The hot weather may have disappeared, August will be upon which means one thing, Frightfest! The dark heart of horror will be returning to London for a 24th edition of UK’s biggest horror and fantasy film festival. Bringing a line-up that promises Lovecraftian shockers and classic possession.
Returning in a blaze of gory glory to the Cineworld Leicester Square, London. New sponsor Pigeon Shrine and FrightFest is a ‘shrine’ and a celebration of genre cinema, offering a carnival of carnage, a smorgasbord of shock and a tableau of terror. Kicking things off on Thursday 24th August running until Monday 28th August, five days, of magic menace, mayhem and mischief with seventy films programmed across four screens. Twenty-five world, twenty-three International / European and twelve UK premieres, with fourteen countries represented, spanning five continents.
The festival opens with the European premiere of Suitable Flesh, the latest shocker from FrightFest favourite Joe Lynch. An outlandish love letter to the late, great ReAnimator director Stuart Gordon; a new body horror take on H.P Lovecraft-minded cosmic mayhem that’s a must-watch for fans of raunchy 80s horror. Co-producer and co-star of the film, the genre screen icon, Barbara Crampton, will be returning to FrightFest for the third time.
The Closing night film is the European premiere of The Sacrifice Game. Director Jenn Wexler’s demonically stylish second feature, following FrightFest smash The Ranger, is another wild, thrilling ride and a tribute to the beauty and boldness of classic 1970’s horror. The film’s main star It Olivia Scott Welch, will be busy as she stars also in genre-bending, fantasy thriller The Blue Rose, the world premiere debut feature from 18-year-old George Baron.
2023 Pigeon Shrine FrightFest will also be the platform for another 18 year old filmmaker Alice Maio Mackay. The European premiere of possession thriller T Blockers, Australian trans horror was shot with a predominantly queer, non-binary, and trans cast and crew. Eddie Izzard takes on the title role of Nina Jekyll in Doctor Jekyll, a bold reimagining of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale, which receives its World premiere.
It’s not all about the exciting new releases and FrightFest has teamed up with Warner Bros to celebrate their centenary with two fabulous anniversary retrospectives. James Wan’s The Conjuring turns ten this year which had very special FrightFest screening back in 2013. It’s also the 50th Anniversary of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist and fans of the classic can enjoy a presentation of ‘The Version You Never Saw’ will be hosted by the film’s number one fan and expert Mark Kermode. They’ll also be special retrospective screening of Lewis Teague’s 1980 cult monster movie Alligator and an exclusive It Follows 4K Restoration World Premiere event.
The festival enjoys championing emerging and established voices from across the world, with an legacy backing that up. Returning this year includes Xavier Gens (Frontiere(s), Cold Skin and The Divide) brings his latest French deadly blockbuster Farang. We have a holiday slasher from writing/director duo Erik and Carson Bloomquist (She Came From The Woods) return with Founders Day. The Adams Family (acclaimed chiller The Deeper You Dig), who unveil their latest creation, Where The Devil Roams, which follows a family of murderous sideshow performers. That’s A Wrap is the latest from Blind/Pretty Boy director Marcel Walz, who is up to more splatter mischief, as is Mexican bad boy Alex Kahuam, director of Forgiveness who brings us Ted Raimi on top form in single take Failure!
There is also a return of popular UK filmmakers such as Andy Edwards with seaside slasher Punch and Mitch Jenkins with futuristic thriller A Million Days. Stuart Sparke with the flesh-eating How To Kill Monsters , Airell Anthony Hayles with biting horror caper Werewolf Santa. Sean Hogan with eerie folk horror mini feature To Fire You Come At Last. and Nicholas Vince, in the director’s chair for the filmed version of his autobiographical one-man show I Am Monsters!
Death Of A Vlogger creator Graham Hughes is also back, with Hostile Dimensions, a fun and twisted multi-verse thriller and Jake West makes a welcome return with the World premiere of his superb documentary Mancunian Man: The Legendary Life Of Cliff Twemlow. And actor Richard Brake makes a welcome return in James Bushe’s campfire chiller Lore.
The Main Screen plays host to seven World premieres including Nick Psinakis’s supernatural take on infidelity, Cheat. Matt Sampere’s Halloween slasher Creeping Death, Raymond Wood’s vitriolic feminist revenge-fantasy Faceless After Dark, Steven Pierce’s zombie survivalist thriller Herd, Michael J. Hurst’s wild science fiction shocker Transmission. chilling serial killer two-hander Cold Meat and the haunting, nerve-tingler Home Sweet Home: Where Evil Lives.
Other titles include Paris Zarcilla’s breakout SXSW sensation Raging Grace. The impressive directorial debut from Bishal Dutta and It Lives Inside, shot through a unique diversity lens. Anthony Waller’s supernatural chiller starring Elizabeth Hurley with Piper. Underwater frightener The Dive, John Rosman’s New Life tense thriller of apocalyptic proportions. Quarxx’s aesthetically stunning and relentlessly macabre Pandemonium the darkly claustrophobic sci-fi chiller Monolith . Barnaby Clay’s stone-cold survival shocker The Seeding and Samuel Bodin’s ghostly gripper Cobweb, which will also have an additional Closed Captions screening.
The range of documentaries on show this year proves how buoyant and important to film historians the genre strand has become and how influential it can be in our daily lives. Perhaps the most moving documentary on show this year is Otto Baxter: Not A Fu**ing Horror Story, which explores how director Otto Baxter, who has Down Syndrome, uses his short horror film, A Puppet Asylum, to explore his birth, adoption and epic battles. FrightFest will follow the doc with a screening of his short film. Other docs include: [REC] Terror Without Pause, which explores the seminal Spanish horror classic, The Jhorror Virus, which delves into the world of Japanese supernatural chillers, The Darkside Of Society, an exploration of the appalling truths behind the making of Society, 1982: The Greatest Geek Year Ever! , a celebration of one of the greatest years in movie history, when genre fandom was in its infancy, Kim’s Video, a playful documentary on the quest to track down Kim’s legendary collection of rental videos. And we also enter the crazy world of Bruceploitation with Enter The Clones Of Bruce Lee.
Fans of Asian genre cinema will be happy with the line up with a host of films to enjoy. First up with the return of Japanese visionary Takeshi Kushida, (Woman of the Photographs) unleashes his latest amazing masterwork, My Mother’s Eyes. There is also quirky fantasy River, from Junta Yamaguchi, (Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes), The Ghost Station, a fright night hybrid of Korean and Japanese eerie atmospherics and a FrightFest first entry from The Philippines – the white-knuckle action thriller Topaak / Trigger.
Scandinavian horror makes a welcome entry with Norwegian director Viljar Bøe’s riveting Good Boy, where puppy love isn’t quite what it seems, and in the debut feature from Finnish directors Jonaas Pajunen and Max Seeck The Knocking, family drama and damaged relationships enter new threatening realms of horror.
Three Discovery screens await you with films to look out for include quirky action comedy fantasy, Minore. This year’s FrightFest will welcome its first Greek entry, Poundcake, a killer satire mixing stalk-and-slash with political discourse, edgy noir thriller What You Wish For, hallucinogenic psychological horror Black Mold paranormal thriller Spookt, bloody scifi shocker Thorns, FrightFest Glasgow hit Here For Blood and The Black Mass, the highly anticipated true-crime directorial debut of genre staple Devanny Pinn.
Zach Passero’s The Weird Kidz, where adventure, urban legend and horror blend into a wonderful comedic animated experience. There are also World premieres for Clare Cooney’s Departing Seniors, a deft melding of knife-edge terror with the horrors of high school, and Ariel Vida’s Trim Season inspired by the true story of missing
women from Humboldt County, California. Plus, there ‘s an international premiere for Austin Jennings Eight Eyes, which twists the into nightmarish new shapes.
FrightFest’s First Blood strand continues to thrive and will showcase four films from hot new directors – Chris Cronin’s haunting The Moor, Tariq Sayed’s Isaac, starring Johnny Vivash and Catriona MacColl, Tony Devlin’s The Glenmara Tapes, the latest film to be produced through Northern Ireland Screen’s New Talent Focus initiative, and Dominic O’Neill’s Haunted Ulster Live, inspired by the iconic BBC series Ghostwatch.
Co-director Alan Jones comments: “FrightFesters will experience an amazing variety of films, in an eclectic line-up which serves as a powerful tool of democracy, activism, diversity, inclusivity and social awareness. As always, FrightFest is keen to show, through an openminded philosophy, that the most unexpected and delightful discoveries happen when wideranging topics, different people and varied cultures come together in horror harmony”.
Passes on sale from Saturday 15th July, noon with Single tickets on sale from Saturday 22nd July, noon For booking and programme details: https://www.frightfest.co.uk