All good things come to an end and FrightFest was no exception and on the final day I planned to see all five films before heading homeward.
Zombies! Getting off London’s Underground it was soon evident that something a little strange was going down in Leicester Square — the place was overrun with the walking dead! Still these were the friendliest flesh-eating ghouls you could ever hope to meet.
They were gathered to celebrate the début screening of the low budget British film The Zombie Diaries, and to try and beat the world record for a zombie gathering. They fell a little short of the record, but with 600+ it was a great effort. Some of the make-up on display was very impressive (as good, in fact, as the film we were about to see) and the zombies were truly eclectic. Race, sex, and age, all were united in their love of the living dead.
I managed to make my way through them and into the cinema in time for the film. The Zombie Diaries was Night of the Living Dead meets The Blair Witch Project (the directors were more than happy to own up to their inspiration in the Q&A after the film) and what it lacked in finesse it made up for with enthusiasm. Telling three separate stories or video “diaries,” the film details the start of the zombie outbreak and the aftermath for the few survivors. A neat twist shows that zombies aren’t the only monsters around, with man every bit the undead’s equal. Never less than entertaining, the film showed that ideas are more important than money. There were some structural elements to the story that could have been improved and the film should have finished a little earlier, with a wonderfully bleak ending diluted somewhat by a tagged-on appearance by the army, but all in all this was a very promising first effort.
The day’s films were all from different countries and we headed down Mexico way for our second film, KM 31. This was a ghost story that had been very successful on its home turf but didn’t really cut the mustard with the FrightFest crowd, at least if those who stayed for the director interview after the film is anything to go by. It was well made and featured some excellent cinematography but lacked anything original. The story was based on the Crying Woman legend that has been the inspiration for several Mexican films in the past. Here it was merged with some very Asian-style scare tactics, including that Japanese favourite, the creepy kid. Not a bad film but very pedestrian compared to what we’d been treated to over the weekend.