The latest ‘New Wave’ of international genre talent was singled out for 2016 honours at the Melbourne horror celebration, Monster Fest, held at the Lido Cinema in upscale suburban Hawthorn last night. Attended by fans and filmmakers alike, the tone for the occasionally raucous event was set by evening sessions of Paul Schrader’s unhinged crime melodrama Dog Eat Dog and the highly anticipated Closing Night feature, Jim Hosking’s stomach-churner The Greasy Strangler.
Pictured, above; Olivia DeJonge and Levi Miller in Safe Neighborhood
The festival’s coveted ‘Golden Monster’ Award went to Raw, Julia Ducournau’s teen cannibal drama that wowed critics and audiences at Cannes, where it won the FIPRESCI Critics Prize, before earning similar kudos at festivals across the globe. A guest of Monster Fest since her film opened the event last Thursday, Ducournau was present to accept the award, along with the Best Effects nod, a hotly-contested category that saw Ben Wheatley’s squib-epic Free Fire and Dain Said’s Malaysian vampire folk-lore tale, Interchange, challenge for the prize.
Best International Feature was awarded to Andre Overdahl’s terrifying morgue-set nightmare, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, starring Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch (pictured, right). The Norwegian filmmaker’s follow-up to his cult hit Troll Hunter was shortlisted in several categories, but a particularly competitive field kept the trophy tally to one.
It was a unanimous jury decision to award the Best Australian Feature to Chris Peckover’s Christmas season splatterfest, Safe Neighbourhood. The Australian-shot, US-set black comedy also earned budding teen star Levi Miller (Pan; Red Dog True Blue) the Best Actor nod, for his wildly inventive, against-type portrayal of a good kid turned horribly bad, opposite Ed Oxenbould and the equally impressive Olivia DeJonge. The Best Actress honour was awarded to Mackenzie Davis for her spin on the sociopathic ‘single white female’-type in Sophia Takal’s Always Shine.
Polish director Bartosz M Kowalski earned Best Director for his scorching portrait of alienated teen psychopathology, Playground; the spiritually-infused ‘black magic’ thriller A Dark Song, from Irish feature debutant Liam Gavin, earned dual mentions for Cinematography (Cathal Watters) and Score (Ray Harman). At the behest of the festival jurors, a Best Documentary slot was created to honour Sympathy For The Devil: The True Story of the Process Church of The Final Judgement, director Neil Edwards’ study of the British occult movement f the 1960’s. A humble and truly surprised Edwards was on hand to acknowledge the honour.
Jury members also singled out for ‘Special Mention’ the cast and crew of Rohit Mittal’s Autohead, an Indian found-footage film that follows a repressed rickshaw driver’s descent into homicidal madness. The Monster Innovation Award went to Alice Lowe (pictured, right), the star and director of Prevenge, a ‘pregnant femme-fatale’ satire that the British actress conceived and shot while in the late stages of her own pregnancy. Festival director Kier-la Janisse had the honour of bestowing the Audience Award upon local-lad Addison Heath’s grindhouse shocker, Mondo Yakuza.