Cathedrals will fall, the river will run red... and THE BIRD will be SLAUGHTERED!

EVENT REVIEW: Triple Six Film Festival

A few days ago we were sent this wonderful review of our film fest debut, Triple Six. It’s an absolute pleasure to publish it on The Slaughtered Bird:

The last weekend in May saw AMC Great Northern cinema hosting the inaugural Triple Six horror festival, a collaborative venture between horror film websites The Slaughtered Bird and UK Horror Scene. Taking place over two days, the festival was conceived as a showcase for British horror as well as a more general horror event.

The AMC itself is a lovely modern multiscreen cinema housed in the Great Northern Warehouse.  Lots of the interior of the warehouse is weird and blue, but the cinema on the first floor is very nice.  The staff were charming and they all have their favourite films emblazoned below their names on the badges (as I found out when I asked one of the cashiers whether her name really was Sophie Whiplash.  True story).  Triple Six had a screen all to itself and a little display area where DVDs and memorabilia were for sale.  The seats were spacious and comfortable, and there was a hole where you could put your drink that was actually large enough to put the large drinks in, which isn’t always the case (get your shit together, Birkenhead Vue). 

Saturday we sat and watched film after film.  Quarries was on first and it’s an adequate film about women being hunted down by retarded country folk in America, although I did hear later that resident director Richard Stanley sat through it and said it was shit, and I’m sure he knows better than me.  Next up was The Forest of Lost Souls, a surprisingly funny Portuguese film about suicide in the woods.  I’d seen it before so we went to grab a bite to eat to sustain us through to the end of the day.  There was no food to be found anywhere in the immediate vicinity so we ended up in a kebab shop and I paid for it later with digestive upsetness. 

The Unkindness of Ravens was presented by the director, Lawrie Brewster, and the star, Jamie Scott Gordon.  An intense Gothic horror about the traumas of PTSD, Unkindness rests wholly on the magnetic central performance of Gordon, who is virtually the only person in the film.  I asked him how he prepared to portray a PTSD-suffering military veteran, and he spoke movingly about the sufferers he spoke to who had helped him understand how this debilitating condition.  He also admired the fact I had curry stains on my shoulder somehow.  Some minor teething trouble with the lip sync meant the film had to be paused and restarted, but as this was the worst technical failure of the entire weekend it’s not something to be moaning about. 

The day ended with the perennial eighties action sci-fi Hardware, presented by its director, Richard Stanley, who also did a Q&A at the end.  In the process of the Q&A we learned that when Miramax were trying to buy the rights to the script, they had to track Stanley down to Afghanistan, where he was involved in Red Cross work during the Russian-Afghanistani war.  Apparently this war went so unreported in the British press that when Stanley returned to the UK to explain his experiences, his interlocuters routinely assumed he was just on drugs. 

This is the sort of thing that really brightens a convention up, and Stanley’s contribution really made Hardware the highlight of the convention for me.  The fact that he was around later for extended chatter – in which he stated, among other things, that the whole of Judge Dredd was just an extended rip-off of a book by Roger Zelazny called Damnation Alley – made the whole Saturday evening the best time of the weekend. 

Short films on the Saturday included Starfucker, which had a representative presenting it despite only being a minute long, and the atmospheric The Night Circus.  I got ribbed for jumping during a scary bit of Hada, despite having seen it before, and everyone laughed in the right places in The Honeymoon, which is a funny short that could actually stand to be longer about a virginal Christian couple who accidentally take their post-wedding break in a Welsh dildo museum. 

Sunday came bright and early with The Chair, which was an interesting watch without breakfast.  Luckily it was followed by Tone Death, a less hardcore effort which follows the antics of an idiot as he attempts to use DJing to transcend the temporal plane.  It’s a British film and it’s very funny, although there’s horror enough to keep fans happy.

Cruel Summer came next, and with it came controversy.  A film about the abuse and murder of an autistic youth, it was presented by the creative team who hosted a Q&A afterwards.  The first question was asked by a gentleman who happened to have an autistic son, and he wished to register his disgust about what he saw as the trivialisation of such subject matter.  Clearly this was difficult water for the artists in question and they were cautious in their responses, leaving the audience to mount a more robust defence.  No violence was forthcoming and so the event organisers moved things on.  The film itself is notable for an extraordinary performance by Richard Pawulski as the abused teen, whose vulnerability really makes an impact and, no doubt, made viewing so difficult for the father in the audience.  Sadly its attempt to present itself as a “true story” is ruined at the end, where the three abusers are apparently prosecuted for First-Degree Murder, Second-Degree Murder and Involuntary Homicide – three crimes that don’t actually exist in British law.  Someone needs to watch less Columbo and more No Offence

I missed Offensive because things had got a bit heated and I needed a breath of fresh air, but The Hounds of Love was an excellent end to the weekend, being a haunting Australian kidnapping drama with some excellent performances.  The central relationship between the kidnapping couple reminded me of the criminal pair in Natural Born Killers, but when I said this to people they looked at me blankly, so maybe I was talking shite.  Particularly effective is the Aussy Yuletide setting, because to a British sensibility like mine, the sound of Christmas songs echoing in the background during what’s clearly a blazing heatwave is weird to begin with. 

Shorts on the Sunday included Dissociative, which is a great little film that would be better with a title that doesn’t give the twist away; The Cleansing Hour, a properly good short about a televised exorcism gone wrong; Shortcut, which is pointless; and The Rats, which is just bad.  Gene was represented by the lead actress, who gives a good performance which requires her to turn on a dime emotionally, and the highlight was Pigskin, which contains a shower scene more horrible by miles than the one in Psycho

A special mention must go to the short film Burn, which The Slaughtered Bird had been involved in producing.  it debuted on the Saturday night, following a long build-up on The Bird’s website, and it was well worth the wait.  Scenic, well-acted, creepy and – vitally for a short film – with a story that was different from the run-of-the-mill multiple-personality-murders that people churn out on a daily basis.  A lovely, professional effort which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. 

In all I think the first-ever Triple Six can call itself a rousing success.  Technically it was almost perfect, and there was a good, well-rounded mix of films in which I feel most horror fans would find something to appeal.  The venue was superb, very friendly, very clean and very comfortable.  The only problem was parking, because the Great Northern Run had been scheduled on the same day and roads were closed – including the way to get to the multistorey carpark that is literally right next door to the AMC cinema.  Some more guests like Richard Stanley next year please, and possibly something to eat, but all in all the two websites can be justifiably proud of their first effort. 

 

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