Every year hordes of horror hungry fans flock to Leicester Square to indulge in Frightfest, a five day extravaganza of horror films from around the globe. This year marks the 19th year of Fright Fest and with a host of terrifyingly good horror on offer we couldn’t resist checking out two of the Fest’s most intriguing films – ‘The Field Guide to Evil’ and ‘Possum’.
The Field Guide to Evil heralds the return of the creators of the acclaimed ‘ABC’s of Death’ horror series Ant Timpson and Tim League with another anthology format. This time the anthology is very much in the Folk Horror vein with a range of films suited to the sub genre. The film covers a wide variety of folkloric topics each specific to the individual director’s country.
It should be said there’s a huge variety on offer with a varied director list including the likes of Ashim Alhuwalia, Veronika Frank, Severin Fiala, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Katrin Gebbe, Can Evrenol, Calvin Reeder, Yannis Veslemes and renowned director Peter Strickland. Content too ranges across the folklore spectrum – there’s quite literally everything here from undead entities, witches, goblins and dark things buried beneath the soil.
It’s an enjoyable ride and it should be said a fantastic concept. As with all anthology films some stories carry more weight than others, but in particular we loved Severin Fiala’s , Veronika Franz(Goodnight Mommy) ‘Die Trud’ which very much carried the feel of recent folk horror hit ‘The Witch’ with a refreshingly different (and hideous) creature.
Next up we were particularly intrigued to see ‘Possum’, the debut feature from comedian and writer Matthew Holness (better known as the dream weaver himself, Garth Marenghi from Channel 4’s Darkplace). Starring Sean Harris and Alun Armstrong the trailer for Possum had looked spectacularly dark, with a real 70’s, British feel to the horror – very much akin to Matt’s previous shorts. Along with which, the shots of remote, bleak marshland which very much conjured up a feel of the classic M R James’ ‘Ghost Stories for Christmas’.
Possum follows the story of ‘Philip‘ a man returning to his childhood home after years of being away, and a children’s puppet show gone wrong. As we begin to catch glimpses of the hideous Possum, the puppet which seems to be controlling Philip’s life we watch as his world starts to unravel. It’s a bleak world and Philip is clearly a very troubled individual. We’re led deep into his fractured psyche and you can feel him quite literally falling apart as the malevolent presence that lurks within his mysterious bag starts to talk of him.
For a debut feature it had to be said Possum was outstanding, with a uniquely dark aesthetic and some truly haunting images. In particular it’s the initial fleeting glimpses of the titular ‘Possum’ which can be said are truly disturbing and something you won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
No doubt this is just the tip of the iceberg for a truly original director – we look forward to seeing what he’s got in store next.
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