The most exciting time of the year for Scottish horror is nearly upon us. FrightFest returns this March for three nights of macabre entertainment and the line-up is as bold, diverse, and impressive as ever. Whether you’re fan of supernatural chills or high-octane thrills, there’s something here for genre aficionados of all types — and some of your new favourite films are bound to be discovered.
This year’s slate features an adaptation of the acclaimed theatre show Ghost Stories, starring the almighty Martin Freeman. We also have the UK Premiere of Cold Skin, which is the latest offering from the Frontier(s) and Hitman director Xavier Gens. Elsewhere, hotly-anticipated Mexican gangland drama Tigers Are Not Afraid will make its UK debut following an award-winning festival run in North America and beyond. The film has been compared to the fantastical works of Guillermo del Toro as well as gritty crime fare like Narcos and City of God — a very intriguing premise, to say the least.
Of course, here at Diabolique we’re especially excited for the Irish Gothic chiller The Lodgers, which is a ghost tale with a romantic centre. However, chances are it’s the films we aren’t too familiar with that will end up being highlights of the weekend — as they always are.
Our friends and colleagues over at Hex Studios will also be in town, as Lawrie Brewster is on the panel to judge the 90 Second Challenge short film competition which will hopefully introduce us to the genre filmmakers of the future.
It’s going to be a wonderful weekend, so if you’re in town for the occasion be sure to say stop by and hello. Meanwhile, check out the full line-up below to find out more information about the sinister sights in store for attendees.
THURS 1 MARCH – GFT Screen 1
21:00 GHOST STORIES (Special screening)
Professor Philip Goodman (Andy Nyman) is a renowned sceptic of the supernatural and clairvoyant. Given the opportunity to investigate three case histories of baffling paranormal activity, he uncovers mysteries beyond his own imagination leading to a shocking personal nightmare conclusion.
Directors Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson Cast Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther UK 2017, 1hr38m, 15+
23:20 THE LODGERS (Scottish Premiere)
Set in a rapidly changing 1920s society under the weakening grasp of British colonialism, orphaned twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) share a strange existence in their crumbling family estate. For each night the property becomes the domain of a sinister presence enforcing three rules upon them; bed by midnight, no outsiders past the threshold, and any solo escape attempt puts the other twin in jeopardy. Now the curse is about to be tested by a troubled war veteran who is mysteriously drawn to Rachel.
Director Brian O’Malley Cast Charlotte Vega, David Bradley, Bill Milner, Eugene Simon Ireland 2017 1hr32m N/C 18+
FRI 2 MARCH – GFT Screen 1
13:30 THE WANDERERS: QUEST OF THE DEMON HUNTER (UK Premiere)
Louis (Armand Assante) is the most famous ghost and demon hunter in the world. The hardened American has travelled with Robert, an Israeli journalist (Lior Ashkenazi) to investigate a mysterious event that happened at the infamous Zalesky Castle, an imposing edifice towering over a village drenched in bloody history. Joined by a Romanian guide and a Korean television reality show team, the duo attempt to untangle the evil secrets lurking at the dark heart of this frightened community.
Director Dragos Buliga Cast Armand Assante, Lior Ashkenazi, Branko Djuric Romania 2017, 1hr46m, N/C 18+
15:50 ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS (World Premiere)
Join schlock impresario Francis Gordon as his intrepid crew attempt to shoot an impromptu monster movie in the three days left over from the film they’ve just wrapped. From the Saul Bass opening title homage to its highly authentic, comic evocation of 1950s’ grade-Z grindhouse, this was lost when it was made in 1999. But ace restorer Mark Rance (who brought Tobe Hooper’s Eggshells to FrightFest 2010) found it and has lovingly refurbished it under writer/director Kelly Greene’s supervision.
Director Kelly Greene Cast Michael Dalmon, Maurice Ripke, Fred Ballard USA 1999 1hr 29m. N/C 15
18:30 THE RAVENOUS (Les affamés) (UK Premiere)
The zombie apocalypse has begun. But for the still-human residents of rural Quebec assistance of any governmental or community kind is zero. So lone survivors must figure things out for themselves, even if it means joining tentative forces and risking a hideous death…
Director Robin Aubert Cast Marc-André Grondin, Monia Chokri, Charlotte St-Martin Canada 2017, French with English subtitles, 1hr40m N/C 18+
20:45 COLD SKIN (UK Premiere)
At the dawn of the First World War a young man named Friend (David Oakes) arrives at a desolate Antarctic Circle island to take the post of weather observer and where a race of amphibious humanoids emerge from the seas every night to besiege him and his rancorous lighthouse keeper companion, Gruner (Ray Stevenson). How much horror can the human heart endure?
Director Xavier Gens Cast Ray Stevenson, David Oakes, Aura Garrido Spain/France 2017 1hr48m N/C 18+
23:15 PRIMAL RAGE (European Premiere)
Lost deep in the forest of the Pacific Northwest, Ashley (Casey Cagliardi) and her ex-convict husband Max (Andrew Joseph Montgomery) are stalked by a terrifying creature the locals call Oh-Mah. Soon they find themselves forced to face nature’s harshness, a band of unsavoury hunters and become embroiled in a strange land of Native American legend turned absolutely real in their life or death battle.
Director Patrick Magee Cast Casey Gagliardi, Andrew Joseph Montgomery, Eloy Casados USA 2017 1hr46m N/C 18+
SAT 3 MARCH – GFT Screen 1
11:00 THE BLACKSMITH AND THE DEVIL (Errementari) (UK PREMIERE)
Ten years after Civil War in Spain 1833, orphan Usue (Uma Bracaglia) seeks escape from her abusive guardians and constant harassment from uncaring villagers. When her beloved doll is stolen, it ends up at the property of Patxi (Kandido Uranga) a lonely and feared blacksmith who is the keeper of a terrifying secret, a horrible truth that Usue innocently reveals.
Director Paul Urkijo Alijo Cast Kandido Uranga, Eneko Sagardoy, Uma Bracaglia Spain 2017. Basque with English subtitles. 1hr38min N/C 18+
13:15 PYEWACKET (European Premiere)
Confused and enraged for being forced to move away from school friends after her father dies, Leah (Nicole Muñoz) performs a blood incantation calling on an evil entity to punish her grieving mother. Immediately regretful, too late she realises she can’t reverse the ritual curse and an unholy presence now stalks them both in their rural home.
Director Adam MacDonald Cast Nicole Muñoz, Laurie Holden, Chloe Rose Canada 2017, 1hr27m, 15+
15:15 FRIENDLY BEAST (O Animal Cordial) (UK Premiere)
It’s nearly closing time at a struggling restaurant. Staff want to go home while the boss struggles with money troubles and a desire for more power in his life. Enter two robbers, the catalyst for a violent situation, which the boss is initially able to contain and gain the upper hand. Suddenly, the already dangerous and explosive situation turn deadly; sides are taken and people turn to the most abhorrent behaviour in an instant.
Director Gabriela Amaral Almeida Cast Murilo Benício, Luciana Paes, Irandhir Santos Brazil 2017 1hr38m Portuguese with English subtitles. N/C 18+
18:30 SECRET SANTA (UK Premiere)
The Pope family’s Christmas Eve dinner goes horribly and hilariously wrong when someone puts something in the party punch causing everyone to tell the unvarnished truth at the already dysfunctional holiday reunion. When the head of the household psychopathically freaks-out, the scene is set for murderous mayhem and splatterific revenge as the deviant relatives reveal their long-buried hatreds and festering loathings.
Director Adam Marcus Cast Michelle Renee Allaire, Petra Areskoug, Scott Burkett USA 2017, 1hr29m, N/C 18+
21:05 TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID (Vuelven) (UK Premiere)
Thousands have been murdered or gone missing in the ongoing violent drug war in Mexico. The result is many orphaned children living on the streets caught in the unceasing cartel crossfire. In her third work of immense beauty, pain, fear and joy, writer/director Issa López tells the magical story of five such urchins making the best of their daily struggle to survive.
Director Issa López Cast Paola Lara, Hanssel Casillas, Rodrigo Cortes Mexico 2017, Spanish with English subtitles, 1hr23m N/C 18+
23:00 SIXTY MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT (European Premiere)
It’s New Year’s Eve 1999 and former soldier Jack Darcy (Robert Nolan) wakes to find himself mysteriously entered into a murderous new TV game show. He has sixty minutes to kill or be killed by a group of strange armed men who’ve surrounded his house. But what his would-be assassins haven’t realised is that Jack has learnt a few tricks from his military days. He has a hidden bunker full of weapons and he isn’t going down without a vicious fight!
Director Neil Mackay Cast Robert Nolan, Arnold Sidney, Terry McDonald Canada 2017, 1hr 23m, N/C 18+.
Tickets go on sale January 15, 2018.