Tag Archive | Fright Fest

Berberian Sound Studio is a smashing success

In the era of sequels, remakes, and reboots films that feel truly unique are increasingly rare.  Peter Strickland’s sophomore feature, Berberian Sound Studio is one such gem.  The English filmmaker explores the psychological impact of all things sound via Toby Jones’ meek audio mixer who gets sucked into the madness of an Italian horror film production.  Remarkably evocative, wickedly intelligent and thoroughly compelling, Berberian Sound Studiowill leave mouths agape and minds blown.

Berberian Sound Studio is in UK cinemas 31 August

Jones’ Gilderoy is the timid audio specialist brought to Italy to apply his expertise to the post-production of director Santini’s (Antonio Mancini) latest shock-horror giallo.  In doing so, he must deal with a multitude of difficulties ranging from technical to personal.  Cosimo Fusco is particularly challenging as the abrasive producer Gilderoy is often holed up with in the eponymous recording studio. Despite never revealing a single frame of Santini’s trashy horror on screen, Strickland so vividly composes aural representations of the scenes repeatedly inflicted upon Gilderoy, that they quickly take disturbing shape within the mind of the viewer.  The power and importance of sound has never been made so resoundingly clear.  Nor has the destruction of produce ever seemed so thoroughly unsettling.  One trip to Berberian Sound Studio will forever alter the way one looks at cabbage and watermelon.
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Maniac remake repulses for the wrong reasons

Arguably, no genre revels in misogynistic excesses more than the slasher- horror category.  Making a strong case for said argument is Franck Khalfoun’s remake of 1980’s controversial Maniac.  An unlikely casting move sees diminutive Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood stepping into the blood-soaked shoes of Frank, the maniac himself.  The results are entirely implausible whilst managing to be both offensively vile and downright stupid.  Truly, Maniacis insulting to women and any cinema goer who expects a basic level of intelligence displayed within a film’s plot.

Maniac (2012) has no current UK release date (hurrah!)

Largely, Khalfoun’s Maniac is shot from Frank’s point of view as he murders multiple women across Los Angeles.  As such, Wood is seen infrequently, save for a variety of reflection shots and fantasy sequences.  However, the viewer does become quite familiar with his battered and bruised hands (something none of his would-be victims ever seem to pick up on, oddly).  Drawn to his mannequin restoration shop, Anna (Nora Arnezeder), a young French photographer specialising in (get this) mannequin photography, befriends Frank who struggles to keep his urges at bay.  Virtually every development in Maniac’s paper-thin plot defies any sense of reality.  In a city of four million people, Frank is able to blatantly hunt and kill his victims in public without ever being seen.  Despite presumably having the aid of modern technology on their side, the LA police department appear to be entirely incapable of apprehending such a careless murderer.  Yet this is only the tip of the lazy-writing iceberg that also sees tiny Elijah somehow hold a woman underwater with one hand, along with an incredibly daft climax- the sheer stupidity of which cannot be disclosed without spoiling the film.
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Cockneys vs Zombies goes easy on the brains

In the spirit of classic British zom-com Shaun of the Dead comes Matthias Hoene’s Cockneys vs Zombies.  Swapping a pub for a retirement home, the premise is largely similar: infected victims, better known as zombies, rampage through London leaving a group of unlikely heroes to fend them off whilst rescuing their loved ones.  Shakespeare it ain’t, but Cockneys vs Zombies is good fun at the expense of the undead.

Cockneys vs Zombies doesn’t waste time on setting up what little plot there is.  An East End construction site is the scene of the unearthing of a tomb from 1666, which happens to be inhabited by more than just skulls and bones.  The hows and whys are of no importance, so James Moran and Lucas Roche’s screenplay quickly moves on to introduce the eclectic ensemble cast.  Rasmus Hardiker and Treadaway twin Harry are Terry and Andy Macguire, who set out to save their grandfather’s care home from demolition via bank robbery.  It’s not long before their highly flawed plan is interrupted by a zombie outbreak that rapidly sweeps across East London.  Luckily, their gramps, Ray (Alan Ford), is a former war hero; so while he may be a pensioner, he’s not about to cower in the face of a zombie blitz on the care home.  Cockneys vs Zombies is easily at its best when the living dead face-off against the almost-dead (because they’re old, get it? *sigh*), as the absurdity levels delightfully spike right off the chart.  It’s just too bad that such goofy excellence isn’t sustained throughout the film’s slight runtime.
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