Updated: Friday, 3rd April 2020 @ 6:26pm

Manchester AMC's Grimm Up North film festival goes down a scream with horror fanatics

Manchester AMC's Grimm Up North film festival goes down a scream with horror fanatics

By Jen Lau & Karl Dyer

Grimm Up North, Manchester’s prime horror film festival, has been hailed as a great success by fans.

The festival showcased 18 films at The Great Northern’s AMC Cinema from Thursday until Sunday night.

Fans flocked to catch the premiere of a host of films but festival programmer Steve Balshaw described the range of genre as key to the festival’s appeal.

“We will mix art house and underground film in with more mainstream examples of genre film,” he said.

“We’ll have brutal, noirish crime movies, poetic studies of guilt and bereavement, black-hearted satire and full on splatter.”

The festival opened Thursday night though with the premiere of paranoid thriller Retreat, featuring British stars Jamie Bell, Cillian Murphy and Thandie Newton.

Most Haunted presenter Yvette Fielding hosted the evening where guests were treated to a Q&A with Retreat director Carl Tibbetts and producer Gary Sinyor.

Retreat was well received by an eager audience and film fan Andrew Tims was particularly impressed.

“There were great performances. Jamie Bell has come a long way,” he said. “Also there were a couple of good twists that you don't see coming.”

Tibbetts described his vision for Retreat as: “Something big on a small scale. A pandemic film where you didn’t see the apocalypse, you saw one group of people dealing with it.”

The director also seemed excited to be premiering his film in Manchester

He said: “Manchester is a great city. Grimm Up North have been welcoming and I’m pleased to open their festival.”

Horror enthusiasts continued to support the festival on Friday where German chiller Urban Explorer and Spanish hostage thriller Kidnapped impressed.

Late night fans were also treated to a midnight premiere screening of brutally gory Adam Chaplin.

The highlight though was the world premiere of Stalker, the directorial debut of Martin Kemp.

Hundreds of fans packed the cinema to catch the first ever screening of the gothic chiller.

The thriller teamed moments of suspense with some fantastic pacing and beautiful shots to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

Stalker was well received on the whole and particularly by Manchester student Jamie Harrow.

“It’s nothing like what you’d expect from the guy from EastEnders,” he said. “It was gripping and kept me guessing to the very end.”

Kemp was then joined by the film’s producer Jonathan Sothcott and stars Jane March and Billy Murray for a Q&A.

The eager crowd asked a range of questions and Kemp humoured the audience with stories of how the cast and crew slept on-set for three weeks during shooting.

Grimm Up North continued to screen some of the best independent films in the horror and sci-fi genres throughout the rest of the weekend.

Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch lived up to the expectations of its predecessors on Saturday.

While a sizeable audience laughed their way through black comedy Some Guy Who Kills People earlier that afternoon.

The festival finished on a high with a highly anticipated screening of The Wicker Tree, the follow-up to the 70s classic The Wicker Man, along with a Q&A with director Robin Hardy.

Hardy discussed the struggles of producing a film that would equal if not surpass the original and the crowd seemed content after the screening.

Frederick Michaels had high hopes, he said: “I loved The Wicker Man, it’s one of my faves and I was really excited to see what the Tree would bring.”

“It hasn’t disappointed at all and I think the festival has been fantastic on the whole.”