My first experience of FrightFest was somewhat dampened by this truly boring, obviously low-budget “horror” film.

Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word tells the story of a 17-year-old teenager who was falsely convicted of the rape and murder of a 76-year-old nun in Texas back in 1981. His last dying words curse all those who had anything to do with his conviction, many of which meet some sticky ends or off themselves.

The film opens to an over-dramatised American court room in which nothing that’s said or done would ever actually happen in real life. As expected, JFG is convicted and then executed after ten years on death row. This is of course after he pens an eight-page letter cursing all those involved in his wrongful conviction and lets out a blood-curdling scream after his lethal injection – presumably this was intended to scare the audience, but really just ended up being quite annoying after the first 15 seconds of my eardrums bleeding.

After he is finally done screaming the curse of JFG lets rip and causes the death of about five people.

What I will say is there is a beautiful suicide involving two very sharp pencils, a nose and a table. That is possibly the only enjoyable horror scene in the whole film and there are some very satisfying sound effects. But that’s probably more to do with what I imagine is some deep psychological trauma I’m probably suffering from rather than the film itself.

There’s not a lot more I can say about JFGLW, because nothing really happens. One by one people die in an all too boring manner with not enough blood and, naturally, it ends as you may well predict… everything is fine.

The characters were bland and I didn’t care when any of them died because there was just no substance to them. Also because they were arseholes who deserved it.

Perhaps the one saving grace is that JFGLW is based on a true story – JFG really was falsely accused of rape and murder and his family still protest his innocence to this day. In fact, ten of them turned up to a screener wearing “Johnny Frank Garrett is innocent” t-shirts, as confirmed by director Simon Rumley.

In real life, many of the deaths are suicides – including that of his teacher who claimed he had an IQ of about 70, when he was perfectly capable of reading and writing, as apparent in his eight-page letter…

One explanation as to why the film was so poor is that director Simon Rumley had no control over the script, which was sent to JFG’s mother and two sisters, although he did have the final cut. He was, in his own words, a director for hire.

In the Q&A after the FrightFest screening he confirmed there had been an open call for casting, of which 90% of his original choices were kept. Perhaps the 10% that were cut would have made this anticlimactic monstrosity worth watching.

Horror Channel Frightfest review: Johnny Frank Garrett's Last Word
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