Manchester’s horror film festival GrimmFest to return to the Odeon this October

Manchester’s much loved film festival for all things spooky and spectacular Grimmfest is returning to the Odeon cinema for it’s 13th year this month.

The much-loved festival promises this year will be “All killer, no filler.” The festival boasts a packed schedule with over twenty feature films and four short programmes spread from the 7th to the 10th of October.

Simeon Halligan, the festival’s director, says that Grimmfest is bigger than ever before, with more shorts and features available because of the increased capacity as they’ve taken over two screens at the Odeon.

The festival will also see the awarding of Grimmfest’s Lifetime Achievement Award to scream queen Dee Wallace. Wallace is noted for her roles in ET, Critters, and The Howling, the three of which will be screened during the festival.

While Dee Wallace won’t be there in person to collect her award, there will be a pre-recorded Q&A shown at the end of each of her films on the billing.

Other highlights include the world premiere of Blast (Déflagrations), a tense, anxiety-inducing film that follows a bomb disposal expert (Nora Arnezeder) who finds herself trapped in a car attached to a mine, and must – with the help of her colleagues – find a way to survive.

The Sadness (2021) is also another highly anticipated film on the billing – a Taiwanese horror that follows a nation that, after suffering a pandemic, let’s its guard down only for the virus to mutate – with violent, bloody consequences.

Those who have an aversion to the strictly horror genre needn’t worry though, as there is something for everyone. Mr Halligan said, “The festival tends to focus on the horror genre, but it’s also quite broad. We’re interested in showcasing work that explores the fringes of the genre. Some of our listings aren’t necessarily horror.”

“We like to think of it as cinema with a darker and cultier edge,” Steve Balshaw, the festival’s chief film programmer, added.

For Grimmfest, this will be it’s first event back at the Odeon after a tumultuous period. However, as we return slowly to some semblance of normality, some of the measures from last year have remained. Namely, Grimmfest is keeping the virtual festival element they introduced last year.

“The online festival was very successful last time. Having a virtual option as a back up plan was only part of it. Last year, we discovered that we had a wider reach.

“People who might not have been able to go to the festival, regardless of COVID, were able to access the virtual one.

“We got a lot of positive feedback from people with health and disability issues, who felt they couldn’t attend a physical festival. afterwards , people asked if we would host a virtual festival as well,” Mr Balshaw explained.

The virtual side of the festival doesn’t just serve to hold a mirror to the physical either, but offer a different experience not found in the in-person event. There will be different films for each programme, adding an exclusive element to them, as well as added meaning and purpose.

Eagle-eyed viewers will also be able to spot F-ratings on some of the billings, which denote films that have been written and/or directed by women.

“We felt it was really important to include that,” said Mr Halligan. “Diversity is something that we’ve really embraced. Genre cinema has tended to be quite male orientated in the past. There’s so many talented female creatives, writers, and directors coming through in genre cinema and we wanted to give them a platform.”

Adding to Mr Halligan’s comments, Mr Balshaw said: “Different people bring different fears and different perspectives, which is something horror fans love and as a horror festival this is what we want to encourage.“

Tickets for the physical festival can be bought online here or can be purchased on the day.

The virtual festival will run from the 14th to the 17th October, tickets of which can be purchased via the same link.

Main image: Screencap from Blast, dir. Vanya Peirani-Vignes (2021)

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