Fantastic Fest. Two words guaranteed to send a tremor of excitement running through the body of any film lover who knows what’s up. The 2016 edition is almost upon us, and as in years past, the Cinapse crew will be out in force to gorge on film, drink Shiner, and bask in the glory of Nacho Vigalondo. We’ve looked through this year’s lineup and each highlighted our own “most anticipated” features, so read on and be sure to follow us all on Twitter for our thoughts and back here on Cinapse from September 22nd-29th for more coverage than you can shake a taco at.
Then there are the artsy festival hits like Tony Erdmann, the 162-minute German riff on Mrs. Doubtfire, whose daunting length is only equaled by its incredible buzz. A top priority for any Fantastic Fest attendee is surely Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden, a steamy and surprisingly pulpy period love triangle which pairs the stylish Oldboy director’s outstanding visual sensibility with a set of narrative contortions worthy of Brian De Palma.
But the true highlights of Fantastic Fest are always the under-the-radar surprises, and while those are tough to predict, here are a few to carve out time in your schedule for: Safe Neighborhood seems like a typical home invasion thriller, but director Chris Peckover showed a truly twisted perspective with his 2010 FF title Undocumented, which is enough to put this film high on my must-see list. There’s also The Void, an Assault on Precinct 13 riff about a lonely hospital besieged by a violent cult that promises to deliver the notoriously high body counts that Fantastic Fest films are known for.
Finally, who can’t get excited about seeing Nicolas Cage team up with Willem Dafoe in Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog?
I also found myself in the “absolutely loved and adored it” camp when it came to director Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. So her follow up, The Bad Batch, is easily one of my most anticipated, even if its festival run thus far has been quite divisive.
I haven’t seen all of Park Chan-wook’s films. Nor have I liked all of them that I’ve seen. But I have been challenged by all of his work that I’ve experienced, and I quite loved Stoker. So The Handmaiden and its crazy-ass trailer have me highly intrigued.
My other most anticipated films include the Iko Uwais-starrer Headshot, and British zombie film The Girl With All The Gifts. An Indonesian action film starring Iko Uwais but not directed by Gareth Evans likely won’t achieve the heights of the Raid films, but I’ll be damned if that will prevent me from being excited about this opportunity for the Mo Brothers to prove me wrong. And when it comes to zombies… it is sounding like 2016 might be the year of their return. The buzz on The Girl With All The Gifts and Train To Busan are so strong I can’t help but believe that zombies will be great again.
And I’m Out.
If Villeneuve continues his trend of greatness (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario) then Arrival should be something special. Like my colleague Brendan, I know Fantastic Fest and Nacho Vigalondo go together like a shot of whisky & a Lone Star tall boy, so Colossal should be a special viewing experience. Similarly, experiencing The Handmaiden, the lush and sensual effort from Park Chan-wook, with the man himself in attendance, is highly anticipated.
Perhaps the most “pure” Fantastic Fest-sounding film goes to The Dwarves Must Be Crazy. A Thai feature featuring “evil, butt-munching, fart-tracking Krause spirits” combined with a pitcher is sure to entertain. I always like to check out what my fellow Brits have to offer, and as such The Girl With All the Gifts looks set to blow audiences away as 28 Days Later did back in 2002.
Finally, we always have the Secret Screenings at the fest, so fingers crossed we’ll all get to witness the greatness of Ben Wheatley’s latest, Free Fire. I need that film in my face asap.
Oh and the debates…duh.