FANTASTIC FEST 2016: The Cinapse Team’s Most Anticipated

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.

Alex: @AlexWilliamsdt
Fantastic Fest always offers such a rich selection of films that even attempting to categorize the exciting titles can be a huge challenge. It’s easy to get excited about the highly anticipated films that come out within a week or two: American Honey, the A24-distributed chronicle of youthful wanderlust from director Andrea Arnold, or Age of Shadows, a Korean espionage thriller helmed by Kim Jee-Woon, whose I Saw the Devil was a memorable secret screening at 2010’s Fantastic Fest. Most notable among these is Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, which will have director Tim Burton in attendance.

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?

Brendan: @TheTrueBrendanF
There’s a ton I’m dying to see at this year’s Fantastic Fest, but the title I keep coming back to is Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal. Forget the rave reviews out of the Toronto International Film Festival, and forget what is apparently a master-class performance by Anne Hathaway in a genre film that digs deep into destructive relationships, substance abuse, and misogyny. No, I am desperate for this film because even after only one Fantastic Fest it is clear that Nacho reigns over the Drafthouse, a grinning Bacchus of karaoke and free-flowing beer. To see one of his works with the best, most receptive audience on the planet? Fantastic.

David: @daviddelgadoh
Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival. Arrival.

Ed: @Ed_Travis
Anyone who even remotely knows my proclivities will be fully aware that my most anticipated film of Fantastic Fest 2016 is Boyka: Undisputed, aka Undisputed IV starring Scott Adkins. While I’m apprehensive that director Isaac Florentine is not at the helm this time, Scott Adkins never brings less than his all to his fight sequences, and Yuri Boyka is his most iconic character. I hope it’ll live up to my anticipation.

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.

Jon: @Texas_Jon
As in year’s past, I usually try to avoid looking too deeply into the lineup. More often than not, the greatest films you catch at Fantastic Fest are the ones that come out of nowhere. A punch of greatness to the face that Kato himself would be proud of. But obviously there will always be a few “must see” features.

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.

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the author

Originally harkening from the British Isles, Jon was exiled to Texas back in 2007 to help conceal his identity as a love child of the Queen. Jon has both embraced and been embraced by the wonderful city of Austin, a place which has only further enhanced his interest in film. A regular at SXSW and Fantastic Fest, Jon is also a member of the Austin Film Critics Association and Online Film Critics Society. By day he is a researcher at UT Austin but he also has an involvement with (and deep appreciation for) the local brewing industry. In short, his passions are cinema, science, craft beer and writing about himself in the third person. Twitter: @Texas_Jon