistic, containing themes of being haunted by the generational demons of one’s past. If the movie’s point was to confuse me and make me research the plot online, it succeeded. However, I feel uniquely dissatisfied with the ending. I thought it was a great psychological thriller that had me questioning reality from fiction, but again, its ambiguousness ultimately frustrated me.
Full review at the link.
Full review at the link.
Full review at the link.
While only three titles at this year’s fest warranted full coverage, FrightFest continues to be an exciting space to watch for debuts and spotlight horror that will be hitting the big and small screen in the year to come. My favorite thing this fest was Wreck, an exciting new horror slasher set on a cruise liner whose first episode debuted. I can’t wait for next year to see what unspeakable horrors will be coming our way!