Arrow Video FrightFest – Twenty Blood Years | Day Three – Vlogging scares, a killer drone and the return of stoners Jay and Silent Bob

While temperatures rose on the streets of London on Saturday, the air-con kept everyone super chilled inside Cineworld Leicester Square (a little too much so for me) during Day Three of the festival. Meanwhile, over at the Prince Charles Cinema there was the first short film showcase which featured some excellent pieces, including folk horror Marianne, the Oz vampire flick The Hitchhiker, The Video Store Commercial and the occult chiller The Cunning Man. I must say, there were a few duds today on the main screens (and many of my FrightFesters felt the same), but here’s three that caught my interest for differing reasons…

DEATH OF A VLOGGER
YouTuber Graham (Graham Hughes) gains viral fame after one of his eerie videos contains an alleged out-of-this-world haunting. But when it’s revealed that it’s all a hoax, he kills himself. But was it?

Any time someone mentions ‘found footage’, I feel a shudder down my spin — the genre is an instant turn-off for me, as it opens itself up to some shoddy, cheapskate ways of making a film. But Graham Hunghes’ viral mockumentary was a genuine surprise. I found myself totally absorbed and taken on the journey, which is all about internet fame and social media shaming and, as such, is bang-on as to what’s happening around us today. Its well-executed, with a cleverly-crafted mix of head-shot interviews, archive material, ripped YouTube content and some unexpected frights; and all the characters have a well-crafted trajectory (and some interesting insights into the human psyche). Deffo one to check out.

DAUGHTER OF DISMAY
I really wanted to see Critters Attack!, but with it being sold out I opted to catch The Drone, which was preceded by this visually-stunning 9-minute short. Shot in 70mm IMAX with great pedigree in the crew department (including The Conjuring composer Joseph Bishara), this visually-stunning occult chiller involves a witch (Ieva Agnostic) attempting to resurrect her daughter (Dajana Rajic) from the dead by invoking a demon (Krist Mort). The scene in which she cuts her arm was probably the single most disturbing thing I have seen so far at the festival (I had to look away, it was so realistic). Director James Quinn is hoping to turn this into a feature. And I hope he does.

THE DRONE
Just before the police break into his home, serial killer The Violator (Neil Sandilands) invokes black magic and downloads his soul into the commercial drone he used to stalk victims. Finding the abandoned drone while moving into their new smart house, just-married Rachel (Alex Essoe) and Chris (John Brotherton) are happy to claim the device as their own. But when strange things begin to occur, they gradually realise the full horror of adopting the psychotic equipment…

The fact that this comedy horror comes from Jordan Rubin, the director of Zombeavers, should have alerted me as to what I was about to see. Yes, its tongue-in-cheek with a definite Empire Pictures vibe and a cheesy synth score that’s part-Richard Band, part Henry Manfredini, but its also down-right ludicrous with two lead characters that you just want to see die. Not because they are exceptionally good-looking (well that’s a big factor), but because they are just so stupid in their actions in dealing with the murderous drone.

I counted a number of instances when they should have just either tossed it back in the bin they found it in, or smashed it. And why does Rachel insist on having the dreaded contraption sit beside her when she keeps shouting, ‘I hate that drone’ and ‘I hate technology’? Of course, this is Rubin’s sledgehammer way of commenting on consumerism and our attachment to technology. The only sensible character in this farrago is Hector, the couple’s dog, whose efforts to try and warn his masters of the impending danger results in him being tied to a post out the backyard.

When Anita Briem’s cougar neighbour Corrine is sliced and diced by the drone, Chris becomes the prime suspect in her murder, which means the couple must now set out to clear his name. This is when the ludicrous plot turns ridiculous, as they hire a private investigator and track down The Violator’s brother, who has just given the possessed drone an upgrade (complete with razor sharp blades and audio speakers). Cue the climactic showdown, a not-so big reveal and a LOL twist ending that hints at (please no!), a sequel.

MADNESS IN THE METHOD
Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) of Clerks fame reunite in Mewes’ directing debut. Playing an alternative version of his ‘Jay’ persona, Mewes wants to reinvent himself as a serious actor and sets out to land a coveted lead role in a major studio film. Upon advice from Smith, he tracks down a secret book outlining all the mysteries of the Method Acting process. But rather than following the rules, he decides to read the whole book at once — which has disastrous consequences.

Mewes’ self-reverential crime comedy is a bit of a mixed bag and frankly overstays its welcome by about mid-way through its 100-minute running time. But it does feature some wickedly funny cameos. Vinnie Jones, who is framed for the murder that Mewes commits (which sets the action in motion), is pure dynamite – in more ways than one, Casper Van Dien makes for a great bitchy queen, a feather-boa wearing Danny Trejo taps into his feminine side, Dean Cain is terrific as the Superman star hiding from his adoring fans (even though no one actually recognises him), and his old former co-star Teri Hatcher is terrific as a multi-tasking talent agent. There’s also a poignant final on-screen appearance from Marvel icon Stan Lee (and the film is dedicated in his memory). Mewes’ has certainly put his heart and soul into his pet project, but I wasn’t convinced that a horror film festival was the right fit for this screwball comedy.

BEST LINE (from Danny Trejo)
‘It’s not gay so long as the balls don’t touch the chin’

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About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on August 25, 2019, in Comedy, Horror, Thriller and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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