Oct 18, 2021
5 mins read
Hey everyone. I just got back from Mayhem Film Festival and thought I'd do a quick write-up of my top recommendations.
Mayhem is a horror, sci-fi and cult cinema festival. Keep an eye out for these films, which may appear in cinemas or streaming services like Shudder in the not-too-distant future.
Note: I'm sticking these here as a convenience so I can send one link to my friends who don't live close enough to attend this festival. I don't expect anyone to be 'buying me a coffee' for this!
Alien on Stage
Mayhem synopsis: A group of DIY, Dorset-based bus drivers remake Alien for the stage, all on a shoestring budget, and triumphantly take to the West End stage. This behind-the-scenes documentary catalogues the journey from rehearsals to the first night and will leave you grinning from ear to ear and cheering the underdogs on to victory.
Mini-review: You just can't not be delighted by this feel-good documentary.
Mayhem synopsis: A psychopath is interrupted in his latest crime by a young woman - and so begins a non-stop, all night, life or death chase. Director Kwon adds unique detail to this cat-and-mouse thriller – a deaf protagonist unable to find anyone who will help her, a serial killer who hides behind respectable identities, all the while ratcheting up the tension and twists.
Mini-review: Fantastically effective thriller. Non-stop, relentless stuff.
Get the Hell Out
Mayhem synopsis: Taiwan's parliament becomes a deadly battleground when a virus transforms politicians into bloodthirsty mutant zombies in this hilariously hyperactive, frenetic satire - and the blistering pace and surreal pop-culture references never let up for a single martial-arts moment of mayhem.
Mini-review: Part Scott Pilgrim, part Shaun of the Dead, part WWE SmackDown, all awesome.
Mayhem synopsis: A childless couple discover a mysterious newborn on their remote farm in Iceland. Soon they are experiencing the joy of family – but soon family will tear them apart. Strange and daring cinema from Jóhannsson, previously known for his stunning special effects work, here delivering a startling, assured feature debut that builds dread not unlike The Witch to tell a unique folktale rooted in a haunting landscape.
Mini-review: This was some seriously messed up stuff that I can never un-see. Just horrible. I hope I never see it again. Five stars would recommend; unmissable.
Mayhem synopsis: Bowen (House Of The Devil) plays a ride-share driver whose life begins to fall apart when he picks up his last passenger and accidentally hits a pedestrian. Quirky, smart and a genuinely surprising sci-fi black-comedy indie that hits all the right notes and deserves a life on the big screen.
Mini-review: Highly entertaining dark comedy / thriller.
The Spine of Night
Mayhem synopsis: All-animated dark fantasy horror - offering a psychedelic, hallucinogenic, over-the-top epic narrative of outrageous violence, ancient gods and courageous heroes, set in a land of magic and mysticism. Though drawing on the works of Frank Frazetta (Conan) and Ralph Bakshi (Fire & Ice), The Spine of Night is unlike anything we've ever screened.
Mini-review: It's a beautifully animated gore-fest that gave me kind of a Dark Souls vibe.
Mayhem synopsis: There's hell to pay when a lonely teenager discovers her family's connections to witchcraft. A ground-breaking new feature from the incredibly creative Adams family – behind the cult movie The Deeper You Dig - occult coming-of-age story Hellbender premiered internationally at Fantasia recently, where it won rave reviews.
Mini-review: Really interesting, unique movie with a great soundtrack.
The Night Shift (aka Ghost Mansion in some markets)
Mayhem synopsis: Looking for inspiration an artist visits a run-down housing estate and interviews the building's caretaker, who has many strange and uncanny tales to tell… but the more he hears, the more his obsession grows… Stylish, funny, dark, and grizzly, this anthology zips from one grim story to the next, weaving them together into a sinister trap.
Mini-review: Stands out as the most effective pure horror experience of Mayhem 2021.
Edit: Looks like there are quite a few films with this title! This is a South Korean 2021 flick also known as Ghost Mansion in some markets. Here is the IMDB page.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
Mayhem synopsis: "I am the future me. Two minutes into the future." Returning to his flat from work, Kato is surprised by a message from his future self on his TV screen… but soon this strange phenomenon gets chaotically out of hand. Praised by the creator of One Cut of the Dead for its inventiveness, this is a must-see one-take sci-fi comedy and a demonstration of a unique filmmaking process.
Mini-review: Very clever, funny, unique film that's absolutely worth your time.
The Deep House
Mayhem synopsis: An underwater ghost story! Reminiscent of the legendary opening scene from Dario Argento's Inferno, the directors of the envelope-pushing Inside plunge you into the depths of a submerged haunted house to create a literally immersive horror experience.
Mini-review: A bit paint-by-numbers this horror, but the entirely underwater setting gives this a bit of extra oomph that makes it a worthwhile experience.
WHAT ELSE WAS ON?
I want to stress that there were literally no bad films at Mayhem 2021, these were just my picks of the particularly great ones that really stood out.
Also present at the festival were:
The Queen of Spades - an oldie British horror from 1949
The Show - a quirky, mysterious and amusing film from Alan Moore (y'know, that lad who did Watchmen)
Knocking - Psychological horror about a woman who thinks there is something bad going on in a flat next to hers, but her past means many dismiss her concerns.
Short Film Showcase - a series of short films are the heart of Mayhem. Featuring (bold for stand-outs): A Tale Best Forgotten, Black Moon, Demon, Eye Exam, Household Demons, Nightingale, The Thing That Ate Birds, They're Here, Waffle
Spiritwalker - sci-fi/action about a lad who switches body every 12 hours and has to track down his real body before the bad guys do
Phantom of the Paradise - 1974 cocktail of Phantom of the Opera and Faust with whacky vibe and great soundtrack