Celluloid Screams

18-21 October

As the nights draw in and All Hallows’ Eve approaches, an air of expectation and danger spreads across the city. Whilst some might ascribe this near-mystical pall to traffic congestion, I like to think that this eerie otherness has a base in the magical.

It’s the perfect time of year to add a touch of horror into your life. It’s just as well then that Celluloid Screams returns on Thursday 18 October, bringing with it four days of dastardly deeds, tales of terror and ventures into the unknown.

The tenth anniversary edition promises to be the best yet. In past years the festival team have treated us to the likes ofThe Witch, Paranormal Activity,What We Do in the Shadows, Raw, Creep, Lake Mungo, Amer and Snowtown. With such an impressive past record, the annual announcement is always eagerly anticipated. I’m glad to report that the team have exceeded all expectations.

There’s a strong line-up of favourites from this year’s Frightfest. These include Possum, described by many as the scariest film of the festival and one which promises to stay with you. The team behind the brilliant Turbo Kid are back with Summer of ’84, while Wolfman’s Got Nards is a heartfelt documentary tribute to 80s horror cinema.

The pick of the bunch is the devastating Mexican film Tigers Are Not Afraid, but don’t miss Nicolas Cage doing what he does best in Mandy, a sneak peak at the newHalloween and UK premieres ofThe Crescent and 7 Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss, and a return to the Wellington Police Department in Wellington Paranormal.

With more features, demonic discos and a world-class selection of short films, this year’s festival promises to be one hell of a ride.

Rob Aldam
celluloidscreams.co.uk

Steel

17 September, Crucible Studio

A political play by its very nature will almost certainly divide opinion and it's difficult to go into them without already having a point of view.

Politics are personal, intimate, collective, triumphant, competitive and frustrating. We all have ideas on how to better the political landscape of a given situation, and whilst it's surprisingly easy to forget that (most) politicians are in fact human, the smallest of political situations can cause imperative joy or effortless offence. Whether you're a Brexiteer or part of the 'I'd rather not destroy our country' group - which way did you take that sentence? - politics are ours and it seems no one knows how to put this to script better than Chris Bush.

Fuelled by enticing themes of power, gender and race, Chris has written an unapologetic, pacey play focusing on women in local politics over several decades. The two-hander emphasises great changes for women in some areas of local Labour government and depressingly little in others. I found myself at times agreeing and disagreeing with both characters, only to feel sheepish by the end that my support flip-flopped at all. It was those human moments, along with excellent performances from Rebecca Scroggs and Nigel Betts, which carried this powerful portrayal of politics.

To me, the play asked some interesting questions. What does the North need? Does pride of the past stop you from looking at the future? Or is sticking to your roots a way of never forgetting where you came from?

I imagine it's somewhere in the middle. Change is good, necessary, but delicate. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed this play so much. It speaks out, ploughs on. Even in these Trumped-up, Boris baffling, Corbyn clobbering, 'will Teresa May ever actually go away' times, it reminds us to keep standing up for what you believe in.

So just let me say, this whole Brexit thing is ridiculous. Cheers Chris.

Jonny Syer
Photo by Mark Douet

Apostacy

Dir. Daniel Kokotajlo

Daniel Kokotajlo's brave, remarkable debut Apostacy is a semi-autobiographical tale of a belief system conflicting with familial attachment.

Subtly playing through character, the film delivers difficult narrative unflinchingly, told through the experiences of Ivanna (Siobhan Finneran), Luisa (Sacha Parkinson) and Alex (Molly Wright). Claustrophobic living is reflected through dark, authentic interiors in 1970s Oldham.

Middle-aged Ivanna, sensitively portrayed by Finneran, (Happy Valley), is the single parent of two teenage daughters. Their absent father commands a powerful presence. Ivanna lives unquestioningly by the teachings of Jehovah in the Fellowship of Witnesses. She is never quite present, her responses a product of the control the fellowship exerts through the elders, which she in turn uses to control her daughters.

When Luisa (Parkinson, Coronation Street), her eldest, goes to college, this control is threatened. Luisa transgresses moral codes and is 'defellowshipped'. A journey of disillusionment begins.

Alex, whilst looking up to her older sister, represents the need to earn Jehovah's conditional love due to an event at her birth. Wright (The A Word) gives a painfully affecting performance, manifesting innocent vulnerability and foreshadowing future heartbreak.

There are many difficult scenes, as the characters struggle with different perspectives of the central conflict. There is little redemption, except for Luisa's, and that comes at great cost.

The damaging potential of religion based on fear and shame is quietly, then shockingly, demonstrated as the story reaches its denouement. There was an emotional response at the director's Q&A (Showroom Cinema, 20 July), mainly from people who had themselves left the fellowship.

The final scene in particular left me with a sense of tragedy - not so much of the everyday, low-rent kind, but of the Greek variety.

Mary L Carr

Listings

FILM LISTINGS

The Wife
Björn Runge, 2017
1-11 Oct | Various times | Showroom Cinema | £6.80/£9
After a celebrated author (Jonathan Pryce) wins the Nobel Prize, his devoted wife of 40 years, Joan Castleman (Glenn Close), starts to confront the secrets of his career. Reviews note Close's quiet, calm-before-the-storm performance, as well as that of her real-life daughter Annie Stark, who plays a younger Joan. showroomworkstation.org.uk

Flim Nite
Fri 5 Oct | 7:30pm | Regather | £5/PAYF
Flim Nite sees comedians, performers and artists reinterpret classic films by chopping them to pieces and stitching them back together. This time around, Nightmare on Elm Street. regather.net

STAGE LISTINGS

Monster
12-15 Nov | 7pm | Uni Drama Studio | £5-£7
Sheffield University Theatre Company brings a piece of new writing to the Drama Studio. Monster follows a married couple in a remote house, their happiness "impeded by the monstrous beast they are harbouring in their basement" and their attempts at keeping it hidden forever. sutco.org

Séance
11-16 October | On the hour, 1-8pm | Secret city centre location
Part of DARKFIELD, an ongoing performance project exploring fear and anxiety, Séance takes place in a shipping container in absolute darkness and lasts 15 minutes. Climb inside if you dare. Visit theatredeli.co.uk for more details.