It’s only been running for a few of years, but FilmFear, the annual Halloween-time partnership between HOME and Film4, has quietly consolidated its place as one of our most anticipated cinema events of the year. In scooping up some of the autumn festival circuit’s biggest genre films and combining them with efforts from exciting new talent, horror classics and offbeat cult gems, the programme usually delivers a mouth-watering range of seasonal thrills and chills.
It’s a preview of Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse that kicks off FilmFear 2019 on Tuesday 29 October. Not scheduled for release until January next year, Eggers’ acclaimed follow up to 2015’s The Witch stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as lighthouse keepers battling the elements, isolation, inner demons and more on a remote and mysterious Maine island in the 1890s. The film received rave reviews from Toronto International Film Festival, and it’s a real coup for the FilmFear programme.
The previews continue throughout the six-day event though. Fans of both Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining can check in with Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) in a Halloween night preview of Doctor Sleep. Elijah Wood stars in twisted, noirish thriller Come to Daddy on Friday 1 November, while SXSW smash Daniel Isn’t Real (Saturday 2 November) sees Patrick Schwarzenegger as an imaginary friend in a wild, stylish new effort from the SpectreVision production outfit behind last year’s breakout hit Mandy.
FilmFear has always made a point of championing new and emerging filmmakers, including the likes of Alice Lowe and S. Craig Zahler in previous editions. For 2019, the line-up includes four directorial debuts. In addition to Ant Timpson’s Come to Daddy, horror fans can look forward to Luz (Tuesday 29 October), a puzzlebox tale of demonic possession from Tilman Singer. French director Quarxx’s All the Gods in the Sky (Friday 1 November) is being billed as a return of the ‘French Extreme’. From Poland, Jagoda Szelc’s art horror Tower. A Bright Day. (Sunday 2 November) is an intense, dread-filled family drama.
Intriguingly, FilmFear extends beyond the screen with a one-man show from filmmaker Daniel Cockburn, titled How Not to Watch a Movie (or, All the Mistakes I’ve Made, part 2) (Saturday 2 November.) We’re told to expect a journey down a cinephilic rabbit hole, that starts with a look at 90s horror movies before winding down a weird, funny, mind-bending autobiographical path through two decades of over-interpretation and paranoia.
Back on the big screen, the programme more than delivers in terms of classics. Kids are catered for with a “Bring the Family” screening Nic Roeg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches (Sunday 27 October) curated by HOME’s Young Programmers. There’s a dash of folk horror with Christopher Lee in cult British film, The Wicker Man (Saturday 2 November.) From America, William Castle’s 1959 The Tingler stars master of horror Vincent Price on Thursday 31 October. We’re especially excited for a screening of German auteur, Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre which concludes the season on Sunday 3 November.