Saturday, 9 October 2010

Cropsey - Dead By Dawn - Filmhouse - 10/10/10

Screen one in the Filmhouse is, under normal circumstances, home to the most celebrated mainstream and art house films, quiet, sedate and possessed of a near reverential appreciation for the joy of cinema as a means of mirroring our lives or presenting us with a window into the lives of others.

Today though it is home to a different kind of film fan.

Lots of died black hair, tattoos, rawk/metal band t-shirts and gnarled faces.

It's "Dead By Dawn" the, almost, annual horror film festival run by Adele Hartley.

Normally running over a weekend and so deserving of it's title this year it is taking place over a single day and is made up, in large part, of shorts...either the horror genre has given up in the face of the, seemingly, never-ending onslaught of "torture porn" or Adele has gone for quality over quantity.

Earlier in the year FAB Press hosted their own cult/horror festival over three days (FAB Fest) and with a plethora of guest directors and stars DBD will have to go some to match it. I've decided to see just the one feature, "Cropsey", and then hope that I'll receive feedback from others who attended the whole event.

Lots of small towns have their own bogey man legend...the sort of tale that created Freddy Kruegger in the "Elm Street" franchise and that has kept naughty children tucked up in bed too terrified to invoke a grizzly end should they leave the safety of the duvet. "Crospey" takes one such urban legend and decides to investigate it's origins. The resut is a sort of "Capturing the Friedmans" meets "The Blair Witch Project". It's a fascinating story and a well put together documentary but it wouldn't look out of place on a true crime channel in the middle of the day. Sitting in the middle of a horror film festival it seems a bit, well, wrong.

The story is a, sadly, all too familiar one as a "creepy" loner is convicted of kidnapping and murdering a local child. What follows is the unravelling of a story of psychosis, community activism, guilt, myth and shame as the perpetrator of the crime, Andre Rand is convicted and then brought back to trial for the murder of another child. Directors Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman tackle the story with sensitivity and manage to avoid going for hysteria and headlines by sticking to their original brief of investigating their own suburban legend.

"Cropsey" doesn't offer anything new and it's difficult to see quite how it earned a place on a horror festival line-up but it does have an interesting story...which is more than can be said for many of the films that normally parade under the horror banner.

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