Last November we attended the Mayhem Film Festival hosted by Broadway Cinema here in Nottingham. Over the course of four days we saw some of the best horror flicks currently making the festival circuit (and some select classics too). So rather belatedly, here is our guide to all 17 films screened at this year’s festival so you know what to look out for in cinemas in 2014.
The festival kicked off with a double bill of films from iconic British director Nicholas Roeg, beginning with the perplexing Puffball. If you’re familiar with the confounding plot of our second Roeg screening Don’t Look Now, you won’t take it lightly when say that Puffball is the more baffling of the two. It takes place in an eerie village in the Irish countryside, where a young architect becomes the focus of witchcraft and magic as the locals strive to steal her unborn baby. It’s a mesmerising two hours, but one I could only recommend to hardcore fans of surrealism and the bizarre.
Don’t Look Now
For the second in the Roeg double bill we were treated to the 1973 British horror classic Don’t Look Now, shown in the fitting venue of St. Mary’s Church. Don’t Look Now stars Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie as a married couple of who move to Venice for work following the death of their daughter where they encounter an elderly clairvoyant who claims their daughter is trying to warn them of an impending danger. However, the narrative is overshadowed by the unusual and disquieting way Roeg choses to tell it. The fragmented editing, intercutting and jarring flashfowards, Don’t Look Now is a masterclass in psychological horror.
The final film of the evening was the fantastic and highly unexpected Haunter, from Cube and Splice director Vincenzo Natali. Dubbed a ‘ghost story in reverse’, Haunter tells the story of a daughter (Abigail Breslin) whose idyllic suburban life is uprooted when she begins to suspect she and her family are all dead. At its heart, Haunter is less horror more thriller as the mystery of the family’s fate slowly unravels. The chilling atmosphere and beautiful look was enough to keep me invested, despite many of the scares and plot developments being somewhat predictable. Of all the films screened at Mayhem, Haunter has the most mainstream appeal and is likely one you’ll hear about in the future, and deservedly so.