Frightfest 2011: Panic Post-mortem

So here we are on the other side of the Panic Button world premiere at London’s Film4 Frightfest 2011. 

climbing the stairs to FrightFest 2011 – it all starts with the poster…
i mean the screenplay, yes the
screenplay dammit!

My crazy schedule of late meant I could only duck in to Empire screen 1 to check out one other movie during the weekend. And anyone who knows me won’t be surprised that movie was ‘The Wicker Tree’, with Robin Hardy’s 70s original being something of a lifelong obsession of mine. The man himself gave the film a fantastic and funny intro, full of the camp humour one would expect from him. The film itself is a curious mash-up of bawdy comedy, religious diatribe & country evangelistic music that (unlike the original) never quite gelled for me. I did get goosebumps during a brief cameo from the one & only Christopher Lee, but even that felt shoehorned in for shareholder value. The eclectic movie was strengthened by a smashing performance from Honeysuckle Weeks as ‘Lolly’ – she delivered some killer lines and moments (“all the way to 7,” hehehe) and is definitely one to watch.

Oh Chriiist! Oh Jeeesus Chriiist!  – The Wicker Tree

A brief interval gave me the chance to catch up with some old friends & to make a few new ones, then it was time to head on in for the World Premiere of ‘Panic Button’. Frightfest founder (and erstwhile Panic Button supporter – thanks Alan your cheque is in the post!) Alan Jones and producer/co-writer John Shackleton introduced the movie to a packed auditorium. My thanks to John for giving me a shout out during his intro, I was touched (your cheque is in the post too!). It was fun seeing the film on huge screen with a full-on sound mix, amidst a crowd of likeminded horror fans. There was lots of applause, laughs (in all the ‘right’ places) & a palpable feeling of rising tension during the finale (either that or my Premiere trousers were on too tight). Mr Shackleton took to the stage again for a Q&A after the end credits rolled, accompanied by the main cast members and director Chris Crow. My favourite moment was when an audience member asked (in all seriousness) if the film would be used in schools as an educational tool about the dangers of social networking. “We might have to tone Michael Jibson’s dialogue down a bit,” came the reply (Michael plays pottymouthed ‘Dave’ in the film 🙂 

Panic Button Q&A:
L-R Chris Crow (director), Joshua Richards (Rupert Turner), Elen Rhys (Gwen),
Jack Gordon (Max), Scarlett Alice Johnson (Jo), John Shackleton (producer)

The Empire foyer afterwards was buzzing, and cast and crew took to the red carpet for a press junket of photo calls and interviews – you can see them shine in the Frightfest Day 3 report below (coupla mins in to the video). It was a pleasure to finally meet some of the cast members & to catch up with some of the production team – also to meet the lovely Louise of UK distributor Showbox & raise a glass with some FrightFest friends before hometime.


A slew of reviews has since appeared online, with people Tweeting, Blogging and Facebooking about the movie. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with a few naysayers out there (but you can’t please everybody). One negative Twitter response bemoaned the movie’s ‘unbelievable’ premise – i’d love to hear their thoughts on the premises for ‘Troll Hunter’, ‘Fright Night’ and of course… ‘The Wicker Tree’! Sorry, but I go to festivals like Frightfest year in, year out, expressly to see films with unbelievable premises – leave banal reality at home on the telly where it belongs. Rant over!


So, here are some of the post-FrightFest reviews for Panic Button. Positive or negative, huge thanks to the reviewers for taking the time to watch and comment on the film.

“A modern horror movie that is very much a product of our times. Just excellent.” (Adam Stephen Kelly, Screenjabber)

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5 thoughts on “Frightfest 2011: Panic Post-mortem

  1. Couple more reviews coming thru: 2 boardies over at Ramsey Campbell's site have Panic Button in their Top 5 Frightfest Films:
    “One of the best things about a festival like this is the unexpectedly good film you would probably never have bothered to watch otherwise. In fact we were almost about to go for lunch when we changed our minds and I was so glad we did … I couldn’t believe how suspenseful it was – the only film in the festival where I was on the edge of my seat and which delivered right up to the end. Hugely hugely recommended.”
    http://www.knibbworld.com/campbelldiscuss/messages/1/5093.html?1314701204

    & another here:
    http://surprisetruck.livejournal.com/83630.html

  2. Pingback: In Memoriam: Robin Hardy, writer & director of ‘The Wicker Man’ | FrazerLee.com

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