Two Frightfest films

Somewhere I have a much more extensive review of the films that were at this year's Frightfest, but I see two of them are 'coming soon', albeit in an low key way:

Puritan – low budget UK, starring Nick Moran (who has a habit of doing interesting low budget films), Georgina Rylance and David Soul. A failed journalist has become a fake medium, and gets the offer of some help for what to say to a new client. Of course, it couldn't be that simple…

It looks fabulous, and the acting's fine, but the script never really worked for me. Worth seeing for the first two though – they've the marketing budget for a rather limited number of prints, so you may have to wait for the DVD (writer/director/editor/producer Hadi Hajaig had himself filmed at Frightfest for extra material for the DVD, but I suspect my question may not be included!) – and you may be less jaded about the plot than I was.

Pan's Labyrinth – this was the main 'opening' film, after an afternoon of Hammer classics. Director Guillermo del Toro has done stuff like Hellboy and Blade II, but there's only so much you can do with a script like 'Wesley Snipes slashes more vampires' and he's also done much more interesting things like The Devil's Backbone.

Like the latter, Pan's Labyrinth is set in civil war Spain. The fascists have won, but there are still some people resisting. A rather nasty piece of work is in charge of clearing up one remote area and sends for his new wife (about to give birth to his son) and step-daughter… who discovers there's something really rather magical around.

Immediately after seeing this, I liked it a lot, but couldn't see why it got the very extended (20 minutes?) standing ovation it received at Cannes. But it grew on me over the weekend, and has kept on growing. Because it's not based on a comic and it's in Spanish, the marketing budget is rather smaller than it should be and they're relying on word of mouth.

No problem, Guillermo: this is very highly recommended. Again, the cinematography is fabulous, but here the acting is excellent and so's the script. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else thinks the ending is ambiguous…

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