MAYHEM FILM FESTIVAL: DAY 4

PrintE-mail Written by Iain Robertson

Following Saturday night's elaborate Hammer live read, the fourth and final day of Mayhem kicked off in a more low-key manner, which somehow we missed.

The day started with Deathgasm, a low budget New Zealand splatterfest from director Jason Hei Howden. Now, we love a bit of low-budget gore as much as the next socially maladjusted misfit, but there's a time and a place. And 12pm on a Sunday isn't it. We should pretend we were in church or doing something productive, but we weren't. We've got no excuses for missing it other than it seemed a bit much for that time on a Sunday. Sorry. If it helps, we heard it was well-received and reminiscent of the early works of Peter Jackson, which makes us sorry we missed it – and additionally you can find our FrightFest review of the film here.

The next film, which we also missed, was the unappealingly titled German Angst. Much as we're loath to judge a book by its cover, it didn't exactly sound a barrel of laughs. Plus we were running late. Plus it was still Sunday, and we struggle with anything more taxing than Scooby Doo, let alone something which sounds mildly taxing. The film, which comprisess a trio of short films by German directors (Michal Kosakowski, Jorg Buttgereit and Andreas Marschall) was, we're informed, interesting, but mildly baffling.

Along with pretty much everyone else in Nottingham, we turned up for the much-hyped The Witch. Fresh from winning the Sutherland Award for best debut feature at the London Film Festival the night before, the film played to one of the largest audiences we've seen at Mayhem. And the unprecedented security for the screening suggests Universal's pretty sure they'll have a sizeable hit on their hands when it's released early next year.

They could well be right. The film features a superb performance from newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy and also stars Kate Dickie and Ralph Ineson (Game of Thrones' Lysa Arryn and Dagmar Cleftjaw (or Finchy from The Office if you’re not into your minor Westerosi characters)). Based on period accounts of witchcraft, and featuring authentic 17th century dialogue, it tells the story of a Puritanical family in New England who are menaced by an unseen force. Whilst not as terrifying as its early reputation suggests, it's an impressive debut from director Robert Eggers and has enough well-crafted creepiness to become a breakout hit.

Next up was future cult classic Aaaaaaaah!, the directorial debut from Sightseers star Steve Oram. It's a bizarre 80 minutes of people, including Oram and Toyah Wilcox acting and grunting like apes and not a lot else. By turn hilarious and frustrating, its unconventionality and occasional puerile humour seemed to split the Mayhem audience, and provided the festival with one of its more divisive films. It does however feature one hilarious, obscene moment involving a picture of Prince Harry. Oram, who was present for a highly entertaining post-screening Q&A, is fun and engaging in person, and you have to admire him for self-financing such an offbeat project.

The final film of this year's Mayhem was The Invitation. From director Karyn Kusama, who made ropey Megan Fox vehicle Jennifer's Body, and starring Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus, Devil) it tells the story of a group of old friends who are reunited for a dinner party, with possible sinister overtones. It builds tension nicely, before lapsing into conventionality for the ending. Still, it's fun, has a nice twist ending, and is a considerable step up for Kusama.

And that was Mayhem for another year. As usual, its eclectic mix of mainstream and the offbeat proved a mixed bag, but it has far more hits than misses, and is rapidly becoming one of the more entertaining festivals around.


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