FrightFest Round-Up

SFX 's horror columnist Penny Dreadful gives her verdict on last weekend's FrightFest event

So, to the films. 2011 was a corker. Opening film Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark was a fun fantasy produced by Guillermo del Toro with his fingerprints all over it. A bit tame, a bit lame, a bit samey, but lovely to look at and the tooth fairy monsters were ace. Final Destination 5 was a guilty pleasure, as was the Fright Night remake. Both are out soon, neither really belonged at FF but for sheer enjoyment you can’t fault them.

The Brits cleaned up this year with a record 10 titles including farm-set, female-directed survivaler The Holding ; wistful, twisty mystery The Glass Man starring Andy Nyman as an ice-cream munching man on the edge; way-better-than-it sounds Panic Button ( Chatroom meets Saw on an aeroplane); and Kill List , the most talked about film of the fest, an engrossing, genre busting hit man drama that takes a turn for the mental in final act.

Women were centre stage in Lucky McKee’s challenging, brilliant feral female pic The Woman ; the first ever Swiss horror movie Sennentuntschi: Curse Of The Alpes where lonely herdsmen build a plaything from a broom and rags; Ti West’s escalating, intelligent and terrifying character piece The Innkeepers ; and tense, intense, closing night film A Lonely Place To Die (also a Brit flick) which sees Melissa George’s climber fighting for her life when she finds a child buried alive in the mountains.

Cults cropped up in Robin Hardy’s disappointingly saggy, silly Wicker Man follow up, The Wicker Tree , as well as Sean Hogan’s smart, slow-burn, shocker The Devil’s Business - a companion piece to Kill List , which also has a whiff of the pagan about it.

Hillbillies are the heroes in the hilarious and brilliant Tucker And Dale Vs Evil ; as are zombies in the warm, but not quite as funny Dead Heads ; while trolls are alive and real and living in the Norwegian Fjords in enjoyable Troll Hunter .

Finally, two gems from the discovery screen. My Sucky Teen Romance , directed by 16-year-old prodigy Emily Hagins, is a cute and funny vampire flick which proves not all teens love Twilight . And Rabies , the first horror from Israel, is an impressive, complex and surprising ensemble piece where no one has rabies.

My top five: The Innkeepers , The Woman , Kill List , Tucker And Dale Vs Evil , Rabies .

See you there next year!

You can read the Penny Dreadful column every month in SFX 's print edition .