Find out what 13 horror movies in 2 days does to a person as Louise Blain tackles Glasgow Frightfest with little more than a laptop and a fitbit...
Update: 1:30am (DAY TWO)
New average heart rate: 78bpm
Mental state: Nil
That's it. We're done. Martyrs and The Devils Candy were in exceptionally quick succession and it's all over. So the big question is, is the Martyrs remake worth it? Unequivocally not. Want extreme French cinema? Watch the original. Want to be shocked, appalled and have your day ruined? Watch the original.
However, I can't see a situation in which anyone actively says they want to watch Martyrs but if they did and wanted to see a Blumhouse-ified version then it's possible to do a lot worse than this. It's not badly made. It's not poorly acted. It just IS. Yet even looking at it objectively, this is a movie that's constantly wearing another skin and badly - ironically. Like a loose fitting Leatherface, the Americanisation is glossy but you can't iron over the fact that this is the kind of cinema that's meant to hurt. There's a piece missing. It's still stressful, don't get me wrong but there's been changes made here to suit certain palettes so there was some serious booing when the movie finished.
The Devil's Candy on the other hand has far more to smile about. If you smile about psychopaths, devil whispers and child murder that is - don't worry it's ok if the answer is yes in a fictional setting. Six years since director Sean Byrne's The Loved Ones and he's back with this tale of blood and paint.
A family move into a new home which they've managed to get for a steal due to a small case of the last lot being shipped out in body bags. Hey, it happens. Grim duly ensues when artist dad Jesse starts hearing whispers and painting dead children. Things only get worse when daughter Zooey becomes the fixation of a lunatic. It's all pretty good fun and the horror is plenty nasty enough with a smattering of knowing jokes. Plus, a snappy script means the family relationships are thoroughly enjoyable even when no one is being threatened with a saw.
As for me. I'm more than a little rough around the edges. I feel slightly sick and there's a definite hint of paranoia. I jumped at a shadow and a loud noise earlier. All in all though. I'd say this has been a success. Enough blood, guts and compound fractures for one weekend.
I'll leave you with a final graph of my experience with Martyrs. It looks like I almost die at one point. Sweet dreams and thanks for reading.
Update: 9:00pm (DAY TWO)
New average heart rate: 84bpm
Mental state: Rapidly deteriorating
I want to sit in a room with magnolia walls and just rock myself gently. Or maybe go to Ikea and just wander in circles for hours. How do I fix this? Baskin was intense. Beautifully, painfully, horrendously intense. Litres of gore, swathes of blood stained hell spawn, blades meeting flesh and all as five members of the Turkish police investigate a call for back up in the middle of nowhere. Their descent into hell is extraordinary and I honestly think I can't really process it yet.
I think recommend is a strong word for what I would do with this movie. But you need to see it. And soon. Just don't attempt a ham and cheese sandwich at the same time. Believe me. I know. Nope, not Magic Stars either.
Two more to go. My legs hurt. My feet are asleep and my eyes feel like they've been stretched slightly too wide. The Ludovico technique's got nothing on me.
Update: 7:00pm (DAY TWO)
New average heart rate: 85bpm
Creepy ghost children: 1
Horror movies have set rules. Not just Scream never say 'I'll be right back' rules, but ones that must be broken. Don't feed Mogwai after midnight is a good one. Don't read that book in The Evil Dead is also wise. Then there's The Other Side Of The Door where the very simple rule dictates that when your son is killed in a tragic accident, don't open the door of the Indian temple you've gone to speak to his spirit. It's the only rule really. When Maria breaks it, she brings more home than she bargains for. Spoiler - that monster above isn't just playing peek a boo.
There's plenty of Japanese horror influences at work here - swathes of gaping mouths and pounding hands on windows - and the result is largely positive. The Indian setting is beautiful and Mumbai is incredibly chaotic and atmospheric. Maria's daughter manages to live in the not irritating child zone and when things start to get darker, she acts the creepy child just right. Nothing too terrifying as you can see from my monitor below.
The movies are beginning to blend a bit, but I'm keeping hydrated and cracking out another coffee in a sec. The end is in sight. And my heartbeat is still in reasonable condition. I've been told this won't last for Baskin.
Update: 4:30pm (DAY TWO)
New average heart rate: 84bpm
Compound fractures: 456
Pins and needles in both legs: Present
Broken bones, burst skulls and kicks hard enough to send people flying out of windows, SPL 2: A Time For Consequences is a jawdropping example of Hong Kong action cinema. It's also further proof that mobile phones are doing interesting things to movies as an entire sequence is made up of a man trying to find reception. Dress it as you will - in a prison with spectacular martial arts - it's still a human being trying to get signal. Further proof is the language barrier being traversed with an app and a full conversation about a child dying of leukemia in emojis. As insane as it was, the action sequences were incredible and it was a nice break from the tension.
Other Side Of The Door coming next and apologies but I feel like my brain might be dribbling out of my ears slightly. 9 down. 4 to go. Thanks for joining me.
Update: 2pm (DAY TWO)
New average heart rate: 81bpm
Body count: 10
Coffees: 3 this morning
I said I was ready for the gore. I lied. I just wasn't ready for a man to manually compress a lung while it was still inside a gasping girl who had been in a catastrophic car accident. Southbound is a sandy horror anthology that cleverly joins the dots between various horrific goings on in the middle of nowhere USA. It reminded me of Trick R' Treat as it effortless travelled from nasty to nasty and yes, I had to look away at one point.
Demons, compound fractures, bear traps, you name it, it's all here and all accompanied by a filthy synth soundtrack. Squirmy for all the right reasons, Southbound really impressed me. Only one tale let me down and that's potentially my dislike of home invasion scary mask combos. Even if you change the masks, it's still the same. We've been recreating it in the office with Vault Boy masks... Other than that, this is a horrific breath of fresh air.
It's started to hit me that I'm not getting a happily ever after for a long time. There's a lot of blood to go. A lot of misery and murder. I've got 9 minutes until SPL-2. Baskin and Martyrs lie ahead. I'm going to have to watch a hell of a lot of cartoons to recover from this. Oh, and before you think someone attacked me at the start, I was rushing back into my seat. Sorry Southbound, no 124bpm for you.
Update: 12pm (DAY TWO)
New average heart rate: 91bpm
Body count: The majority of a Norwegian tourist town called Geiranger
Coffees: 3 this morning
Watching an 80m tsunami is definitely a wake up call and The Wave - with a leading man I can only say is the Norwegian equivalent of Norman Reedus - is probably one of the best disaster movies I've seen in years. It's probably easier to use the below graph, which looks a bit like the seismic activity in the movie that causes the landslide, as an indicator.
Yep, we have a new record breaking average of 91bpm. Looks like beautifully shot vistas, characters you actually care about and a bloody enormous force of nature sweeping down a valley and into a town will have an effect on the old ticker. It trailed slightly in its final fifteen minutes but as nature destroying humanity goes, it doesn't get much better than this.
Bring on Southbound. I'm ready for gore again.
Hours slept: 5hrs 46
Body count: None so far
Coffees: 2 already this morning
Good morning from (actually sunny) Glasgow. I'm about to go and pick up supplies - cold coffees - for day two in Glasgow's GFT. Yesterday was quite the day of horror cinema. The body count rocketed and there were organs everywhere. Quite the mess for staff to clean up.
It was a strong day but Patchwork and The Mind's Eye absolutely stole the show for me. We deserve horror that makes us wince, ups our heart rate, and, most importantly, makes us laugh. I haven't asked anyone yet but I've decided GamesRadar+ officially recommends Patchwork to the world.
So today's first film is disasterpiece The Wave. It was last year's most successful movie in Norway - that's a good sign, have you seen Troll Hunter? - and the country's official submission for the 2016 Best Foreign Language Oscar. Right. Breakfast pre tsunami, see you on the other side.
New average heart rate: 74 bpm
Body count: Does it count if they come back to life?
Coffees: 2 and oh God let me sleep
Ok, I admit, I've been to Frightfests before and the final film can be a bit, well, off. Like One Eyed Monster which is exactly what is sounds like - a movie about a porn star's disembodied penis killing people. It does have Amber Benson in it though. There's some random Buffy trivia for you. But I digress. I take it back. Tonight's final film, Patchwork, was fantastic in ways I can't even properly describe at 1am.
It's beautifully high concept. Three girls wake up in a laboratory inside the one body. Yep. That's it. They've been Frankensteined together to make one human form but they're all still in there mentally. But don't worry, this is no Human Centipede. Patchwork manages to be gory, smart, funny and even, somehow, ridiculously sweet amongst all the staples and creaking bones. Because it turns out walking in a body with three people means things crack...
The three leads are fantastic in their lone body - and out of it when thankfully we get to see the internal workings of their mind using all three actresses - and there's a joyous celebration to be found in their quest for vengeance on the man who created the monster they've become. Another synth soundtrack has made my night and there's a fantastic opening credits sequence that sets the dark tone between comedy and horror just right. I can't tell you enough that you should all see this insane mad scientist caper and laugh until your fingers fall off. Oh, and Fred Weasley is in It. Or maybe it's George. Oh God. A Weasley twin.
If we look at the graph for a second before I pass out, you can see I'm getting sleepy. There's a couple of spikes but they're probably a nice combo of great soundtrack and fun moment. Want no jumps, just smart but simultaneously incredibly stupid horror? This. All of this.
Now I need to sleep. See you at 10am for The Wave and we can do all of this again tomorrow. 'Night.
New average heart rate: 80bpm
Body count: 12
Discomfort level: 9 stars out of 18
Holy shit. Do you know what the world needs more of? Movies where people blow each other's heads up with telekinesis, tear bodies apart, have blood pour from eyeballs and have evil bearded men repeatedly inject mind control DNA into themselves.
Joe Begas The Mind's Eye has a score worthy of Carpenter himself and I can still see the neons seared into my eyes. Incredible synths, violence that probably hit that 92bpm mark on my graph as we all whooped and cheered, and an utterly unrelenting sense of seriously gory fun.
Begas shot the film in seven weeks with no big studio support and I can't tell you enough how big and brilliantly fucking stupid it is. It's looking like the end of summer for a UK release with US unconfirmed as yet. Hunt this down. It's about mind control. And EXPLODING ORGANS.
One more movie to go. My legs hurt. My eyes are doing interesting things but that was worth sitting in this chair since 1:30pm this afternoon. Patchwork next. Day one is almost done. Did I mention the exploding organs? Not mine. Yet.
New average heart rate: 83bpm
Body count: A global pandemic (ooops)
It didn't take long until we descended into exploding eyeballs, battered skulls, skewered necks and first person views of zombies slitting open your chest and yanking out your innards. Mmm. I'm hungry. No really, those cereal bars were ages ago.
Pandemic is first person survival horror game: the movie, and for the most part it's pretty good inoffensive fun. The first person perspective - Go Pros on the helmets of those trying to save the last few humans in Los Angeles - is a gimmick, but thankfully nausea free and there was plenty of big stupid up close skewering sequences. Plus, there's a bonus Alfie Allen in attendance as a wise cracking driver taking the team out on its mission.
It's fun zombie churn but there's an almost shameless rip off of Rec's attic creation, complete with greenish night vision lighting, and there's a moment at the end that got me SO ANGRY I REACHED 108bpm. I don't want to spoil anything so all I'll say is that drawing hearts in blood on anti contamination helmets is not sweet. It makes me want to be furiously sick. All over myself. Just look at the graph!
Also got a chance to watch some great shorts pre-Pandemic. A highlight being a zombie on a first date who just wanted quinoa... Grains...
I'm off in search of hydration. The Mind's Eye is next and I need to get that smeared congealing B+ heart out of mine. Thanks for reading.
New average heart rate: 81 bpm
Body count: Well, one or two. (I already dread to think the total)
Coffees: Still 1. Soon to be 2
Why do we always end up in the basement? The Forest, The Hexecutioners and now Anguish, all end up in the bloody basement. No more, I say. Especially using only your phone as a light. New rule, horror people, LED lighting in subterranean areas. Let's see how you do with that.
So while The Hexecutioners was as glossily batshit as that title would suggest (coming to DVD in May), Anguish felt far more grounded in reality. Well, a reality that involves possession and dead teenagers. It was chock full of that 'sleepy teenagerosity' that packed the quiet bits of It Follows and managed to keep a simmering tension throughout as a teenager is possessed by the soul of a local dead girl who just wants to come home.
It's not perfect and spends a long time just looking at things, but this is a far more personal story than anything I've seen yet and in its latter half managed a series of scares that sent my heart rate sky rocketing into FAT BURNING territory. What can I say? I'm a complete sucker for a score that sounds like nails dragging down walls.
There's a strong smell of Red Bull in the auditorium and we've got another six hours in here. I even heard snoring half way through Anguish, suggesting that Scotland might have been partaking in a few pints beforehand and during.
Right, I've got sixteen minutes until Pandemic, a fully first person shot movie that wants to be a game. We all know how well that did for Doom and Maniac so lets see what happens. How do I feel? Fine, thanks. Not, like, Ross fine. But fine. Oh, and have a graph. Look at me, fat burning in a cinema.
New average heart rate: 84 bpm
Body count: Another twenty suicide victims
Coffees: Still 1. We'll see how it goes
So one down, eleven to go and The Hexecutioners is further proof, should you need it, never to trust anyone who has huge gargoyles at the gates.
If you like your comedy as black as your horror loving soul, this American Gothic tale will raise a smile. Malison has a bad experience on her first day as a professional euthanise-r(?) so teams up with the snappier and sexier Olivia for her next job. Insanity duly ensues when they visit a client who has some specific desires involving a ritual and birds eating his insides... The third act joyously jumps the shark but the performances are great and this is a suitably juicy start to the weekend.
Looking at my graph, it's interesting to note that I actually got calmer as the film went on. Clearly I'm at home in a candle lit mansion with a seriously suspect basement. Bring on Anguish. No. Really. That's the next movie.
Resting heart rate: 79 bpm
Body count: A Japanese forest full of suicide victims
Coffee count: 1
I'm into the auditorium, my hand is stamped. I'm ready. Or as ready as I'll ever be. I've got a bag of sun dried tomato popcorn, two cereal bars, a bottle of water and a very large vanilla latte. Oh, so this is how hipsters attempt to survive the apocalypse.
Last night's trip to The Forest with Natalie Dormer was a gentle introduction to a full two days of horror. While it managed a few scares - largely from the school of 'quiet, quiet, quiet, LOUD' shocks - it wasn't quite the terrifying jaunt to the woods it could have been. A solid 'I quite fancy a crap horror on Netflix' with a few laughs where there should have been scares and a solid performance from Dormer. It's not quite the combo of western and Japanese horror we deserve but the gent next to me did scream at one point.
The Hexecutioners - due to start at 1:30pm and from the writer of Pontypool no less - looks like a dark American Gothic combo of death cults, sanctioned euthanasia and vengeful spirits. A perfect way to spend a Friday afternoon. I'll set up my Fitbit and we can see how the graph goes.
Original: Welcome to a gradual decay into hell, a journey into mental degradation and a quest into true darkness. No, that isn't the synopsis for a new Neil Marshall movie. The Scottish (potentially amputated) leg of Frightfest 2016 is taking place at the GFT in oh-so-sunny Glasgow and that means I'm experiencing 13 horror movies in the small matter of two days.
The line up includes a movie where three women wake up in one body (Patchwork), a film covering the discovery of a "Black Mass being performed by a nightmare cabal of subhuman cannibalistic freaks with a penchant for imaginative blood ceremonies" (Baskin), and, if that wasn't enough depravity, I'll be taking in the sights of the American remake of Pascal Laugier's Martyrs. Yes, that Martyrs.
Not only am I armed with a steely resolve to update you on the gory goings on as they occur, I also have on my wrist a Fitbit to track my heart rate throughout each movie. Surely the only true way to review each experience is to see a scientific graph of fear. Or at least watch my heart spike as it gets another almost lethal dose of triple shot latte. Enjoy. Also, be afraid. Be very afraid.
Check back at 1pm for my first update prior to The Hexecutioners. Sounds fun, right?