Happy Fantastic Fest Eve! Tomorrow, the 15th annual Fantastic Fest kicks off in Austin, and Daily Dead is thrilled to be once again attending and will be bringing you a ton of reviews and interview coverage over the next few weeks. As we gear up to indulge in seven days of genre awesomeness on the big screen, it felt like the perfect time to discuss many of the films from this year’s slate that we are beyond excited to see during Fantastic Fest.
Also, because this writer has already covered several FF films out of previous festivals—After Midnight (previously entitled Something Else), Bliss, Come to Daddy, Memory: The Origins of Alien, and The Lodge—it didn’t feel right to include them in this preview. That being said, they’re all the bee's knees and I do hope attendees get a chance to check all of them out over the course of this year’s Fantastic Fest.
Parasite (Directed by Bong Joon-Ho)
As someone who has long worshipped at the altar of Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite has been one of my most anticipated films of the year for quite some time now, and I’m so glad the film is making its way to Austin this month for FF.
Synopsis: Bong Joon-ho’s seventh feature — about an unemployed Korean family conning their way out of their basement apartment — is a roller coaster ride of laughs, gasps, horror, tears, and perfection.
Knives Out (Directed by Rian Johnson)
All I needed to hear about Knives Out was that Rian Johnson was making his own murder mystery in the vein of Agatha Christie and I was already all in on his latest directorial effort. The fact that the cast from top to bottom features a cavalcade of brilliant actors is just the cherry on top of everything.
Synopsis: From acclaimed writer, director Rian Johnson comes KNIVES OUT, a fresh and modern take on the classic “whodunnit” mystery genre.
Synchronic (Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead)
I’ve been a huge fan of everything from the directing duo of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead ever since their debut feature Resolution blew my freaking mind, so it’s safe to say that I am beyond excited to see Synchronic on the big screen over the next week at FF.
Synopsis: Two paramedics find their world ripped apart when they start encountering deaths linked to the otherworldly effects of a new designer drug called Synchronic.
Color Out of Space (Directed by Richard Stanley)
It’s Richard Stanley (writer/director of Hardware and the original director of 1996'sThe Island of Dr. Moreau) teaming up with Nicolas Cage to take on a Lovecraft story. What more could you possibly want?
Synopsis: Unimaginable terrors befall the Gardner family after a meteorite lands on their front lawn in Richard Stanley's entrancing, horrific adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's short story.
First Love (Directed by Takashi Miike)
Takashi Miike is another filmmaker that I have a deep-seated admiration for (I will never shut up over how much I loved Blade of the Immortal, thank you very much), so it’s pretty much a no-brainer that I will be soaking in every single frame of this latest project from one of cinema’s most prolific directors.
Synopsis: When aspiring boxer Leo discovers that he may not have long to live, he goes all out to help drug-addicted call girl Monica, facing down gangsters, assassins, corrupt cops, and much more over the course of one long night.
The Vast of Night (Directed by Andrew Patterson)
I’m a huge sucker for old-timey (that’s an official critic term, too, by the way) sci-fi stories and The Vast of Night looks to be right up my proverbial alley. It’s also refreshing that in this day and age when everything retro heads back to the ’80s (which I love, don’t get me wrong), Night is heading even further back into the 1950s.
Synopsis: A rural 1950s radio DJ and a telephone operator uncover a strange signal that could change everything in this stunning science fiction debut feature.
In The Tall Grass (Directed by Vincenzo Natali)
Vincenzo Natali is easily one of the more underappreciated directors of this modern era of genre filmmaking, so I’m hoping In The Tall Grass becomes a breakout moment for Natali and helps folks realize just how slept on so many of his films truly are (go watch Splice!). Oh, and utilizing source material from writing legends like Stephen King and Joe Hill is pretty rad, too.
Synopsis: Adapted from the eponymous novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill, IN THE TALL GRASS follows siblings Cal and Becky who find themselves trapped within a vast field of tall grass when they venture in to answer the cries of a young boy.
Jojo Rabbit (Directed by Taika Waititi)
While it’s definitely not horror, it does involve Taika Waititi, which is precisely why Jojo Rabbit made my list for this year’s Fantastic Fest. I give myself one “non-genre” treat movie at FF every year, and there was no way I wasn’t picking Jojo as my diversion movie this year.
Synopsis: Writer-director Taika Waititi (THOR: RAGNAROK, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE), brings his signature style of humor and pathos to his latest film, JOJO RABBIT, a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy (Roman Griffin Davis as JoJo) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (Directed by Roman Chimenti & Tyler Jensen)
I can remember distinctly when Mark Patton emerged again during the filming of the Never Sleep Again documentary, because I was one of the first journalists to interview him the day he came in for his interview. It’s been awesome to see Mark come back into the fold of the horror genre over the last several years, and it feels like Scream, Queen! should make for a compelling look at Mark’s life and the impact that A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge has had on not only his life, but on the genre as a whole.
Synopsis: More than thirty years after its release and his departure from Hollywood, Mark Patton (star of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE), sets the record straight on the famously queer horror sequel in this fabulous, surprising, and eye-opening documentary.
Vivarium (Directed by Lorcan Finnegan)
In 2013, back when I was running my own film festival, one of the amazing short films that I programmed for the fest was Foxes by Lorcan Finnegan, so as soon as I saw that his latest project would be playing at FF, I knew I couldn’t miss seeing it on the big screen. Plus, it features Imogen Poots, who has been doing great work in the genre for more than a decade now.
Synopsis: When young couple Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) drive out to a maze of temptingly affordable houses in the suburbs, they find themselves unable to leave.
In the Shadow of the Moon (Directed by Jim Mickle)
Jim Mickle’s track record speaks for itself: Mulberry St., Stake Land, the We Are What We Are remake, and Cold in July are all pretty damn good films, so being the easy mark that I am, I could not be more excited for In the Shadow of the Moon (plus, its cast is STACKED). And for those of you who won’t be making it out to FF, this one hits Netflix on September 27th, so you won’t have to wait too long to see it, either.
Synopsis: In 1988, a Philadelphia police officer doggedly hunts a serial killer whose crimes follow seemingly no pattern, but he hasn’t considered how far the repercussions of his hunt may go.
Saint Maud (Directed by Rose Glass)
Saint Maud hit my radar out of TIFF 2019, so I was happy to see that it was heading to Austin next on its festival run because its premise is super intriguing, and I’m all for psychological horror that mixes things up a bit, which is what it looks like director Rose Glass is doing here.
Synopsis: While caring for an attractive woman dying of cancer, devoutly religious nurse Maud develops an all-encompassing case of holy possession mixed with real-life obsession.
VFW (Directed by Joe Begos)
Joe Begos is another director that I’ve been a big fan of ever since he first broke onto the scene with Almost Human, so I am stoked to see what kind of balls-out mayhem he has in store for us with VFW. But if the synopsis is any indication, perhaps VFW is set to be this generation’s Street Trash? In either case, I am pumped.
Synopsis: In the near future, a new drug called Hype has turned America into a war zone. The addicted are more mutant than human, and they’ve set their sights on assaulting a VFW post in Joe Begos’ star-studded latest.
Nail in the Coffin – The Fall and Rise of Vampiro (Directed by Michael Paszt)
As both a wrestling fan and a documentary fanatic, I’m supremely excited to check out Nail in the Coffin, which is centered around Vampiro, who has been a longtime fixture in various realms of professional wresting for decades now. This one feels right up my proverbial alley, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the real-life trial and tribulations of one the most fascinating performers to have ever stepped into a squared circle.
Synopsis: An intimate and heartfelt look at professional wrestler Vampiro’s past, and his new life navigating the management of a lucha libre federation in Mexico, while raising his teenage daughter in Canada.
We Summon the Darkness (Directed by Marc Meyers)
All I know about We Summon the Darkness is that it’s helmed by Marc Meyers (who did a brilliant job directing My Friend Dahmer), it features the likes of Alexandra Daddario (Texas Chainsaw 3D), Logan Miller (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, a movie I will never shut up about), Amy Forsyth (from Channel Zero) and Johnny Knoxville, and it’s centered around the world of heavy metal. So yeah, I’m all the way in for We Summon the Darkness.
Synopsis: When Val, Beverly, and Alexis meet a group of fun-loving dudes in the parking lot of a heavy metal concert, they all decide to have an after-party, but it isn’t long before the group finds themselves fighting for their lives.
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