Day three of the Mayhem film festival brought audiences demons, vampires, haunted churches, sentient machines and yet more vampires (although of the naked space variety) to Nottingham’s Broadway cinema.
The day opened with The Demon’s Rook, an ultra-low budget gorefest about a trio of demons unleashed on an unsuspecting community. A deliberate throwback to ’70s and ’80s pre-CGI horror, the film is entertaining, if often uneven. Although a lot of fun in places, at 105 minutes the weak script feels more like a jumble of ideas than a coherent whole, and what could have been a hugely entertaining short film ends up as a chaotic, if largely enjoyable mess. Still, director James Sizemore conjures some impressive FX on a miniscule budget and you have to admire its lo-fi ambition.
Kiss Of The Damned is an impressive debut feature from director Xan Cassavetes. Telling the story of newly turned vampire Paulo (Milo Ventimigila) and a pair of sisters Djuna (Joséphine de La Baume) and Mimi (Roxane Mesquida), it’s a beautiful looking, erotically charged vampire movie. Slightly reminiscent of Tony Scott’s The Hunger, the film adds little new to the vampire genre, and never really gets beneath the skin of its characters. Still, after the Twilight-fixation of vamps in recent years, it’s good to have a decent, erotic vampire movie.
The day’s best-received films were Elliot Goldner’s The Borderlands and Caradog James’ The Machine, both of which were followed by entertaining onstage Q&As from directors, producers and cast.
Borderlands follows a team of Vatican investigators who are sent to a remote West Country village after reports of a miracle in the local church, only to find something much more sinister. The film manages to make effective use of the tired found footage genre and balances its many scares with genuine humour, due in part to superb central performances from Gordon Kennedy and Robin Hill. It’s out in April and one of the best British horrors of recent years.
The Machine is an impressive British sci-fi from director Caradog James (Little White Lies) starring Toby Stephens, Ciaty Lotz and an all too rare bad guy turn from Wedge Antilles himself, Denis Lawson. Visually gorgeous, it tells the story of a pair of MOD scientists researching artificial life. The film asks some important questions regarding the ethics and dangers of creating AI, and creates a believable future, along with some superb effects on its miniscule budget.
Rounding off the day was a screening of Tobe Hooper’s classic Lifeforce. And if naked space vampires aren’t your idea of a perfect Saturday night then, to be honest, you’re probably reading the wrong magazine.
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