I emerge from my cool, damp cave into the blinding light of day, snarling at the burning day-star above. I take in the world of the living to which I have returned, and let loose a great cry: “FANTASTIC FEEEEEEEEEEST!”
Oh, hi! Didn’t see you there. After a month(!) hiatus, I have found my way back to my keyboard. I didn’t realize it had been so long, or I’d have started babbling about Fantastic Fest sooner. That’s right, for the first time in my life, I’M GOIN’ TO AUSTIN, BABY! Jess and I are flying down for the second week of the largest Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror Genre movie festival in the US, and for five straight days, we will effectively live in the Alamo Drafthouse, binge-watching awesome new movies. My entire body is ready, even the butt. Especially the butt.
With as many good-ass movies as the Fest brings (and it brings the real good-ass stuff), Making a hit list of movies that I want to prioritize seeing has been rough and rugged. I managed to whittle down a top-ten list, but there were some hard, hard choices along the way. I don’t want to imply that these 10 movies are the only ones I’ll see at the festival; I intend to catch as many good-ass movies as I can, but these ten are the ones that I will be homing in on like a heat-seeking missile. They are presented in alphabetical order, because trying to rank these is impossible. I love them all equally.
- Apostle, Dir. Gareth Evans: Ever since I first saw Merantau, I knew both Gareth “I made The Raid and Raid 2” Evans and Iko “Like Tony Jaa but better, don’t @ me” Uwais were going to be special. Not only was I right, like always, they are both featured at the festival this year! Go us! Anyway, Evans doing a religious cult horror story with Dan Stevens, who stole my heart in The Guest, is a gimme.
- Bad Times at the El Royale, Dir. Drew Goddard: Come on. Look at that cast. Loooook at it. Drew Goddard will forever be in my good book for directing Cabin in the Woods, so this one is another gimme.
- Border, Dir. Ali Abbasi: I like to think I’m reasonably well-informed when it comes to upcoming genre movies, so I was vexed when Border sneaked up on me. I’m so glad it did – I think this movie is going to thrive on surprising people, and I think it’s going to be weird as hell and really, really good. There’s a trailer out there for this one, but I don’t recommend spoiling yourself even that much.
- An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn, Dir. Jim Hosking: Hahaha, whaaaaaaat. The guy who made The Greasy Strangler made a movie with Aubrey Plaza, Craig Robinson, Jermaine Clement and Emile Hirsch. That’s a completed movie Bingo card of some sort. That trailer, though.
- Halloween, Dir. David Gordon Green: Fucking obviously.
- Hold the Dark, Dir. Jeremy Saulnier: I loved Blue Ruin and Green Room, and this movie stars Jeffrey Wright and Alexander Skarsgård. Slam dunk, in my book.
- The Night Comes For Us, Dir. Timo Tjahjanto: One of two movies by Tjahjanto at the Fest, because this guy does not sleep, ever, along with May the Devil Take You. It was a hard, hard choice to decide which of his movies to put on this list. This one has the aforementioned Iko Uwais, so that edged it into the lead. I’ll probably still watch both.
- Overlord, Dir. Julius Avery: I will watch any movie about shooting up Nazi zombies. True story.
- Shadow, Dir. Zhang Yimou: I’m a sucker for Zhang Yimou’s color palettes. Hero and House of Flying Daggers are two of the most visually beautiful movies I’ve ever seen, so I’m super curious to see what he does while restricting himself to such a muted color scheme.
- Violence Voyager, Dir. Ujicha: I like to try and catch what I think will be the most “What the fuck am I watching” movie of any film fest I go to, and I think this one is going to fit the bill. Seriously, watch the trailer. What the fuck am I even watching.
I’ll probably write a follow-up post to this with my honorable mentions, so expect me to ramble about the Fest more in the coming days. If anyone reads this who happens to be going to the festival, throw a comment my way! Let’s compare notes.
Please tell me about Shadow when you see it. I really dug both his other movies for the visuals as well. Do you think it will play mainstream after the fest? I am already planning to drag Kevin to ‘Night at El Royale’ possibly against his will just for the cast. I’ll be interested to hear if there is anything more to it (without spoilers please!).
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Oh you know I’ll be writing reviews of everything I see at the fest. Zhang Yimou is, in my opinion, one of the greatest to ever do it – if you haven’t seen some of his older stuff, absolutely watch Shanghai Triad, Raise the Red Lantern, and if you have the stomach for a little contemplative sorrow, Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles. All that being said, I love, love, love Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and to a slightly lesser extent Curse of the Golden Flower for their use of color schemes, so I feel like Shadow has a high chance of doing well.
Glad to see we’re on the same page on El Royale, too. I saw the first trailer and said, “Ummm, yes please”.
You struck me out! I did not know of any of the movies in your Top 10. However, I am willing to learn. I am keeping the list and if any of them hit a movie theater near me, I will go. I look forward to your follow-up reviews.