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FrightFest 2021: The First Wave

It rises again; a shuffling, monstrous figure bringing death and destruction and horror (oh, such horror) in its wake. That’s right, FrightFest is returning in the flesh (and blood) on Thursday 27th August through to Sunday 30th, after last year’s online version.

Earlier this month, FrightFest announced the first wave of films featuring in this year’s festival and, as ever, it’s a mighty fine looking array of horror.

The festival opener is Demonic from Neil Blomkamp—director of District 9—a blend of sci-fi and hi-tech horror. Yes, please, and thank you.

And the festival closer? It’s a film that sounds incredibly poignant: Rob Jabbaz’s debut feature, The Sadness. “After a year of combating a pandemic with relatively benign symptoms, a frustrated nation finally lets its guard down. This is when the virus spontaneously mutates, giving rise to a mind-altering plague. The age of civility and order is no more. There is only ‘The Sadness’.”…it sounds familiar…

Crammed between these excellent sounding bookends is an array of wonderful horror. We could list all of the titles, but we wanted to pick out a few that have caught our collective eye:

The Kindred, featuring James Cosmo (Game of Thrones) and if you play a little I-Spy on the IMDb page you might see, friend of the show, award-winning filmmaker, Conor Boru on the cast list.

“A woman suffering from amnesia pieces together the events that led to her father’s suicide, only to be haunted by the ghosts of children that she begins to suspect were murdered by him”

It sounds like just the sort of cheery cinema that we love at Hermanos of Horror.

No Man of God. The European premiere of the latest from Elijah Wood’s production company, Company X and directed by Amber Sealey. Using transcripts of interviews between FBI agent, Bill Hagmaier, and convicted serial killer, Ted Bundy, as it’s basis, it examines the complex relationship between the two men.

Prisoners of the Ghostland. It’s firmly established that at least a third of the hermanos has an overwhelming love for Nicolas Cage. Well, this third will be content to hear that he’s bringing some more Cageness to the cinema with this grindhouse-feel title from director Sion Sono.

“In treacherous Samurai Town, ruthless bank robber Hero is sprung from jail by wealthy warlord The Governor to find his missing granddaughter. The prisoner will gain his freedom in exchange for the runaway and to ensure success he’s strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct within five days. Let the stylish skirmishes with gunslingers, ghosts, samurai and cults begin on Hero’s road to redemption…”

There’s no way this can be anything other than a masterpiece…right?

The Retaliators. Alarm bells ring when you encounter the phrase “features cameos and music by Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee, Five Finger Death Punch, Papa Roach, The Hu, Ice Nine Kills, Escape The Fate and many more”, but this is offset by seeing “THE EVIL DEAD-style homages”.

“An upstanding pastor uncovers a dark and twisted underworld as he searches for answers surrounding his daughter’s brutal murder.”

Overall it sounds like The Retaliators could be a bit of a Mandy type situation; loved by some of the hermanos, less-loved by others.

And then there’s the film that looks like it could join the pantheon of wonderful vengeance films we’ve been looking at on the podcast recently:

The Maid. “An audaciously violent, supernatural revenge slasher”…do you need to know any more than that?! From Lee Thongkham we have the story of Ploy, a maid who still wanders around the house where she met her “horrible unexplained death”…you need more? Okay, well Ploy’s sister gets employed at the house, years later…more? She embarks on a revenge mission—sorry, let’s use the phrase on the FrightFest website “a revenge-seeking spree”…yep, that’s the sort of film we like to see.

More films are going to be added to this, already impressive looking roster, so we’ll take a look at them when the second wave is announced, but it’s safe to say, we’re excited about FrightFest 2021.

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