All the films playing as part of LFF CULT STRAND




Dir. S. Craig Zahler

Starring: Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles

16th October, 20:40, Picturehouse Central

18th October, 20:45, VUE West End 

When disillusioned old-time cop Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his cocky younger partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) are caught on camera forcefully strong-arming a suspect, their renegade approach to law enforcement gets them both suspended. With their egos bruised, and their finances depleted, the pair impulsively resort to a criminal plan which sees them cross paths with Henry Johns, a recently released ex-con desperate to rescue his family from poverty, by any means available. Punctuated by moments of distressingly savage violence (and a dose of wickedly black humour), Zahler's latest masterwork is an impeccably styled, daringly unconventional genre exercise, likely to enthral and appal in equal measures. Brace yourselves, crime thrillers are rarely boiled quite so hard.



Dir. Quarxx

Starring: Jean-Luc Couchard, Mélanie Gaydos, Thierry Fremont

15th October, 21:00, Picturehouse Central

16th October, 18:00, Rich Mix

30-year-old factory worker Simon lives a solitary existence on a decrepit farm in the remote French countryside. Devoting his time to caring for his sister Estelle, who was left severely disabled when a childhood game went horribly wrong, Simon is plagued by guilt and depression. But he sees a way out, looking to otherworldly forces as a means of liberating both himself and his sister from the corporeal prisons in which they are confined. Expanded from his short film A Nearly Perfect Blue Sky, director Quarxx has crafted a visually breathtaking, emotionally challenging nightmare, filled with claustrophobic dread and horror. Yet beneath the brutal violence and mystifying surrealism lies a profound sense of sadness and unexpected empathy, making for a deeply disorienting experience.



Dir. Daniel Goldhaber

Starring: Isabelle Link-Levy, Adam Hendricks, Greg Gilreath, John Lang

20th October, 18:15, Curzon Soho

21st October, 15:30, Prince Charles Cinema

Ambitious camgirl Alice (known to fans as Lola) is desperate to hit number one in the chatroom charts and knock main rival, enduring fan favourite Baby, off the coveted top spot. Inching slowly up the league tables with her increasingly outlandish and risqué shows, Alice’s hard work appears to be paying off. However, one day she finds herself unable to access her account and inexplicably discovers that Lola is still active online. But who is this mysterious virtual doppelgänger and how can Alice stop her? Collaborating closely with friend and former sex worker Isa Mazzei, Daniel Goldhaber’s whip-smart, impressively dextrous thrill ride skilfully sidesteps all-too familiar moralising about the perils and supposed shame of sex work, instead offering up a refreshingly progressive critique on internet privacy and the commodification of the female body in a digital age.



Dir. Guto Parente

Starring: Ana Luiza Rios, Tavinho Teixeira, Zé Maria

17th October, 18:30, VUE West End

19th October, 21:00, Rich Mix

Beneath the respectable façade of their privileged existence, affluent married couple Otavio and Gilda hide a very dark secret: a penchant for murdering and then eating their hired help. Their macabre fetish is one celebrated by the Cannibal Club, a secret society of like-minded elites run by powerful businessman Borges, of which Otavio is a long-standing member. But the tables dramatically turn when Gilda accidentally stumbles upon a secret about Borges, and the carnivorous couple suddenly find themselves the hunted. A tasty mix of grisly horror, pitch-black comedy and biting political satire, Guto Parente (whose other film My Own Private Hell screened at this year’s BFI Flare) has prepared a dish of sex and violence so wickedly perverse, it might just put you off your dinner.



Dir. Bill Oliver

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Patricia Clarkson, Suki Waterhouse

14th October, 20:40, Prince Charles Cinema

16th October, 15:15, NFT3

Eschewing the futuristic trappings we have come to expect of sci-fi cinema, Bill Oliver’s understated fantasy welcomes us instead to a familiar world of neatly furnished apartments, clean office spaces and bustling city streets. But within these recognisable spaces, something else is at play. Jonathan lives his life like clockwork. A part-time architectural draftsman, he goes through the same routines with unwavering regularity, including leaving a video message for an almost identical man named John (albeit a more relaxed, less buttoned up version), in which he details the banal events of his day. John in turn leaves messages too, and slowly the true nature of their relationship becomes clear. Featuring a brilliantly nuanced dual performance from a superb Ansel Elgort, Duplicate is a very different kind of genre film, intimate in scale yet boldly ambitious in its ideas.




Dir. Yann Gonzalez

Starring: Vanessa Paradis, Nicolas Maury, Kate Moran

12th October, 23:59, Prince Charles Cinema,

13th October, 15:00, VUE West End

From the wild and twisted mind of visionary filmmaker Yann Gonzalez comes a kinky queer horror odyssey like no other. Vanessa Paradis plays Anne, a ruthless gay porn producer working in Paris in 1979. Nursing a serious broken heart following the dramatic breakdown of her relationship with girlfriend Lois, Anne launches herself into her latest and most ambitious film production. But as shooting gets underway, one of her stars is brutally murdered. Soon it becomes terrifyingly clear that a homicidal maniac is intent on bumping off the cast, one by one. Positively dripping with style and visual invention, Gonzalez’s libidinous delight comes steeped in playful genre references, owing as much to the opulent cinema of Dario Argento as it does the brash fetishism of William Friedkin’s Cruising.



Dir. Jonas Åkerlund

Starring: Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Sky Ferreira

19th October, 18:00, Prince Charles Cinema

20th October, 21:00, Odeon Tottenham Court Road

For black-clad nihilist Øystein Aarseth, aka Euronymous, the founding member of pioneering Norwegian black metal band Mayhem, making music simply isn’t enough. He wants to make a difference by spreading his mantra of chaos and suffering across Norway. But when his band face an unexpected tragedy, Euronymous’ megalomaniacal dreams appear to slip away. That is, until he meets Varg, an emotionally volatile superfan who becomes the group’s newest member and demands that Euronymous act on his vision and cause real havoc, with catastrophic results. Drawing inspiration from Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind’s book Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal underground, this bracingly unconventional biopic is every bit as raucous, energetic and offensive as its contentious subject matter deserves.




Dir. Panos Cosmatos.

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache

11th October, 20:45, Odeon Tottenham Court Road

12th October, 18:10, Rich Mix

17th October, 18:10, Prince Charles Cinema

In a mountain-cabin idyll, lumberjack Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) lives in perfect harmony with his great love Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). But the couple’s blissful utopia is cruelly shattered when a ragtag band of Satanic cultists invade their humble abode and claim Mandy for their own. Traumatised and distraught, Red is left with no option but to exact a bloody revenge. Anyone who saw Panos Cosmatos’ extraordinary debut, Beyond the Black Rainbow, will know that describing his work is no mean feat. With Mandy, he has once again crafted a film so singular, perverse and beguiling, it’s almost impossible to define. Think of the most exquisitely nightmarish LSD trip imaginable, then multiply it by ten. That might give you some idea. Don’t just see Mandy. Experience it!



Dir. Timo Tjahjanto

Starring: Chelsea Islan, Pevita Pearce, Karina Suwandi

17th October, 20:45, Curzon Soho

18th October, 15:30, ICA

After years of estrangement, a young woman named Alfie reluctantly pays her dying father a long-overdue visit. With doctors unable to determine the inexplicable disease that has ravaged his body, Alfie and her stepsiblings head to their father’s dilapidated villa, determined to unearth any clues that could help them understand his grave condition. What they discover is far more bizarre than Alfie could have imagined, as the family find themselves at the mercy of a malevolent spirit. This no-holds-barred, wickedly humorous scare-fest from Headshot co-director Tjahjanto (he also directed instalments of V/H/S/2 and The ABCs of Death) boasts stunning set designs, eye-popping visual effects and more demonic action than you can shake a severed goat’s head at. What more could you ask for?




Dir. Dennison Ramalho

Starring: Daniel de Oliveira, Fabíula Nascimento, Bianca Comparato

13th October, 17:40, Odeon Tottenham Court Road

14th October, 15:15, Rich Mix

Stênio, a mortician’s assistant at a busy São Paulo hospital, makes a living tending to the dead. He also has a secret – a gift that allows him to communicate with the lifeless bodies he encounters. Privy to the grave secrets of many an ill-fated local gangster, Stênio learns of a shocking betrayal in his own life and uses information gained from the cadavers to take care of the problem. But he is unwise to abuse his uncanny gift, quickly learning it is best to let sleeping corpses lie. The debut feature from Dennison Ramalho (who wrote the most recent Coffin Joe entry Embodiment of Evil), The Nightshifter is a film as tricksy as its title would suggest – unafraid to defy expectations with its fluctuating tones and bold narrative sidesteps.




Dir. Sébastien Marnier

Starring: Laurent Lafitte, Emmanuelle Bercot, Gringe

18th October, 20:45, Prince Charles Cinema

19th October, 15:15, Odeon Tottenham Court Road

When Professor Capadis unexpectedly leaps to his death from a top-floor classroom window – to the horror of most students – six pupils glance on with chilly disregard. The budding sociopathic behaviour of this curious sextet only grows with the arrival of new substitute teacher, Pierre Hoffman (Laurent Lafitte), who becomes increasingly obsessed with uncovering the mysteries he is witness to. But the closer Pierre comes to the truth, the more he begins to fear for his safety. Cleverly flirting with genre conventions, without ever truly becoming a horror film, Sébastien Marnier’s elusive and disquieting debut is as enigmatic as the creepy kids at its core. Impeccably performed and shot with careful precision, this is one of those films that truly gets under your skin and stays there.



Dir. Rahi Anil Barve, Adesh Prasad

Starring: Sohum Shah, Mohd Samad, Deepak Damle

10th October, 20:45, VUE West End

11th October, 18:00, VUE West End

A truly scary horror film is a rare treat in South Asian cinema, but director Rahi Anil Barve delivers one, in some style, with this mythical cautionary tale. Vinayak is the conniving illegitimate son of a local landlord, living in the decrepit, ancient village of Tumbbad. Obsessed with unearthing a fabled ancestral treasure, he suspects that the secret lies with his great grandmother, a cursed witch who has been trapped for centuries in a purgatory between life and death. Tricking her, he discovers the secret that will lead him to the riches, but also a voracious, otherworldly force. What begins as a cunning plan to steal a small fortune quickly spirals into a reckless obsession that finds Vinayak facing up to an unexpected and hair-raising reckoning.

Ali Abbasi's Border


Fiction, 110’, Sweden.
Ali Abbasi’s Border is two different stories, styles, genres, worlds, rolled into one. The realism of the drab Scandinavian countryside, captured handheld, is pushed to the extreme of surrealness, as a romance blossoms between border security guard Tina (Eva Melander) and pond life enthusiast Vore (Eero Milonoff). They are both outsiders, physically exaggerated by the prosthetics the actors wear, their grotesqueness contrasting with the banality of the setting. Tina is infertile and Vore does not have genitals; he even claims to be a troll and has a matching lightning scar to Tina, which he uses to prove that they belong to the same tribe. He claims they are not human and this is to their advantage. In one scene, Tina grows a sex organ in front of our eyes. It is about the monotony of the woods and the mystery that lies within them. 

On the other end of the spectrum, there is the fact of Tina’s profession and her almost supernatural ability to literally sniff out trouble. She smells the maggots that Vore tries to carry through customs (this is how they meet), and she can also less explicably smell indecent images of children on one traveller’s hard drive. The latter plot strand leads us into a strangely conventional European police procedural that involves waiting in cars outside people’s apartments and breaking in to rummage around for unsavoury video tapes. The quality and success of the two separate genres and styles - surreal romance, straight procedural - are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes the weirdness of the relationship feels undisciplined; sometimes a mystery plot is enjoyable. It is when the two converge that Border runs into problems.

The greatest success of the script, based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s short story, co-written by Abbasi and Isabella Eklöf (whose feature debut Holiday is also playing at LFF this year), is how it is able to analyse the strangeness of these characters without sensationalising or exploiting them. By not indulging in a ‘freakish’ depiction of Tina and Vore, like I, Tonya does with its characters, Border challenges rather than reaffirms our beauty standards and questions the heteronormativity that we expect from film romances. It is unfortunate that an unnecessary twist then slightly redefines this, but where Vore tells Tina, “You shouldn’t listen to what other humans say”, a closer interpretation of the film might the quotation by Roman playwright Terence: “Nothing human is alien to me”. Border may not win Best Picture this year, but it is a far deeper exploration of outsider love than The Shape of Water, not to mention taboo.

—Theo Macdonald