Have Your Say: Should Horror Have Limits? Did FrightFest Ident Go Too Far? (NSFW)

James Marsh, Asian Editor

Last month, at the UK's foremost horror festival, Film 4 FrightFest, a debate began to rage between critics, general festival-goers, and the organisers, over the suitability of some of their content. However it was not a confrontational feature film that sparked this furore amongst hardened, seasoned horror aficianados, but a bumper, or "ident", as they are called. A number of these short public service announcements, commissioned by FrightFest, were screened throughout the weekend, all conveying the same message to patrons to "Turn Off Your Bloody Phone!" in a variety of violent and gory ways. There were decapitations, slashings, hackings and even a smart Videodrome parody, but one particular PSA rubbed many people the wrong way. 

In each ident, the audience is asked to sympathise with the over-the-top, murderous outrage of a frustrated movie-goer, who simply wants to watch the movie in peace. However there have been numerous accusations - from some of Britain's most revered film critics - that one film lost its way. Entitled The Pencil, the ident (directed by Can Evrenol) shows a young man venting his frustration on the attractive female audience member in front of him when she refuses to stop texting during the movie. However, the method in which he vanquishes his foe garnered a number of complaints. 

Bear in mind that this particular short was screened ahead of Franck Kalhoun's Maniac remake in the midnight slot on Saturday night, and so was consciously aware that even by FrightFest audience standards, it was likely to have found the most open-minded and hard-to-faze subsection of the crowd. But, for some, it remained a step too far.

BE WARNED - THE IDENT IS VERY UNSAFE SAFE FOR WORK - but if you are in a safe environment, take a look at it and let us know what you think. Is The Pencil a delightfully tasteless bit of late night black humour, or does it cross a line that should never be crossed? Does it, as one critic pointed out on Twitter yesterday, miss the point as the "Killer isn't [SPOILER] to stop her texting - he's doing it to get off"? 

You'll also find a link below to eight more idents screened throughout FrightFest to give you a little more context, but then we would love to hear what you have to say. Should horror be held up by limits of taste and decency, or - like comedy - should nothing be taboo and filmmakers be given free rein to push the boundaries however they see fit?

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