It’s not really that surprising that FrightFest 2019 (from 22 to 29 August) is celebrating its 20th year when you come to think about it. The genre continually flirts with the profile radar nicely coasting under with the occasional giant leap above – arguably we are there now with the likes of Midsommar, and Annabelle being released.

These films will have a wider appeal beyond the core audience but it is that loyal core that keeps the genre going, in turn helping imaginative writers and filmmakers get their films made. These elements have ensured that there continues to be steady production and sound financial returns.

And then there is the plethora of professional and amateur podcasts, websites and social media gubbins that range from fun exchanges to detailed discussions covering all aspects of the genre and it is one of the most exciting developments in recent years.

And so back to the festival with the aforementioned in mind it’s logical that it would have a consistent audience over the 20 years. What is most gratifying is how it has grown to be one of the key genre festivals in the world. That is down to the loyalty of the audience but also the driving force and passion of the four directors, their team and festival volunteers who’ve dedicated so much to this. Check out the Beneath the Dark Heart of Cinema documentary to get some idea of what I mean.

The bald figures for the Arrow Video FrightFest 2019 are impressive with seventy-eight films from fourteen countries, over six continents. And in a first the festival will preview Man of Midan the first game in The Dark Picture anthology. We also cannot forget the three short film showcases the details of which will be announced later on.

We know about the opening and closing films so diving straight in, what else there is? Reflecting the strength of recent Canadian genre output there’s a ‘Canadian Chills’ strand that includes the world premiere, massively anticipated The Soska Sisters take on Rabid, and travelling down from Glasgow after a successful presentation is Freaks, which is a treat.

The UK is as always well represented featuring another Glasgow hit Here Comes Hell. Others to lookout for are Dark Encounter featuring Alice Lowe, and the intriguingly titled The Barge People. Portmanteaus are always something of a lottery, Tales from the Lodge though with Mackenzie Crook and Johnny Vegas looks promising.

On the international front South America is gaining a reputation for solid imaginative horror and this year there are three films from Argentina and from Brazil the promised gore-fest Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary. There’s a debut from Tunisia with the folk-horror Dachra. From Australia there’s the chase and survive of The Furies.

Too many to mention here from the USA but eye-catchers are the aquatic boat horror Mary with Gary Oldman and Emily Mortimer, the comedy The Drone and Darlin which follow’s on from the very disturbing The Woman. A couple that are potentially very silly to ponder are The Banana Splits and Critters Attack!

Not silly at all is the Dario Argento interview, which is free, and a presentation of Tenebre, which is very unlikely to be.
The festival is well served with documentaries on genre luminaries including The Magnificent Obsession of Michael Reeves accounting the tragically short life of director Michael Reeves.

It looks a fabulous selection of films that is going to make choosing what to see very difficult. One important thing to bear in mind is that for many of these films this will be the only opportunity to see them on a big screen.

As usual the Festival will be at the Cineworld Leicester Square and The Prince Charles Cinema.

Tickets for the event will be available from Noon on the 6th July 2019 at The full festival pass will be £210. Thursday day passes £38, Friday and Saturday day passes £70 and Sunday and Monday day passes £59. Tickets to any individual film will £14.50 and available from 20 July via the website. Note that the Discovery screen tickets for weekend and day pass holders will be announced at later date.