It’s Frightfest season once again and, although the U.K.’s beloved genre film festival is going to look a bit different this year — particularly considering an in-person and subsequent digital component will both be taking place, marking the weirdness of our current time — the lineup is reliably brilliant, with one film in particular sticking out above the rest. Irish folk horror Bring Out the Fear, from long-time Frightfest attendee and Wicked Horror’s resident Kenny to my Gale Weathers (he loves that reference, just forget about the horrible death part), Richard Waters, is one of the must-watch Discovery additions this year. And we’ve got an exclusive first look at the trailer, only for lucky WH readers.
The synopsis for the film is devilishly enticing:
Rosie and Dan embark on a romantic woodland adventure. But after a failed proposal, the lovers find the forest has not only become an unsolvable maze, it somehow seems to be haunting them too. Mimicking their emotional turmoil, stalking them with their bad choices, and terrorizing them with their previous mistakes. Rosie and Dan soon find themselves in a race to escape the murderous judgement of the woods before they take their sanity and maybe even their lives. This dark folk horror will leave you questioning what is real and what is malicious trickery until the very last frame.
Waters, who penned the screenplay as well as handling directing duties, listed Silent Hill, Blair Witch and Kill List as key touch-stones for his quintessentially Irish take on folk horror — one of the biggest issues plaguing the central couple is how they could possibly be so lost when our little island home is so damn small. Funnily enough, the Wicklow native also marked out George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead as an influence, particularly on the central duo, recalling:
I was so struck by just how awful all of the characters are, even the ones we’re supposed to root for, and it always stuck with me how even the supposed ‘good guys’ can behave badly under the right circumstances
Bring Out the Fear‘s Frightfest premiere is something of a homecoming for Waters, who’s attended every festival since 2013 and has always dreamed of showing one of his movies there (side note: In A Stranger’s House also would’ve been a perfect fit for the beloved Disco strand, just sayin’). Back in 2017, Waters and long-time producer and collaborator Alison Scarff took part in the festival’s innovative New Blood workshop, where filmmakers are invited to craft ideas alongside knowledgeable genre stalwarts including Barbara Crampton and Travis Stevens.
Taking part reinvigorated the ambitious duo’s passion for film-making, setting them on a direct course to what would become Bring Out the Fear. Proudly self-financed, and filmed in the stunning forestland of Ireland’s east coast, in October/November 2019 over the course of just 10 days, the film was truly a labor of love for all involved. In fact, the primary cast consisted of just two people while the crew numbered a mere seven. It was an uphill battle for sure, but everybody was in it for the long haul regardless of the increasingly tough conditions.
As Scarff admitted:
We were fighting against losing daylight the entire time, and being rained out of it constantly thanks to the reliably unreliable Irish weather. It was an insane schedule that was necessitated by the budget, but the cast and crew not only made it happen, they exceeded anything we could have expected and made what is arguably our best work to date happen. In fact, the only really hairy moment was Covid coming along and completely delaying us getting the full film finished
The global pandemic, which affected filmmakers big and small alike, prevented their crew from getting some additional shots but, in the end, it was a blessing in disguise. A social media call for creepy whispers elicited tons of brilliant responses, and, in the end, it was all for the better as premiering at Frightfest now feels like the biggest, and most deserved, reward for all the time, effort, and hard work everybody put in to making Bring Out the Fear happen.
I’ve been going to Frightfest since 2013 and loved every second of it, including covering the red carpet for Wicked Horror. It’s a place of utter joy, so it feels like a real homecoming for me, being able to premiere a film directly created by its influence. Honestly, there’s no better feeling at the end of such a long road. I cannot wait to see the regular, familiar pass-holders sitting there, watching this dark, psychological, Irish horror movie unfold onscreen. In fact, one of our New Blood mentors advised us to think of the midnight movie crowd, which is perfect because our flick kicks off at 11PM. It feels like fate
Irish horror has really come on in strides in recent years, thanks to the likes of Caveat, Vivarium, Extra Ordinary, and Sea Fever. Bring Out the Fear represents another fascinating strand in what is hopefully a burgeoning new home-bred scene. The teaser trailer is hugely atmospheric, simultaneously capturing the beauty of the wild Irish landscape alongside the inherent, well, fear that comes from feeling like you’re on the edge of the world and also completely lost in it. Bring Out the Fear is sure to bring the house down when it debuts.
Check out the trailer below. Ticket information for Bring Out the Fear‘s highly-anticipated Frightfest premiere can be found here. The film plays Discovery Screen 1 at 11PM GMT on Saturday, 28th August 2021.