With Covid-19 still a global threat, festival organisers have been pushed to making crucial decisions: Cancel or opt for an online edition? While a few hardy festivals, such as Venice, have announced the show must go on, at least in some form, others have decided the online option is more viable and infinitely safer.
FrightFest, the world’s leading horror festival, has decided to push back its traditional main event for the autumn (situation pending). In its place, honchos Alan Jones, Paul McEvoy, Ian Rattray and Greg Day announced, given things are the way they are, this year’s annual bank holiday edition will go ahead in the virtual realm, beaming a feast of nightmares directly into the living rooms of fans. For the first and hopefully last time, FrightFest is going online.
To make it manageable, FrightFest has narrowed down the programme significantly. Over four days, they’ve scheduled 24 films, the annual showcase of short films, while a pre-fest online quiz hosted by Evolution of Horror podcaster, Mike Muncer, kicks off on Frightfest Eve (27 August), followed by a movie, Sky Sharks, which the pass doesn’t cover, but can be purchased separately. It’s important to point this out, as Sky Sharks isn’t officially part of the line-up.
On 30 August at 7pm, Rosie Fletcher will be hosting a live panel discussion with Saint Maud screenwriter Rose Glass, Final Girls programmer Anna Bogutskaya and Host director Rob Savage. The topic? Horror in lockdown. The ceremony of terrors will begin proper on 28 August with the world premiere of There’s No Such Things as Vampires, livestreaming from 6pm. followed by the much-hyped 12 Hour Shift, at 8.45pm.
Passes are available to purchase for £60 via the festival website and it’s worth pointing out the films are geo-blocked and accessible only to UK fans, so international viewers sadly can’t join in. As ever, the organisers have picked an eclectic bunch of titles from world horror cinema, and what it lacks in big gun draw (there’s a sense they’re keeping titles back for their Halloween event), there’s bound to be more than a few gems to mine from the programme.
Among the raft of curated features, there’s a selection documentaries, including Ruben Pla’s The Horror Crowd, which takes a gander at what makes horror directors tick as well as the wider horror community, while Justin McConnell’s revealing industry saga, The Clapboard Jungle, showcases the tough grind filmmakers face in getting their vision to the screen. Evil Dead fans, too, will certainly enjoy the international premiere of Hail to the Deadites, which goes over the Sami Raimi-directed franchise phenomenon.
FrightFest runs from 28-31 August. Tickets are available at frightfest.co.uk.
Martyn Conterio | @martynconterio