It’s Day 4 and Frightfesters took time out to attend Andy Nyman’s annual Quiz from Hell before taking in previews of Xavier Gens’ new post-apocalyptic chiller The Divide; the much-touted brutal British crime thriller Kill List; and Lady GaGa music video director Joseph Kahn’s post-modern teen slasher Detention. But here are my highlights of the day.
Festival favourite Ti West came back to Roost in The House of the Devil (aka London’s Empire Square) for his latest frightener, The Innkeepers, a slow-burning, character-driven chiller set in a real-life haunted hotel in Connecticut. With the century-old Yankee Pedlar due to close and few guests to serve, hotel desk attendants Caire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) have little to do than update their paranormal website about the inn’s most famous ghost, Madeline O’Malley, a newlywed who hung herself on her honeymoon, and recording EVP readings in the hotel’s deserted rooms at the dead of night. When a former TV star-turned medium Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis) comes to stay, she convinces Claire that there are actually three ghosts that haunt the hotel, and that they want her to leave. Investigating further, Claire soon finds herself facing her own darkest fears. I counted only four big shocks in this slow-moving creep-fest, but its all done on purpose as Ti West’s film focuses totally on Claire, an awkward asthma-suffering teen who feels slightly disconnected from the world, but doesn’t really know what she wants from life. West’s film is also a subtle study in how to build suspense, leaving it up to the viewer to decide whether what Claire sees is real, or is in fact just an expression of her fears. Now that’s spooky.
From Dutch director Dick Maas (famed for his 1980s genre pieces The Lift and Amsterdamned), comes the seasonal shocker Sint (aka Saint). Maas turns the traditional story of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, sailors and the city of Amsterdam, into a dark, twisted and bloody tale about a murderous renegade bishop turned pirate who was burned alive by revolting villagers on December 5 1492. Now every time a full moon appears on that date, the vengeful bishop and his band of Black Peters (charcoal-encrusted zombies) return from the dead to kidnap the city’s children. While the authorities and the Church have always tried to suppress the truth, veteran cop Goert (whose family were killed by the spectre in 1968) and a young student Frank (whose girlfriend and friends become the Saint’s latest victims) join forces to stop the hideously-disfigured demon from turning Amsterdam into a bloodbath once again. From the exciting chase over the city’s rooftops to the explosive climax aboard a ghostly Schooner berthed in the harbour, this is a thrilling non-stop ride. And it isn’t as gory as it sounds – being more Pirates of the Caribbean than John Carpenter’s The Fog (which it resembles). Catch it if you can this Christmas… Now, what’s that burning I smell?
Now sit back and shiver with today’s collection of fright-tastic trailers…