Five films to sink your teeth into at Frightfest

A Good Woman Is Hard To Find, Satanic Panic, Harpoon, The Sonata and Come To Daddy

by Jennie Kermode

Frightfest closing film Rabid, as reimagined by the Soska sisters
Frightfest closing film Rabid, as reimagined by the Soska sisters Photo: FrightFest

It’s that time of year again and crowds are packing into Cineworld and the Prince Charles Cinema in London’s Leicester Square for five days showcasing the very best in contemporary horror cinema. There’s a lot on the menu but we picked five of our favourites to give you a little taste of what’s in store at this year’s Arrow Video Frighfest.

A Good Woman Is Hard To Find
A Good Woman Is Hard To Find

A Good Woman Is Hard To Find

Sometimes the worst horrors are very much a part of the real world. Sarah (Sarah Bolger) has been struggling to get by ever since her husband was murdered, living on a neglected council estate with her two kids, trying to find enough money for food and stay out of trouble – but when a stranger breaks into her house looking for somewhere to stash stolen drugs, she faces a still greater threat. It’s also an opportunity, as she quickly realises, to try and find out the truth about what happened to her man. Abnet Pastoll’s bleak but gripping thriller celebrates the hidden heroism of people who endure day to day poverty and exploitation, and Bolger delivers something special as a woman who simply will not give up, no matter what she has to do.

Satanic Panic
Satanic Panic

Satanic Panic

Sam (Hayley Griffith) has just started a new job delivering pizzas when she finds herself at a remote mansion where partygoers are looking for more than just extra pepperoni. Facing off against a group of Stepford-style Satanists led by a devilishly sexy Rebecca Romijn, she has to save herself from becoming a virgin sacrifice in the summoning of Baphomet, but she’s damned if she’s going to let some sleazy guy take advantage of that. Chelsea Stardust’s gloriously gory genre romp delivers shock, horror, spectacular costumes, ill-considered sex toys, surprisingly detailed occult lore and, um, fuzzy bunny rabbits, all before the sun rises. It’s fast-paced and joyously vulgar and a good reminder of why delivery people deserve to be properly tipped.

Harpoon
Harpoon

Harpoon

Three young people who have been friends for years take a yacht out into the middle of nowhere and soon they’re at one another’s throats. You might think you’ve seen this film before but Rob Grant’s tightly written tale, inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe, is packed full of twists and turns that toy with audience sympathies. Deliciously droll narration by Brett Gelman and carefully pitched performances from the three leads keep it engaging throughout. The dialogue is sharp, the comedy pitch black and the violence, when it comes, all the more grotesque for its sunny surroundings. This is a film full of curious presentiments and unreliable narratives, sometimes funny, sometimes sexy, rich in Schadenfreude.

The Sonata
The Sonata

The Sonata

When violin prodigy Rose (Freya Tingley) learns that her estranged father has died, she visits his French mansion with the intention of arranging a quick sale, only to find that his last piece of work, a musical composition unlike anything she’s ever seen before, is waiting for her. To play it properly, she must break a secret code with seemingly occult origins, and in doing so she unearths the awful truth about who her father (portrayed by Rutger Hauer in one of his final roles) really was. This gorgeously presented début film by Andrew Desmond, with music by Alexis Maingaud, is played with skill and knows how to give weight to its supernatural themes with all-too-feasible horrors that have echoes in French history.

Come To Daddy
Come To Daddy

Come To Daddy

Fatherly failings are something of a theme at this year’s festival. Norval (Elijah Wood) hasn’t seen his dad for years and when he goes to visit him in his remote beachside house, summoned by a mysterious letter, things – well, things don’t go quite the way he expected. Always keen to distance himself from the looming shadow of Frodo Baggins, Wood clearly relishes playing a wannabe music industry player who is, to put it generously, a colossal dick, and has the skill to make us root for him anyway as the situation grows increasingly absurd. Director Ant Timpson employs fantastic locations, deadpan humour and a bit of the old ultraviolence in a film that has fun with misdirection but also knows how to pack in some seriously creepy moments.

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