1Friday Fright Fest
Welcome to the Friday Fright Fest, the only scary movie guide you will need to haunt your week ahead. If you feel like you’ve watched too many comedy or action flicks lately and need a good scare, the following films will have you quivering like you never have done before. Phil Robinson provides a round-up of all the best horror films in the week ahead.
2Pick Of The Week
Film4: Saturday 27th June, 11.15pm
When it comes to recent horror portfolios, James Gunn has quite the résumé. Learning his trade with Troma Entertainment, writing the sleek, must-see remake of Dawn of the Dead and making his directorial debut with the hysterical yet super gross Slither, his connections to horror (including the vibrantly fun Lollipop Chainsaw video game) and geek culture in general (the fantastic Guardians of the Galaxy and under appreciated The Specials) greatly outweigh the fact he wrote both (yeah, both) the live action Scooby-Doo movies.
So what do you get when you take this modern horror icon, let him write an indie superhero film and cast The (US) Office’s Rainn Wilson and Kevin Bacon? You get a delightful, bizarre and messy take on the tale of a man trying to make a difference, and find his place in life.
Frank (Rainn) is down on his luck after his wife Sarah (Liv Tyler) walks out on him, and his depression leads him to having a vision from God, telling him he has “a special purpose”. Taking this as a sign that he must become a costumed vigilante, Frank begins to fight crime in an attempt to win Sarah back from her new drug dealer boyfriend Jacques (Bacon). Did I mention it’s a little bizarre?
A wonderful cast (that also includes Ellen Page, Michael Rooker and Nathan Fillion) giving top class performances, a story quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before and laughs and gross-outs in equal measure; you may have missed Super the first time round, don’t let it pass you by again.
3Big Scare On The Big Screen
Insidious: Chapter 3
In Cinemas Now
When a franchise gets a proper run at it, with fan support and the freedom from a good studio to give it room to grow, it can become something extra special. Insidious came at a time when the reinvigorated haunted house craze was reaching a peak; it was the perfect blend of slow burning chills, creepy atmosphere and scares so good that cinema floors were more popcorn than carpet for weeks. The sequel added some interesting ideas, building up the more bizarre aspects of the franchise instead of playing it safe – it gets serious points for that. Now it’s time to see how much farther we can reach into The Further when it comes to creative ideas.
Before the events of one and two, a young girl seeks a way to contact her dead mother, which leads her to get in touch with series regular Elise (Lin Shaye). Because nothing can be happy for long with these movies an evil spirit appears instead of Quinn’s mother, and attaches itself to her soul… wanting to claim her body as well. Riddled with guilt, Elise must face her own fears and return to The Further to save them both from horrifying fates.
This film, going down the prequel line, feels a little flat without the Lamberts. A connection was forged with the family from this film’s predecessors, and let’s not forget that pesky cliff-hanger ending to Chapter 2 is still waiting to be addressed. It was going to be a gamble not dealing with this, but to give the devil his due at least we have another entry into Elise’s story. Similar in many ways to what Annabelle was to The Conjuring, a few good scares here and there but a flat story leaves you without a sense of dread, just wanting a proper sequel.
4Worth The Watch
BBC One: Friday 3rd July, 11.55pm
Nelson Wright (Kiefer Sutherland) is seeking the answer to life’s greatest question: what is the secret to Death?
Gathering together a group of people he hopes are capable of answering the mystery (and include Kevin Bacon and Julia Roberts no less) they set up an experiment to see if they can reach beyond the hallucinations that come with near death experiences.
They manage this by, in the most scientific way possible of course, stopping each other’s hearts in turn to experience visions from their pasts. Science be damned of course, because their nightmarish projections of old sins begin to blur the lines between what is and isn’t real…
Directed smoothly and with plenty of suspense by Joel Schumacher, Sutherland and Roberts lead a cast that entertain and carry a potentially overly-ridiculous idea over the finish line with only a few bumps. A film a little lost in time now between the campy 80s and more serious 90s, this is a wee treat well worth checking out as long as you don’t mind a concept that is more than a little bit silly.
5For The Diehards
The Squad (2011)
Film4: Sunday 28th June, 01.05am
You might think you’ve seen this one before: a crack military team are sent in to investigate a military base to see why they have dropped off the radar.
Now this bit you haven’t seen: amidst a ruined building, the team find nothing but a lone survivor – a woman bound in chains, surrounded by trinkets of black magic worship. Soon discovering why the woman was restrained, it’s time to see if the team can survive the night against a potentially ancient evil they were gravely unprepared for.
With a flair a little bit similar to Spanish horror gem REC, this is far more about what you don’t see than what you do; less is more, letting an under-the-skin kind of creeping terror build as you go. Slow and steady, just the way it should be, the film is playing off paranoia (the soldiers’ and the viewers’) and psychological spooks, a great premise pans out slowly and surely to deliver a quality example of Colombian scares for those not put off by the subtitles.
6Avoid Like The Plague
The Hitcher (2007)
ITV: Friday 3rd July, 11.10pm
It’s an old fashioned kind of story, isn’t it? One of those ones you know from sitting around the campfire when you were young. The idea of a long, abandoned highway, a million miles from civilisation. Just you cruising down the open road. Then all of a sudden there stands a lone stranger, unknown and mysterious; do you chance doing the good thing and pick them up? These stories always end bloody, I’m yet to hear one that doesn’t. But when will we start learning from them?
Jim and Grace, unlike every other college kid in America, are spending their spring break driving across New Mexico. Spotting a hitchhiker (Sean Bean of all people) on the road in the middle of the night, the couple make the wise decision to keep driving, only to meet him again down the road, where they reluctantly agree to give him a ride. It looks like we’re not learning any lessons from those old campfire stories anytime soon, as things descend from here for the couple, and end up plodding along at a terrible pace to a conclusion more predictable than a bedtime fairytale.
Nowhere near a career highlight for Bean, backed by a cast so dull you would rather look out the window at the New Mexico highway. This ride is better slept through than endured.