By Robert Makin
As the after effects of this year’s Fright Fest begin to ripple through cinemas, it’s certainly an eventful week for British horror at The Ritzy. A Night In The Woods is another shaky camcorder “found footage” chiller involving a group of friends losing their minds on a camping trip to Dartmoor. Along with the terrifying ordeal of putting up a tent in the rain these young ramblers are faced with sexual tension, strained relationship issues, collective paranoia, and strange dark forces in what looks like a cross between The Blair Witch Project (1999) and an episode of Casualty.
Berberian Sound Studio is splitting audiences straight down the middle as one of those arthouse movies cunningly disguised as a horror film. A stylish homage to seventies “Giallo” cinema it follows the psychological meltdown of a timid English sound engineer sent abroad to work on a gruesome Italian horror film. It does look particularly unsettling, and if it really is inspired by seventies Italian cinema I imagine the score should be amazing.
Despite being yet another Shaun Of The Dead (2004) comedy/horror clone, Cockneys Vs Zombies, with a plot involving a bungled bank robbery, the unearthing of a cursed tomb, and the fight to save an old folks home, does feel like it has the potential for being perfect Friday night entertainment. Plus anything that has a class act like Alan Ford as one of the main characters is almost guaranteed to have some great moments.
But if you’d like to see British horror at its most creepiest and bizarre then don’t miss a rare screening of the 1973 cult classic Death Line, which is being shown as part of the brilliant and epic Scala Beyond season. Released in America as Raw Meat it stars Donald Pleasance as a police inspector pursuing a family of cannibals on the London Underground, who are feeding off commuters between Russell Square and Holborn. Highly influential and very spooky, the only aspect that suspends disbelief is that the trains are constantly running.
Of course my idea of something truly horrific would be having to sit through a 130 minute costume drama depicting the self serving lives of aristocracy, based on a crusty Russian novel by Tolstoy, directed by the bloke that made Atonement, scripted by dusty Tom Stoppard and starring Jude Law and Keira Knightley’s quivering chin. But for those who like their movies to look like ornate biscuit tins Anna Kerenina should be an absolute treat.
A healthy antidote could be prohibition era crime drama Lawless, scripted by Nick Cave, directed by John Hillcoat (The Proposition, The Road) and starring Shia Labeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce and Gary Oldman. Based on a true story it follows the exploits of a family of bootleggers whose success brings them into conflict with a crooked police force and rival gangs, as tension builds and escalating violence begins to match their rising profits.
On the documentary front there are some pretty interesting screenings. The Queen Of Versailles is another critique of the “American Dream” observing two years in the life of a billionaire couple whose aspirations of building the biggest house in America comes to halt due to the economic crisis, general ignorance and a little thing called reality.
If the film Fatboy Slim Live On Brighton Beach left you with a sudden urge to watch even more middle-aged men jumping about on stage then Shut Up And Play The Hits, capturing LCD Sound System’s last gig, could be the thing for you. Eames: The Architect & The Painter with its playful use of weird stock footage and narration by James Franco could well become the new Helvetica (2007), in endearing viewers outside of its intended audience of designer types. Where as Samsara is the new breathtaking 70mm, visually arresting cinematic piñata from the makers of Baraka (1992).
Last but not least there’s also a showing of groundbreaking Hitchcock classic Notorious (1946), a must for all film students and thrill seekers alike, and the recently unearthed Woman In A Dressing Gown (1957), a landmark British kitchen sink drama that takes an unflinching and gritty look at a slowly disintegrating marriage.
Ashley Clark is away.