Frightfest round-up: day 3

Day 3 of Frightfest opened with Cherry Tree Lane, a British thriller telling the story of a middle class couple who are held hostage in their own home by a gang of youths looking for their son. Boasting some decent performances and a hugely effective streak of black comedy in the interplay between the gang members, the film gets off to an excellent start but fizzles out at the halfway point, failing to either sustain the tension of the opening or to push the story anywhere exciting.

The Tortured was undoubtedly the worst film we’ve seen this weekend so far. A nasty piece of mainstream US dreck about a couple who capture and torture the man who kidnapped and murdered their young son, it aspires to sense of social realism and relevance but contains some of the most paper thin characters and contrived plot devices we’ve seen in a while – and worse, sings completely from the Daily Mail songsheet in its lessons on child safety and criminal justice. Offensively poor.

We found the prospect of a pint more palatable than British flick 13 Hours, but we were back for the remake of I Spit On Your Grave. Whilst undoubtedly directed with more flair, and containing some fairly inventive Saw-style setpieces in the second half, the film is hobbled by the same problematic moral agenda as the original, most notably the apparent suggestion that rape (particularly a rape as brutal as the one featured here) can be empowering.

Monsters had the most pre-festival buzz of any film at Frightfest, but it ultimately split us. Matt felt that Gareth Edwards’ love story/road film/monster movie was a charming endeavour, but Carl found it tedious and somewhat derivative. The view amongst the sold-out crowd (overheard in the toilet at least) seemed similarly mixed, but the film seems destined for Distrinct 9-style crossover success – an impressive achievement for what is effectively a low-budget one-man production.

We finished with the utterly mad but hugely enjoyable Dream Home, a film from Hong Kong that has the distinction of being possibly the first horror movie about the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Following a woman who unleashes an orgy of killing in order to secure a flat in her dream apartment block, the non-linear story manages to be simultaneously touching, funny and brutal, sometimes within the same scene. An excellent end to the day.

Two days to go – as ever, follow @blacklagoon or @mattnida on Twitter for on-the-spot reactions.