The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Feature: Grimmfest 2014

Zombie aficionado Katie Morton roams the screenings of Grimmfest, Manchester’s very own horror film festival.

By

THURSDAY

First up was The Herd. Billed as ‘a vegan feminist horror’, the 20-minute film was a bloody difficult watch. Set in a world where human breast milk is a commodity, women are inseminated, kept in cages and milked after giving birth, before starting the whole process again. With strong vegan and feminist themes, the film was very effective in portraying its messages. Still not vegan though.

Next, Let Us Prey. Starring Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones), this dark British horror plays out themes of vengeance and retribution in a small Scottish police station. On her first night on the job, Pollyanna McIntosh’s newbie police officer meets the mysterious Six (Cunningham), and everything gets a bit weird. Ending with a bloke covered in barbed wire setting fire to everything, the climax of the film was certainly exciting. However, this is a film I’ll need to watch again to truly understand what happened.

Finally, in a change of pace from the dark and depressing themes of the previous films, Suburban Gothic was a funny and predictable ghost flick. From the indie sector of the American industry, and starring cult favourites Kat Dennings and Matthew Gray Gubler, the film followed Raymond (Gubler) on his quest to rid his parents’ house of a tormented spirit while trying to find a job and sort out his love life. With a few basic jump scares, the film is more funny than scary.

SATURDAY

After spending all of Friday in bed a cold, I arrived at Dancehouse very tired, but very excited to see New Zealand vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows. Starring Flight of the Conchords’ Jermaine Clement as vampire Vladislav, the film followed him and his three undead flatmates in their day-to-day lives around Wellington. Taika Waititi as Viago was a highlight, hilarious and sweet in his portrayal of a vampire trying to adjust to modern life. Non-stop jokes, and a well explored universe, What We Do In The Shadows is an excellent film and a real must-see.

Zombeavers burst onto the screen at 11:20pm. With brainless college students, hillbilly hunters, and topless women appearing onscreen within the first 20 minutes, this film gnawed its way though basic horror tropes. And then the highlight of the film: animatronic zombie beavers, equipped with glowing eyes! Gory, daft and quite funny, Zombeavers is a great creature-feature whose sentience doesn’t take away from the laughs.

SUNDAY

10:20am isn’t really the best time to screen a horror film. Barely awake, I staggered down to Gorilla to watch Open Grave. The film opened with a powerful thunderstorm and Sharlto Copley (who could win at any wet t-shirt contest) waking in a pit full of corpses, with no memory. Finding other amnesiacs, the group sets about trying to work out who they are and why they’re in the middle of nowhere surrounded by dead people. An interesting premise but became slow and predicable.

As a huge fan of the original, I had high expectations of Dead Snow 2. Wirkola delivered, and it was fantastic. This time, Vegar Hoel’s Martin comes equipped with a super-strong zombie arm, a supernatural tool necessary in the fight against Herzog’s zombie Nazi platoon. With a bigger budget, Wirkola steps everything up a notch: more plot, more jokes and much more gore. Oh and added zombie sex. Absolutely hilarious, an excellent zom-com.

Get Some sees Warren Brown’s Steve-Irwin-with-a-machine-gun-esque TV presenter tackle the zombie epidemic all in the name of good television. John Hannah’s stressed zombie rights activist provides a good counterbalance to Brown’s kinetic performance, in a short that is all too short. Feeling like it finished just as the plot got started, I hope this film sees a sequel as it is a premise with much more to give.

Continuing the zombie theme, Life After Beth was a black comedy that saw Dane DeHanne playing the straight-man to Aubrey Plaza’s back-from-the-dead Beth. Distraught at the death of his girlfriend, Zach is ecstatic when she reappears, seemingly alive and well, but with no memory of her death. However, very quickly it becomes apparent that Beth has changed. A bit sad, a bit dramatic, but very funny, Life After Beth shows off all of DeHanne and Plaza’s talents, and is definitely worth a watch.

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

What We Do In The Shadows and Dead Snow 2. Check out GRIMMFEST on Facebook for details of year-round screenings.