26th Feb2016

Glasgow Frightfest: ‘Mindless’ Review (Short)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Nicholas Vince, Kate Danbury, Eloise Daye, Fern Bostock | Written and Directed by Katie Bonham


If there’s one thing that makes UK horror film festival Frightfest stand head and shoulders above others of its ilk, it’s the amount of attendees that have gone on to create their own horror movies – be they features or shorts – some of which, like last summer’s Banjo, have gone on to play the festival itself – inpsiring more Frightfesters in some kind of horrific viscious circle!

One such Frightfest attendee turned filmmaker is Katie Bonham, whose fourth horror short, Mindless, starring Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Nightbreed), has its world premiere at this years Frightfest Glasgow. Though to be fair, Bonham’s no stranger to Glasgow – this is the second year in a row she has screened a short a Frightfest Glasgow; with her previous short film, The Paper Round, shown last year.

Running just shy of 8 minutes, Mindless is at once a slow burn terror tale and a short sharp shock to the system. Playing out very much like a live-action version of an issue of Tales From the Crypt, complete with off-kilter black humour and a dark subject matter. And like the best Crypt tales, this story is grounded very firmly in the everyday, the mundane – making it truly a “it could happen to you” tale.

Mindless tells the story of Peter (Vince) – a senile, middle-aged man who relies on home help him cope on a day to day basis. The only problem is, Peters house is mysteriously torn apart day after day, leaving the home help baffled and wondering if Peter is a risk to himself… Of course this is a horror short so there’s bound to be something more sinister at work… Right?

To reveal anything more would be to take away from what is a very powerful, very insightful look at mental illness (one thing the horror genre really has going for it is the fantastic way director like Bonham can use the tropes of the genre as a metaphor for wider issues). Are there spooks at work or is it all in Peter’s mind? Just what IS in Peter’s mind? As Bonham’s short opens we know nothing more than what we see – a doddery old man sat watching TV whilst his house crumbles around him. But what is the truth? The truth is what Bonham slowly and assuredly reveals in the films short, but sweet, running time. For even this senile old man was a person once. Maybe a nice person, maybe not a nice person…

Kudos for the casting of Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser‘s Chatterer and now something of a stalwart of the UK horror scene), who brings with him both a command of the role and a fragility to the persona. His performance walks the very fine line between senile and sinister, keeping the audience on edge. The way he turns his character on the lip of a coin from afraid old man to grumpy, possibly unsafe, old man (pictured beautifully on the films poster too) is a joy to watch. Especially when Bonham truly captures Vince’s facial expressions – which say much more than any script could.

A great new short from another rising genre director, Mindless screens at Frightfest Glasgow on Friday 26th February at 3.40pm.

IDEA: Now how about someone gets Frightfesters-turned-directors Katie Bonham, Andy Stewart, Damon Rickard, Chelsey Burdon and Mark Logan together for an awesome UK horror anthology?


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