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Celluloid Screams 2018 / Apostacy

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Photo by Mark Douet

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 of The 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 new Halloween and UK premieres of The 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


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

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