I might as well put my cards straight on the table – I’m a big fan of Frightfest and all that they do.

True, I’m not currently in Glasgow enjoying their March get-together (the simple truth is I cannot afford it) but the August event is one of the highlights of any year.

So I was in a bit of a strange situation when I sat down to watch and review Chris Collier’s documentary on the horror festival and the people behind it – could I be objective, would I automatically give it a thumbs up for what it represents, or would I go the other way and give it a thumbs-down to prove that I was a ‘real’ critic who, for want of a better phrase, wasn’t going to sell out?

Well, the great news is that Collier took all that mental gymnastics out of the game for me, thanks to coming up with a fascinating ‘behind the scenes’ feature that really works as a ‘warts and all’ analysis of Frightfest.

For those not in the know, Frightfest started off as a fairly simple genre get-together back in London in 2000, expanding year by year to become something akin to a sprawling horror empire, with a five-day festival in the West End, the aforementioned shindig in Scotland and plenty of other one-off events – and even a home entertainment label.

This doc focuses pretty much on just the London event, charting its progress through the eyes and mouths of the organisers – Alan Jones, Ian Rattray, Paul McEvoy and Greg Day, as well as roping in plenty of filmmakers like Adam Green and Joe Lynch, with filmmakers and fans like Damon Rickard and Katie Bonham thrown in for good measure.

It charts the highs – the burgeoning crowds, the increased profile, the Frightfest ‘vibe’, but it is also canny enough to shed light on the lows, mainly a number of spats between the organisers over the years.

And it is this ‘behind the curtain’ peek that really elevates the film – this is no glossy promotional tool, but a full-blown investigative piece of work that really drills down into how the whole thing ticks.

Even so, Collier’s film will still have you counting down the days to August if you have been to Frightfest before, or checking out dates and hotels if you haven’t. It perfectly encapsulates just what makes the event so special – the great films, the atmosphere, the Q&As, the camaraderie, the genuine warmth from the organisers to those attending – and the drinking.

A festival for the fans by the fans, which doesn’t take itself too seriously, it is little surprise that Frightfest goes from strength to strength – and Collier has nailed that appeal.

Rental Review: Frightfest - Beneath The Dark Heart Of Cinema
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle