From Torn Hearts and A Wounded Fawn to Something in the Dirt, these are the most messed up movies we saw at FrightFest.
FrightFest is a five-day celebration of film that happens in London’s Leicester Square at the end of every August.
The festival focusses on weird and wonderful cinema from all over the world, and this year’s event featured UK Premieres, European Premieres, and even a few World Premieres.
We’ve already posted our review of the festival’s opening night movie – Neil Marshall’s The Lair – but we saw many more films over the long weekend, with the following being some of the most messed up…
Something in the Dirt
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are two of the most exciting names in genre cinema, thanks to the likes of Resolution, Spring, The Endless, and Synchronic. They’ve since joined the Marvel fray, working on Moon Knight and the forthcoming Season 2 of Loki. But Something in the Dirt finds them returning to their indie roots.
The filmmakers star as John and Levi, two troubled souls who meet outside the apartment they share, then start experiencing strange phenomena together.
They suspect ghosts, then aliens, then beings from another dimensions, the pair traveling down the rabbit hole and then through the looking glass during their investigation. And hoping to turn their findings into a movie to make their fortune.
The duo are soon uncovering perceived conspiracies involving numbers, symbols, and sounds. But as they pull on each thread, so the men themselves start to unravel.
Is what they are experiencing real, or is it some shared psychosis? It’s fun speculating as their journey progresses. But as the hold they have over each other becomes ever more concerning, proceedings take a sinister turn, leading to a devastating denouement.
A Wounded Fawn
A Wounded Fawn kicks off with an auction, a bidding war, and a brutal murder, giving gore-hounds what they want at the start of a horror movie. The film then proceeds to defy expectation at every turn.
It’s the work of Travis Stevens – director of Girl on the Third Floor and Jakob’s Wife – and looks incredible, the footage scratched and distressed to give the film a throwback quality, and the washed out colours of reality giving way to a bright fever dream as the climax nears.
The film is split into two acts, with Act 1 revolving around Meredith, an art expert recovering from an abusive relationship, and heading for a cabin in the woods with her new man, Bruce.
Trouble is, Bruce committed the murder at the start of the movie, meaning we are one step ahead of Meredith. Which makes for an unbearably tense date night. One that ends violently and unexpectedly, before leading into Act 2.
That’s when the proverbial hits the fan, but we won’t spoil the details here. What we will say is that A Wounded Fawn becomes increasingly surreal and visually inventive, and concludes with an unforgettable final scene that gets better the longer it lasts.
Set in the Autumn of 1830, Raven’s Hollow revolves around a group of West Point Military Cadet’s on a training exercise in upstate New York. One of whom just happens to be future horror legend Edgar Allan Poe.
They stumble upon what they think is a scarecrow, but on closer inspection turns out to be a man, gutted, and barely alive. They take him to the nearest town – the Raven’s Hollow of the title – where the locals are acting strangely and then suspiciously.
That’s the set-up for this gothic horror that’s something of a slow-burn. The pace is stately, the mood oppressive, and the set design gorgeous, lending the film a great sense of time and place.
There are also fun Easter Eggs for fans of Poe’s work, with props and dialogue hinting at what’s to come, and turning the film into something of a super-author origin story.
But while there are twists and turns and a few pleasingly gory deaths, the pay-off doesn’t quite live up to what’s come before.
From writer Rachel Koller Croft, director Brea Grant, and genre studio Blumhouse comes this blackly comic horror about rivalry, ambition, and what it takes to make it as a country and western artist.
We kick off in 1993, when singing duo The Duchess Sisters are winning music awards and working their way to the top. Then something goes wrong, and one of them dies.
Cut to the present-day, and Torn Hearts are an equally ambitious singing duo, who believe they can take their work to the next level by collaborating with the remaining ‘Sister’ Harper Dutch (Katey Sagal, hamming it up in hilarious fashion).
So the ladies head to her house with plans to pitch her their idea over Harper’s favorite pie. But the garden is overgrown. The mansion is dilapidated. And Harper Dutch is out of her mind.
What follows is a fair amount of drink, a broken guitar, some psychological warfare, and a few great songs. Then Torn Hearts explodes into violence, with the climax twisted, silly, and hugely entertaining.
If you want more horror, check out our list of the best scary movies streaming on Netflix right now.