Live Event: Grimmfest, Odeon Printworks, October 5th – 8th, 2017

Grimmfest is now in its 9th year and this was my 2nd year in attendance (you can read all about my 2016 experience here) at this excellent showcase of fantastic films in Manchester, UK.

Despite my best intentions, I was once again only able to attend for the one day. This is something I strongly want to rectify next year, even if it means using days holidays, as Grimmfest is now firmly established as my favourite movie festival to visit. It is organised well, with the on site Odeon amenities supplying food and beverages (albeit at the usual inflated cinema prices…though you can always nip outside into one of the many bars and food establishments which are in and around the Printworks), a hub section which sells t-shirts, DVD’s, Blu-rays, various movie related memorabilia, a signing section for cast and crew members of the movies in attendance, and even a mock electric chair to have your photo taken on, supplied by The Horror Channel who are one of the sponsors of Grimmfest.

One stall which caught my eye in the hub area was displaying hand crafted bags by Judy Inglis. She has limited online presence at the moment, but was more than happy for me to display her email address here for you to contact her. If you like what you see, please send her an email to: lizziebbags@gmail.com and tell her the 60 Minutes With website sent you there. I’m sure that our very own Tina will be contacting her as soon as she reads this review!

For the 2nd year running I absolutely loved every movie that I watched. If you want multi-million dollar, mainstream, PG rated, chewing gum for the eyes, then Grimmfest isn’t for you. However, if you want thought proving cinema from smaller companies and indie filmmakers that pour their heart and soul into their projects, then make sure to buy a full weekend pass for 2018 and I’ll see you there…I’ll be the one with a big smile on my face to be in attendance again.

This years festival ran from Thursday October 5th until Sunday October 8th. I was there for the Saturday and this is what kept me highly entertained throughout the day:

*Some of the trailer below may be NSFW* What the hell are you doing watching trailers at work anyway!?

10am – Sound From The Deep (UK Premiere) 

Directors: Joonas Allonen Antti Laakso, Cast: Eero Ojala, Lasse Fagerström, Finland, 29 min

An international research group is searching natural resources from the Arctic Ocean. They pick up a strange underwater sound from far north, and start to follow it to the uncharted waters. Inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

Sound From The Deep displays a stark colour palette that reflects the unforgiving icy environment that the characters find themselves in as they search for the elusive gas source that will make them a profit on their current expedition.

Friendships are tested to breaking point as reservations throughout the crew split them between continuing to follow an unexplained sound source that may, or may not, be linked to the source of the underwater gas reservoir they are searching for. Or could it be something more sinister instead?

Like all good short films, Sound From The Deep left me wanting more and itching to know what happened as the credits rolled on a cliffhanger where the balance of the world was literally in the balance!

Once again it was great to start the day on an enjoyable short movie.

10:30am – Killing Ground (Northern Premiere)

Director Damien Power, Cast: Aaron Pederson, Aaron Glenane, Ian Hunter, Harriet Dyer, Maya Strange, Julian Garner, Tiarnie Coupland, Australia, 2017, 88 min

A couples’ camping trip turns into a frightening ordeal when they stumble across the scene of a horrific crime.

If you’re ever sat on the 3rd row in screen 12 of the Printworks Odeon cinema and notice bits of human nails still stuck into the arm rests of your seat, then those are mine and Killing Ground is responsible.

Once again shining a dark and violent cinematic light upon the men who live deep in the Australian wilderness (is it because they all couldn’t give a Castlemaine XXXX ?), Killing Ground follows the likes of The Snowtown Murders, Wolf Creek and many more antipodean adventures where you definitely should just keep driving to the next big city.

Telling the story in a non-linear way allows writer/director Damien Power to unfold the pieces of the characters lives in a way that has you constantly second guessing yourself as to what may or may not have happened, and of course to what horrific event may happen next.

There is one particular shot that simply involves a character in the foreground walking towards the camera, while another character appears in the background. I have never wanted to scream “look behind you” so loudly as when I was a little kid at a Christmas panto!

An absolute masterclass in fear and tension…be prepared to need a manicure by the time the end credits roll.

12:30pm – Replace (Northern Premiere)

Director: Norbert Keil, Cast: Rebecca Forsythe, Lucie Aron, Barbara Crampton, USA, 101 min

Young and beautiful Kira is afflicted with a strange disease: her skin starts to age rapidly, dry out and crumble away. When she discovers that she can replace her own skin with somebody else’s, she has to choose: watch her own body wither and die – or give in to temptation… whatever the price.

Co-written by Richard Stanley (Hardware, Dust Devil), Replace plays out like the bastard love child of David Cronenberg and David Lynch (it’s a well known fact that people called David have warped minds…you only need to hear our podcast!).

What would YOU do to try and avert the aging process? Replace gives you one scenario of how it may play out…and it’s not pretty!

This movie really got under my skin (no pun intended) and the constant peeling and flaking of Kira’s (Rebecca Forsythe) skin as it rejected her body had me scratching like a dog with fleas…apologies again to those who may find themselves on that 4th row of screen 12. Now you have fingernails AND bits of my scratched skin to contend with!

It was great to see Barbara Crampton on the big screen once again, she seems to be having a well deserved resurgence on cinema screens lately.

2:30pm – Fierce (UK Premiere)

Director: Izù Troin, Animation, France  2017, (15 min)

A young corporate executive is kidnapped from his apartment. He wakes up in the middle of a forest only to be stalked by a mysterious hunter.

An interesting animated short that had me wincing at the violence despite its stylised visuals.

Another example of Grimmfest showing something that I may otherwise never have seen.

2:45pm – Game Of Death (North West Premiere)

Directors: Sebastien Landry, Laurence Morais-Lagace, Cast: Sam Earle, Victoria Diamond, Emelia Hellman, Erniel Baez Duenas, France / Canada / USA, 2017, 72 min)

Seven drunken, partying teens discover a slightly sinister board game, and decide it might be quite fun to play it. But they don’t really read the rules, and what they do read they don’t take seriously. Once that clock starts ticking, there’s only one choice: Kill or be killed. Ridiculous, right? And then one of them loses his head, and they realise that the Game is ON…

Game Of Death is a wonderfully batshit crazy movie that combines outrageous gore (some of the best head explosions since Scanners) with chuckles aplenty.

The premise is brilliant: not realising that an electronic board game called ‘Game of Death’ means literally what it says on the box, seven teens have only a short amount of time to kill an alloted amount of people before time runs out and one of THEM has to die instead. All the while the clock is ticking to get the next kill. It really is a case of ‘kill or be killed’, and despite featuring a group of teens who I found annoying to begin (because I’m an old git), they won me over way before the end of the movie.

I can see this being a firm late night favourite with friends and a few beers.

4:40pm – Double Date (Northern Premiere)

Director: Benjamin Barfoot, Cast: Danny Morgan, Michael Socha, Georgia Groome, Kelly Wenham, Dexter Fletcher, UK 2017, 89 min)

Meet innocent Jim, terrified of girls, and on a reluctant quest to prove his manhood the night before he turns 30. He and his cocky friend Alex think they’ve hit the jackpot when they meet the beautiful siblings Kitty and Lulu, who seem up for anything on a wild party-fuelled night. But little do they know that the femmes fatales want to make Jim lose much more than just his virginity – Getting laid has never been so bloody difficult.

My favourite of the day and already a movie that I’m looking forward to buying on Blu-ray and watching many times.

Double Date is written by and stars Danny Morgan, who is definitely a name I shall now be watching closely.

The audience were in fits of laughter throughout its 90 minute running time, and the chemistry between Danny and his co-star Michael Socha is fantastic. To say too much would be to spoil a lot of the hilarious blood soaked action. However, watch out for a fight scene that is up there with the epic one from They Live, as well as a family based Birthday song that everyone should now have to do each year…complete with t-shirts!

All was rounded off with a Q&A session where Danny admitted that he isn’t a virgin in real life…hopefully he is therefore saved from any sacrifice!

Can we have a sequel please?

7:00pm – Leatherface (Regional Premiere)

Directors: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury, Cast: Lili Taylor, Stephen Dorff, Finn Jones, Sam Coleman, Nicole Andrews, USA, 2017, 90 min

A teenage Leatherface escapes from a mental hospital with three other inmates, kidnapping a young nurse and taking her on a road trip from hell while being pursued by an equally deranged lawman out for revenge.

An interesting take on the origin story of Leatherface.

This seemed to split the crowd down the middle, though I thought it was very entertaining and it kept my interest throughout. There were quite a few hardened Texas Chainsaw Massacre fans scattered around the room, and they didn’t seem as enamoured as I was. Like most sequels/prequels/reboots and reimagining, your love of the original source material will affect the way in which you view all later instalments.

At times it does drop into a cliched ‘teens on the run/ teens on the rampage’ vibe, but overall I thought it sits well within the TCM universe.

Leatherface may well divide opinions, but I encourage you to go watch it to form your own.

9:00pm – Fake Blood (European Premiere)

Director: Rob Grant, Cast: Mike Kovac, Rob Grant, Scott Wallis, Jacqueline Breakwell, Canada 2017, 80 min)

After Rob Grant and Mike Kovac receive a disturbing fan video inspired by their previous movie, MON AMI, they feel compelled to investigate the responsibility of filmmakers in portraying violence on screen. In their reckless pursuit of the truth they find themselves caught up in the world of violent criminals and their victims.

Is Fake Blood a documentary or a Mockumentary? That was the big question of the evening. Director/writer/star Rob Grant said in the post screening Q&A session that it contains more reality than fiction, and that only certain parts were added to make the story flow better. Whatever it is, it is nothing but very interesting and entertaining, and raises some good questions and conversation about how violence is depicted in movies.

Starting with a central premise of wanting to find the core differences between movie violence and real life violence, the narrative takes a sharp turn as the filmmakers begin to look too deep into the real life world where violence has far more consequence. If you’ve seen Catfish, then this plays out in a vaguely similar way…but much more scary!

Thanks also to Rob Grant for signing my Fake Blood Movie poster.

Once again I had to sadly miss the final movie of the day:

The Bride (UK Premiere)

Director: Svyatoslav Podgayevskiy, Cast: Victoria Agalakova, Vyacheslav Chepurchenko, Aleksandra Rebenok, (Russia 2017, 96 min)

In late 19th Century rural Russia, it was common practice to photograph dead relatives, posed as if they were alive. It was also believed in some quarters that the camera was a means to capture the human soul. Travelling with her fiancé to his ancestral home, to prepare for a traditional wedding ceremony, Nastya is about to discover that such beliefs and practices are still very much alive…

As I write this review, Grimmfest 2017 is nearing the end of its final day and Im gutted not to be there (and the Thursday and Friday too). It is an absolute ‘must visit’ for any fan of horror/sci-fi/psychological thriller movies and has a fantastic atmosphere where you are assured of high quality entertainment throughout the entire 4 day event. I need to get my holidays booked in advance ready for 2018!

Please bookmark the Grimmfest website, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter: @grimmfest

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) with thanks to Grimmfest for the press pass.