Arrow Video FrightFest 2021 has traditionally showcased the best in genre short film from the UK and around the world since 2004, and this year is, despite the additional challenges faced, no exception, with ten countries representing three continents. From creeping terrors to outrageous scares, from spooky laughs to genuine fear, this year’s selection, which includes nine world premieres, unleashes the latest from upcoming and established filmmakers.
Alun Armstrong in THE NICKY NACK
The UK is very strongly represented with a record seventeen entries. The presence of monsters is a recurrent theme, from Charlotte Beaumont’s terrifying zombie in Voodoo in My Heart to Alun Armstrong’s invisible enemy in The Nicky Nack and Mandip Gill’s malevolent mixing board in On Air. There are also monsters in the workplace in Night Bus, Hiya Janice, and The Dead Collectors, and some lurking in strange forms and places you least expect in Better the Devil You Know, Wee Shadows, They Called Me David, Puff, Where The Tar Leaks Red, Familiar, Arm, Behind You, and Itch. Other UK entries include creepy dystopian dramas Aria and Standing Woman.
Creepiness pervades throughout the global line-up – from the paranoia of Dutch thriller The Departure, the fear of smart Finnish entry Hysteria, the animated dread of Canada’s Self-Actualization of the Werewolf Woman, the apocalyptic isolation of Ireland’s Terrible Things, the strange hallucinations of Iraq’s Room 217, and be careful of the creature that lurks under the skin in Russian entry Four.
Other horrific treasures from around the world include Spanish revenge drama Dana, the skin-crawling Maltese entry Itch, three more entries from Canada – couple chiller Otherwise, gripping anti-bully fantasy Weirdo, and Trouble, in which a young man must be careful of the danger he cannot see. In Stuck, from the US, a gymnastic coach gets her revenge on a voyeur.
Other Stateside shorts include the International premieres of The Lovers, where romance and horror become roommates, scary comedy Carl the Exorcist, and Posies in which Maddy tries to delay her slow transformation into a monster by hiding flower petals under her skin. There is also a UK premiere for A Puff Before Dying, in which Angela has to learn the hard way that marijuana and driving don’t mix.
Programmer Shelagh Rowan-Legg said today: “To say that the past 18 months have been challenging would be an understatement. And yet, so many filmmakers from the UK and around the world have risen to that challenge, and gifted us with their amazing shorts. it seems there is such deep, rich work, at a time when we need stories that both keep us awake, and help us through the darkest times. Those that scare together, stay together, and the FrightFest audience will stay scared together”.
The full line-up:
FRIDAY 27 AUGUST – SHORT FILM SHOWCASE ONE
CINEWORLD DISCOVERY SCREEN 1 from 15:45
The Nicky Nack (World Premiere)
Director: Tom Oxenham. Cast: Alun Armstrong. UK 2021. 6 min.
A mysterious sound is following a pub patron home, and he can’t seem to shake it.
Standing Woman (UK Premiere)
Director: Tony Hipwell. Cast: Anton Thompson, Yuriri Naka. UK 2020. 15 min.
An insidious government campaign gives prisoners the ‘choice’ to become trees, and one man takes a final journey to see his lover before she forgets him.
Hysteria (UK Premiere)
Director: Anssi Määttä. Cast: Sari Siikander, Heli Sutela. Finland 2021. 7 min.
When a mysterious and deadly fog forces Hannele to lock herself in her car, she faces a choice: risk death by opening the door for her friend, or save herself?
The Departure (UK Premiere)
Director: Nico van den Brink. Cast: Sallie Harmsen, André Dongelmans. The Netherlands 2020. 10 min.
Nora keeps seeing the same man everywhere, and it evokes both fear and anguish.
Voodoo in My Heart (UK Premiere)
Director: Elias Williams. Cast: Charlotte Beaumont. UK 2020. 5 min.
With minutes left before joining her boyfriend as a zombie, Emily tries to find help and solace.
Better the Devil You Know (World Premiere)
Director: Vipin Venugopal. Cast: Mark Kitto, Reza Diako. UK 2021. 8 min.
On his death, Norman discovers the path to heaven is a lot trickier than he anticipated.
Self-Actualization of the Werewolf Woman (World Premiere)
Director: Conall Pendergast. Cast: Josephine Croft, Kristine Norvaishas. Canada 2021. 4 min.
A werewolf and a vampire exchange life stories and philosophical musings.
The Dead Collectors (World Premiere)
Director: Brendan Cleaves. Cast: Elliot James Langridge, Ivan Kaye. UK 2021. 13 min.
When your job is collecting the dead, there’s a lot of waiting. And a lot of smothering.
Terrible Things (UK Premiere)
Director: Ciarán Hickey. Cast: Claire J. Loy. Ireland 2021. 9 min.
A woman wandering the apocalypse landscape alone finds brief refuge in a forgotten cottage.
Puff (World Premiere)
Director: Zara Symes. Cast: Victoria Emslie, Sam Benjamin. UK 2021. 2 min.
A pregnant woman can’t sleep, convinced there’s something she cannot see.
Dana (UK Premiere)
Director: Lucía Forner Segarra. Cast: Thais Blume, Josean Bengoetxea. Spain 2020. 18 min.
After a vicious attack, Diana decides to become a vigilante, which she learns takes strength, cunning, and some odd supplies
FRIDAY 28 AUGUST – SHORT FILM SHOWCASE TWO
CINEWORLD DISCOVERY SCREEN 1 from 13:20
Room 217 (International Premiere)
Director: Srwsht Abarash. Cast: Zheer Faraidoon, Abdul Muhammad. Iraq 2021. 14 mins.
A man might be able to check into Room 217 on a rainy night, but will be able to leave?
They Called Me David (World Premiere)
Director: Lindsay Hallam. Cast: Millie Hallam, Damo Alexander. UK 2021. 6 min.
Is David a friend or foe? A saviour or destroyer? A lonely child or a demon in disguise?
Arm (World Premiere)
Director: Jill Worsley. Cast: Katharine Markwick. UK 2021. 9 min.
In a moment of pandemic isolation madness, a woman makes an impulse purchase she could soon regret.
Night Bus (London Premiere)
Directors: Henrietta Ashworth, Jessica Ashworth. UK 2020. 13 min.
Natasha’s on the night shift, and something untoward seems to have joined her.
Itch (European Premiere)
Director: Susannah Farrugia. Cast: Alexandra Dowling, Loren O’Dair. UK/Malta 2021. 8 min.
A novice nun who develops a severe skin condition which continues to worsen along with her mental state as she struggles with her feelings for another nun.
Otherwise (European Premiere)
Director: Ali Mashayekhi. Cast: Jade Hassoune, Farid Yazdani. Canada 2021. 7 min.
When a couple breaks up, they no longer recognize each other.
Aria (UK Premiere)
Director: Christopher Poole. Cast: Daniel Lawrence Taylor, Susannah Fielding. UK 2021. 13 min.
Jenny and Tom are excited to install a new Aria “smart security system” in their home. Tom becomes increasingly paranoid about what may be lurking outside their front door at night and eventually confronts it.
Weirdo (London Premiere)
Director: Ashlea Wessel. Cast: Spencer Hanson, Shawn Vincent. Canada 2020. 7 min.
A poor teenager getting bullied lets out something unexpected and dangerous.
On Air (UK Premiere)
Director: Syd Heather. Cast: Mandip Gill, Marnie Baxter. UK 2020. 6 min.
A sound engineer finds she can control elements beyond her mixing board, but might soon get caught in the trap.
Stuck (UK Premiere)
Director: David Mikalson. Cast: Nicola Lambo, Davey Johnson. USA 2020. 14 min.
When a man tries to spy on her students, a gymnastics coach takes matters into her own hands.
MONDAY 30 AUGUST – SHORT FILM SHOWCASE THREE
CINEWORLD DISCOVERY SCREEN 1 from 13:10
Trouble (UK Premiere)
Director: Naledi Jackson. Cast: Dalmar Abuzeid, Aurora Browne. Canada 2020. 7 min.
A young man takes a music gig at a former plantation, and finds that the past is not as deeply buried as it should be.
The Lovers (International Premiere)
Director: Avra Fox-Lerner. Cast: Meryl Williams, Annapurna Sriram. USA 2020. 9 min.
A woman wonders if her roommate expects too much of her, yet their codependent cycle is hard to break.
Where The Tar Leaks Red (London Premiere)
Director: Dominic Stewart. Cast: Racquel Stewart, Celia Learmonth. UK 2021. 5 min.
Lamia’s sleep paralysis threatens to rob her of something far worse that a good night’s sleep.
Carl the Exorcist (European Premiere)
Director: Jordan McKittrick. Cast: Zach Tinker, Christina Wolfgram. USA 2020. 10 min.
Carl is finally getting to perform his first exorcism – but he might not be as prepared as he thinks.
Posies (International Premiere)
Directors: R.H. Stavis, Katherine Fisher. Cast: Anna Diop, Andy Favreau. USA 2020. 16 min.
Maddy tries to delay her slow transformation into a monster, by hiding flower petals under her skin.
Familiar (UK Premiere)
Director: David J. Ellison. Cast: Hugo Nicolau. UK 2021. 10 min.
A man is the familiar of a vampire, and his duties become as unbearable as the monster beneath him.
Behind You (World Premiere)
Directors: Gavin Williams, Mark Lediard. UK 2021. 10 min.
After eye surgery, a woman becomes convinced there is something behind her that she cannot see.
Wee Shadows (London Premiere)
Director: Steven Goodison. UK 2021. 3 min.
Two grave robbers find the physical and emotional burden of their clandestine task a little too much to bear.
Four (International Premiere)
Director: Irina Dorosh. Cast: Igor Ivanov, Milla Volkova. Russian Federation 2021. 11 min.
Three friends dare each other to visit an abandoned apartment building, where something has found a terrifying home.
A Puff Before Dying (UK Premiere)
Directors: Michael Reich, Mike Pinkney. Cast: Annie Mebane, James Kirkland. USA 2021. 10 min.
Angela is going to learn the hard way that marijuana and driving don’t mix.
Hiya Janice (World Premiere)
Director: Rob Hayes. Cast: Jack Holden, Carla Mendonça. UK 2021. 7 min.
Janice might be Declan’s most annoying co-worker, but will she literally drive him into the arms of monsters?
Arrow Video FrightFest runs from 26th – 30th August 2021 at Cineworld Leicester Square.
Tickets & passes are now available to buy online: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/tickets.html
For full programme details: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/