MAYHEM FILM FESTIVAL – HORROR IN NOTTINGHAM
Festival Formula Ambassador, Daniel Lavelle, travelled up to Nottingham to represent us at Mayhem Film Festival last week. What did he think? Well, we’ll let the man explain in his own words…
I’ve never been to horror film festival before so I didn’t know quite what to expect when visiting the Mayhem Film Festival last weekend. I imagined I would arrive at the Broadway Theatre in Nottingham confronted by throngs of people sporting themed black t-shirts, complete with blood splattered patterns with gothic style font expressing some horrific single syllabled epithet. To my surprise the scene when I arrived boasted more tweed than anything else, which admittedly has its own kind of horror.
I arrived on Friday evening and the first film on my agenda was the Blaine Brothers’ (Chris and Ben Blaine) Nina Forever, an inspired black comedy that explores how grief and jealousy can inhabit new relationships through the ghost of girlfriends past. [Daniel’s review of Nina Forever will be published next week!]
Well, Friday ended, and it inevitably ran into Saturday where I had an all-day pass and enough time to attend three events before I had to catch my train back to Hertfordshire. First on the billing was Jason Krawczyk’s He Never Died, starring Henry Rollins who provides a fantastically dead pan performance as grumpy and seemingly immortal Jack, who cannibalises his way through New York’s underworld. Much like Nina Forever, He Never Died cannot be pigeon holed into any specific genre, and if anything it is more of a black comedy than a horror film. Even during an unpleasant scene where Jack tears out a hired goon’s trachea and proceeds to devour it ravenously before his assailant has the chance to collapse onto the pavement, I found myself chuckling rather than screaming. Not that I was complaining, I had arrived at the festival in full expectation of being scared out of my wits, instead I was feeling quite calm and relatively upbeat. Well, all that was about to change…
Despite the gore and violence within the two features, they registered quite low on the freight scale, something that the next event, Scary Shorts, promised to address. They were introduced by the festivals president as a collection of short films that ranged from the amusing and disturbing to the damn right weird. The first short, David Wayman’s Lab Rats registered on all three counts, in a toe curling gore fest, boasting old school special effects that produced exploding boils of puss and a scene involving a breast that melts off comically from one of the unfortunate female protagonists.
The next couple of shorts were of similar fare until we arrived at Surgery a terrifyingly clever tale of surgical torture directed by the Clemens Bros, based on an idea by the late Brian Clemens. I can’t say too much about the film without giving away the plot, suffice to say that the piece involves a malicious twist.
Things became increasingly harrowing from this point on with Melanie Light’s nightmare, The Herd – a disturbing drama highlighting the cruelty innate in factory farming. It’s the kind of campaign film I expect Jamie Oliver’s evil doppelganger could make one day.
From here there was a brief reprieve with Marc-Henri Boulier’s Juliet, an amusing Sci-Fi satire which has shades of the Be Right Back episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror. But the shorts had one more disturbing note left with Richard Powell’s Heir, a very peculiar and deeply unsettling tale that touched on themes of fatherhood and transformation. At least that’s what the synopsis on the festival flier said, it just left me feeling slightly ill and confused…very very confused.
And with that I came to the final show of my Mayhem Film Festival experience with the live reading of the Hammer Archives unfilmed screenplay The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula. I would love more than anything to tell you about the show as it sounded brilliant, but sadly I had to opt for the significantly more fighting task of walking through Nottingham late at night to catch my train back to Hertfordshire.
Daniel Lavelle – October 2015
The above Ambassador experience was created between Festival Formula and Emmaus. Daniel’s own blog can be seen here: The Opposition