Saturday 9th October 2010 saw Dead by Dawn return to the Edinburgh Filmhouse in a one day Un-Halloween special event. I’m glad to say that myself, Croc, and Dave all made it along, and for once none of us fell ill. This is our fourth year attending. For each of the last three years at least one of us has succumbed to illness during the festival. Also, Clare and Beth have both been ill over the weekend so we didn’t escape it completely. Alex even joined us for the first movie and short to get a taste.
I’ll post a quick recap and thoughts on some of the movies below, but first a quick summary.
Usually at this festival the shorts outweigh the features, perhaps due to the lower budgets they tend to shine through with better stories. This year the festival took a strange turn with the shorts (certainly with the “horror films with happy(ish) endings” compilation) seeming to be of a much higher quality than before. Each of the shorts was well acted, some even including classical dance scenes or the use of actors movement in a still shot the results of which were quite beautiful. They were each in their own way enjoyable, but they just didn’t feel like horror.
My best recollections of Dead by Dawn are always of the crowd reaction. Perhaps a particularly gory scene, or some black comedy hamming it up, the collective cheers or gasps of the crowd do make Dead by Dawn a very shared viewing experience. The shorts mentioned above rarely came through with this and did leave me disappointed.
That said though, the festival as a whole should be judged on the whole experience, and as always it lived up to expectation.
Highlights from this years selection would include
The Director’s Cut
A film production team goes on location to a farm in the middle of nowhere, where (as is pretty standard in this kind of movie) someone or something starts to pick them off one by one. The twist on the villain of the piece made this both horror and comedy gold.
Not strictly a horror movie, but a documentary on the urban legend of a child-killer, Cropsey, and how that links in with the truth of child abductions in Staten Island in the eighties. Certainly a very though provoking film and never knowing if the man accused was guilty does open the door into some of our real-world fears.
A classic horror short of the scare-tactics variety, this made us both laugh out loud and jump with shock. Well played.
5150 Rue De Ormes
An enjoyable prisoner movie where we the audience can actually feel sympathy toward the abductor and his family, as well as the captive himself. Fabulous acting from the two male leads really built the tension as they both begin to lose their grasp.
Ever have a stuffed teddy as a child? Now experience the horror of where that bear really comes from ….. Very funny.
A little out of place maybe … ?
Danse Macabre & Life After Beth
I’ve put these together as they were both more performance art than film. Life After Beth was a lovely dance piece, but felt like making one character a zombie was a cheap way to try and make this stand out from the crowd. Danse Macabre focussed on the journey of a dead body, but managed to put so much motion and frame the shots so perfectly that there was never a lack of movement on-screen, Removing the stillness that we associate with the dead did give this a new perspective. Both were lovely, but neither seemed like a good fit to the festival.
That said, there was nothing truly awful on offer this year, so I can’t really have any complaints. Pretty much everything we watched, if given the chance I’d probably have watched anyway. Adele has obviously put in the hard work, and her choices while maybe not what I was expecting I did mostly enjoy.
Will Dead by Dawn return to it’s full weekend run in April, I certainly hope so (although I’m too old to manage a full weekend !)