The Lon­don Film Festival re­turns with a sur­feit of sci-fi treats...

SFX - - Event horizon -

Guillermo del Toro, Doug Jones and Martin Free­man will all be fly­ing the sci-fi flag at this year’s Lon­don Film Festival. While the fest, now in its 61st year, will fea­ture over 200 films across its 12-day cel­lu­loid love-in, the ones we’re re­ally ex­cited about are the genre pre­mieres, and four in par­tic­u­lar have re­ally spiked our in­ter­est.

Top of the list, nat­u­rally, is del Toro’s The Shape Of Wa­ter. De­scribed as an “Amer­i­can ro­man­tic hor­ror”, it’s set in 1962 and fol­lows a mute jan­i­tor (Sally Hawkins) work­ing in a gov­ern­ment lab­o­ra­tory. Things get weird when she dis­cov­ers a wa­ter tank con­tain­ing an am­phibi­ous crea­ture that def­i­nitely isn’t a frog, but who be­comes an un­likely friend. Del Toro has de­scribed the film as a hope­ful re­sponse to Amer­ica’s cur­rent po­lit­i­cal climate, say­ing: “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to ad­dress it through a fairy­tale, tol­er­ance and love?’” Will it give Trump the hump?

Other genre flicks tak­ing their bow at the fest include Ghost Sto­ries, di­rected by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Ny­man, and in­spired by the in­fa­mously ter­ri­fy­ing stage pro­duc­tion. Martin Free­man plays a pro­fes­sor who dis­cov­ers a file de­tail­ing three sup­posed haunt­ings, and goes on a “ter­ror-filled quest”. Mean­while, Thelma is a Nor­we­gian sci-fi ro­mance about a woman who dis­cov­ers she has fan­tas­ti­cal pow­ers, and Grain – by Ber­li­nane-win­ning Turk­ish di­rec­tor Semih Ka­planoglu – is set in a dystopian fu­ture where a crop fail­ure threat­ens an al­ready-strug­gling so­ci­ety.

The 2017 LFF will open on 4 Oc­to­ber at the Odeon Le­ices­ter Square with Andy Serkis’s di­rec­to­rial de­but, non-genre flick Breathe.

David Oyelowo speak­ing at LFF 2016’s de­bate on di­ver­sity. Sally Hawkins stars in The Shape Of Wa­ter.

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