Arrow FrightFest – Opening Night Review

Naomi Roper 29 August 2018

So I’m just about recovering from 5 days of watching horror movies at Frightfest – the UK’s premiere horror film festival organised by the lovely Frightfest directors Ian Rattray, Paul McEvoy, Alan Jones and Greg Day. It’s always such a well organised event with such a fantastic atmosphere (horror fans are some of the sweetest people in the world) that its the one event I look forward to the most each year. I always say I’ll review the films and each year I never manage to put up more than one or two but no more. From now on The Geek Goddesses has you covered for your Frightfest needs! I’ll be putting up mini reviews of all the films I saw with my faves warranting longer reviews over the coming week. Overall it was a very strong year with some clear themes emerging – the 1980’s, lesbian protagonists and very strong roles for women.

So here’s my thoughts on what I saw on the opening day of the festival.

The Ranger – Opening Film Directed by Jenn Wexler and set in the 1980’s The Ranger focuses on the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong. Chelsea offers up her uncle’s cabin as a safe place for her friends to stay but the titular Ranger (Jeremy Holm) has an unhealthy interest in the newcomers.  Frightfest has a slightly unfortunate tradition of opening with a weak film that’s been forgotten by the time the festival ends and sadly The Ranger doesn’t buck that trend. At a scant 74 minutes long it still takes forever to get going and most of Chelsea’s friends are genuinely awful to the extent that you’ll be praying for their grisly demise in 5 minutes. It has some lively visuals but is about as punk as a trip to Camden Market. Tonally it is also all over the shop – there are some extremely funny elements and it would have been a stronger film if it had leaned into these a little more. Still both Chloe Levine and Jeremy Holm especially give great performances. It also featured a very believable and adorable gay romance which was very welcome.

Summer of 84 – Directed by Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell, the trio behind the utterly charming and dementedly gory Turbo Kid, comes this very strong 1980’s set tale of a teenage boy who becomes convinced his neighbour is a serial killer. A mixture of Rear Window and Stand By Me, Summer of 84 was one of my top 3 films of the festival. Featuring strong performances from the teens it features so many of the elements of the films I grew up with – brave teens, a noble quest (a la The Goonies), gentle romance, parents who never ever listen to their children and a killer 80’s synth score. And it’s all very charming and beautifully acted. And then the final 20 minutes came along – and my jaw hit the floor and my heart hurt. Look for a longer review soon.

Summer of 84 is now available to buy on Itunes.

Mega Time Squad – I almost skipped this but goodness that would have been a terribly mistake. Directed by Tim Van Dammen this Kiwi comedy is an absolute joy.

A low level criminal gets hold of a temporal distorter and forms his own squad comprised of versions of himself as he seeks to rip off his boss (played by Jonathan Brugh aka Deacon in What We Do in the Shadows). Extremely silly and very funny with it this bonkers comedy comes across like Multiplicity meets Primer. There is zero point trying to follow the story through as its clearly been conceived by a mad man. Just enjoy the daftness. Highly recommended.