The Park Inn Palace Hotel

10 feature films you should be watching at Horror-on-Sea 2020

Horror-on-Sea will be returning to Southend once again in 2020 with its biggest blood-soaked line up of independent film as they celebrate their 8th Year. It remains one of the UK’s biggest independent film festivals and was originally formed to promote independent horror films, which are not normally given an opportunity to be played on the big screen.

Hosted at The Park Inn Palace Hotel (Southend-on-Sea) the festival will be running over two weekends from Friday 10th January to Sunday 12th January and Friday 17th January to Sunday 19th January. Screening over 36 Features and 62 shorts, with many of these being introduced by the filmmakers themselves.

Here is my list of 10 feature films you should be watching at Horror-on-Sea 2020

Nefarious – Friday 10th January 20:00

Director: Richard Rowntree

Writers: Matthew Davies, Richard Rowntree

Starring: Aaron Thomas Ward, Richard Rowntree, Jon Vangdal Aamaas, Tony Sands, Nadia Lamin

Darren (Buck Braithwaite), Lou (Nadia Lamin), and Jo (Abbey Gillett) are barely living each day unable to escape the fringes of poverty, and with a mounting debt owed to the local criminal organization, they live each day in fear of retribution. On the other side of town, the already wealthy Marcus and his disabled brother Clive receive a windfall in the form of a winning lottery scratch card. The two very different worlds collide with disastrous results when an attempted burglary goes wrong. The would-be criminals get more than they bargained for and will be tested to their limits in a desperate attempt to survive a predator of monstrous proportions.

Nefarious is the second feature film from co-writer and director Richard Rowntree, who follows up his folk horror Dogged with a unique take on the home invasion sub-genre. Having already won several awards on the festival favourite, this highly original, intelligent and thought-provoking horror has already become a favourite amongst the horror fans.

She Never Died – Saturday 11th January 17:30

Director: Audrey Cummings

Writers: Jason Krawczyk

Starring: Olunike Adeliyi, Peter MacNeill, Kiana Madeira, Michelle Nolden, Noah Dalton Danby

Lacey (Olunike Adeliyi), a socially detached loner is cursed with immortality and a never-ending tedium of existence. In her attempts to keep her compulsions in check, she seeks out the darkest souls humanity has to offer. Lacey must now face her own inner demons while simultaneously finding her next meal. 

I was impressed with Audrey Cummings previous sci-fi horror Darken (2017) which played at Horror-on-Sea in 2018, so my expectations were high when I heard she was directing a standalone sequel to the underrated cult horror He Never Died. Delivering a with a more fulfilling story than its predecessor and an emotive powerhouse performance from Olunike Adeliyi, She Never Died is one of the rare occasions where a sequel surpasses the original.

Exit (World Premiere) – Saturday 11th January 20:00

Director: Michael Fausti

Writers: Mathew Bayliss

Starring: Tony Denham, Michael Fausti, Billy James Machin, Leonarda Sahani, Robert Alexander

A seemingly innocent double-booking forces two couples from different backgrounds to share a London apartment for the evening. A night of drink, drugs, sex and new experiences follows. However, as morning comes, events take a sinister turn. Everything has a price and not all debts are paid for with money. What would you do to survive? Leaving; it’s harder that you think.

Michael Fausti has already proven himself as a director to watch out for with his critically acclaimed shorts The Ingress Tapes and Dead Celebrities, so naturally expectations are already high for his Brexit inspired feature debut Exit. Despite giving very little away very few details leading up to the premiere, there has been a growing interest for the film and I believe it could be one of the unexpected hits of the festival.

Day of the Stranger (World Premiere) – Saturday 11th January 22:30

Director: Thomas Lee Rutter

Writers: Thomas Lee Rutter, Mark Twain (based on the original short story by)

Starring: Gary Shail, Gary Baxter, Shelley Krasnowski, James Taylor, Richard Rowbotham

Caine Farrowood (Dale Sheppard) is a bounty hunter who works under the control of ruthless kingpin Loomweather (Gary Shail). One day a bounty retrieval goes awry, and Caine is left for dead. Just when he thinks his life is over, he mysteriously awakens back home to the comforts of his wife Christina (Maryam Forouhandeh). Baffled and confused by how he got home Caine insists on finding answers, but before long he is enlisted in the retrieval of another bounty. This one is huge and may cost Caine not his life, but his sanity when he finds himself pitted against somebody who may very well be the fallen angel himself.

A film which has been plagued by problems and 6 years in the making Day of the Stranger can be described as both a labour of love and film making nightmare. However as this is already credited as the UK’s first ever Guerrilla Acid Western, this a must see for fans of independent cinema and I can’t wait to see it on the big screen.

I Scream on the Beach! (World Premiere) – Sunday 12th January 20:00

Director: Alexander Churchyard, Michael Holiday

Writers: Alexander Churchyard, Max Davenport (original story), Michael Holiday

Starring: Hannah Paterson, Dani Thompson, Reis Daniel, Jamie Evans, Lloyd Kaufmanm

In the small seaside town of Mellow Coast, Emily (Hannah Paterson) is trying to discover what has happened to her father, but as she searches for answers her friends start getting picked off one-by-one by an unknown killer.

Following the release of the trailer I Scream on the Beach! has continued to gain interest amongst the horror community, with tickets for the premiere almost sold out before the festival begins. A self-aware nostalgic tribute to some of straight to home video horrors of the 80’s, I Scream on the Beach! incorporates a mixture of bloody horror and brilliant humour. And based on the early feedback from critics it is is already shaping up to be a cult classic in the making.

The Psychics – Friday 17th January 12:30

Director: Tomas Sem Løkke-Sørensen

Writers: Tomas Sem Løkke-Sørensen

Starring: Lovas, Frank Thomas Holen Andersen, Oddrun Valestrand, Hannah Karine Giske, Jennie Sofie Lie Pickl

A documentary film maker has to fight against evil forces when she starts to investigate a criminal mystery as a part of her movie project.

I can understand why people may get sceptical when it comes to another found footage film, with the ongoing trend in recent years following the success of Paranormal Activity. Whilst many follow a familiar formula  with the sub genre seen as a cheap way to make a film, The Psychics is one which breaks the mould. Norway’s second found footage horror (the first one being The Troll Hunter) is a paranormal mystery-thriller which has been shot as a documentary. Building the tension around a brilliant script, engaging performances and some original twists this is easily one of the most original and entertaining found footage films I have seen in a long time.

UK Haunters – Friday 17th January 20:00

Director: Dan Brownlie

UK Haunters is the first feature length documentary to cover the Uk haunt and scare attraction scene.

Already proven to be a hit on the festival circuit UK Haunters is a unique vlog style documentary that takes a look behind the scenes of the scare attractions and looks to uncover some of the tricks of the trade. Inspired by the found footage genre the documentary the film takes on it own as a unique visual style, and in the end begins to replicate the industry it was initially looking to uncover.


Bite Night (World Premiere) – Saturday 18th January 17:30

Director: Maria Lee Metheringham

Writer: Maria Lee Metheringham, Will Metheringham

Starring: Dani Thompson, Maria Lee Metheringham, Mj Dixon, Rachel Brownstein, Marcella Edgecombe-Craig

‘Haunted Honeymoon’ meets ‘My Best Friend is a Vampire’ meets ‘Clue’. When three beautiful ladies manage to grab the attention of a group of punks with their enchanting voices. They become the lucky guests or rather victims of the house of Valice. However, the tables turn quite suddenly when the ladies realize they are in fact the unfortunate victims of the madness which they themselves created.

The multifaceted Maria Metheringham returns to Horror-on-Sea, with her latest film Bite Night. A 90’s style mystery thriller which looks very different to her previous film, the 80’s slashers Pumpkins. Not taking itself too seriously, Bite Night looks to put the fun back into the horror genre and from what we have seen so far it looks like it could succeed.

PandaMonium (World Premiere) – Saturday 18th January 20:00

Director: Mj Dixon

Writer: Mj Dixon

Starring: David Hon Ma Chu, Oriana Charles, Dani Thompson, Will Jones, James Hamer-Morton

The guys on Level 6 like to work hard and party harder, and that means the best booze, the finest drugs and hottest women money can buy. Unfortunately for them, the strippers they’ve just hired have come with an unwanted guest. Jacob Jakushi, the infamous ‘Stripper Ripper,’ with an oversized panda mask and a taste for exotic dancers has these girls in his sights and he’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants. It’s now Strippers vs PandaHeaded Serial Killer as they fight to survive the office party from hell. The 9th feature from Mycho Entertainment Group and prequel to SLASHER HOUSE 2 and its infamous Panda-headed Killer.

Writer-director M J Dixon and Producer Anna Dixon have become regular fixtures at Horror-on-Sea and have become a cult favourites with horror fans thanks to their unique visual style and interconnecting stories in the MychoVerse. PandaMonium is their 9th Feature and once again delivers something different to the series. Whilst the film remains rooted in the slasher genre, it also delivers consistently throughout with some brilliant laugh out loid comedy which you wouldn’t normally expect to see. Mycho fans however will not be disappointed as it still delivers with the kills that you would expect, but once the screaming starts on the screen, so will the laughter in the aisles.


The Barge People – Sunday 19th January 20:00

Director: Charlie Steeds

Writer: Christopher Lombard

Starring: Kate Davies-Speak, Mark McKirdy, Makenna Guyler, Natalie Martins, Matt Swales

Set on the canals amid the glorious British countryside, two sisters and their boyfriends head off for a relaxing weekend away on a barge, unaware of the flesh-eating fish mutants lurking in the water, ready and waiting to feed.

Another film which has proven to be a festival favourite on the festival circuit and already gained a cult following is  The Barge People which will be playing on the final day of the festival.  An bloody old school horror which director Charlie Steeds has described as a “Deformed fishy mutant mayhem on the canal, in a retro B-movie throwback to the days where the best horror was found in tattered VHS boxes on the dusty top shelves of video rental shops”. It is not one for the squeamish, but definitely one for the horror fans.

You can find the full festival listing the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival and purchase tickets for the event here

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