Meredith (Shelley Ward) is an attractive single woman, not yet fifty, who has recently adopted two teenage daughters – Anna and Emilie (Luna Belan and Julie Venturelli). After a seemingly happy beginning, it doesn’t take long for events to turn bad. Anna is walking home through the rain and finds a present waiting for her on the doorstep – two tin cans connected by a string, accompanied by the message ‘Did you see me?’ And then there are the noises Meredith hears coming from inside the girl’s bedroom, even though the sisters are apparently sleeping downstairs.

The girls believe there is a man in the house. Now Meredith starts to see him too.

With her world falling apart, Meredith calls in the team from a local television programme called ‘SOS Adoption’. The presenter, Chloe (Anatolia Allieis) and cameraman Chris (Morgan Hel) interview the girls on film. Emilie confirms the presence of the mysterious man and then quietly predicts “You will die” as she leaves the room.

Meredith disappears, leaving the barest note to explain her absence. Chris is urgently called away and Chloe is left alone with Anna and Emilie, whose behaviour is growing steadily more erratic and disturbing. Is the man a product of their teenage imaginations or is somebody actually hiding in the house, preying upon the sisters and feeding them instructions? Is the man a ghost? And what does he ultimately want the girls to do for him?

I enjoyed ‘Hostile’. It is well-made, overflowing with ideas (which is one of its main problems – there is a moment when the story veers off into ‘The Last Exorcism’ territory and almost undoes all the good work that came beforehand) and it moves at a brisk pace with barely a let-up in the tension. On the minus-side, it is extremely derivative, relies too often on cheap jump-scares wherein something flashes across the screen while some discordant note shrieks like somebody just trapped a cat inside a piano and one or two of the performances don’t entirely convince. There is also some very heavy-handed dialogue (especially in the final third of the movie, when husband-and-wife exorcists Jessica and Daniel Flamiski (Julien Croquet and Magali Gouyon) get involved and there’s some cheesy talk about God and faith and getting a new video camera so they can send all their evidence to the Vatican) and, while we’re on the subject of video cameras, the constant switch between subjective direction and video camera POV gets a bit wearing. The vid-cam POV is so overused that at times ‘Hostile’ feels like it should be one of those found-footage movies that most of us (this reviewer especially) have come to hate so much, and that’s a shame: ‘Hostile’ has more style, imagination and micro-budget charm than all the found-footage films I’ve ever seen put together.

And most importantly, although flawed, ‘Hostile’ has enough great moments to keep even the most jaded horror fan interested, and there’s a reveal that genuinely surprised me and took the story into a realm that was quite unexpected. Okay, so the climax lets things down a little but that’s a minor quibble when a film is so consistently fresh and engaging.

But do you want to know the scariest thing about ‘Hostile’? Its writer/director Nathan Ambrosioni will be celebrating his sixteenth birthday mere days before FrightFest opens. For someone to make a piece of horror cinema as impressive as this at such an early age, and have it shown at the UK’s premiere horror film festival, is truly terrifying. He is definitely a young director with greatness in his future.

Frightfest London review: Hostile
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About The Author

Ian White is an author, screenwriter and journalist. His book ‘Witchcraft and Black Magic in British Cult Cinema’ was recently published by Hemlock and he is a regular contributor to ‘Paranormal Underground’ and ‘Starburst’ magazines. He’s currently writing a new book and screenplay and his embarrassingly out-of-date website can be found at http://ianwhitelondon.wix.com/ian-white