Monster Fest 2016 – The Plus Ones’ Guide to the best horror films

2016’s Monster Fest is for the real horror film fanatics. Instead of lukewarm poltergeist flicks where furniture moves around on its own, every scare is a jump scare (I’m looking at you, Conjuring series). This is a festival full of horror that drip feeds you terror with every frame. An antidote to audience-friendly blockbusters and CGI ghosts, Monster Fest is serving up what every starving horror fan craves.

Check out The Plus Ones’ guide to the Monster Fest, playing at Lido Cinemas from 24–27 November 2016.

Kicking off the festival on opening night is Raw, a French arthouse horror with cannibalism on the menu. Director and writer Julia Ducournau’s first film sees teenager Justine (Garance Marillier) moving to college to study veterinary science. After participating in a bizarre hazing ritual where she is forced to eat a rabbit’s kidney, Justine develops an all-consuming taste for human flesh. Ducournau will also be in attendance at the screening.

During the film’s screening at the Toronto Film Festival, paramedics were called in for a couple of patrons who found it all a bit too much. You’ve been warned!

The Autopsy of Jane Doe
An autopsy isn’t usually the focal point of a film, but it’s the centrepiece in André Øvredal’s picture. Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox play coroners trying to uncover the mystery behind an anonymous homicide victim they dub ‘Jane Doe’. Quickly, they discover things aren’t quite what they seem.

Free Fire
Fresh from his heady action picture High-Rise, director Ben Wheatley’s latest pits two gangs against each other in an abandoned warehouse and a bloody firefight ensues. Brie Larson stars alongside Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer and if Wheatley’s style is anything to go by, this should be a thrilling, subversive action picture that never fails to entertain.

A difficult one to recommend for viewers who aren’t accustomed to ultra-violence and exploitation in horror films (think Only God Forgives), Danny Perez’s Antibirth will put punk-horror fans to the test. Lou (Natasha Lyonne, from the American Pie films), mysteriously falls pregnant, and things only get stranger from there. It’s a body-horror flick, so if swollen body parts and teeth pulling aren’t your idea of a good time, it’s best to stay away from this one. For everyone else? Bring it on!

Always Shine
Director Sophia Takal’s film is an anti-buddy picture, focusing in on the rivalry between actresses Anna and Beth, instead of the years-old bond they’re trying to re-establish. Set in and around an isolated cabin in California’s Big Sur, Always Shine is a tense picture that explores the jealousy between friends, taking it to a much darker place.

In addition to the films, Ted Kotcheff, director of the cult Australian film Wake in Fright, will be introducing several of the films before their screenings. Be sure to also check out the talk on women and genre filmmaking, which features several prominent Australian women filmmakers discussing the ins and outs of the industry. Budding directors and special effects enthusiasts should also attend the seminar on practical effects in films, run by three special effects artists with extensive history in the business.

 – Tom
Tom Bensley is a freelance writer in Melbourne who reviews anything he attends, watches or reads. It’s a compulsion, really. Follow him @TomAliceBensley.

Monster Fest 2016 runs 24 – 27 November at Lido Cinemas.
venue is wheelchair accessible. 

All of the films will be screened in their original languages with English subtitles.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones are invited guests of Monster Fest.
Image credit: Monster Fest.