So The Illbomb attended the event that was Film 4’s Fright Fest at Leicester Square’s Empire Cinema. This is a festival that has gained quite a reputation within its 12 year history in delivering strong, gory, and silly embodiments of fear within the film medium. You would be forgiven though, for thinking that the Illbomb was granted an all access Press Pass to this horror festival. On the contrary, I was obliged to be part of a team of volunteers in order to bag myself a series of free films to watch, see some cool ass directors and generally enjoy the experience of a right proper film festival.
The opening film commenced at 6:30 pm, which was a Guillermo Del Toro, written and produced remake starring Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes. Disappointingly Del Toro was not there to introduce the film as he explained in the pre recorded video that he was “super busy working on another film”. He did manage to charm the full capacity audience as proved by a series of light hearted chuckles before we all sat to watch the film. I have never seen the 1973 “cult classic” Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark original that Del Toro confessed to loving, so I have no reference point to compare to. This 2011 UK Premiere version however was not particularly enduring and in fact was more disappointing than Guillermo Del Toro’s absence.
The most impressive scene starts at the very beginning delivering a back-story to the events and clues that will happen in the future. This scene is typical of this kind of horror film where the biggest shocks climax from the start. It is a shame that the rest of the 100 minutes running time was not able to live up to the initial suspense. The plot revolves around a new family comprising of father (Guy Pearce), daughter Sally (Bailee Madison) and stepmother (Katie Holmes) who move into a 19th century need-for-restoration-mansion, with a sinister past.
When a hidden basement is discovered by Sally she hears voices coming from a bolted ash pit. When she unlocks the bolt, she unwittingly releases terrifying small creatures that persist in trying to kidnap her to a Hades underworld. The most frightening thing about the film is that young Sally’s natural parents seem to be interested in climbing a career ladder rather than show any interest in their child. Director Troy Nixey administers an interesting subplot concerning the Freudian relationship between step daughter and step mum and daughter and father, and the actors do a great job (especially Guy Pearce) in conveying this. It is an okay film, but I would rather wait for it to come on television rather than paying money to see it.
The second UK premiere of the day was the durable franchise of Final Destination 5. Having been under the impression that 2009’s The Final Destination was in fact the last one I felt somehow cheated that this one has now sprung up. Anyway I decided to give this one a miss as I am pretty sure I know how that one will turn out, a series of young peeps die unexplainable and gruesome deaths. Was I right? Hell to the yes. (Note to writer ErIc Heisserer: The Thing remake better be good!)
The Clockwork Orange type trailer with the girl with the eye does look pretty shocking though: