Grimmfest, Manchester's International Festival of Fantastic Film, celebrated its fourteenth anniversary this year with four high-octane, fear-filled days of the very best in genre cinema, screening at The Odeon Great Northern in Manchester, UK, on October 6th – 9th. Twenty-one Feature Films and two programmes of short films, all new to Manchester, and many of them International, European or UK premieres. And all of them eligible for the much-coveted Grimm Reaper Award.
The daunting challege of allocating the Awards was confronted with an admirable lack of screaming or bloodshed by this year's heroic jury: Mary Beth McAndrews, Editor-in-Chief at Dread Central; Dr Linnie Blake, Founder of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University; film festival programmer and Screen Anarchy News Editor Andrew Mack, and acclaimed genre author Simon Bestwick.
The festival team would like to thank them all for their dedication, discernment and diplomacy. Their task has not been an easy one, and no doubt many favoured films fell by the wayside as the passionate arguments flew back and forth, but in the end a final consensus and agreement were reached.
The Grimm Reaper winners for Grimmfest 2022 are:
BEST SCARE: THE HARBINGER
Andy Mitton's previous film THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW won the Reaper for Best Scare back in 2018, so he has past form when it comes to putting the fear into the Grimmfest audience and jury alike. Tapping into the lasting traumas of the recent pandemic lockdown, THE HARBINGER offers both chilling visual shocks and an excalating sense of existential dread that stayed with our jurors for a long time afterwards.
BEST SFX: MOON GARDEN
Ryan Stevens Harris's unsettling yet life-affirming steampunk gothic fairytale won the jury's hearts for its sheer visual inventiveness, loving, hands-on practical craft, and sheer dedication in creating a totally immersive dream world.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: VESPER
Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper's timely Science Fiction Eco-fable found itself a recurring favourite with our Jury, but it was the overall world building that most stood out, the careful combining of detailed yet unshowy production and costume design, carefully chosen location, and deft and inventive digital VFX to create an entirely believable vision of a crumbling dystopian future society, on the verge of total collapse.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY and BEST SCORE: MEGALOMANIAC
Karim Ouelhaj's sulphurous study of the cycle of abuse and the nature of evil proved a controversial film with both audience and jury alike, but nobody could deny its sheer audiovisual impact; the claustrophobic combination of Gary Moonboots' and Simon Fransquet's intense industrial drone-rock score, and François Schmitt's unsettling, expressionist camerawork makes for a truly visceral, nerve-jangling experience.
BEST SCREENPLAY: THE GOLDSMITH
Another Jury favourite, this won particular favour for its slippery unpredictability and clockwork precision, the way in which the narrative unfolds, with fiendish logic yet never quite as expected, and for the subtle, deft characterisation, which gives every character their reasons, and keeps the audience's sympathies continually shifting.
BEST SHORT: BABY FEVER
Hannah May Cumming's campy, splattery, elegantly retrostyled feminist body horror is a real love-letter to classic 70s and 80s horror, with sly genre-savvy nods to Fulci, Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna, Cronenberg and De Palma, balancing full-on gross out humour with sharp – and all-too-depressingly topical – sociopolitical satire in a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of the pressures of unexpected and unwanted motherhood.
BEST ACTOR: RAMIRO BLAS for THE PASSENGER
Blas' beautifully judged performance as Blasco, an old-school male chauvinist, living on his past glories on the fringes of the music scene, who finally has the chance to be the hard man hero he's always dreamed of being offers a surprisingly sympathetic and winning portrayal of old school Spanish machismo; undercutting and critiquing his attitudes, while at the same time making him credibly human, resourceful and unexpectedly likeable, and serves very much as the anchor of the film.
BEST ACTRESS, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST FILM: PIGGY
Proving very much a Jury favourite, finding favour in most categories, this finally bagged three awards. The film was the one that everybody in the Jury singled out for particular praise, and there was really no question that it would win the Best Film category from fairly early on in the discussion. But Laura Galán's extraordinary, emotionally raw, vanity-free, utterly heartbreaking performance as the film's put-upon protagonist soon proved a clear winner in the Best Actress Category, and Carlota Pereda's absolute control of her material, sharp eye for environment and social nuance, and almost tactile sense of location, made her an equally clear winner in the Best Director category.
AUDIENCE AWARD: FEED ME
The votes are all in, and after a close-run contest, this year's Audience Award goest to Adam Leader and Richard Oakes' FEED ME, which combines pitch-black absurdist comedy of manners with squirm-inducing cannibal serial killer horror and an emotionally weighty exploration of bereavement and suicidal depression, to truly startling, disorientating effect.
BEST SCARE: THE HARBINGER............Special mention: THE GOLDSMITH.
BEST SFX: MOON GARDEN................ Special Mentions: PUSSYCAKE and THE PASSENGER
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: VESPER. Special mention for FEED ME
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: MEGALOMANIAC. Special mention: NIGHT SKY
BEST SCORE: MEGALOMANIAC............... Special mentions: THE LAKE and VESPER
BEST SCREENPLAY: THE GOLDSMITH.................... Special mentions: CANDYLAND and DO NOT DISTURB
BEST SHORT... BABY FEVER
BEST ACTOR: RAMIRO BLAS for THE PASSENGER.......... Special mention: Neal Ward for FEED ME.
BEST ACTRESS: LAURA GALÁN for PIGGY....................Special mentions: ELINE SCHUMACHER for MEGALOMANIAC and STEFANIA CASINI for the THE GOLDSMITH.
BEST DIRECTOR: CARLOTA PEREDA for PIGGY....................Special mentions for KRISTINA BUOZYTE and BRUNO SAMPER for VESPER and RAUL CEREZO and FERNANDO GONZALEZ for THE PASSENGER.
BEST FEATURE: PIGGY
AUDIENCE AWARD: FEED ME