In the cinema, everyone can hear you scream

Film4FrightFest single showing tickets went on sale today.

One of the UK’s brightest and best horror film festivals, FrightFest has a massive following and set-up has grown hugely over the time it’s been running. Various directors and actors show up annually (Adam Green, Neil Marshall), and the guest list is extensive.

As one who has only seen a few films there, I’m barely qualified to talk about it – but go to Leicester Square the weekend that it’s on and stroll around, and the buzz is palpable. I can’t afford a full festival pass or anything more than a few tickets. I never can. I’ve considered day passes, but the films I want to see are never on on the same day. Also, Coffee Monster works at the festival as a cameraman, which is basically a 24/7 job for five days, and one of us has to be at home to take care of the pooches. So each year I tend to go to a couple of films and then make myself scarce to do other things with the bank holiday.

I rely on CM and another friend of ours who works there to let me know which films are worth tracking down to watch after the event. Often they’re films that aren’t getting a wide release in the UK, or, if they are, won’t be available for months. Off the top of my head, FrightFest is why I’ve seen The Loved Ones, American Mary, Kill List, Sennentuntschi , Troll Hunter, Frozen and the Hatchet movies. There are other films that I’ve heard of via FrightFest and not yet had the opportunity to see (for example F, which I’ve heard is brilliant; also The Woman, which we actually own on blu-ray – but it’s still in the plastic and not mine to open).

This year, I have the time and money to see a film more than usual (like, four instead of two), and I’ve learnt the hard way that waiting until the day to get tickets results in disappointment as they sell out. So, here is my barely thought-out and completely incomprehensible guide to picking three films out of more-than-I-can-count.

Yep. The dark, welcoming, fun, heart of cinema.
Yep. The dark, welcoming, fun, heart of cinema.

How to choose limited films for a limited budget and limited time from a fairly unlimited list

1) Notice that the single ticket box office is open. Open the FrightFest 2013 film list and click on  Every. Single. Link.

2) Start reading synopses. Discard anything that doesn’t immediately grab your interest. Re-open a few pages when you remember that you’ve heard those films are really good.

3) Write down a list of about 17 films you’d quite like to see. Compare dates and times. Realise you’ve managed to make sure almost every film you’ve listed clashes with the time of another film.

4) Remove films from the list that you’ve seen trailers for in mainstream cinemas. This is actually good advice. It’d be fun to go to the worldwide or UK premiere, but given your limited resources, it makes sense to wait and stick to the films less likely to have mainstream distribution that will be more difficult to track down later.

5) Remove the film that you realise sounded so good because you’ve seen it already and it WAS good (this one’s The American Scream, by the way. It was on Netflix, but I don’t think it’s there anymore. It’s a quirky, lovely, charming documentary and FrightFesters are going to relate to the people in it).

6) Start to discard one film because you know it’s going to scare the shit out of you and you don’t want to travel home in the middle of the night by yourself. Then, if you’re lucky, your partner reminds you that they will also be travelling home in the middle of the night so you won’t be by yourself. Oh, yeah.

7) Start playing favourites with actors, directors and, er, countries. One of the films I chose is on the list because it’s Australian, and Australia has delivered Wolf Creek, The Loved Ones (which I’ve seen at least four times because we keep showing it to people) and Red Hill. That’s a high standard to meet, but I have great hopes for 100 Bloody Acres.

8) Get stuck trying to get the number down to three films and decide that Monday can be a sort of double bill night, pay for four film tickets and resolve not to buy popcorn for the sake of your bank account.

So in August, I will be seeing The Hypnotist, 100 Bloody Acres, For Elisa and We Are What We Are (which is an American Gothic remake of a 2010 Mexican film). I’m very happy with these choices. I have definitely not gone back to the showing list twice and wondered if I can add a couple more bookings (Big Bad Wolves? Stalled?) or whether I should have gone for Odd Thomas instead of For Elisa.

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