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I made it to the Fantasy Filmfest again this year and despite the fact that I did not watch quite as many films as I wanted to and also despite the fact that the films on offer were not quite as good as in past years (Yes, yes, I know that there is a contradiction hidden in here.), it was a delightful experience once again.

And here are some of the films I managed to see:

Grabbers: Tentacled alien monsters attack a remote irish island and it is up to two Gardas, a drunk, a posh doctor and a landlord to defeat them.
The premise is already silly and with Richard Coyle (of "Coupling"-fame) starring, I expected a silly film. Unfortunately, it only just about met even those expectations. Bluntly put, the film has one idea beyond the basic premise but has no real idea what to do with it, let alone develop the characters or tell a thrilling stories.
Positive aspects include pretty decent CGI, a (comparatively) interesting and strong female character and a "Yay!"-worthy "Aliens"-reference, but all in all it's a film to be watched with others while drunk and possibly with somethis else to watch afterwards.

Killer Joe: A young Texan needs money to pay a debt with a mobster, so he hires a hitman to kill his mother in order to collect the insurance. Things don't go to plan and the killer might have his own agenda.
It's based on a play (Not that you could tell until the last scene.), starts slightly generic but soon picks up to become quite weird and interesting. Matthew McConaughey makes up for all the dreadful romcoms he has been in by being the coolest killer in quite some time, while Gina Gershon is given a role so trashy it would normally end up being played by Jennifer Tilly. Juno Temple gets the most out of a part which might have turned into a real cliche in other hands. It comes recommended but is not for the fainthearted.

Excision. About a young woman with a definite interest in anatomy but little interest in fitting in at school.
Difficult mixture of what is at times a satire of small-town America in parts (including John Waters as a priest charged with counselling the protagonist), an actually quite moving look at a difficult family at others and a look into a seriously disturbed mind (complete with glossy dream sequences full of gore and naked models). In the end it does not fully satisfy on anyof those levels but for those looking for something out of the ordinary, it is definitely worth a look. You might not see a stranger film this year.

Comedown: ASBOs go to party in an abandoned tower block, only to find it not quite abandoned. People die.
Yawn. Absolutely generic and trying to make up for its lack of tension with gore. Next!

Stitches: A clown (Ross Noble) who died during a children's birthday party returns from the dead years later to take his revenge.
There is a sequence in the last third of the film where it seems like it is briefly thinking about having a plot and possibly introducing a smidgen of peril/tension. Then it goes "Nah! Fuck it!".
The film has the thinnest of plots, none of which stands up to any kind of scrutiny, the characters are quckly sketched and their interactions (except for the obligatory love interest) are negligible. In effect the film just needs to set up the party and the clown in order to give Ross Noble to chance to deliver puns and kill teenagers in cartoonishly extreme ways.
It was the funniest thing I have seen in a while and reminded me of Funny Man. Absolutely bonkers and worth watching together with others.

The Possession: A young girl buys a wooden box with strange hebrew letters on and soon finds herself at the arse-end of a possession.
Okay, I have to differentiate: The film is solidly made, glossy, well acted (particular praise to Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the father and Natasha Calis as the possessed girl) and ticks all of the boxes normally required, even if it's not particularly scary or terribly well-scripted on any level.
My problem with it is that the author and director clearly know all the films about the subject matter that came before (in particular "The Exorcist" and "Drag me to Hell" and even bits of "Constantine") but I know those films, too, and know that they were much, much better. There really are no surprises or thrills to be found here and films that use the "Well, you know, kids go a little crazy when their parents divorce" and the "Evil young girl" (Because we know that girls going through puberty are basically possessed by evil spirits) tropes in order to explain why parents do not notice that there is something wrong with their child have already pretty much lost in my book. Not worth it.

The Aggression Scale: Mob hitmen come to wipe out a family but find that the young son of the family may well be more than they can handle.
You remember "Home Alone"? Imagine that played straight with a more violent and very resourceful Kevin. "Home Alone: First Blood" actually describes it pretty well. The film is not perfect by any means but well executed with a good concept. Definitely worth a watch.

Inbred: A group of young offenders on a re-socialisation programme take a trip up to rural Yorkshire. Not all the locals are friendly.
It will do for Yorkshire tourism what "House of 1000 corpses" did for Texas. Setting everything up takes a while but once it gets going, it is deliciously bonkers. Ee by Gum! :-D Consider that a recommendation.


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