F Movie Review at FrightFest 2010 Day 2

F Movie Review at FrightFest 2010 Day 2

There’s a buzz which precedes the start of the next film, named after a single letter in the alphabet, the letter ‘F’.

The buzz is made visible by the fact that the auditorium is packed and that crowds of people are shuffling through the doors of Screen 1 at the Empire Cinema.

The bloke next to me puts forward the idea that, because F is a UK film, that everyone including the gaffer’s Gran may have been invited as part of a rent-a-crowd to the event.

It’s possible. But let’s hear what the director-writer of F has to say for himself.

Johannes Roberts is hauled up in front of the pride of lions that is the FrighFest 2010 audience. His anxiety at being asked to provide an intro is short and stifled by nerves. But he does manage to rattle off the following phrases:

“…fan of John Carpenter…, what you don’t see is more scary than what you do see in film…, and that the film doesn’t compromise the depth of its story for the sake of gore…”

Ladies and Gentlemen these are the CORRECT phrases to use when introducing your horror film. Any film intro which does not include one or all of these phrases is a clear sign that the film in question may be shit.

The lights go down and white credits roll out against a black background in a typically understated style. Five minutes into the film and we’re thrust into a gripping dramatic dilemma: a teacher who failed a student is attacked and subsequently asked to re-grade the paper by his superiors. When he doesn’t, we flash forward 11 months to where his professional and personal life has spiraled out of control.

Then, one night, as teachers and students work late, the school is set under siege by a gang of hoodies who are intent on attacking everyone inside.

The tension escalates through drama first and then terror as teachers try to navigate their way out of a locked-down school in a deadly cat and mouse game with their transgressors.

The horror scenes are kept brief and rely on suggestion rather than on gory close-ups – although there are a few thrown in for good measure.

The art direction of the film manages to make the setting of vast college tight and claustrophobic, while at the same time being this vast labyrinth where victims are pursued.

My only criticisms of the film – and they are small ones – is that everything seems geared too perfectly towards keeping the plot going.

For example, this is the only college to operate during the hours of darkness with half its lights turned out and with only two guards minding an entire campus kitted out with VERY expensive equipment. The propensity for characters to wander around in the dark shouting: “Who’s there?” is also something that should have been handled better as is the late involvement of the police with proceedings.

Nevertheless, ‘F’ has raced to the top of what has been the best film of the festival so far. Collective cheers from the entire audience made this flick a fan favorite and with good reason.

‘F’ is a taut piece of skilled film-making that hooks you from the start and keeps you guessing to the shocking finale.

On stage afterwards, actor David Schofield said that what attracted him to the film was the theme of relationships based on power and authority – the tension between those who think they are in control and those who actually are in control, as the film progresses.

Needless to say that as a viewer, it’s writer-director Johannes Roberts that controls the audience in expert style, in this terrifying and utterly compelling suspense piece.

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