This year, GRIMMFEST, Manchester’s Festival of Horror, Cult and Fantastic Film celebrated its thirteenth anniversary by evolving into a hybrid form, running both a live event and then a virtual festival the week after.
A welcome return to the cinema, after over a year of Pandemic-necessitated online-only presentations, saw the festival running across two screens at a regular venue, the Odeon Great Northern, Manchester, and offering a larger, wider variety of films than ever before, with over thirty features film premieres and four programmes of short films.
Which in turn meant more films than ever before eligible for this year’s “Grimm Reaper” festival awards.
This year’s awards have been sponsored by our friends at M2 MEDIA cinema post-production services, a company that is actively helping independent feature films get financed.
This year’s stalwart Festival Jury featured the UK Horror Channel’s managing director Stewart Bridle, Canadian based film director Justin McConnell (LIFE CHANGER, CLAPBOARD JUNGLE), US actress and director Natasha Halevi (DON’T GO OUTSIDE, BEAUTY JUICE), DIABOLIQUE magazine editor Kat Ellinger, and UK based actor and director Dominic Brunt (BAIT, BEFORE DAWN, ATTACK OF THE ADULT BABIES, EMMERDALE).
Their task has not been an easy one and the festival team would like to thank them for their dedication, discernment and diplomacy. But the votes are all in, and Grimmfest is delighted to announce this year’s winners:
BEST SFX: U.S. body horror film noir FACELESS, for its unsettlingly authentic-looking prosthetic work.
Special mention: ferocious Taiwanese infection shocker THE SADNESS, for its visceral mayhem and pyrotechnic gore.
BEST SCARE: Supernatural U.S. psychodrama TWO WITCHES, for its skillfully set up, and carefully-orchestrated shocks and escalating sense of dread.
Special mention: claustrophobic alienation drama ALONE WITH YOU, for its unnerving, half-glimpsed, corner of the eye moments of creepiness and fracturing reality within the confined space of a New York apartment. .
BEST SCORE: Barry J. Neely’s subtle and sympathetic soundtrack to American Midwest based magic realist coming of age drama, SLAPFACE.
Special mention: Pierre Tsigaridis’s nerve-janging score for TWO WITCHES
CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT: Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury for setting themselves such a technical and creative challenge in French underwater haunted house shocker THE DEEP HOUSE.
Special mention: Aaron Bartuska for his sulphurous study of a toxic relationship, FOR ROGER shot on MiniDV for 90s period authenticity.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: For creating a sense of place so grimy and tactile you might need a shower afterwards in Belgian black comedy HOTEL POSEIDON.
Special mention: Italian existential home invasion thriller THE GUEST ROOM for making its single location set so visually striking – the Bates Motel by way of Gaudi.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Scott McClellan, for his stark, crisp, perfectly composed black & white cinematography on the Bergmanesque Canadian spin on Southern Gothic THE RIGHTEOUS.
Special mention: Pierre Tsigaridis for his striking use of light and shadow in TWO WITCHES.
BEST SCREENPLAY: Mark O’Brien, for his literate and meditative expiration of faith, guilt, and repressed memory, THE RIGHTEOUS.
Special mention: Jim Cummings and P.J. McCabe for their razor-sharp and riotously funny dialogue in the sourly satiric study of toxic male entitlement, and Hollywood ambition, THE BETA TEST.
BEST ACTOR: August Maturo, for a performance of real depth, nuance and maturity despite his tender age, in SLAPFACE.
Special mention: Brendan Sexton III in FACELESS, for never allowing the elaborate facial prosthetics to hamper the sympathy and humanity of his performance.
BEST ACTRESS: Anna Cobb for her stunningly emotive and unnerving screen debut as a small town MidWestern girl finding a scary new world online in WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR.
Special mention: Ki Joo Jin, for her subtle and sympathetic portrayal of a put upon young deaf woman stalked by a misogynist maniac in Korean thriller MIDNIGHT.
BEST SHORT FILM: SMILES, Javier Chavanel’s blackly funny and genuinely nightmarish spin on the popular “meet the parents’ scenario.
Special mentions for Brodi-jo Scalise’s skin-crawling study of new relationship anxieties, ITSY BITSY SPIDER, Dane Hallett’s visceral exploration of family resentment in RANCOUR, Nathan Crooker’s sharp reinvention of the EC comics morality tale, #NOFILTER, Eva Muñoz’s chilling portrait of cultural and personal alienation, HANNYA and MASK OF THE EVIL APPARITION, Alex Proyas’ long-awaited return to the world of his classic DARK CITY.
BEST DIRECTOR: Vanya Peirani-Vignes for the meticulously controlled, clockwork precise pressure-cooker Paris-based thriller BLAST.
Special mention: Jane Schoenbrun for the daring reinvention of the desktop movie and the online conspiracy narrative in WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR
BEST FEATURE: MIDNIGHT, Oh-seung Kwon’s gripping and relentless cat and mouse thriller, shot on the night time streets of Seoul.
Special mention: THE SADNESS, Rob Tabbaz’s savage study of a society turned sexually insane in the wake of a pandemic infection.
PLUS the Grimmfest team present these honorary awards for 2021:
ACHIEVEMENT IN GENRE CINEMA: AJ BOWEN
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD (Sponsored by Horror Channel): DEE WALLACE
And finally, the Attendees had their say:
AUDIENCE AWARD: THE SADNESS, smashing film festival’s the world over, this post-pandemic gore fest from Taiwan is quickly building an international reputation for itself.
Special mention: NIGHT DRIVE, a genre-shuffling spin on classic film noir tropes, directed by Brad Baruh and Meghan Leon and Starring AJ Bowen and Sophie Dalah in which an LA taxi driver’s life is turned upside down after picking up a mysterious customer.