Nottingham’s annual Mayhem horror festival kicked off in style on Thursday evening with a trio of screenings and one very special guest.
Alongside a preview of Haunter, the festival featured an appearance by legendary director Nicholas Roeg, and screenings of two of his films, 2007’s Puffball and the classic Don’t Look Now, the latter taking place in the spooky settings of a medieval church.
The festival, hosted by Nottingham’s Broadway cinema, has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Previous years have hosted appearances from the likes of Ben Wheatley, Robin Hardy and Mike Hodges, and this year has another strong line-up.
The evening kicked off with screenings of Roeg’s two films, and an on-stage talk by the 85-year-old director, a far more witty and engaging presence than his sometimes-aloof films may suggest. Amongst the topics discussed were his belief in allowing “acts of god” to influence a film, whereby happy accidents during production become part of his film, resulting in the naturalistic style the director is known for. Likewise, Roeg stated his belief that the size and technical complexity of many modern productions acted as a barrier to creativity.
Showing Don’t Look Now in a church was an inspired idea. Already one of the most terrifyingly atmospheric films ever produced, the setting beautifully enhanced the atmosphere.
The little seen Puffball serves as an interesting, if definitely lesser companion piece to Don’t Look Now. Thematically similar (hence its inclusion in the festival) it tells the story of two couples in rural Ireland, one dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, the other desperate to conceive by any means, including witchcraft. Loosely adapted from a novel by Fay Weldon, it’s a minor film from the man who gave us the likes of The Man Who Fell to Earth and Performance, but still distinctly Roeg, and worth checking out if you’re a fan.
Rounding off the evening was Haunter, from director Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice) and introduced, via video, by the director. An unusual ghost story, it tells the story of a teenager (Abagail Breslin) who’s seemingly trapped in a single day in 1985. The gradual realisation that she’s in fact dead gives her the opportunity to try and help another girl avoid the same fate. Fans of Natali will know that the director’s films are intricately structured and beautifully shot. Haunter is no different, a beautiful, creepy ghost story and definitely one to look out for.
Mayhem continues over the weekend, with screening of films including Discopath, The Machine and a rare big screen outing for Tobe Hooper’s cult classic Lifeforce.
Further information can be found here.