A FILM which brings a long-told tale from rural County Durham to life in chilling fashion will get its premiere at the upcoming Fright Fest in London’s Leicester Square.

Veteran North East actor, Alun Armstrong takes the lead in The Nicky Nack – a horror short, which follows the terrifying torment of a man just trying to get home from the pub.

Haunted by a persistent sound which won’t leave him alone, the man becomes gripped by terror as events reach their dramatic conclusion.

Based on the little-known legend of the nicky nack, the film was shot during 2019 in the Croxdale pub, The Daleside Arms which, for many years took its name from the unsettling story.

The Covid lockdown delayed the post-production process, but the film is now complete and has been selected for the UK’s biggest international thriller, fantasy and horror film festival.

Producer, Hugo Nicholson, who hails from the North-East, said: “Everyone is absolutely delighted that The Nicky Nack will get its premiere at such a prestigious event. Fright Fest was top of our list in terms of festivals we wanted to get into, so we’re feeling very excited to see the film on the big screen in front of their audience."

He added: “The film has been a bit of a dream throughout. From casting a legend like Alun Armstrong as the lead, to finding that the pub named after the story we were telling actually offered the perfect location for the shoot – it has been fantastic.”

The Nicky Nack will get its world premiere on Friday after being selected for the Fright Fest Short Film Showcase, which includes shorts from 10 countries and is renowned for being an extremely competitive field.

Hugo co-wrote The Nicky Nack with director and longtime collaborator, Tom Oxenham.

Hugo said: “We were actually writing something else and were procrastinating so you could say The Nicky Nack was borne out of putting other stuff off.

“Somehow I started telling Tom about this story which my dad – who worked at Vaux Brewery in Sunderland - used to tell us if we were ever driving around that way.

“We talked about making it into a film and wrote it in two days – which sounds impressive, but it’s only two pages”

Hugo and Tom then teamed up with Villager Films - as well as executive producer Richard Peskin - to get the production off the ground.

Hugo said: “Villager were essential to developing, shooting, and delivering the project - as was executive producer Richard Peskin, who gave us the impetus we needed to get this film made.”

Tom added: “The story had all the markings of a great British pub legend: a clear structure, improbably plot and absurd anti-climax. We decided early one there would be no dialogue in the film – apart from nicky nack - placing the emphasis on visual storytelling.

“The nicky nack has many different versions, depending on who you ask: The Devil appears in one, another has it as a practical joke gone wrong. I love the fact our film will add yet another version and having the opportunity to shoot at the real pub from the story, makes the film feel closer to the folklore, becoming a small part of its rich history.”

As well as Fright Fest, The Nicky Nack has also been officially selected for the upcoming Bolton and Norwich Film Festivals, which are both BAFTA qualifiers.

Meanwhile plans to have a screening of the film in The Daleside Arms are in the making, to give the largely North East crew the opportunity to come together and celebrate their work on set.

Landlord, Michael Patterson said he and his team were delighted to play host to the crew and have their pub offer a backdrop to the film. He said:"We’re humbled to have been part of a fantastic reproduction of a very unique part of our local history.”

Hugo added: “I’m always keen and looking for ways to make work up in the North East and of course for this project, our leading man was on home turf too. It would be brilliant if we can organise to show the film in the pub at some point – it seems only right since that’s where the legend was born.”

The Nicky Nack is a co-production between Master of None and Villager Films. Directed by Tom Oxenham, the film is produced by Hugo Nicholson and Georgia Woolley and its executive producer is Richard Peskin. Shot on location in County Durham, the film stars Alun Armstrong as The Man and will premiere at Fright Fest, Leicester Square ion London on August 27th. For more information, visit www.masterofnone.productions.