For third year in a row we got the chance to see the cream of the horror crop at Manchester’s Grimmfest horror film festival.
Here’s our reviews of a selection of the features –
Tone Deaf –
This tale brings together two very different worlds as self-aware and loud Olive is left in a conundrum when she splits with her boyfriend and then loses her job in quick succession. She decides it may be good to get away from her city life to somewhere more secluded. Unlucky for her she picks the home of Harvey (Robert Patrick), a lonely man with rising anger for today’s generation and everything it stands for.
Tone Deaf feels like the genesis of a serial killer with some truly brutal moments and an inspired and unhinged performance from Patrick, who plays a psychopath with such verve. Not everything works and some scenes, such as a convene where Olive’s mother is living to feel slightly out of place but Tone Deaf is self-aware enough to know this.
Plus lookout for an inspired cameo from Ray Wise, channeling some Twin Peaks vibes.
Why Don’t You Just Die
This Russian feature feels straight out of the Tarantino playbook as we follow the mishaps of a police detective who is pitted against rivals he felt have done him wrong.
The first thing to say here is the action scenes are truly something else; you can almost feel the bone and other things break throughout some of the glorious brutality.
Ultimately the central theme of this film is about family and how fractured relationships can take people to dark places. With its tongue firmly placed in its cheek, this is a swashbuckling ride that feels refreshing and original.
Well, I wasn’t ready for Atrik. From Director Tom Botchii we have a story of a serial killer who is obsessed with comic books. Now whereas Freddy Krueger made light and goofy fun of kids’ love for comic books, this film takes an entirely different look at it.
Artik is relentless and creates a serial killer in its titular role from Jerry G. Angelo who is truly terrifying and will certainly become something of a cult figure in years to come. With similarities to Hounds of Love, this offers us the flip of a serial killer and a man dealing with addiction and throws them together. Now not everything works in terms of combining the narratives but this is a truly original take on a serial killer and although there are common tropes displayed here, Angelo’s performance makes them feel fresh.
Artik is powerful stuff and is arguably the best film screened during this weekend.
After feeling like I needed a bath after Artik it was nice to mix things up with the goofy and playful Extra Ordinary. We follow Rose, a former ghost communicator who is now a driving instructor who is pulled back in the paranormal world by a deadly plot by a one-hit wonder singer.
It seems a baffling plot on paper but Extra Ordinary because it largely wears its heart on its sleeve works extremely well. The majority of the jokes land and it knows when to change it up and gives us something either slightly gory or disgusting.
The pace does slump slightly in the middle act as Rose has to make the choice whether to jump back into this crazy world she so desperately tried to escape.
Having said this the finale is truly bonkers and elevates the film to being a top-notch horror-comedy.
Dead Dicks was the first screening of the final day of Grimmfest and I have to admit I wasn’t ready for the emotional weight behind this feature.
You know you are in for a bumpy ride when the opening sequences involve someone trying to suffocate themselves to death. There is a host of social commentary on suicide and mental illness and it was quite refreshing to see a film going to these dark places in a real heartfelt way. The heartbeat of the feature is the relationship between troubled Richie and his sister Becca who have this toxic yet inescapable bond to each other.
There is surrealism to the piece brought on by the fact Richie keeps on dying and being revived by a vagina looking hole in his wall. We do stray into Lynchian territory but the characters played it fairly straight to keep it from coming across as campy.
The finale although slightly telegraphed, is genuinely distressing and stays with you long after the film ends. This review is being written 24 hours after seeing it and it’s still on my mind.
I See You
I See You deals with a small American town that is dealing with the disappearances of two young boys. But instead of focusing solely on the procedural element of the case we focus on Detective Harper, who has recently discovered his wife has had an affair.
We follow Harper as he looks to solve this case and potentially repair his marriage but all is not what it seems.
There is a point in I See You where there is a very much a flip of theme and dynamic that will feel jarring but once the onion starts to peel you will find this to be a high-quality horror-thriller very much in the vein of Don’t Breathe.
It has moments of truly shocking violence but also balances with a group of fully fleshed-out characters who do questionable things in moments of panic. I See You definitely gets better as it goes on and will only be enhanced by future viewings.
Look out for our podcast interviews with Harpoon director Rob Grant and Director/Writer and Star of Darlin’ Polyanna McIntosh.