Review: ‘Wyrm,’ starring Theo Taplitz, Lulu Wilson, Sosie Bacon, Natasha Rothwell, Paula Pell, Azure Brandi and Tommy Dewey

January 15, 2023

by Carla Hay

Lulu Wilson and Theo Taplitz in “Wyrm” (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

“Wyrm”

Directed by Christopher Winterbauer

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city in the mid-1990s, the comedy film “Wyrm” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans, Latinos and Asians) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: In an alternate reality where people have to wear electronic collars until they get their first romantic kiss, a nerdy freshman in high school tries to get rid of the stigma of being the only person in his school who’s still wearing this collar.

Culture Audience: “Wyrm” will appeal primarily to people are interested in watching quirky coming-of-age comedies.

Azure Brandi, Dan Bakkedahl, Theo Taplitz, Natalia Abelleyra and Tommy Dewey in “Wyrm” (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

Amid the overabundance of comedies about nerdy teenage guys who want to be more sexually experienced, “Wyrm” is memorable for its unique story and quirky characters. This movie doesn’t try to have broad appeal because it’s for people who are interested in low-budget, independent films about eccentrics. The comedy in “Wyrm” is also mixed with a touching story about grief and how people choose to remember the deceased.

“Wyrm” (pronounced “worm”) is the feature-film debut of writer/director Christopher Winterbauer, who based the movie on his 2017 short film “Wyrm.” The feature film “Wyrm” (which takes place in an unnamed U.S. city) had its world premiere at the 2019 edition of Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, but the movie wasn’t released until 2022. Most of the comedy is deadpan and almost satirical, so don’t expect the typical formula of teen comedies where a geeky male outcast is trying to date his “dream girl.”

According to the “Wyrm” production notes, the movie is set in an “alternate reality” in the mid-1990s. It’s a reality where people’s sexuality is monitored in terms of levels. To reach Level One sexuality, someone must experience a romantic kiss. People have to wear an electronic collar that can’t come off until they reach Level One sexuality.

Wyrm Whitner (played by Theo Taplitz), who’s about 14 years old, is a freshman in high school with his twin sister Myrcella (played by Azure Brandi), who has a prickly relationship with Wyrm. Wyrm and Myrcella had an older brother named Dylan (played by Lukas Gage, shown briefly in flashbacks), who died in a car accident when Dylan was about 16 or 17. Dylan has been dead for less than a year.

Wyrm and Myrcella’s parents are emotionally absent. Their father Allen (played by Dan Bakkedahl) spends most of his time either at work or in the parents’ bedroom. Wyrm’s mother Margie (played by Rosemarie DeWitt) is on a trail hiking trip for an undetermined period of time. (Paula Pell has a cameo as a park ranger named Tanya.) Although there isn’t much information about the Whitner family dynamics before Dylan died, it’s implied that these parents are avoiding spending time with Wyrm and Myrcella because it’s the parents’ way of grieving.

For now, Myrcella and Wyrm are essentially being raised by their bachelor uncle Chet (played by Tommy Dewey), who met his current girlfriend Flor (played by Natalia Abelleyra) in an Internet chat room. In an early scene in the movie, Chet tells Wyrm: “I just think with the right girlfriend, you’d really be happy.” Chet also paints a portrait of Wyrm.

Wyrm has become preoccupied with interviewing people on his portable tape recorder about their memories of Dylan and about their thoughts on romantic relationships. Experiencing his first romantic kiss (preferably from his first girlfriend) soon becomes another preoccupation for Wyrm. He’s getting pressure to have his collar “popped” (unlocked) for various reasons.

When Wyrm and Myrcella entered high school, they both had Level One sexuality collars. However, Myrcella has recently had her collar “popped” because she’s been dating a Norwegian immigrant student at the school named Mads Nillson (played by Ky Baldwin), who was Myrcella’s first romantic kiss. Wyrm is now the only person at the school who has a Level One sexuality collar.

An early scene in “Wyrm” shows what type of comedy that the movie has about teen sexuality. Wyrm’s friend/classmate Charley (played by Samuel Faraci) tells Wyrm: “Mads Nillson fingered your sister at the cinema yesterday.” Charley then asks Wyrm if Wyrm feels the same things at the same time as Marcella does because they’re twins. Wyrm says about twin telepathy, “I think that’s only [with] identical twins.”

Wyrm and Myrcella, who share the same room, soon clash over how her level of sexual experience will now affect their living situation. Myrcella reads to Wyrm a formal declaration of why she wants to move into Dylan’s former room so that she can have more privacy. Wyrm thinks it’s disrespectful and too soon for anyone else to have Dylan’s former room.

However, Wyrm tells Myrcella that if Mads comes over to visit: “I don’t want Mads Nillson fingering anyone in my room.” Myrcella replies, “I don’t want to be related to the only freak in ninth grade who can’t get his collar popped.”

Wyrm’s level of sexual experience will also affect whether or not he can graduate from ninth grade. He’s called into a meeting with his school’s child development specialist Reginald “Reggie” Corona (played by Davey Johnson), who tells Wyrm: “You are literally the last incoming freshman to complete their Level One sexuality requirement. We’re collecting collars on Picture Day.”

Wyrm asks for an extension on when he can get his collar popped. Reggie agrees to the extension but cautions that time will soon run out for Wyrm. Reggie advises Wyrm to play on people’s sympathy to find a girlfriend: “A death in the family should work in your favor.” Wyrm gets even more pressure from the school’s vice-principal Cynthia Lister (played by Natasha Rothwell), who has a separate meeting with Wyrm in her office and ominously says to him: “Lonely people are dangerous, especially lonely boys.”

Wyrm doesn’t get any sex education from his parents, who avoid talking to him about it. There’s an intentionally amusing scene were Wyrm asks his parents: “How do kiss a person? And how do you finger them?” Each parent tells Wyrm to ask the other parent. Myrcella, now feeling sexually superior to Wyrm, wants to distance herself from him and treats him like an outcast at school.

Teen movie cliché alert: A student has recently transferred to the school from Florida. Her name is Izzy (played by Lulu Wilson), who is a sassy non-conformist. Wyrm is immediately attracted to Izzy, and wants to date her, but there’s a problem: Izzy has a boyfriend named Kyle, who’s in Florida, and Izzy wants to stay loyal to Kyle. Izzy doesn’t care about Wyrm being an unpopular student and school, because she’s not part of the popular crowd either, not does she want to be part of the crowd.

Thus begins the “will they or won’t they get together” part of the Wyrm/Izzy relationship. Along the way, Wyrm spends time with two other teenage girls who give him more insight into male/female relationships. Lindsey (played by Sosie Bacon) is a 17-year-old sarcastic student, who uses a wheelchair and who knew Dylan very well. Wyrm’s friend Charley introduces Wyrm to his sister Becky (played by Cece Abbey), who’s about 15 or 16, and is kind-hearted and appreciates Wyrm’s quirkiness.

“Wyrm” has some familiar story arcs found in many teen comedies, but they’re slightly off-center enough to avoid being completely predictable. The Level One sexuality collar is a symbol of the pressure that is put on teens to have certain sexual experiences by they time they’re a certain age. Whether or not people agree with this pressure, it exists, and those who are deemed sexually inexperienced are often unfairly labeled as social failures.

“Wyrm” doesn’t pass judgment on its title character, nor does it assign blame to any particular person for why Wyrm desperately tries to get his first romantic kiss, or risk getting the stigma of “being left behind.” Instead, the movie’s “alternate reality” is used as a mirror to show people how much it reflects what many teens experience in real life to a different degree.

The movie also has a meaningful depiction of how people cope with death and how their memories of someone who’s deceased can be altered for various reasons. The interviews that Wyrm conducts about Dylan are ostensibly so that Wyrm can make a tribute to Dylan. But as time goes on, viewers can see that these Wyrm is using these interviews to deal with his grief and to get to know Dylan better, since Wyrm and Dylan weren’t very close to each other.

As social misfit Wyrm, Taplitz gives a commendable performance that solidly carries most of the emotional wright in the movie. The rest of the cast members are perfectly fine, but the movie lives or dies on whether or not viewers will be interested in Wyrm. Some of the movie tries too hard to be offbeat, but there are enough moments of genuine humanity that can make “Wyrm” resonate with viewers who might not have much in common with the characters.

Vertical Entertainment released “Wyrm” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on June 10, 2022.

Review: ‘Piggy’ (2022), starring Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi, Irene Ferreiro and Camille Aguilar

October 16, 2022

by Carla Hay

Laura Galán in “Piggy” (Photo by Jorge Fuembuena/Magnet Releasing)

“Piggy” (2022)

Directed by Carlota Pereda

Spanish with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Villanueva de la Vera, Spain, the horror film “Piggy” features an all-Spanish cast of characters (white and Latin) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A 16-year-old girl, who is bullied by other young people for being overweight, finds an unlikely ally in a mysterious serial killer.

Culture Audience: “Piggy” will appeal mainly to people who are interested in watching oddball horror movies about oddball characters.

Richard Holmes and Laura Galán in “Piggy” (Photo by Jorge Fuembuena/Magnet Releasing)

Some of the most disturbing scenes in the horror film “Piggy” aren’t where people are being killed in bloody murders but are the scenes where the main character is emotionally damaged by the cruel bullying inflicted on her. For some viewers of “Piggy,” these harassment scenes might be more uncomfortable to watch than the blood and gore, because the psychological and physical abuse of bullying is more likely to happen to people in real life. The movie’s ending could have been better, but “Piggy” is still an intriguing and well-acted horror movie that provocatively explores issues of bullying, self-esteem and revenge.

Written and directed by Carlota Pereda, “Piggy” takes place in the small seaside town of Villanueva de la Vera, Spain. It’s the type of place that seems stuck in a bygone era and is an occasional vacation destination for tourists who like to go to places that are off the beaten path. “Offbeat” is one way to describe this movie too, which has some twists and turns that toy with viewer expectations of how the movie is going to end. “Piggy” had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and won the prize for Best Horror Picture at 2022 Fantastic Fest.

“Piggy” is based on Pereda’s 2018 short film “Cerdita,” which means “little pig” or “piggy” in Spanish, and has the same star/protagonist for both movies: 16-year-old Sara (played by Laura Galán), who is the target of the bullying throughout the entire story. (Galán was actually in her 30s when she played this character in “Piggy” and “Cerdita.”)

in “Piggy,” Sara works part-time with her parents in their family-owned butcher shop. Her mother Asun (played by Carmen Machi) often insults and berates Sara for not looking more “presentable” for potential suitors, while Sara’s father Tomás (played by Julián Valcárcel) is a mostly passive parent who doesn’t seem very interested in making Sara’s life better. Sara lives with her parents and her younger, bratty brother (played by Amets Otxoa), who’s about 9 or 10 years old and who doesn’t have a name in the movie. Sara’s brother also teases her about her weight.

Four local teenagers, who are all in the same clique, have singled out Sara for merciless bullying. The group leader is Maca (played by Claudia Salas), who is the meanest of the group’s “mean girls.” Maca’s female sidekicks are Roci (played by Camille Aguilar) and Claudia (played by Irene Ferreiro), while the fourth person involved in the bullying is Claudia’s boyfriend Pedro (played by José Pastor), who is a good-looking troublemaker.

The four teens openly call Sara a “pig” or “piggy” to her face, and they sometimes make pig noises when she’s nearby. Claudia is the least cruel of the “mean girls,” but she goes along with a lot of the bullying and does nothing to stop it, which makes her just as guilty. There are some hints that Sara might have a crush on Pedro, so his taunting of Sara hurts her even more emotionally.

Maca, Roci and Claudia are in the butcher shop one day, while Sara and her parents are behind the counter. Maca leaves, and Roci and Claudia linger behind while Roci secretly takes a photo of Sara and her parents behind the counter. Sara later finds out that the photo was posted on social media with this caption: “Three Little Pigs. Fucking Fatso.” The photo has gotten numerous “likes” on social media.

Sara is understandably humiliated, sad and angry about this cyberbullying. And things gets worse for her. Sara goes to a local public swimming pool by herself, but she can’t even spend some time enjoying the pool before the bullies go after her. Maca, Roci and Claudia are also at this swimming pool, and they use a cleaning net to dunk Sara in the water.

These bullies don’t want to drown her, but this physical violence could still have harmful consequences. They don’t know if Sara has a medical condition that could cause a heart attack or some negative health reactions to this stressful situation. To add to Sara’s embarrassment, the three mean girls steal Sara’s non-swimsuit clothes before they leave, so Sara has to leave the pool wearing nothing but a bikini.

Before this attack on Sara, she saw a mysterious and unkempt-looking stranger in his 30s (played by Richard Holmes), who startled her with his presence at this public swimming pool. He says nothing to her, so Sara assumes he’s just a creepy person in a random encounter. Little does she know that she will see this man again many times over the course of the next few days.

Sara, who has to self-consciously leave the swimming pool with her swimsuit and no other clothes, is walking down a deserted road near a wooded area when three teenage boys follow her in a car, get out and chase her down, rough her up a little bit, and call her “Fatty,” “Fatso” and “Miss Bacon.” How much worse can Sara’s day get?

After the teenage harassers drive away, a white van drives by Sara. And she sees that Roci and Claudia have been kidnapped in the back of the van. Claudia sees Sara and makes frantic gestures for Sara to help her. A terrified Sara is seen by the van’s driver, who stops the vehicle and gets out. And lo and behold, the driver is the same man whom she saw at the swimming pool.

Sara is so frightened that she urinates on herself. What Sara didn’t see (but viewers can see) is that before driving off with Claudia and Roci, this same stranger had killed Maca and hid Maca’s body in the woods. When the driver gets out of the van, he and Sara make eye contact with each other.

In that moment, Sara could do any number of things. What she chooses is to wave her hand in approval when she realizes that this man probably saw her being bullied at the swimming pool. He silently drives away with the kidnapped Claudia and Roci in the back of the van. Now that this kidnapper/murderer knows that Sara is not going to report what she saw, the rest of the movie is about what happens in the cover-up of these crimes and whether or not Sara gets caught for helping this criminal.

Over time, it becomes obvious that this unidentified criminal has been stalking Sara, who develops a bizarre little crush on him, because he seems to be the first man who pays attention to her. Several questions arise throughout the movie, with the biggest ones being: “Who is this criminal?” and “Why has he decided to come into Sara’s life in the way that he does?” Don’t expect “Piggy” to give all the answers by the end of the movie.

“Piggy” is less concerned about solving the mystery of this unnamed stranger and more concerned about how Sara changes psychologically during the course of the story. The movie challenges viewers to ponder if bullying victim Sara deserves less sympathy once it becomes obvious that she aided and abetted in the kidnapping of at least two of her tormenters. When police investigators interview Sara about the missing teens, she lies and says she doesn’t know anything about their disappearances.

“Piggy” has plenty of suspense, but the movie doesn’t quite convince viewers that more people in this small town wouldn’t immediately notice and suspect this disheveled and creepy-looking stranger who’s been lurking around, doesn’t talk, and doesn’t seem to know anyone in this town. He never really gets on the police’s radar, which is the most unrealistic part of the movie. The middle section of the movie tends to drag with repetition about Sara lying to police, and Claudia’s mother Elena (played by Pilar Castro) immediately being suspicious that Sara is not telling all that Sara knows. When Elena confronts Sara and Sara’s mother Asun with these suspicions, it leads to one of the best scenes in the movie.

Asun vigorously defends Sara and chastises Elena for Claudia being a bully to Sara. Elena vehemently denies that Claudia has ever been a bully to anyone. This scene cleverly shows how both mothers don’t really know their daughters. And even though Sara is defended by Asun, Sara is still very angry at her mother for not seeming to care about Sara being bullied until after Sara was a “person of interest” in this missing persons investigation.

The last 15 minutes of “Piggy” turn into a literally bloody mess that will frustrate some viewers who want more definitive answers to the questions raised in the movie. However, thanks to Galán’s memorable performance (where she conveys a lot of emotions without saying much in the movie), “Piggy” has a way of getting viewers’ attention about this unfortunate fact of life: People who are bullied can sometimes turn out to be worse than their bullies if the motive is revenge.

Magnet Releasing released “Piggy” in select U.S. cinemas on October 7, 2022. The movie expanded to more U.S. theaters and was released on digital and VOD on October 14, 2022.

Review: ‘Decision to Leave,’ starring Park Hae-il and Tang Wei

October 14, 2022

by Carla Hay

Tang Wei and Park Hae-il in “Decision to Leave” (Photo courtesy of MUBI)

“Decision to Leave”

Directed by Park Chan-wook

Korean and Chinese with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in 2020 and 2021 in the South Korean cities of Busan and Ipo, the dramatic film “Decision to Leave” features an all-Asian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A police detective becomes emotionally involved with a widow whom he investigates in the suspicious death of her wealthy husband.

Culture Audience: “Decision to Leave” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of filmmaker Park Chan-wook and well-made psychological dramas that keep viewers guessing about what will happen in the story.

Park Hae-il and Tang Wei in “Decision to Leave” (Photo courtesy of MUBI)

“Decision to Leave” plays with any viewer’s preconceived notions on how the story is going to end. The pacing sometimes becomes too slow, but this well-made movie skillfully blends noir, romance and mystery with talented acting. It’s a cinematic rollercoaster ride that offers food for thought about how people handle power, wealth, loyalty and love on individual levels and in society at large.

Directed by Park Chan-wook (who co-wrote the “Decision to Leave” screenplay with Jeong Seo-kyeong), “Decision to Leave” is does not take sex and violence to explicit levels in ways that can be seen in two of Park’s most well-known previous psychological thriller films: 2003’s “Oldboy” and 2016’s “The Handmaiden.” Much of what is going on with the “Decision to Leave” characters isn’t “in your face” obvious, but rather is lurking underneath the surface and can be intelligently observed through facial expressions, body language and unspoken thoughts that are later revealed in certain characters’ actions. It’s why the movie’s principal cast members deserve a lot of credit for bringing complexities to these characters that look authentic.

With a total running time of 138 minutes, “Decision to Leave” is the type of movie that requires patience and perhaps more than one viewing in order to fully appreciate many of the subtleties in this drama. “Decision to Leave” had its world premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in France, where the Park won the prize for Best Director. The movie has since made the rounds at several other film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival; Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas; and the New York Film Festival in New York City. “Decision to Leave” is South Korea’s selection to be a contender for Best International Feature at the 2023 Academy Awards.

“Decision to Leave” begins iin 2020, in Busan, South Korea, where a police detective in his 40s named Hae-jun (played by Park Hae-il) is shown at work asking for a transfer to the smaller city of Ipo. Viewers later find out that Hae-jun has made this request mostly because his wife Jung-an (played by Lee Jung-hyun) thinks being a big-city cop has taken a toll on their 16-year marriage.

Jung-an wants to Hae-jun to work in a smaller city, where she thinks his work will be less stressful. She tells him half-jokingly that “55% of all sexless marriages end in divorce. It’s the first indication that the sex life of Hae-jun and Jung-an has dwindled. Later, this apathy is shown when she tries to be sexually intimate with Jung-an, and he shows a lack of interest. Jung-an feels insulted by this rejection, but she also seems to not be surprised by it.

What becomes obvious after a while is that Hae-jun is a workaholic, so moving to a smaller city won’t automatically end his addiction to police work, nor will it automatically fix the problems in his marriage. Before his transfer officially takes place, Hae-jun and some of his colleagues are called to the scene of a mysterious death. The deceased body of man in his 50s named Ki Do-soo (played by Yoo Seung-mok) has been found at the bottom of the cliff. Was this death caused by suicide, murder or an accident?

Investigators find out that Ki Do-soo was a part-time interviewer at a South Korean immigration office, but he was also wealthy. His widow is a Chinese immigrant named Seo-rai (played by Tang Wei), who doesn’t seem shocked when the police arrive at her home to tell her that her husband is dead and to interview her. In real life, Tang is much older than the Seo-rai character whom she portrays in the movie. Seo-rai is supposed to be in her 30s and is presented as a “trophy wife.”

Hae-jun (who is leading the investigation) is both puzzled and intrigued by Seo-rai’s calm, cool and collected demeanor during the police interviews. Hae-yun’s younger hothead cop partner Soo-wan (played by Go Kyung-pyo) immediately believes the theory that Ki Do-soo was murdered, and he zeroes in on Seo-rai as the prime suspect. Hae-jun doesn’t want to jump to any conclusions until he gets all the facts and evidence that he can.

Seo-rai, who is a hospital nurse, tells the investigators that she had nothing to do with Ki Do-soo’s death. She says she doesn’t speak Korean very well, but viewers later see that doesn’t mean Seo-rai isn’t highly intelligent and manipulative. She reveals to investigators that not only did her husband Ki Do-soo physically abused her and that she also had self-inflicted injuries. Seo-rai has recent bruises and medical records to prove it, as well as photos of past injuries that she said were made by herself and Ki So-Doo.

Seo-rai also tells the investigators that she and her husband argued because she didn’t like him to take these mountain hiking trips because she thought they were too dangerous. They also argued about her self-harming activities and would get into physical fights over it. (Their volatile marriage is shown in some flashbacks.)

Seo-rai is told by the cops that another person’s DNA was found underneath Ki Do-soo’s fingernails. And so, Seo-rai explains that if her DNA is found underneath his fingernails, it was probably because of one of the physical fights that they had before he went on the hiking trip that resulted in his death. Throughout much of “Decision to Leave,” viewers are kept wondering if Seo-rai is really a victim, a villain or both.

More suspicion falls on Seo-rai when the investigators find out that she is the only heir to her dead husband’s fortune. Until the cause of death can be determined, Seo-rai because the most likely person of interest if the medical examiner rules that Ki Do-soo’s death was by murder. In the meantime, Hae-jun decides to put Seo-rai under surveillance, and he’s the main person doing the stakeouts outside of her house.

As time goes on, Hae-jun becomes more obsessed with Seo-rai, who sensed from ther first meeting that he was romantically attracted to her. And Seo-rai, who seems to be starved for compassion, seems to be feeling the same way. Meanwhile, Hae-jun’s wife Jung-an become increasingly agitated that he’s spending so much time working on this case. Hae-jun won’t tell Jung-an many details about the case, but she begins to suspect that Hae-jung is having an affair.

Seo-rai has seemed to stirred up some long-dormant feelings of romance in Hae-jun, who goes to great lengths to show her that he is a gentleman and doesn’t want to betray the ethics of his job and his marriage. Another change has come over Hae-jun as he gets to know Seo-rai better: Before Hae-hun met Seo-rai, he seemed to be an incurable insomniac. After he met her, he began to sleep better.

What happens in the rest of “Decision to Leave” revolves around how Seo-rai and Hae-jun affect each other, as the story continues into 2021. It’s enough to say that even after Hae-jun transfers to Ipo, Seo-rai is still a part of his life. And his experiences with Seo-rai in Ipo cause even more confusion and angst.

“Decision to Leave” is a very stylish film to look at, thanks to stellar cinematography from Kim Ji-yong. The movie, which uses water in some pivotal scenes, is often awash in various shades of blue. Depending on the scene, these blue palettes contribute to feelings of melancholy or hope.

Even with a possible romance brewing between Seo-rai and Hae-jun, “Decision to Leave” never lets viewers forget that this relationship could be dangerous for either or both Seo-rai and Hae-jun. Whose motives are really pure and genuine? Through the immersive storytelling in “Decision to Leave,” that question hovers throughout as a reminder to viewers that in this movie, just like in real life, not everything is what it might first appear to be, and people can be taken to unexpected places.

MUBI released “Decision to Leave” in select U.S. cinemas on October 14, 2022. The movie was released in South Korea and France on June 29, 2022.

Review: ‘Triangle of Sadness,’ starring Charlbi Dean, Harris Dickinson and Woody Harrelson

October 8, 2022

by Carla Hay

Charlbi Dean and Harris Dickinson in “Triangle of Sadness” (Photo by Fredrik Wenzel/Neon)

“Triangle of Sadness”

Directed by Ruben Östlund

Some language in German and Russian with no subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place mostly somewhere off the coast of Greece, the comedy/drama film “Triangle of Sadness” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with one black person and one Filipina) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A dating couple, who are both young fashion models, must navigate conflicts over gender roles in their relationship, which is put to the test when they end up stranded on an island with other people from a luxury cruise yacht. 

Culture Audience: “Triangle of Sadness” will appeal primarily to people interested in a story that lampoons how youth, good looks, gender and wealth are used in social climbing and perceived power.

Arvin Kananian and Woody Harrelson in “Triangle of Sadness” (Photo by Fredrik Wenzel/Neon)

The darkly comedic “Triangle of Sadness” is an incisive satire of social class prejudices and gender-based power dynamics. The cast members’ skillful performances outweigh the movie’s flaws, such as a story that sometimes rambles and has a vague ending. “Triangle of Sadness” tells a memorable if uneven story about how constructs of power are frequently built around superficial qualities such as physical looks, youth and wealth, and how those constructs can radically change in life-or-death situations.

Written and directed by Ruben Östlund, “Triangle of Sadness” is a movie that is meant to make audiences laugh at uncomfortable truths and near-parodies of how people conduct themselves when they are in the presence of wealth and power—and what people are willing to do to have wealth and power. “Triangle of Sadness” had its world premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in France, where it won the Palme d’Or, the festival’s top prize. The movie also made the rounds at other film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival, Fantastic Fest and the New York Film Festival.

“Triangle of Sadness” is told in three separate parts. “Part One: Carl and Yaya,” “Part Two: The Yacht” and “Part Three: The Island.” The first two parts of the movie are really just introductions to the various people who end up stranded on an island off of the coast of Greece, after a yachting disaster. The last part of the movie is the most intriguing part, but it’s also the part of the movie that will be the most frustrating to viewers.

“Part One: Carl and Yaya” shows the relationship the London-based couple at the center of the story: Carl (played by Harris Dickinson) is British, in his mid-20s and is a former mechanic who now works as a fashion model. Yaya (played by Charlbi Dean) is originally from South Africa, in her early 30s, and is also a fashion model. Carl and Yaya have been dating each other for less than a year. (Tragically, Dean died on August 29, 2022, of septicemia, the medical term for blood poisoning, which came from an untreated lung infection. She was 32.)

Carl is first seen during a casting call audition for a runway show. He and other male models, who are all shirtless, are being interviewed by a flamboyant social media personality named Lewis (played by Tobias Thorwid), who openly flirts with the models. Lewis asks Carl and the other models to show the different facial expressions that they use for haute couture modeling (a serious face) and commercial mass merchant modeling (a smiling face).

When Lewis yells out “Balenciaga,” Carl and the other models put on their serious faces. When Lewis yells out “H&M,” Carl and the other models put on their smiling faces. Lewis keeps repeating “Balenciaga” and “H&M,” and the models keep changing their facial expressions, like they’re robots being ordered to do someone’s bidding. It’s the movie’s way of showing how models are often treated like robots.

When it’s Carl’s turn to go in front of the judging panel, a snooty male casting agent comments to Carl about the middle of Carl’s forehead: “Can you relax your triangle of sadness?” In the production notes for “Triangle of Sadness,” writer/director Östlund comments on why he chose this phrase as the title of the movie.

“It’s a term used in the beauty industry,” Östlund says. “A friend sat next to a plastic surgeon at a party and, after a quick look at her face, he said, ‘Oh, you have a quite deep triangle of sadness… but I can fix that with Botox in 15 minutes.’ He was referring to a wrinkle between her eyebrows. In Swedish, it’s called ‘trouble wrinkle,’ and it suggests you’ve had a lot of struggles in your life. I thought it said something about our era’s obsession with looks and that inner well-being is, in some respects, secondary.”

It’s no coincidence that the central couple in this movie are models in the fashion industry, which places a high value on youth and outer beauty. Modeling is one of the few jobs where women make more money than men. And because Yaya’s income is much higher than Carl’s income, this disparity has caused some problems in their relationship.

The problems become evident when Carl and Yaya have what is supposed to be a romantic dinner at a restaurant, but this date devolves into an argument over who is going to pay for the dinner. Carl has flown out to visit Yaya, who’s on a modeling assignment. And he’s been consistently paying for their meals during this trip.

But at this particular dinner, Yaya had offered to pay, and Carl accepted the offer. When the bill is placed on the table, Yaya pretends that she doesn’t see it and silently puts the responsibility on Carl to pay the bill. When he reminds her that she offered to pay for the dinner, it leads to a disagreement that isn’t really about the bill about it’s about power and control in the relationship.

Carl says that if women want equality, they should be willing to pay for dates on occasion if they offer to do so. Yaya agrees to pay for dinner. Carl concedes that he didn’t mean to raise his voice with Yaya and tells her, “Now, I feel bad.” However, Yaya gives a passive-aggresssive insult to Carl when she tells him, “It’s okay. I make more money than you.”

And then, it’s Yaya’s turn to be embarrassed. The credit card that she uses to pay for the dinner is declined. And so, Carl ends up paying for the dinner in cash. On the cab drive back to their hotel, Carl wants to talk about this money issue, but Yaya doesn’t. She tells Carl: “It’s not sexy to talk about money.”

Carl replies, “We shouldn’t slip into the same gender-based roles everyone else seems to be doing. I want us to be equal.” Carl won’t let the issue go, and he confronts Yaya about something that he saw her do at the restaurant: She took a €50 bill that was meant for the dinner payment, and she kept it for herself.

It leads to an even bigger verbal blow-up between the couple, who end up shouting at each other in the hotel elevator. Eventually, Carl and Yaya call a truce, but they both know that the argument isn’t about the money for that dinner. Yaya admits that she’s materialistic and says that one of the reasons why she became a model was to become “someone’s trophy wife.”

Yaya also confesses that she purposely ignored the restaurant bill when it was placed on the table because she really wanted Carl to offer to pay for dinner. Yaya tells Carl, “I need to know that if I fall pregnant that the person I’m with will take care of me.” All of these comments are Yaya’s obvious ways of telling Carl that if he eventually doesn’t make more money than she does, she’s going to lose interest in him.

In the “Triangle of Sadness” production notes, Östlund says that this argument over who would pay for dinner happened in real life with him and his fashion photographer wife, Sina, before they were married. Ruben and Sina Östlund might have had a happy ending after this argument, but things are much rockier for Carl and Yaya. The first part of the movie is focused on this argument as a foreshadowing of some turmoil to come.

In “Part Two: The Yacht,” Carl and Yaya have been invited by one of Yaya’s fashion connections to go on a luxury cruise on a yacht. Yaya is a social media influencer, who makes money by endorsing products and services on her social media accounts. During this trip, she fulfills these sponsor obligations by posing for photos on the yacht, with Carl as her photographer.

This part of the movie introduces several other people on the yacht and puts further emphasis on the social class divisions that separate the yacht’s subservient workers and the yacht’s privileged passengers. Carl and Yaya eventually meet several of these other passengers, some of whom are quirkier than others. Carl comes from a working-class background, and he often feels like he doesn’t quit fit in with these people who are accustomed to being rich.

Not long after their yacht trip begins, Carl and Yaya meet Dimitry (played by Zlatko Burić), a Russian agriculture mogul who made his fortune from selling fertilizer. Dimitry is on this yacht with his snobby and demanding wife Vera (played by Sunnyi Melles) and his mistress Ludmilla (played by Carolina Gynning), who is young enough to be his daughter. Dimitry and Vera seem to have an open marriage, because Vera and Ludmilla know about each other and hang out together with Dimitry on the yacht. Dimitry likes to brag to other people about how he became wealthy in a “rags to riches” story, but there’s a nouveau-riche crudeness in the way that Dimitry talks and acts.

An elderly British married couple named Winston (played by Oliver Ford Davies) and Clementine (played by Amanda Walker) are very polite and proper, but viewers might perceive these seemingly harmless senior citizens differently when it’s revealed why these spouses are rich. Another couple on the yacht are German spouses Uli (played by Ralph Schicha) and Therese (played by Iris Berben), who uses a wheelchair because she had a stroke. Uli is very attentive and devoted to Therese, who is mostly mute, except for when she utters the only words that she seems capable of saying: “in de wolken,” which is German for “in the clouds.”

Later in the movie, Yaya and Ludmilla meet a lonely, rich bachelor named Jarmo (played by Henrik Dorsin) at the yacht’s main bar. Jarmo invited a woman to be his companion on this trip, but she stood him up for this date. Jarmo wants to show this woman that he’s having a good time without her, so he asks Yaya to take a photo of him at the bar, because he wants to send the photo to the woman who snubbed him.

When Yaya and Ludmilla hear Jarmo’s story about the woman who rejected him, they both offer to take a selfie photo with Jarmo, so that Jarmo can send a picture looking like he’s having fun with two beautiful women on this yacht. Jarmo is so grateful, he immediately tells Yaya and Ludmilla, “I’m very rich,” and he offers to buy Rolex watches for Yaya and Ludmilla as thank you gifts. They both decline the offer, but it’s an example of Jarmo’s insecurity in thinking that he has to tell people that he’s rich, in order to impress people and buy friendships.

The yacht’s workers include a perky yet no-nonsense staff director named Paula (played by Vicki Berlin), who is a combination of a task master and a cheerleader for the employees. Paula is fanatical about the ship remaining tidy and orderly, and she tells the staffers to say yes to anything that the passengers ask them to do. Paula also leads the employees in pep talks and group chants to build team solidarity and loyalty.

Two other yacht staffers are a maid named Abigail (played by Dolly de Leon) and a repairman named Nelson (played by Jean-Christophe Folly), who are mostly in the background during “Part Two: The Yacht,” but their personalities emerge during “Part Three: The Island.” Abigail and Nelson are two of the few people of color who work on the ship, and they are both given jobs where they don’t interact much with the passengers. Observant viewers will notice that on this yacht, only white employees have the jobs that require the most interaction with the passengers.

The movie shows an example of how far Paula wants her employees to go to please the wealthy passengers on the yacht. A young and relatively new employee named Alicia (played by Alicia Ericksson) is asked by Vera to go for a dip in a jacuzzi with her, while Alicia is on duty. Alicia is reluctant to do so, but she also remembers that Paula ordered the staff to always say yes to a passenger’s request, no matter how unusual or difficult the request is.

Alicia doesn’t have a swimsuit with her at that moment, but Vera says that Alicia can strip down to her underwear. Vera can see that Alicia is uncomfortable, but Vera doesn’t seem to care. Eventually, Alicia obliges this request. But when Paula hears how reluctant Alicia was to say yes to this request, Paula overcompensates by ordering the entire staff to go on the water slides with the passengers.

The yacht’s leader is Captain Thomas Smith (played by Woody Harrelson), who is a drunken mess. In the “Triangle of Sadness” production notes, Östlund describes the captain as “an idealist, an alcoholic and a Marxist.” Paula and the ship’s first mate Darius (played by Arvin Kananian) spend considerable effort trying to get the intoxicated Captain Smith out of his room in time for the captain’s dinner with the yacht’s most influential and richest passengers.

It’s at this dinner when all hell breaks loose. Something causes the passengers to get sick and violently vomit. Things get worse when the yacht explodes and not everyone makes it out alive. It’s enough to say that the people who do survive end up stranded on a remote island. (This isn’t spoiler information because it’s in the movie’s trailer.)

Being stranded on this island strips away a lot of the social hierarchies and perceptions of power that existed on the yacht. This third and final part of the movie has some twists and turns that make “Triangle of Sadness” worth watching. However, because this major shift in the story comes so late in the movie, much of it feels crammed-in and rushed.

With a total running time 149 minutes, “Triangle of Sadness” could have used tighter film editing. The movie took a little too much time with “Part Two: The Yacht,” which is a bit repetitive in showing how these vacationers take their privilege and social status for granted. “Part Three: The Island” also has some scenes that wander, although the scenes in the last third of the movie have more of an overall purpose. Despite these imperfections in the movie’s film editing, the dialogue in “Triangle of Sadness” remains sharp and engaging.

Dickinson and de Leon give the movie’s standout performances as Carl and Abigail. On the surface, Carl and Abigail both seem to have very little in common. But beneath the surface, they both have something big in common: They feel like underappreciated outsiders in their own worlds. And they both show some rebellion and resentment as a result of feeling like they have been denied access to things that they think they deserve.

The very last image in “Triangle of Sadness” can be interpreted in many different ways—and that open-endedness at the movie’s conclusion will either frustrate some viewers, or it will invite viewers to come up with theories about what really happened at the end of this story. Despite this ambiguous ending, “Triangle of Sadness” has a lot of interesting commentary and observations about why society’s divisions between the “haves” and “have nots” can affect how people treat each other—and how these divisions are often based on shallow criteria that do not truly reflect someone’s inner character.

Neon released “Triangle of Sadness” in select U.S. cinemas on October 7, 2022.

2022 Fantastic Fest: programming slate announced

August 16, 2022

 

 

Sosie Bacon in “Smile” (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

The following is a press release from Fantastic Fest:

There’s only one place where you’ll find killer teddy bears, man-eating sharks, elderly zombies, cocktail-serving robots, and Park Chan-wook… all under one roof. That’s right, world-famous genre festival Fantastic Fest is back for its seventeenth edition featuring 21 World Premieres, 14 North American Premieres, and 21 U.S Premieres. The festival will once again take over the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin, TX from September 22 – 29 and on the web via a virtual [email protected] experience from September 29 – October 4. 

“It’s been far too long since we’ve all been able to gather together and celebrate film the Fantastic Fest way,” says Festival Director Lisa Dreyer. “We’ve really put our all into crafting an extraordinary week, from the exceptional programming that spans exciting discoveries to highly-anticipated features, to our signature events that will inject a much-needed dose of fun into 2022.”

Badges are available now at FantasticFest.com.

The opening night film for Fantastic Fest 2022 is the world premiere of Paramount Pictures’ SMILE, the intensely creepy debut feature from Parker Finn that’ll have even the seasoned FF crowd gripping their armrests in genuine fright. 

This year’s edition of Fantastic Fest will also honor a legendary genre filmmaker and show his latest masterpiece. Park Chan-wook, the South Korean director of OLDBOY, SNOWPIERCER, and THE HANDMAIDEN has been defining (and defying) genre films for decades, and his latest work – MUBI’s DECISION TO LEAVE – is a stunning achievement. In conjunction with the U.S. Premiere of his new film, Park Chan-wook will be present at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar to accept a lifetime achievement award from Fantastic Fest in celebration of his mind-bending, artfully-crafted body of work.

The closing night film at Fantastic Fest 2022 will be director Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or-winning pitch black comedy from Neon, TRIANGLE OF SADNESS. The latest Drafthouse Recommends selection, TRIANGLE OF SADNESS is an outrageously funny and audacious social satire, with a second act that could have been engineered in a lab specifically to delight Fantastic Fest audiences. It’s a joyful romp that’ll serve as a fitting capper to the fest, and the perfect segue to closing night festivities. 

Other major studio films include two Searchlight films perfectly tuned to the Fantastic Fest palate – the U.S. Premiere of THE MENU, a sharp satire about a destination-dining experience with unexpected surprises, and the U.S. Premiere of director Martin McDonagh’s THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN, chronicling the dissolution of a friendship that escalates with shocking consequences. 

A24 brings us the North American premiere of MEDUSA DELUXE, a murder mystery set in the world of competitive hairdressing, MGM and Distributor United Artist Releasing’s BONES AND ALL, from director Luca Guadagnino and starring Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, André Holland, Chloë Sevigny, David Gordon-Green, Jessica Harper, Jake Horowitz and Mark Rylance, and the U.S. premiere of Miramax’s SICK, the latest slasher from John Hyams.  

Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet in “Bones and All” (Photo courtesy of United Artists Releasing)

Other World Premieres include:

  • Noah Segan’s directorial debut, BLOOD RELATIVES, a father-daughter vampire comedy.
  • Dark Side of the Ring co-creator Jason Eisener’s KIDS VS. ALIENS, which sees a group of friends face off against evil space invaders.
  • An anthology horror film featuring many Fantastic Fest alumni, SATANIC HISPANICS, from Epic Pictures. 

“Fantastic Fest has always been the purest expression of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s founding principle: share the joy of cinema with people you love,” says Fantastic Fest founder Tim League. “I am beyond proud of the team for forging one of, if not the all-time best, Fantastic Fest experiences ever. This is my favorite week of the year, and I cannot wait to share it with all of you.”

The Parties

For the first time since 2019, Fantastic Fest’s legendary parties and events are back.

  • A special performance in The Highball from the experiential sonic sorcerers Itchy-O while they’re in Austin for a show at the Far Out Lounge.
  • Hailing all the way from Vienna, Roboexotica makes its Texas-debut at the Fantastic Fest opening night party, bringing their famous cocktail-concocting robots to astonish and amuse.
  • Podcast recordings and live events on The Highball stage with Leonard Maltin, Scripts Gone Wild, The Kingcast and Screen Drafts.
  • Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher of The Found Footage Festival fame will perform a live show after their documentary CHOP & STEELE. 
  • And finally, Fantastic Fest essentials like 100 Best Kills, the Fantastic Feud and the Fantastic Debates will return at this year’s festival.

[email protected]

For the second year in a row, Fantastic Fest will be a hybrid festival that offers in-person and virtual screenings. The Burnt Ends lineup will headline the online festival, with programming that seeks to champion eccentric and obscure indie cinema. Two in-person screenings will introduce audiences at South Lamar to the new series: THE PEOPLE’S JOKER and ALL JACKED UP AND FULL OF WORMS, both with filmmakers in attendance. The rest of this virtual lineup will be announced at a later date, featuring a selection of films from this year’s in person fest and will also include virtual exclusives such as a retrospective of cult DIY filmmakers Matt Farley and Charles Roxburgh’s MOTERN MEDIA movies.

Shark Attack & AGFA Takeover

This year’s sidebar is dedicated to the man-eater from the deep blue sea. Centered around the North American Premiere of FF alumni Ludovic and Zoran Boukherma’s YEAR OF THE SHARK, Fantastic Fest programmers dug deep to bring audiences the most entertaining shark movies from around the world. Many of them have never before screened in the USA and are now available thanks to our friends at AGFA. 

The shark sidebar features TINTORERA! (Mexico) — which will be shown on 35mm from a print coming directly from Quentin Tarantino’s vault — as well as AATANK (India), GAMERA VS ZIGRA (Japan), MAKO: THE JAWS OF DEATH (USA), and 12 DAYS OF TERROR (USA).

Speaking of AGFA, the American Genre Film Archive team has gone all out for this year’s festival, with the debut of the AGFA theater takeover. For two days of the fest, AGFA has free reign over their own theater, and will fill it with mind-melting films from morning to night, featuring premieres of new restorations the first day, and a whiplash-inducing celluloid mystery marathon with five features and ten fingers on the trigger the second day. 

Formed in 2009, the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to preserving the legacy of genre movies through collection, conservation, and distribution . From TERMINAL USA (a new restoration of Jon Moritsugu’s underground classic) to THE STAIRWAY TO STARDOM MIXTAPE (the definitive presentation of the most otherworldly public access TV show of all time), the AGFA team has brought out their best for the fest. 

Partnerships

Fantastic Fest is proud to join the WomanInFan initiative, launched by the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia. WomanInFan was born with the aim to celebrate and elevate the role of the female filmmakers within the fantasy genre. The initiative aims to provide historical visibility, support for new projects, and foster connections and opportunities for female filmmakers. 

Spanish and French Genre cinema are a big part of this year’s Fantastic Fest. With topics ranging from killer sharks, urban exploration gone wrong, space exploration, time travel, witchcraft, alien invasion to real life monsters and space rangers, it is clear that our cross-Atlantic neighbors were pretty busy during the pandemic. Fantastic Fest is thankful for the support of Acción Cultural Española and Unifrance, two cultural entities facilitating the travels of their national filmmakers.

We are thrilled to present 85 feature film titles and episodics, as well as a variety of short film selections to be announced at a later date — all showcasing World, North American, U.S. and Regional Premieres. See below for the full lineup of feature film programming at this year’s festival. 

Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy in “The Menu” (Photo by Eric Zachanowich/Searchlight Pictures)

 FESTIVAL FILM LINEUP BELOW:

12 DAYS OF TERROR

USA, 2004

Retrospective, 95 min

Director – Jack Sholder

In attendance – Director Jack Sholder

During the record-breaking summer heat of 1916, beachgoers on the Jersey shore are threatened by a shark that has developed a taste for human flesh.

AATANK

India, 1996

North American Premiere, 113 min

Directors – Prem Lalwani & Desh Mukherjee

A gangster’s hunt for black pearls sparks a series of vicious shark attacks. No diver, boat, or helicopter is safe in this B-grade Bollywood oddity.

ALL JACKED UP AND FULL OF WORMS (Burnt Ends Selection)

USA, 2022

Texas Premiere, 72 min

Director – Alex Phillips

In attendance – Director Alex Phillips

A psychedelic journey of self-discovery leads to romance when a man shares his addiction to psychotropic worms… and Chicago will never be the same.

AMAZING ELISA

Spain, 2022

World Premiere, 104 min

Director – Sadrac Gonzalez-Perellon

In attendance – Director Sadrac Gonzalez-Perellon

In the aftermath of a horrific accident, Elisa believes that she’s been given super powers and will stop at nothing to avenge her mother’s death.

THE ANTARES PARADOX

Spain, 2022

World Premiere, 96 min

Director – Luis Tinoco Pineda

In attendance – Director Luis Tinoco Pineda

An astrophysicist working for the SETI project risks her career and family to verify an extraterrestrial radio signal before her access is cut off.

ATTACHMENT

Denmark, 2022

Texas Premiere, 105 min

Director – Gabriel Bier Gislason

In attendance – Director Gabriel Bier Gislason

Maja and Leah’s relationship is off to a great start, but they face two perilous threats: the whims of a Jewish demon and Leah’s overbearing mother.

BAD CITY

Japan, 2022

North American Premiere, 118 min

Director – Kensuke Sonomura

A jailed cop is released to lead a crack unit against a corrupt businessman in this bone-crunching dust-up starring V-cinema legend Hitoshi Ozawa.

THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN

UK/Ireland, USA, 2022

US Premiere, 114 min

Director – Martin McDonagh

In attendance – Director Martin McDonagh

Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.

BIRDEMIC 3: SEA EAGLE

USA, 2022

World Premiere, 83 min

Director – James Nguyen

In attendance – Director James Nguyen

The birds are back, and global warming has them roiled! James Nguyen returns with the director’s cut of his thrilling, romantic, and worthy sequel.

BLOOD FLOWER

Malaysia, 2022

World Premiere, 102 min

Director – Dain Said

A psychic teenage boy battles a bloodthirsty, malevolent spirit in this gory Malaysian horror from BUNOHAN’s Dain Said.

BLOOD RELATIVES

USA, 2022

World Premiere, 88 min

Director – Noah Segan

In attendance – Director Noah Segan

A nomadic recluse living on the fringes of society reconsiders his bloodthirsty legacy when a teenage girl shows up claiming to be his daughter.

BONES AND ALL

USA, 2022

Texas Premiere, 129 min

Director – Luca Guadagnino

In attendance – Director Luca Guadagnino

A story of first love between Maren, a young woman learning how to survive on the margins of society, and Lee, an intense and disenfranchised drifter; a liberating road odyssey of two young people coming into their own, searching for identity and chasing beauty in a perilous world that cannot abide who they are.

CHOP & STEELE

USA, 2022

Austin Premiere, 81 min

Directors – Ben Steinbauer & Berndt Mader

In attendance – Directors Ben Steinbauer & Berndt Mader, Actors Joe Pickett & Nick Prueher

After pranking unsuspecting morning show hosts, the brains behind the beloved Found Footage Festival earn the ire of a major media conglomerate. 

COUNTRY GOLD

USA, 2022

US Premiere, 84 min

Director – Mickey Reece

In attendance – Director Mickey Reece

Rising star Troyal Brux spends an evening with his idol George Jones, unaware that the country music legend has a rather cold deadline the following morning.

DECISION TO LEAVE

South Korea, 2022

US Premiere, 138 min

Director – Park Chan-wook

In attendance – Director Park Chan-wook

Laced with wicked humor, master filmmaker Park Chan-wook’s dazzlingly cinematic romantic thriller surprises and delights to the very last.

DEEP FEAR

France, 2022

North American Premiere, 80 min

Director – Grégory Beghin

Three friends are caught between a skinhead gang and an otherworldly enemy after discovering a forgotten secret in the depths of the Paris Catacombs.

DEMIGOD: THE LEGEND BEGINS

Taiwan, 2022

US Premiere, 103 min

Director – Chris Huang Wen Chang

Martial arts, magic, and marionettes collide in a dazzling kaleidoscope of blood-spattered puppetry in this one-of-a-kind wuxia spectacular.

DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY

Mexico, 2022 

World Premiere, TBD min

Director – Luis Javier Henaine

After sneaking onto a crime scene to snap pictures of a corpse, an ambitious photographer stumbles into a curse that takes away his senses one by one.

THE ELDERLY

Spain, 2022 

US Premiere, 95 min

Directors – Raul Cerezo & Fernando Gonzalez Gomez

An octogenarian starts behaving weirdly in the wake of his wife’s sudden suicide as he prepares for events leading up to a mysterious apocalypse.

EVERYONE WILL BURN

Spain, 2021

North American Premiere, 120 min

Director – David Hebrero

In attendance – Director David Hebrero

A mysterious young girl interrupts María José’s suicide attempt, offering the power to take revenge on the villagers responsible for her son’s death.

EVIL EYE

Mexico, 2022

World Premiere, 100 min

Director – Isaac Ezban

In attendance – Director Isaac Ezban, Actor Paola Miguel

Left in the care of their eccentric grandmother, Nala discovers that the tough old lady has sinister plans for her chronically ill sister, Luna.

FAMILY DINNER

Austria, 2022

Texas Premiere, 96 min

Director – Peter Hengl

In attendance – Director Peter Hengl

An insecure teenager begs her nutritionist aunt for help shedding weight over the Easter holiday, unaware of how extreme the diet plan will become.

FINAL CUT

France, 2022

US Premiere, 111 min

Director – Michel Hazanavicius

Oscar-winning French director Michel Hazanavicius’ meta-remake of the Japanese cult movie ONE CUT OF THE DEAD manages a little tour de force.

THE FIVE DEVILS

France, 2022

North American Premiere, 103 min

Director – Léa Mysius

A young girl’s ability to smell and reproduce any scent transports her into her family’s troubled past in this gorgeous, magical realist drama.

FLESHEATER (Presented by AGFA)

USA, 1988

Texas Premiere of 4K Restoration, 89 min

Director – Bill Hinzman

The “spiritual sequel” to George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, newly restored in 4K from the original 16mm camera negative by Vinegar Syndrome.

FLOWING

Italy, Belgium, 2022

World Premiere, 93 min

Director – Paolo Strippoli

In attendance – Director Paolo Strippoli

A broken family violently confronts their tragic past as the Roman sewers exhale a hallucinatory toxin that revives repressed memories and fears.

GAMERA VS. ZIGRA

Japan, 1971

North American Premiere, 87 min

Director – Noriaki Yuasa

A classic case of mutated, talking murdershark vs. nuclear turtlebeast when Japanese cinema’s second-most iconic reptile takes on an oceanic threat!

GARCIA!

Spain, 2022

World Premiere of 1st 2 Episodes, 114 min

Director – Eugenio Mira

In attendance – Director Eugenio Mira

On the hunt for a scoop that could secure her a job, a journalist intern inadvertently awakens a superhuman agent created by Franco’s regime.

GIVE ME PITY!

USA, 2022

US Premiere, 80 min

Director – Amanda Kramer

Sissy St. Clair’s debut television special, a variety show evening of music and laughter, quickly curdles into a psychedelic nightmare.

H4Z4RD

Belgium, 2022

North American Premiere, 86 min

Director – Jonas Govaerts

When Noah Hazard volunteers to drive his beloved gold Lexus to help his jailbird cousin pick up a friend from prison, he doesn’t expect to be drawn into a murderous drug war.

HOLY SPIDER

Denmark, 2022

Texas Premiere, 115 min

Director – Ali Abassi

A female journalist descends into an Iranian city’s underbelly to investigate a serial killer stalking sex workers to cleanse the streets of sinners.

HUESERA

Mexico, Peru, 2022

Texas Premiere, 97 min

Director – Michelle Garza Cervera

In attendance – Director Michelle Garza Cervera

An expectant young mother confronts her past demons in Michelle Garza Cervera’s creepy mash-up between a folk ghost story and an anxiety attack.

HUNT

South Korea, 2022

Texas Premiere, 125 min

Director – LEE Jung-jae

Rival KCIA agents hunt for an elusive North Korean spy in this ‘80s espionage thriller, the explosive directorial debut from SQUID GAME’s Lee Jung-jae.

JOINT SECURITY AREA (Presented by AGFA)

South Korea, 2000

US Premiere of Restoration, 110 min

Director – Park Chan-wook

Arrow Film’s new restoration of Park Chan-wook’s explosive exploration of the madness of war set in the DMZ between North and South Korea.

KIDS VS. ALIENS

USA, 2022

World Premiere, 75 min

Director – Jason Eisener

In attendance – Director Jason Eisener

Jason Eisener’s long-awaited follow-up to Canuxploitation classic HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN pits a group of moviemaking pals against sinister alien invaders.

KING ON SCREEN

France, USA, 2022

World Premiere, 105 min

Director – Daphné Baiwir

In attendance – Director Daphné Baiwir

A documentary exploration of the many screen adaptations of the work of Stephen King, with commentary from the filmmakers he’s influenced the most.

LA PIETÀ

Spain, Argentina, 2022

US Premiere, 84 min

Director – Eduardo Casanova

In attendance – Director Eduardo Casanova

A terminal cancer diagnosis upends a claustrophobic mother-son relationship in Spain’s auteur of weirdness, Eduardo Casanova’s sophomore film.

THE LEGACY OF THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE

United Kingdom, 2022

World Premiere, 83 min

Director – Phillip Escott

In attendance – Director Phillip Escott

Fest alumnus Phillip Escott presents a journey into THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, exploring the elements that garnered the film its cult status.

LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE

Philippines, 2022

Texas Premiere, 99 min

Director – Martika Ramirez Escobar

In attendance – Director Martika Ramirez Escobar

A falling TV hits Leonor on the head, and she ends up in the action movie she’s writing, but there’s just one problem: she hasn’t finished the script.

A LIFE ON THE FARM

United Kingdom, USA, 2022

Texas Premiere, 75 min

Director – Oscar Harding

In attendance – Director Oscar Harding, Executive Producers Joe Pickett & Nick Prueher

An often-macabre deep-dive into the inspiring legacy of the long-lost home movies of a filmmaking farmer’s life in rural Somerset, England. 

LIVING WITH CHUCKY

USA, 2022

Texas Premiere, 102 min

Director – Kyra Gardner

In attendance – Director Kyra Gardner

The daughter of one of Chucky’s puppeteers examines the family relationships that contributed to the success of the queer camp classic CHILD’S PLAY.

LYNCH / OZ

USA, 2022

Texas Premiere, 108 min

Director – Alexandre O. Philippe

Documentary filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe dissects director David Lynch’s lifelong obsession with THE WIZARD OF OZ.

MAKO: THE JAWS OF DEATH

USA, 1976

Texas Premiere, 86 min

Director – William Grefé

A rabidly anti-human Vietnam vet cranks his telepathic shark-bond to 11 in William Grefe’s lethally entertaining shipwreck of JAWS and CARRIE.

MANTICORE

Spain, 2022

US Premiere, 115 min

Director – Carlos Vermut

In attendance – Director Carlos Vermut

Spanish cult director Carlos Vermut returns to the festival with an unsettling, intimate portrait of a real-life monster tortured by a grim secret.

MEDUSA DELUXE

United Kingdom, 2022

North American Premiere, 100 min

Director – Thomas Hardiman

In attendance – Director Thomas Hardiman

Tensions and hairspray run high when a stylist is murdered at an elite hairdressing competition where a passion for extravagance borders on obsession.

THE MENU

USA, 2022

US Premiere, 107 min

Director – Mark Mylod

In attendance – Director Mark Mylod

A couple (Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) travels to a coastal island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef (Ralph Fiennes) has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.

MISSING

Japan, 2021

US Premiere, 124 min

Director – Shinzô Katayama

A distraught daughter searches for her widower father, after he disappears while trying to collect the reward for capturing an unknown serial killer.

MISTER ORGAN

New Zealand, 2022

World Premiere, 96 min

Director – David Farrier

In attendance – Director David Farrier

Following reports of fraudulent car clamping in Auckland, journalist and filmmaker David Farrier opens an investigation that pushes him to the limits of his sanity in this incredible true story of psychological warfare.

THE NIGHTMARE

Norway, 2022

World Premiere, 99 min

Director – Kjersti Helen Rasmussen

Mona’s domestic bliss with her devoted boyfriend unravels as her night terrors intensify, but attempts at lucid dreaming reveal something sinister.

NIGHTSIREN

Slovakia, Czech Republic, 2022

US Premiere, 109 min

Director – Tereza Nvotová

Šarlota returns home decades after losing her sister in an accident, only to be faced by the brutal village patriarchy and accusations of witchcraft.

NOTHING

Denmark, Germany, 2022

International Premiere, 88 min

Directors – Trine Piil & Seamus McNally

In attendance – Directors Trine Piil & Seamus McNally

A group of teenage classmates face an existential crisis, pushing them into darker and darker territory as they confront the meaninglessness of life.

THE OFFERING

USA, 2022

US Premiere, 93 min

Director – Oliver Park

In attendance – Director Oliver Park

A desperate man defends his unborn child from an ancient demon brought into their family-owned, Hasidic funeral home inside a mysterious corpse.

OINK

The Netherlands, 2022

Texas Premiere, 70 min

Director – Mascha Halberstad

A young girl suspects that her estranged butcher grandfather has sinister plans for the adorable piglet he has given her as a birthday gift.

ONE AND FOUR

China, 2021

Texas Premiere, 88 min

Director – Jigme Trinley

A Tibetan forest ranger must deduce who among the three visitors seeking refuge in his cabin from a coming blizzard are poachers and who are cops.

THE PEOPLE’S JOKER (Burnt Ends Selection)

USA, 2022

US Premiere, 92 min

Director – Vera Drew

In attendance – Director Vera Drew

The Joker finds new purpose in Gotham City after transitioning and opening an illegal comedy club in Vera Drew’s handcrafted superhero genre parody.

PIGGY

Spain, 2022

Texas Premiere, 90 min

Director – Carlota Pereda

In attendance – Director Carlota Pereda

When a bullied girl’s tormentors are kidnapped, she faces the ultimate moral test: Does she help or allow them to suffer as payback?

PROJECT WOLF HUNTING

South Korea, 2022

US Premiere, 121 min

Director – KIM Hongsun

On the choppy seas between Manila and Busan, violent convicts run amok on a hellish cargo ship in this blood-soaked slice of maritime carnage.

SATANIC HISPANICS

USA, Mexico, Argentina, 2022

World Premiere, 105 min

Directors – Mike Mendez, Demian Rugna, Eduardo Sanchez, Gigi Saul Guerrero & Alejandro Brugues

In attendance – Directors Mike Mendez, Demian Rugna, Eduardo Sanchez, Gigi Saul Guerrero & Alejandro Brugues

Five crazy and original shorts from five entertaining Hispanic directors, together in an anthology that will make you laugh and jump in fright.

SHIN ULTRAMAN

Japan, 2022

Texas Premiere, 113 min

Director – Shinji Higuchi

Ultraman descends from space after Japan suffers a devastating series of kaiju attacks in this homage to the classic, genre-defining TV series.

SICK

USA, 2022

US Premiere, 82 min

Director – John Hyams

As the pandemic steadily brings the world to a halt, Parker and her best friend Miri decide to quarantine at the family lake house alone – or so they think. Directed by John Hyams (ALONE), written by Kevin Williamson (SCREAM, I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER) and Katelyn Crabb (SICK) and starring Gideon Adlon (BLOCKERS, THE CRAFT: LEGACY), Bethlehem Million (AND JUST LIKE THAT), Marc Menchaca (THE OUTSIDER, OZARK), and Jane Adams (TWIN PEAKS, POLTERGEIST, HACKS).

SICK OF MYSELF

Norway, Sweden, 2022

US Premiere, 95 min

Director – Kristoffer Borgli

Fueled by a need for attention, Signe plays a perverse game of one-upmanship with her boyfriend, popping a drug that causes a painful skin condition.

SMILE

USA, 2022

World Premiere, 116 min

Director – Parker Finn

In attendance – Director Parker Finn

After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can’t explain. As an overwhelming terror begins taking over her life, Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.

SMOKING CAUSES COUGHING

France, 2022

Texas Premiere, 80 min

Director – Quentin Dupieux

Five anti-smoking avengers are forced to take a mandatory team-building retreat in Quentin Dupieux’s absurdist take on the superhero genre.

SOLOMON KING

USA, 1974

World Premiere of 4K Restoration, 85 min

Directors – Jack Bomay & Sal Watts

Think twice before you mess with Solomon King! Deaf Crocodile’s meticulous restoration of Sal Watts’ ‘70s cult classic will soon be your new favorite.

SOMETHING IN THE DIRT

USA, 2022

Texas Premiere, 115 min

Directors – Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

In attendance – Directors Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

A pair of Los Angeles misfits’ investigation into the city’s occult history sends them down a rabbit hole that threatens their friendship and sanity.

SPOONFUL OF SUGAR

USA, 2022

World Premiere, 94 min

Director – Mercedes Bryce Morgan

Desperate for connection, Millicent enmeshes herself in the lives of a dysfunctional family as her disturbing, LSD-fueled hallucinations grow violent.

THE STAIRWAY TO STARDOM MIXTAPE (Presented by AGFA)

USA, 2022

World Premiere, 70 min

Director – AFGA

Culled from more than 15 hours of footage, the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) presents the definitive cut of public access TV’s most otherworldly show.

THE STRANGE CASE OF JACKY CAILLOU

France, 2022

North American Premiere, 92 min

Director – Lucas Delangle

Jacky has his grandmother’s gift of healing, but when a woman turns up on his doorstep with an unusual problem, he must decide how far he’ll go for love.

SWALLOWED

USA, 2022

Texas Premiere, 94 min

Director – Carter Smith

In attendance – Director Carter Smith and Actor Mark Patton

Forced to mule drugs on their crossing of the southern US border, two friends realize that the packages they ingested seem to be alive.

TERMINAL USA (Presented by AGFA)

USA, 1993

World Theatrical Premiere of 4K Restoration, 60 min

Director – Jon Moritsugu

Jon Moritsugu’s genre-melting underground classic, newly restored from the original camera negative by the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA).

TERRIFIER 2

USA, 2022

North American Premiere, 137 min

Director – Damien Leone

Resurrected by occult forces, Art the Clown returns to wreak bloody havoc on the residents of Miles County, targeting a frazzled mother and her kids.

TINTORERA!

Mexico, United Kingdom, 1977

Repertory 35mm Screening, 85 min

Director – René Cardona Jr.

A tiger shark disrupts two best friends’ blissful plans to enjoy life in the Caribbean in this Mexican sharksploitation classic from 1977.

TRIANGLE OF SADNESS

Sweden, 2022

US Premiere, 149 min

Director – Ruben Östlund

In Ruben Östlund’s wickedly funny Palme d’Or winner, social hierarchy is turned upside down, revealing the tawdry relationship between power and beauty. Celebrity model couple, Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean), are invited on a luxury cruise for the uber-rich, helmed by an unhinged boat captain (Woody Harrelson). What first appeared instagrammable ends catastrophically, leaving the survivors stranded on a desert island and fighting for survival.

TROPIC

France, 2022

North American Premiere, 110 min

Director – Edouard Salier

In attendance – Director Edouard Salier

An extraterrestrial substance cripples an aspiring young astronaut, forcing his twin brother out of his shadow to continue his training alone.

ULTRAMAN (4K EDITION)

Japan, 1966

Texas Premiere of 2022 4K EDITION, 101 min

Directors – Samaji Nonagase, Hajime Tsuburaya & Akio Jissoji

Four episodes from the brand new 4k restoration of the original Ultraman television series. 

UNICORN WARS

Spain, France, 2022

US Premiere, 92 min

Director – Alberto Vázquez

After a bloody defeat in their apocalyptic war against the Unicorns, the Teddy Bear army launches a desperate attack in the heart of the magic forest.

UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS

USA, 2022

Texas Premiere, 100 min

Director – Juan Felipe Zuleta

In attendance – Director Juan Felipe Zuleta

An internet sex worker convinces her reclusive neighbor to road-trip across North America for a rendezvous with visitors from a distant galaxy.

V/H/S/99

USA, 2022

US Premiere, 99 min

Directors – Johannes Roberts, Maggie Levin, Flying Lotus, Tyler MacIntyre, Vanessa Winter & Joseph Winter

In attendance – Directors Maggie Levin & Tyler MacIntyre

The found footage anthology’s latest scare package rewinds the tape back to 1999 with bloody tales set against the end of the millennium.

VENUS

Spain, 2022

US Premiere, 100 min

Director – Jaume Balagueró

In attendance – Director Jaume Balagueró

Injured in an attempt to steal from her boss, Lucía hides with her sister, unaware that something’s very wrong with the rundown building’s residents.

VESPER

Belgium, France, Lithuania, 2022

US Premiere, 112 min

Directors – Kristina Buožytė & Bruno Samper

In attendance – Directors Kristina Buožytė & Bruno Samper

In a post-apocalyptic world, a peasant girl’s encounter with an oligarch’s lost daughter leads to a discovery that could reverse ecological collapse.

VIDEO DIARY OF A LOST GIRL (Presented by AGFA)

USA, 2012

World Premiere, 96 min

Director – Lindsay Denniberg

The American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) presents a new preservation of DIY filmmaker Lindsay Denniberg’s hypercolored, VHS-inspired horror valentine.

THE VISITOR FROM THE FUTURE

France, 2022

North American Premiere, 102 min

Director – François Descraques

A snarky time traveler from the year 2555 arrives to save the world from ecological disaster by attempting to assassinate a climate activist’s father.

WE MIGHT AS WELL BE DEAD

Germany, Romania, 2022

Texas Premiere, 93 min

Director – Natalia Sinelnikova

When a dog disappears from a secluded high-rise building, fear spreads among the residents, threatening to turn their utopia into Absurdistan.

A WOUNDED FAWN

USA, 2022

Texas Premiere, 91 min

Director – Travis Stevens

In attendance – Director Travis Stevens, Actors Sarah Lind & Josh Ruben

Bruce is erudite, handsome, and charming… but he’s also a psychotic serial killer urged to violence by the gigantic red owl that lives in his head.

YEAR OF THE SHARK

France, 2022

North American Premiere, 84 min

Directors – Ludovic Boukherma & Zoran Boukherma

A maritime police sergeant-major spends her last days before retirement in the relentless pursuit of the shark terrorizing her small beach town.

ATTEND:

CULT MEMBER, FAN, and 2ND HALF Badges for Fantastic Fest 2022 are available for purchase here[email protected] Badges are also available and provide access to the fest’s virtual event which takes place from 9/29 – 10/4, geolocked to the US. 

Movie lovers in all Alamo Drafthouse theaters can get a taste of Fantastic Fest via a special limited-time menu. Fantastic Fest themed food and drinks will be available across all 37 Alamo Drafthouse theaters nationwide from September 22nd – September 29th. 

As the world continues to spin on in this new normal, we want to assure you that your safety is still top of mind. Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar’s enhanced sanitization practices will remain active so that we can continue to provide the safest theater experience possible. Masks are optional, but we do still recommend wearing them when not eating or drinking. Forgot your mask? We’re happy to provide one.

For the latest developments, visit the Fantastic Fest official site www.fantasticfest.com and follow us on  Facebook & Twitter.

We are now accepting press credential applications for Fantastic Fest 2022. To apply, please fill out this  form. The deadline to apply for press credentials is Friday, September 9, 2022. Please note all applications are subject to approval.

For Fantastic Fest & Alamo Drafthouse Media Inquiries:

CONTACT:  Brandy Fons / Brad Johnson

PHONE:    (310) 809-8882 / (972) 898-7528

E-MAIL:     [email protected] / [email protected] 

About Fantastic Fest

Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and just plain fantastic movies from all around the world. In years past, the festival has been home to the world and US premieres of PARASITE, JOJO RABBIT, THE BLACK PHONE, JOHN WICK, FRANKENWEENIE, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, APOCALYPTO, ZOMBIELAND, RED, SPLIT, HALLOWEEN, BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE, MID 90s, and SUSPIRIA while the guest roster has included such talent as Tim Burton, Nicolas Winding-Refn, Lilly and Lana Wachowski, Bong Joon-Ho, Taika Waititi, Robert Rodriguez, Rian Johnson, Bill Murray, Keanu Reeves, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder, Edward Norton, Ryan Reynolds, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Karl Urban, Josh Hartnett, The RZA, Dolph Lundgren, Paul Rudd, Bill Pullman, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kevin Smith, Jon Favreau, George Romero, Darren Aronofsky, Mike Judge, Karyn Kusama, M. Night Shyamalan, James McAvoy, Vince Vaughn, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jonah Hill, Barbara Crampton and Jessica Harper. Fantastic Fest also features world, national, and regional premieres of new, up-and-coming genre films. Fantastic Fest has seen the acquisition of many titles, including BULLHEAD, KILL LIST, MONSTERS, KLOWN, THE FP, PENUMBRA, HERE COMES THE DEVIL, NO REST FOR THE WICKED, VANISHING WAVES, COMBAT GIRLS, I DECLARE WAR, THE PERFECTION, and TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID Fantastic Fest is held each year at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas. Alamo Drafthouse has been named the best theater in the country by Entertainment WeeklyWired, and TIME.

Our Partners

Presenting Sponsors for Fantastic Fest as of now include Austin-born Milton Sleep Co. who will be providing some of their unique bed-in-a-box comfort throughout the week; and Wicked Kitchen, a 100% plant-based global food brand created by chefs and brothers Derek and Chad Sarno, who are on a mission to improve the lives of humans and animals globally by inspiring the world to eat more plants. 

This year, Fantastic Fest has teamed with Legion M to release “Film Scout”, an app that puts fest-goers and fans around the world in the role of Hollywood executives to “scout,” rate, and rank their favorite films. Film Scouts compete against one another for honor and prizes, and the reviews provided by these fantastic film fans will be used by Legion M and their partners to evaluate movies for potential distribution deals.

To continue the effort toward creating a more accessible festival, the fest has again partnered with Rev to provide captions for the English language films playing virtually through [email protected]

About Alamo Drafthouse

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, celebrating its 25th anniversary, was founded in 1997 as a single-screen mom and pop repertory theater in Austin, TX. Twenty-five years later, with 36 locations and counting, Alamo Drafthouse has been called “the best theater in America” by Entertainment Weekly and “the best theater in the world” by Wired. Alamo Drafthouse has built a reputation as a movie lover’s oasis not only by combining best-in-class food and drink service with the movie-going experience, but also introducing unique programming and high-profile, star-studded special events. Alamo Drafthouse created Fantastic Fest, a world-renowned genre film festival dubbed “The Geek Telluride” by Variety featuring independents, international filmmakers, and major Hollywood studios. Alamo Drafthouse continues to expand its brand in new and exciting ways, including the American Genre Film Archive, a non-profit film archive dedicated to preserving, restoring and sharing film, and with eight new theaters announced for this year and beyond.

Review: ‘The Black Phone,’ starring Ethan Hawke

June 16, 2022

by Carla Hay

Ethan Hawke and Mason Thames in “The Black Phone” (Photo by Fred Norris/Universal Pictures)

“The Black Phone”

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Culture Representation: Taking place mostly in Denver in 1978, the horror film “The Black Phone” features a cast of predominantly white characters (with a few African Americans, Latinos and Asians) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A 13-year-boy, who gets kidnapped by a serial killer, is kept in the killer’s basement, where the boy gets phone calls from the ghosts of the other teenage boys who were murdered by the killer. 

Culture Audience: “The Black Phone” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of star Ethan Hawke and anyone looking for a tension-filled horror movie that isn’t a remake or a sequel.

Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw in “The Black Phone” (Photo by Fred Norris/Universal Pictures)

Creepy and suspenseful, the horror movie “The Black Phone” has the ghosts of murdered children as story catalysts, but the movie’s equally harrowing moments are in depicting realistic child abuse that can come from a stranger, a family member or a schoolmate. “The Black Phone” does everything a horror flick is supposed to do: keep audiences on edge, have well-acted memorable characters, and deliver plenty of moments that are genuinely terrifying.

Directed by Scott Derrickson, “The Black Phone” reunites Derrickson with several key players involved in the making of Derrickson’s 2012 sleeper hit horror film “Sinister,” including co-screenwriter C. Robert Cargill, producer Jason Blum and actors Ethan Hawke and James Ransone. Just like in “Sinister,” Hawke has the starring role, while Ransone has a pivotal supporting role in “The Black Phone.” Both movies are from Blumhouse Productions, the company owned by Blum, whose specialty is mainly horror. Both movies are effective horror films, but “Sinister” was a haunted house story based entirely on supernatural occurrences, while “The Black Phone” taps into the real-life horror of child kidnapping and murders with some supernatural elements as part of the story.

“Sinister” had an original screenplay by Derrickson and Cargill. The screenwriting duo adapted “The Black Phone” from a short story of the same title in author Joe Hill’s 2005 collection “20th Century Ghosts.” (Hill is the son of horror master Stephen King.) In the production notes for “The Black Phone,” Derrickson says many aspects of the movie (including the scenes of the movie’s protagonist being bullied at school) were directly inspired by his childhood growing up in Denver in the 1970s. “The Black Phone” takes place in Denver in 1978.

The movie opens with a seemingly idyllic scene of teenage boys playing a casual game of baseball. Two of the players in the game are 13-year-old Finney Blake (played by Mason Thames) and Bruce Yamada (played by Tristan Pravong), who are both classmates in the same school. (Some movie descriptions list Finney’s last name as Shaw, but his surname in the movie is definitely Blake.) After the game, Bruce is kidnapped by someone driving a mysterious black van.

Bruce’s abduction is the latest in a series of incidents in the northern Denver area, where other teenage boys have gone missing and are widely believed to be kidnapped. Bruce is the fourth boy to have disappeared. The other three missing kids are Griffin Stagg (played by Banks Repeta, also known as Michael Banks Repeta), the neighborhood paper boy Billy Showalter (played by Jacob Moran) and an angry troublemaker named Vance Hopper (played by Brady Hepner). The police who are investigating have very little information to go on, since most of the disappearances had no known witnesses. All of the boys are believed to be have been kidnapped while they were outside on the streets.

While people in the area are feeling that children are unsafe on the streets, Finney (who sometimes goes by the name Finn) and his 11-year-old sister Gwendolyn “Gwen” Blake (played by Madeleine McGraw) fear for their safety inside their own home. That’s because their widower father Terrence Blake (played by Jeremy Davies) is a violent alcoholic. Terrence is especially brutal to Gwen, because she has psychic abilities that he wants her to deny. Gwen’s psychic visions usually come to her in dreams.

Based on conversations in the movie, viewers find out that Gwen inherited these psychic abilities from her mother, who committed suicide. Terrence blames the suicide on these psychic abilities because the kids’ mother (who doesn’t have a name in the movie) claimed that she heard voices. Terrence says that these voices eventually told her to kill herself. The movie doesn’t go into details about when Terrence became an alcoholic, but it’s implied he’s been on a downward spiral since his wife’s suicide.

After Bruce disappears, somehow the police find out that Gwen told people about a dream she had that Bruce was abducted by a man driving a black van and carrying black balloons. Because two black balloons were found at the place where Bruce was last seen alive (the police did not make the black balloon information available to the public), investigators from the Denver Police Department—Detective Wright (played by E. Roger Mitchell) and Detective Wright (played by Troy Rudeseal)—interview Gwen at school and at her home. She is defiant and defensive over the cops’ suspicions that she knows more than she telling.

Gwen starts cursing at the cops and swears she has nothing to do with the disappearances of Brandon and the other missing boys. When asked to explain how she knew about the black balloons, all Gwen will say is, “Sometimes my dreams are right.” Terrence is present during this interview. He’s nervous and apprehensive that the cops are in his home. He’s also angry that Gwen is being disrespectful to the cops.

After the police detectives leave, it leads to a heart-wrenching scene where a drunk Terrence viciously beats Gwen with a belt and demands that she repeat, “My dreams are just dreams.” Sensitive viewers, be warned: This is a hard scene to watch, and it might be triggering for people who’ve experienced this type of violence. During this beating, Finney just stands by helplessly and watches, but later in the movie, he expresses guilt and remorse about not stopping his father from assaulting Gwen. As abused children, Finney and Gwen often rely on each other for emotional support.

Finney is introverted and doesn’t have any close friends at school. However, things start looking up for him a little bit in his biology class when the students have to do dissections of frogs and are required to have a lab partner. No one wants to be Finney’s lab partner except a girl named Donna (played by Rebecca Clarke), who is a fairly new student. Donna indicates that she likes Finney and probably has been noticing him for a while. His bashful reaction shows that the attraction is mutual.

Finney experiences physical violence at school, where he is targeted by three bullies. One day, in the men’s restroom at school, these three bullies corner Finney and are about to assault him. However, a tough teenager named Robin Arreland (played by Miguel Cazarez Mora), who’s also a student at the school, intervenes and scares off the bullies because Robin is known to be a brutal fighter. Robin advises Finney to be better at standing up for himself.

Eventually, Robin and Finney get to know each other too. They don’t become best friends, but they become friendly acquaintances. This budding friendship is interrupted when Robin disappears, not long after Bruce has gone missing. The cops visit the Blake home again, but Gwen has nothing further to add, mainly because she terrified about divulging to the cops what she has dreamed.

It isn’t long before Finney is kidnapped too. This isn’t spoiler information, since it’s shown in the trailers for “The Black Phone.” His kidnapper is nicknamed The Grabber (played by Hawke), and he approaches Finney on a late afternoon when Finney is walking down a residential street by himself. The Grabber (who has long hair and is wearing white clown makeup, sunglasses and a top hat) is driving a black van with the logo of a company named Abracadabra Entertainment and Supplies.

When The Grabber sees Finney, he pretends to stumble out of the van and spill a bag of groceries. Finney offers to help him pick up the groceries. The Grabber tells the teen that he’s a part-time magician and asks Finney if he wants to see a magic trick.

Finney agrees somewhat apprehensively, and his nervousness grows when he notices that there are black balloons in the van. When Finney asks this stranger if he has black balloons in the van, the stranger kidnaps him. Finney has now become the sixth teenage boy to disappear in the same neighborhood.

Finney is kept in a dark and dingy house basement that has a mattress and a toilet. On the wall is a black phone that The Grabber says is disconnected. “It hasn’t worked since I was a kid,” The Grabber tells a terrified Finney.

The Grabber (who usually wears grinning clown masks that look similar to DC Comics’ The Joker character) tells Finney not to bother yelling for help, because the entire basement is soundproof. There’s only one door to and from the basement. It goes without saying that the door is locked from the outside. The Grabber also has a black pit bull as a guard dog.

There are several scenes in “The Black Phone” that show how The Grabber is a completely twisted creep. There’s a scene where Finney wakes up to find the masked Grabber staring at Finney because The Grabber says he just wanted to spend time looking at Finney. When Finney says he’s hungry and asks for food, The Grabber won’t feed him right away. There are other scenes where The Grabber uses intimidation and mind games to keep Finney under his control.

Even though The Grabber says that the black phone in the basement doesn’t work, shortly after Finney becomes imprisoned in the basement, the phone rings. The first time that Finney picks up the phone, he doesn’t hear anything. The next time the phone rings, he hears static and a voice of a boy who sounds far away. It’s the first indication that Finney has psychic abilities too.

It was already revealed in the trailers for “The Black Phone” that much of the movie is about Finney getting calls from the ghosts of the boys who were murdered by The Grabber. The only real spoiler information for “The Black Phone” would be the answers to these questions: “Does Finney escape? If so, how?” “Does Gwen use her psychic abilities to help find Finney?” “What will ultimately happen to The Grabber?”

Another character who is part of the story is a man in his early 40s named Max (played by Ransone), who gets on the radar of police because Max has become obsessed with the cases of the missing boys. Max is a cocaine-snorting loner who thinks of himself as an amateur detective. His home is filled with newspaper clippings and other items related to the investigations about the missing boys.

Even though a lot of information about the “The Black Phone” plot is already revealed in the movie’s trailers, there’s still much about the movie that’s worth seeing. (Audiences also got a early showings of “The Black Phone” when it screened at film festivals, including the 2021 edition of Fantastic Fest, where “The Black Phone” had its world premiere.) The scenes where Finney communicates with the dead boys are absolutely haunting and often mournful. These scenes include some flashbacks to the boys’ lives before they were kidnapped.

Vance’s flashback scene is artfully filmed as a 1970s hazy memory, as are many of the flashback scenes. Sweet’s 1974 hit “Fox on the Run” is used to great effect in this scene, which takes place in a Shop-N-Go convenience store where Vance is playing pinball. Gwen’s dream sequences were filmed using Super 8 film, which was the standard film type for home movies in the 1970s.

The production design, costume design, hairstyling, makeup and cinematography in “The Black Phone” all give the movie an authentic-looking recreation of the 1970s. The movie’s soundtrack includes some well-chosen songs, including the Edgar Winter Group’s 1972 hit “Free Ride,” which is played in the movie’s happy-go-lucky baseball game scene that opens the movie. (Coincidentally, “Free Ride” and “Fox on the Run” were also prominently featured in writer/director Richard Linklater’s 1993 classic comedy “Dazed and Confused,” which is an ode to 1970s teens.)

“The Black Phone” also has pop culture mentions to movies of the era. Finney and Robin talk about the 1974 horror movie “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” which Finney says his strict father would never allow him to see because he’s underage. Robin says he has an uncle who takes Robin to movie theaters to watch rated R movies. They also enthusiastically discuss the 1973 Bruce Lee action film “Enter the Dragon,” which is “The Black Phone” filmmakers’ nod to how popular Lee was with teenage boys in that era. Later, Finney is seen watching the 1959 horror movie “The Tingler” on TV one night, which is a scene inspired by director Derrickson doing the same thing when he was a child.

“The Black Phone” also accurately depicts the limited resources that people had if children went missing in 1978, long before the Internet and smartphones existed. It was also before missing kids’ photos were put on milk cartons, inspired by the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who was kidnapped while walking by himself to school in New York City. It was also before the 1981 abduction and murder of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, who was taken from a shopping mall in Hollywood, Florida. As a result of this tragedy, Adam’s father John Walsh later founded the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The 1970s decade was also a prolific time for notorious serial killers, including Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, the Hillside Stranglers and the Son of Sam. According to the production notes for “The Black Phone,” The Grabber character was at least partially based on Gacy, who did part-time work as a party clown. Most of Gacy’s victims were teenage boys and young men whom he lured into his home by hiring them to do temporary housecare jobs. Gacy’s crimes had a sexual component that’s not included in “The Black Phone,” although there are hints that The Grabber could also be a child molester when it’s mentioned that The Grabber likes to play a game called Naughty Boy.

In his portrayal of The Grabber, Hawke gives a viscerally disturbing performance that will linger with viewers long after the movie ends. Thames makes an impressive feature-film debut as Finney, who goes through a wide range of emotions in the movie. McGraw is also a standout in her portrayal of feisty and sometimes foul-mouthed Gwen. “The Black Phone” has some comic relief in how Gwen is ambivalent about the Christianity that she has been taught. And although Robin’s screen time is brief, Mora is quite good in this portrayal of a character who makes an impact on Finney’s life.

Despite some predictable plot developments, “The Black Phone” is a better-than-average horror movie because it doesn’t forget that the story and characters should be more important than showing a lot of violence and gore. The movie does have violence and gore, but it’s not gratuitous. “The Black Phone” also makes a point of showing that abuse crimes don’t always come from strangers, but that abuse is often hiding in plain sight in schools and in families, where the abuse is committed by people who seem to be “upstanding citizens.” It’s this message that should resonate as a warning that a lot of horror in this movie continues to happen in real life.

Universal Pictures will release “The Black Phone” in U.S. cinemas on June 24, 2022.

2021 Fantastic Fest: programming slate announced

September 9, 2021

Agathe Rousselle in “Titane” (Photo by Carole Bethuel/Neon)

The following is a combination of press releases from Fantastic Fest:

Mechanophilia, possessed nuns, possessed children, hallucinations, ghostly hauntings, time travel, exorcism, cerebral expansion, heavy metal, friendship, yakuza, canine trauma, multiple serial killers, coprophagia, cannibalism, tender embraces, vampires, copious bodily fluids, superheroes, warm laughs, disco-dancing firemen and more, more, more!  Yes, this can only mean one thing: Fantastic Fest is back. After 18 months of isolation and uncertainty, this year’s “Post-Apocalyptic” edition of Fantastic Fest is here to remind us of the joy of cinema, community, and weird and wonderful movies.  The first wave of films is headlined by the truly extraordinary 2021 Palme D’Or winner “Titane” from “Parasite” distributor Neon. It might not have seemed possible to top her staggering debut “Raw” (Fantastic Fest 2016), but Julia Ducournau has somehow done just that. A poignant study on loneliness, isolation and gender identity wrapped in a constantly surprising world of body horror, muscle cars, violence, and disco-dancing firemen. Fantastic Fest is so proud to share this singular vision. Fantastic Fest 2021’s opening night party will be dedicated to the instantly iconic visuals of “Titane.” Muscle cars will be on hand, and metallic-themed or “French firefighter” costumes are highly encouraged. “Titane” opens in US cinemas on October 1. 

Mondo Records is also celebrating its 10 year anniversary at Fantastic Fest this year and will be on-hand with a very special “Titane” soundtrack giveaway ahead of the official Mondo vinyl release later this year. Additionally, on opening night there will also be a Mondo Records pop-up featuring rarities from the vault. Additional studio premieres include A24’s “Lamb,” winner of the Un Certain Regard Prize of Originality at Cannes (opening in theaters on October 8); “Bingo Hell,” part of the Amazon Studios and Blumhouse Television “Welcome to the Blumhouse” series; and Netflix’s “The Trip,” starring Noomi Rapace in a delightfully twisted Norwegian mind-bender.

“We’re thrilled at how the program is coming together,” says Fantastic Fest Director of Programming Annick Mahnert. “For this Post-Apocalyptic edition, we’ve scoured the four corners of the globe to find weird, silly, terrifying, entertaining and fantastic movies directed by established and emerging filmmakers. Opening this year’s fest with a Palme d’Or winner from a Fantastic Fest alum is a real treat.

As always, we also try to find unforgettable repertoire titles, and we couldn’t be happier about hosting the US Premiere of the new restoration of Andrzej Zulawski’s “Possession.” This first wave is but the tip of the iceberg and we cannot wait to unveil the rest of the program to y’all!” 

Sidebar Programming

“Master of the Flying Guillotine”

The first sidebar will launch Lars Nilsen and Kier-La Janisse’s epic tome “Warped and Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive. To celebrate the book, Nilsen and Janisse will present 35mm screenings of some of their all-time favorite exploitation classics, including “Snakes” and “The Visitor.” The second classic film sidebar comes courtesy of authors Grady Hendrix and Chris Poggiali, who will be in attendance to debut their new book “These Fists Break Bricks: How Kung Fu Movies Swept America and Changed The World.” Hendrix and Poggiali will premiere two of their favorite kung fu classics – Kino Lorber’s and the 3-D Film Archive’s brand new 3D DCP of “Dynasty 3D” as well as the rarely seen Jackie Chan-choreographed “Dance of Death.” They’ll also host a brand new event called “BingoDome” with the crown jewel of Bruceploitation films, 1977’s “The Dragon Lives Again.” As Bruce Lee inexplicably fights against Popeye, Clint Eastwood, James Bond, the Godfather and undead zombies in purgatory, participants mark matching squares on their bingo cards to win fabulous prizes, including signed copies of the new book! 

Also supporting the release, 36 Cinema is presenting “Master of the Flying Guillotine,” with live commentary by RZA, who provided the intro to “These Fists Break Bricks.” This event will be live-streamed for global audiences online to enjoy. 36 Cinema brings together film screening with live in-depth commentary with directors, actors, critics and fans. RZA will be joined by film programmer and historian Dan Halsted to dive deep into one of the greatest kung fu movies of all time. The Press Room will also be live-printing “Master of the Flying Guillotine” posters after the event. BingoDome is only the beginning of the movie-themed fun. Fantastic Fest will continue the time-honored tradition of daytime entertainment in The Highball including board game parties and podcast recordings.

As each day of movies comes to a close, The Highball really fires up its engines for eight days of raucous parties — live music, karaoke, 100 Best Kills, Fantastic Feud, Scripts Gone Wild, TriviaDome, Nerd Rap, feasts, games, disco-dancing firemen and more, more, more are all being crafted for your delight by the crack Fantastic Fest events team.  

“The Black Phone” (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Leading the studio titles in the announce is the World Premiere of “The Black Phone,” penned by Scott Derrickson (“Doctor Strange,” “Sininister” franchise) and Austin screenwriter C.

Robert Cargill (“Doctor Strange,” “Sininister” franchise), based on the short story by Joe Hill. Universal Pictures, Blumhouse and Crooked Highway’s much-buzzed-about horror film reunites director Derrickson and four-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke (“Sininister”) in one of the most terrifying Blumhouse films ever.

Additional studio titles include the U.S. Premieres of IFC’s “A Banquet,” a chilling psychological horror where a mother’s love for her daughter is pushed to the limits, and “The Innocents” (Cannes – Un Certain Regard 2021), a stunning Norwegian drama about children with supernatural powers that will shake you to the core. World Premieres include Netflix’s “There’s Someone Inside Your House,” a bloody and highly entertaining slasher from director Patrick Brice (“Creep”), and SYFY’s “Slumber Party Massacre.” a contemporary and fun reimagining of the 1982 slasher cult classic directed by Fantastic Fest alumna Danishka Esterhazy (“Level 16”).

Last but not least, Fantastic Fest is thrilled and excited to close the festivities with the U.S. Premiere of Camille Griffin’s pitch-black comedy “Silent Night,” starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and Roman Griffin Davis (“Jojo Rabbit”). In sync with this year’s festival theme, you’re invited to witness the strangest holiday celebration of the year, when a family gathers for a high-stakes Christmas dinner in Griffin’s directorial debut.

This final wave of Fantastic Fest films presents 37 feature film titles and 56 short film selections, showcasing world, US and regional premieres, and one pre-fest screening.

We are excited to offer a special pre-fest presentation on September 22 of Utopia’s brand new 35th anniversary restoration of RAD, with star Bill Allen in attendance. Arrive early and check out a radical pre-screening bike stunt outside the theater featuring the riders of Austin’s 512 Wheelie Crew along with some surprise guests, sponsored by Rambler Sparkling Water.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has partnered with GroundUp Music to present seven silent film classics reimagined by five different artists from the label. The festival will World Premiere the 1924 Soviet silent classic AELITA: QUEEN OF MARS with a new score by Snarky Puppy’s Chris Bullock. Four additional film pairings will play on Fantastic Fest @HOME: House of Waters with the three shorts MENILMONTANT (1926), LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE (1902), and BALLET MECANIQUE (1923); PRD Mais with WAXWORKS (1924); Sirintip with THE LOST WORLD (1925); and Bob Lanzetti with NOSFERATU (1922). All seven titles will then be available on Alamo On Demand. Select projects will be presented as live score events at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s soon-to-be-opened Manhattan theater later this year.

After a successful virtual event in 2020, the decision to go hybrid in 2021 was a no-brainer. Fantastic Fest @HOME will take place 9/30-10/11 on Alamo On Demand. Rev.com will be sponsoring our new accessibility initiative.

“The first step to creating access was offering a virtual option with an affordable badge price,” says Ahbra Perry, Head of Alamo On Demand. “With help from our friends at Rev.com we’re going to be able to provide Closed Captions for the films and shorts playing virtually that can’t provide their own. That is a big step in the right direction and hopefully just the beginning.”

Over 30 films from the current festival lineup will be available virtually, including “Alone With You,” :uzifer,” “After Blue,” and “Baby Assasssins.” Badge holders will have access to films for 48-hour windows. We are also excited to include a special curation of Fantastic Fest films from years past, many of them hard to find, that will be available for the full duration of the virtual festival, and a virtual closing night party hosted by Fantastic Fest @ Home sponsor Alter.

COVID Safety Protocols Update

While we strongly prefer proof of vaccination, by state order, the festival will now also accept a negative COVID test from a state-approved test provider taken within 24 hours of each day’s screenings. Festival staff will check for either vaccine cards or test results as attendees enter the theater for all Fantastic Fest screenings. Attendees with a vaccine card will be given a wristband to make this process more efficient for attending multiple screenings. Additionally, masks must be worn at all times indoors when not eating or drinking.

FILM LINEUP

“After Blue”

AFTER BLUE (DIRTY PARADISE)

France, 2021

US Premiere, 130 min

Director – Bertrand Mandico

On a mysterious new planet populated entirely by women, teenager Roxy and her mother undergo a fantastical journey in pursuit of a murderous criminal.

AGNES

USA, 2021

Texas Premiere, 93 min

Director – Mickey Reece

Fantastic Fest favorite Mickey Reece is back with his most ambitious production yet, the story of a headstrong young nun accused of possession and her best friend who’s left to grapple with the aftermath.


ALONE WITH YOU

USA, 2021

World Premiere, 83 min

Directors – Emily Bennett & Justin Brooks

As a young woman painstakingly prepares a romantic homecoming for her girlfriend, their apartment begins to feel more like a tomb when voices, shadows, and hallucinations reveal a truth she has been unwilling to face.

BARBARIANS

United Kingdom, 2021

World Premiere, 90 min

Director – Charles Dorfman

An alpha male social media influencer and his beta brother meet for an explosive dinner with their significant others – one where secrets are revealed, lives are ruined, and chaos reigns (fox included).

THE BETA TEST

USA, 2021

Texas Premiere, 93 min

Directors – Jim Cummings & PJ McCabe

Jim Cummings is back as co-director and star in this pitch black film biz satire. Cummings revels in the full spectrum of bad behavior, leaving you laughing and gasping in equal measure.

BEYOND THE INFINITE 2 MINUTES

Japan, 2021

North American Premiere, 70 min

Director – Junta Yamaguchi

Kato is a cafe owner in Kyoto who suddenly finds his bedroom computer screen linked to the one in his cafe, showing him exactly what’s going on downstairs – two minutes in the future. Things get really absurd when his friends find out and devise a way to go … BEYOND THE INFINITE 2 MINUTES.

BINGO HELL

USA, 2021

World Premiere, 85 min

Director – Gigi Saul Guerrero

The big, steel-toed boot of gentrification won’t stop one determined locally-grown advocate as a new building owner offers Bingo as a portal to financial prosperity – but the price is something far more sinister and much less liberating.

CANNON ARM AND THE ARCADE QUEST

Denmark, 2021

US Premiere, 97 min

Director – Mads Hedegaard

Kim Cannon Arm sets out to shatter records by playing Gyruss for 100 hours straight on a single coin and he can’t do it on his own in this funny and philosophical documentary about the importance of friends and community.

DANCE OF DEATH

Taiwan, Hong Kong, 1976

Repertory Screening, 90 min

Director – Chi-Hwa Chen

At the nexus point where Jackie Chan’s star began to rise and Angela Mao’s (ENTER THE DRAGON) was waning, they collaborated on this wild, rarely seen gem. Channeling Chan’s own acrobatic style, Mao avenges the defeat of her teachers using a powerful “dancing girl” kung fu style inspired by the gyrations of brothel attendants.

DEAD & BEAUTIFUL

The Netherlands, Taiwan, 2021

North American Premiere, 98 min

Director – David Verbeek

Five wealthy, fashionable friends wake up from a wild night in Taipei to find they’ve become vampires in David Verbeek’s aesthetically gorgeous thriller.

DYNASTY

Taiwan, Hong Kong, 1977

Repertory Screening, 92 min

Director – Chang Mei-chung

Now! DYNASTY! On the surface it looks like just another indie kung fu flick from Taiwan, but within minutes this crazy train has picked up a full head of steam and is on its way to a Never Never Land of wild weapons, mass mutilation, and major mayhem … all in 3-D!!!

THE EXORCISM OF GOD

USA, Mexico, Venezuela, 2021

World Premiere, 98 min

Director – Alejandro Hidalgo

When children in a small Mexican town start dying of demonic possession, the inhabitants seek the help of Father Peter Williams, a priest haunted by a past exorcism gone sinfully wrong. What follows is an epic battle between good and evil.

THE FOUND FOOTAGE PHENOMENON

United Kingdom, 2021

US Premiere, 102 min

Directors – Sarah Appleton & Phillip Escott

Whip out your phone cams and prepare to get immersive: Sarah Appleton and Phillip Escott’s THE FOUND FOOTAGE PHENOMENON is a documentary-shaped crash course on the wobbliest horror films out there.

HELLBENDER

USA, 2021

US Premiere, 82 min

Directors – Toby Poser, Zelda Adams & John Adams

Fantastic Fest favorite filmmaking family Toby Poser, John Adams, and Zelda Adams return with their newest creative endeavor HELLBENDER, a witchy, heavy metal coming-of-age thriller.

IKÉ BOYS

USA, 2021

World Premiere, 88 min

Director – Eric McEver

Two self-proclaimed geeks and a live-in Japanese foreign exchange student procure a long-lost anime classic that inadvertently turns them into superheroes … just in time for a Y2K-era Kaiju face-off!

KING CAR

Brazil, 2021

US Premiere, 97 min

Director – Renata Pinheiro

A young man’s ability to surreally “be one” with cars sparks a revolution that could save transport in his community. When his invention inadvertently accelerates the underlying problems, our hero’s quest must grow bigger than his own personal ambitions.

KNOCKING

Sweden, 2021

Texas Premiere, 78 min

Director – Frida Kempff

Molly seems to be the only one who hears strange knocking day and night in her apartment. But she won’t be deterred by unbelievers until she’s discovered the cause of the noises tormenting her.

LAMB

Iceland, Sweden, Poland, 2021

US Premiere, 107 minDirector – Valdimar Jóhannsson

On a remote farm in Iceland, a couple that experienced recent loss is caring for their flock of sheep. One day, one of their sheep gives birth to a very peculiar lamb that will change their lives forever.

LAST OF THE WOLVES

Japan, 2021

Texas Premiere, 139 min

Director – Kazuya Shiraishi

A hard-won truce between rival yakuza gangs threatens to erupt into bloody violence when a psychopathic hoodlum is released from prison and vows to avenge the death of his boss.

LET THE WRONG ONE IN

Ireland, 2021

World Premiere, 97 min

Director – Conor McMahon

Sibling rivalry takes on a whole new meaning when one brother is turned into a vampire and has to rely on his younger brother to protect him. Will brotherly love win out or is someone getting staked?

LIMBO

Hong Kong, 2021

Texas Premiere, 118 minDirector – Soi Cheang

A burnt-out cop and a by-the-book young detective team up to catch a vicious serial killer lurking in the garbage-filled alleys of Hong Kong in Soi Cheang’s grimy monochrome masterpiece.

MAD GOD

USA, 2021

US Premiere, 83 min

Director – Phil Tippett

An adventurer descends into a pit reaching the bowels of the Earth, searching for a spot on a crumbling map. On his journey in an apocalyptic world, he meets and fights monsters and creatures out of your worst nightmares in this passion project from stop-motion legend Phil Tippett.

THE MARCO EFFECT

Denmark, 2021

North American Premiere, 125 min

Director – Martin Zandlivet

When Marco, a Romani kid without papers, is caught at the Danish border with the passport of a man who went missing, Detective Carl Mørck from Department Q unknowingly opens Pandora’s Box on what was supposedly a simple case.

MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE presented by 36 Cinema

Taiwan, Hong Kong, 1975

Repertory Screening, 93 min

Director – Jimmy Wang Yu

A blind assassin armed with a vicious flying guillotine is out to kill the legendary one-armed boxer (martial arts superstar Jimmy Wang Yu). 36 Cinema presents MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE with live commentary by RZA!

MIDNIGHT

South Korea, 2021

Texas Premiere, 103 min

Director – KWON Oh-seung

Discover the twisted nighttime alleys of Seoul in the tense and thrilling MIDNIGHT, the gripping tale of a Deaf woman and the serial killer who has underestimated his opponent.

MOTHER SCHMUCKERS

Belgium, 2021

Texas Premiere, 70 min

Director – Lenny Guit & Harpo Guit

Issachar and Zabulon are two not-so-bright brothers who never manage to do anything right. When they lose Jacques-Janvier, their mom’s beloved dog, she gives them a day to find him … or else. And of course nothing goes smoothly.

NAME ABOVE TITLE

Portugal, 2020

North American Premiere, 59 min

Director – Carlos Conceição

A serial killer is propelled into fame after he kisses a dying woman who has just thrown herself off a balcony. Viewed by the world as an act of kindness, that gesture may well be hiding something far more sinister.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN UGANDA

USA, Uganda, 2021

World Premiere, 94 min

Director – Cathryne Czubek & Hugo Perez

Documenting the rise of Uganda’s Tarantino and his complex relationship with a middle-aged white dude from New York, ONCE UPON A TIME IN UGANDA tells the amazing story of a micro-film industry making $200 action films that have traveled the world, and how it happened almost by accident.

POSSESSION

France, Germany, 1981

US Premiere of 4K Restoration, 124 min

Director – Andrzej Zulawski

It took 30 years for people to catch up to POSSESSION’s bizarre, gelatinous majesty, and now it graces the Fantastic Fest screen in a breathtaking 4K restoration.

POUPELLE OF CHIMNEY TOWN

Japan, 2020

US Premiere, 100 min

Director – Yusuke Hirota

In this animated adventure, a young chimney sweep meets a sentient pile of junkyard scrap one Halloween night, raising questions about the world outside the isolated, walled-off community the boy has known his entire life.

PREMAN

Indonesia, 2021

Texas Premiere, 91 min

Director – Randolph Zaini

After Pandu witnesses a murder by a local gang – the unsavory mini-mob that his father works for – Deaf criminal Sandi has to turn against his own crew and flee town to protect him. Unfortunately, his boss Guru is not about to let go so easily.

THE SADNESS

Taiwan, 2021

US Premiere, 99 min

Director – Rob Jabbaz

As Taiwan succumbs to a viral pandemic that transforms ordinary peaceful citizens into sadistic, bloodthirsty maniacs, a young couple must battle to be reunited before they too become infected in this gleefully gory, morally reprehensible late-night splatterfest.

SHE WILL

United Kingdom, 2021

North American Premiere, 95 min

Director – Charlotte Colbert

After a double mastectomy, actress Veronica Ghent travels to a remote place in Scotland in order to recuperate. However, the land around the retreat radiates with a dark power that will ultimately help liberate her from a traumatic past.

SNAKES

USA, 1974

Repertory Screening, 83 min

Director – Art Names

An exceedingly odd rural snake revenge movie — made on a zilch budget and scored by electronic music pioneer Suzanne Ciani — that will make you question your relationship with reality, relativity, and reptiles.

THIS IS GWAR

USA, 2021

World Premiere, 110 min

Director – Scott Barber

GWAR is the galaxy’s greatest rock ‘n roll band, an intergalactic troupe of marauders who crash-landed in Antarctica and are committed to rocking your face off. But they’re also a bunch of amazing artists from Virginia determined to put on the wildest, bloodiest show you’ve ever seen. This is how.

TITANE 

France, Belgium, 2021

US Premiere, 108 min

Director – Julia Ducournau

A car accident irreparably changes the course of one woman’s life, sending her down a bizarre, twisted path in the search for love and acceptance.

THE TRIP

Norway, 2021

International Premiere, 113 min

Director – Tommy Wirkola

A married couple travels to their isolated cabin in the woods for some peace and quiet, with the husband planning to murder his wife. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and things only get worse from there ….

THE VISITOR

Italy, USA, 1979

Repertory Screening, 108 min

Director – Michael J. Paradise

This Italian-made horror/soap-opera/psychedelic light show was made to scoop up any stray dollars that THE OMEN and THE EXORCIST may have left on the table. Featuring an amazing will-work-for-food cast that includes John Huston as a kind of cosmic child pimp for the lord, Shelley Winters, Lance Henriksen, Sam Peckinpah (!!!), and of course Franco Nero as Jesus Christ.

YELLOW DRAGON’S VILLAGE

Japan, 2021

International Premiere, 67 min

Director – Hugo Sakamoto

And now for something completely different: Cannibal cultists and vengeful martial artists lead the way as found footage horror gets a cult film makeover courtesy of Hugo Sakamoto’s inventive and spirited debut.

ATTEND:

FAN Badges, 2ND HALF Badges, and MIDNIGHT Badges for Fantastic Fest 2021 are available for purchase here. The all-new FANTASTIC FEST @ HOME Badges are also available and provide access to the fest’s new virtual event which takes place from 9/30 – 10/11.

For the latest developments, visit the Fantastic Fest official site www.fantasticfest.com and follow us on Facebook & Twitter.


About Fantastic Fest

Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and just plain fantastic movies from all around the world. In years past, the festival has been home to the world and US premieres of PARASITE, JOJO RABBIT, BONE TOMAHAWK, JOHN WICK, FRANKENWEENIE, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, APOCALYPTO, ZOMBIELAND, RED, SPLIT, HALLOWEEN, BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE, MID 90s, and SUSPIRIA while the guest roster has included such talent as Tim Burton, Nicolas Winding-Refn, Lilly and Lana Wachowski, Bong Joon-Ho, Taika Waititi, Robert Rodriguez, Rian Johnson, Bill Murray, Keanu Reeves, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder, Edward Norton, Ryan Reynolds, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Karl Urban, Josh Hartnett, The RZA, Dolph Lundgren, Paul Rudd, Bill Pullman, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kevin Smith, Jon Favreau, George Romero, Darren Aronofsky, Mike Judge, Karyn Kusama, M. Night Shyamalan, James McAvoy, Vince Vaughn, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jonah Hill, Barbara Crampton and Jessica Harper.

Fantastic Fest also features world, national, and regional premieres of new, up-and-coming genre films. Fantastic Fest has seen the acquisition of many titles, including BULLHEAD, KILL LIST, MONSTERS, KLOWN, THE FP, PENUMBRA, HERE COMES THE DEVIL, NO REST FOR THE WICKED, VANISHING WAVES, COMBAT GIRLS, I DECLARE WAR, THE PERFECTION, and TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID. Fantastic Fest is held each year at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas. Alamo Drafthouse has been named the best theater in the country by Entertainment Weekly, Wired, and TIMEVariety included Fantastic Fest in a list of “10 Film Festivals We Love” and was also named one of the “25 coolest film festivals” by Moviemaker Magazine.

About Alamo Drafthouse

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema was founded in 1997 as a single-screen mom and pop repertory theater in Austin, TX. Twenty-four years later, with 38 locations and counting, Alamo Drafthouse has been called “the best theater in America” by Entertainment Weekly and “the best theater in the world” by Wired. Alamo Drafthouse has built a reputation as a movie lover’s oasis not only by combining food and drink service with the movie-going experience, but also introducing unique programming and high-profile, star-studded special events. Alamo Drafthouse created Fantastic Fest, a world-renowned film festival dubbed “The Geek Telluride” by Variety. Fantastic Fest showcases eight days of genre cinema from independents, international filmmakers, and major Hollywood studios. Alamo Drafthouse’s collectible art gallery, Mondo, offers breathtaking, original products featuring designs from world-famous artists based on licenses for popular TV and movie properties including Star Wars, Star Trek & Universal Monsters. Alamo Drafthouse continues to expand its brand in new and exciting ways, including the American Genre Film Archive, a non-profit film archive dedicated to preserving, restoring and sharing film, and Alamo On Demand, a new VOD platform boasting a growing and carefully curated library of entertainment for rental or purchase.

Review: ‘The Stylist,’ starring Najarra Townsend, Brea Grant, Millie Milan, Sarah McGuire and Davis DeRock

September 27, 2020

by Carla Hay

Najarra Townsend in “The Stylist” (Photo courtesy of Method Media/Sixx Tape Productions)

“The Stylist”

Directed by Jill Gevargizian

Culture Representation: Taking place in Kansas City, Missouri, the horror film “The Stylist” features a predominantly white cast (with a few African Americans) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A lonely hairstylist has a secret life of a serial killer who collects the scalps of her female victims. 

Culture Audience: “The Stylist” will appeal primarily to people who like gripping psychological thrillers with stylish, 1970s-inspired noir aesthetics.

Brea Grant and Najarra Townsend in “The Stylist” (Photo courtesy of Method Media/Sixx Tape Productions)

“The Stylist” takes some of the best elements of 1970s noir horror movies and serves them up in a more modern setting while also appearing to be somewhat timeless. The movie is a tension-filled journey into the disturbed mind of a serial killer who is deceptively mild-mannered to the outside world. Anchored by an effectively chilling performance by Najarra Townsend, “The Stylist” (which was filmed on location in Kansas City, Missouri) is an impressive feature-film debut by writer/director Jill Gevargizian, who brings an almost hypnotic quality to this memorable horror film. “The Stylist” feature film, which had its world premiere at the 2020 edition Fantastic Fest, is adapted from Gevargizian’s short film of the same title.

On the surface, hair stylist Claire (played by Townsend) seems to be an introverted person who can do wonders with people’s hair. She has a loyal base of clients and she is very accommodating and helpful to all of her customers. Claire is also a very lonely person, since she doesn’t have much of social life outside of her job at a small, somewhat bohemian-styled hair salon. She lives alone and only has a her female Chihuahua named Pepper to keep her company.

In the beginning of the movie, Claire meets a new customer who is visiting Kansas City on a business trip and has come into the salon for an evening appointment. The customer’s name is Sarah (played by Jennifer Seward), and an attentive Claire finds out what kind of hair service that Sarah wants. Sarah accepts Claire’s offer to have a glass of wine while Claire styles Sarah’s hair.

Claire and Sarah make small talk, but it isn’t long before Sarah opens up about her life, as people often do when they talk to a hair stylist. Sarah is married and has a 12-year-old son. But Sarah admits that she isn’t very happy in her marriage and that while she’s on this business trip, Sarah has been cheating on her husband with a “boy toy” whom she says she’ll probably never see again.

“I’m only human,” Sarah says as an excuse for her infidelity. Why is Sarah telling Claire this intimate secret? Because, as Sarah explains, she’ll probably never see Claire again either. It’s the kind of realistic dialogue that makes the people believable in “The Stylist” screenplay, which was written by Gevargizian, Eric Havens and Eric Stolze.

Sarah and Claire end up being the last people in the salon as it closes for the night. And then, Claire’s true nature comes out. The glass of wine that Sarah was drinking had been spiked by Claire. Whatever drug was in that wine has now kicked in and Sarah has passed out. Claire then takes a knife and removes Sarah’s scalp. The scalping is shown and heard in all of its gruesome details.

The movie doesn’t show what Claire does with Sarah’s body, because it does show what Claire has done with the scalp when Claire is at home. In a candle-lit room filled with a giant mirror, Claire wears the scalp and mimics the conversation that she had with Sarah, almost as if she’s reliving it but also playing the role of Sarah. It soon becomes clear that more than just wanting killing Sarah and taking her scalp, Claire also wants some piece of this woman’s life, however fleeting that feeling might be.

The rest of the movie show’s Claire going on a killing spree where she collects her female victims’ scalps. She’s careful enough to hide the bodies so that it’s a mystery over whether or not the women are missing or dead. And she does quite a bit of stalking of potential victims while having various private meltdowns in her home and in her car.

Claire is able to maintain a façade that everything is normal in her life. However, viewers might notice that she has some kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder, because it bothers her to do anything out of her routine. When she waits in line at her favorite coffee shop the day after she killed Sarah, Claire notices that there’s a speck of Sarah’s blood on one of Claire’s shoes.

The speck is only something Sarah can see, but the sight of it bothers her so much that she becomes agitated while she’s waiting in line and tries to use her other foot to scrape off the blood. The behind-the-counter barista named Dawn (played by Sarah McGuire) notices that something is bothering Claire, who tries to act like she’s just having a bad day. Another sign of her obsessive compulsiveness: The barista knows exactly what Claire is going to order, because she orders the same thing every time she’s in the coffee ship.

One of the things outside of Claire’s comfort zone is being a hairstylist at a wedding. She’s refused requests in the past to take wedding jobs. However, one of Claire’s loyal clients named Olivia (played by Brea Grant), who is an editor at a fashion magazine, has been begging Claire to be the hair stylist for Olivia’s wedding because another stylist bailed out of the job on short notice. Claire finally relents and agrees to Olivia’s hairstylist for the wedding.

The wedding and the preparations leading up to it set off a catalyst of events and emotions that have deadly consequences, as Sarah starts to become obsessed with being Olivia’s best friend. Claire’s need to be Olivia’s closest confidante is triggered when Olivia invites Claire to Olivia’s home to see Olivia in her wedding dress. The two women are alone together, and they both start talking about their families and their backgrounds.

Olivia and Claire both find out that they grew up without a father. Although Olivia’s mother is still alive and will be at the wedding, Claire’s mother died when she was 17. Claire says that he mother was only 35 and very drunk when she died, hinting that her childhood was probably unhappy because her mother had a drinking problem.

Claire also says that he mother was a hairstylist who would change her hairstyle every few months. “I never knew who was going to come home,” Claire says of her mother’s changing image. Meanwhile, Olivia opens up about her own troubled past, by telling Claire that she used to be a wild child and never thought she would end up getting married.

And what does Claire’s sudden interest in being close to Olivia mean for Olivia’s fiancé Charlie (played by Davis Derock)? He becomes an unwitting target of Claire’s disdain if he does anything that would Claire thinks is disrespectful to Olivia. Claire is the type to hold grudges.

Claire is also jealous of the bridesmaids who are in Olivia’s wedding party, including Olivia’s catty co-worker Monique (played by Millie Milan), who had recommended the hairstylist was who originally hired for the wedding. There’s a pivotal bachelorette party scene that is very well-acted, because it shows the first time that Claire is introduced to the women who are in Olivia’s inner circle.

All of the scenes in “The Stylist” have good acting, but the movie has added appeal because of its cinematography by Robert Patrick Stern. Colors are muted but spooky, as if to reflect the quietness of Claire and also the evil darkness that she has within her. And Claire is sometimes filmed from angles below and from the side that give the perspective of an observer who might know all of her secrets.

The way that Claire dresses (knee-high socks, velvet jackets in autumn colors) and wears her makeup (with a cat eyeliner look) evokes the aura of femme fatales of early 1970s horror movies, such as “Daughters of the Darkness” and “The Red Queen Kills Seven Times.” “The Stylist’s” musical score (by Nicholas Elert) has a similarly retro vibe to it. The “shabby chic” production design by Sarah Sharp is also perfect for this movie, since many of the characters in the film look like the type of people who hunt for fashionably vintage items for home decorations and to give as gifts.

Although there’s a lot of familiarity to this serial killer story, what stands out about “The Stylist” is that some of the characters that you would think would be killed end up not getting killed, while other characters have surprise murders. (Writer/director Gervargizian has a cameo as one of Claire’s murder victims.)

Claire comes across to many people as meek and unassuming, but her disturbed mental state comes out when she’s alone and babbling to herself. Townsend convincingly handles these scenes in a way that doesn’t become a laughable parody of mental illness. She brings a certain authentic humanity to the role that might make some viewers feel a little bit of sympathy for Claire. Gervargizian, who’s been a hair stylist in real life, also vividly captures the disarming comfort that comes from being in the care of a hair stylist, such as the close-ups of hair getting transformed in the hands of professionals and the feeling of elation that customers have when they like the results of what’s been done to their hair.

“The Stylist” is not a fast-paced movie but it’s not dragged down by dullness either. Under the skillful direction of Gevargizian, the movie takes a dark and harrowing look at what it must be like for a serial killer to lead a double life and hide in plain sight. In between the murder and the mayhem is a person who goes about a seemingly mundane and routine life. In its own disquieting way, “The Stylist” exposes that a serial killer who has a veneer of “normality” can be much more terrifying than an obvious, out-of-control psycho.

UPDATE: Arrow Video will release “The Stylist” for streaming on its website in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom on March 1, 2021. The movie’s VOD, digital and Blu-ray release date will be on June 8, 2021.

2020 Fantastic Fest: programming slate announced

September 10, 2020

“The Boy Behind the Door” (Photo courtesy of Fantastic Fest)

The following is a press release from Fantastic Fest:

Fantastic Fest has gone virtual for a celebration of everything we love about the annual event: live online versions of classics like “Fantastic Feud” and “100 Best Kills,” badass repertory rediscoveries, and world premieres of the finest genre cinema 2020 has to offer. To make the party accessible to loyal fans and newbies alike, all new features and live events will be available FREE to view on the Alamo On Demand platform for anyone in the United States.

“Despite the many hardships 2020 has thrown our way, the Fantastic Fest team knew we needed to stick to our mission of celebrating and championing genre films from bold, diverse voices – new filmmakers and treasured alumni alike.” says Fantastic Fest programmer Logan Taylor. “While we have a much smaller selection than in previous years, we’re delighted to showcase 15 films that express our brand loudly and proudly.”
The festival will be bookended by unique spins on the werewolf film: opening with the charming and irreverent TEDDY by France’s Boukherma brothers and closing with Amelia Moses’s haunting thriller BLOODTHIRSTY (on the night of the full moon, no less)! If you’re still hungry for more werewolves after that one-two punch, join us for the Texas Premiere of Jim Cummings’ newest, THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW, on October 8th at Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane!

While this year’s slate may be more modest in scope, every film captures the spirit of Fantastic Fest in its own unique way. Featuring 5 world premieres (with an additional 2 world premiere restorations) and 4 shorts blocks featuring 36 short films, the lineup amplifies talented female, queer, and racially diverse creatives from all over the globe. We might all be stuck on the couch, but we are still excited to bring a sampling of world-class films you’ve come to expect from Fantastic Fest directly to your home.

Quite fittingly and presciently, a theme of isolation and its transformational effects plays heavily throughout the lineup. So, in the spirit of Fantastic Fest and this theme, let’s make the most of the strange world we’re living in, come together through a virtual celebration, and enjoy some damn fine cinema!

All new features will be available FREE on our Alamo On Demand Platform for fans in the United States. Repertory titles will be available at special rates throughout the week-long celebration. We will also be presenting two exclusive in-theater-only screenings, Brandon Cronenberg’s highly anticipated POSSESSOR on September 23rd and Jim Cummings’ THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW on October 8th. The festival is also excited to welcome back Fantastic Fest alum Mickey Reece with a new documentary short MICKEY REECE’S BELLE ÎSLE screening in the the SHORTS WITH LEGS short film sidebar – stay tuned for an upcoming Alamo On Demand announcement following the premiere of the short about a collection of his films to be made available for the first time.

The Celebration of Fantastic Fest will be offering a number of interactive virtual film screenings with Scener, a watch party platform that enables millions of participants to simultaneously enjoy films together over immersive live video chat. This integration is built into the Alamo On Demand platform that will go live at Fantastic Fest and remain in partnership with AOD, providing public or private co-watching parties that are synchronized in real-time and paired with video, audio and text chat. Fantastic Fest interactive screenings will be taking viewers from preshow to a hosted intro, through the film, and all the way to the Q&A for a fully synced and effortless experience participants.

FEATURE FILMS

Secret Screening

World Premiere of the 4K Restoration

A special re-discovery of an explosive, death-defying, bullet-riddled, grenade-launching, flame-broiled, anti-human megattack. Free to view during the live secret screening and available for Virtual Cinema rental on Alamo On Demand afterwards.

Bloodthirsty

Canada, 2020

World Premiere, 82 min

Director: Amelia Moses

When indie singer Grey struggles to write her sophomore album, she teams up with a mysterious producer at his secluded cabin. Though their bond strengthens her music, it also starts to irreparably alter Grey’s body and mind.

The Boy Behind the Door

USA, 2020

World Premiere, 88 min

Directors: David Charbonier and Justin Powell

After Bobby and his best friend Kevin are kidnapped and taken to a strange house in the middle of nowhere, Bobby manages to escape. But as he starts to make a break for it, he hears Kevin’s screams for help and realizes he can’t leave his friend behind.

Cyst

USA, 2020

World Premiere, 69 min

Director: Tyler Russell

George Hardy (TROLL 2) stars as an overly-ambitious and just-a-little-crazy doctor who accidentally unleashes a giant, man-eating cyst that terrorizes the office in this horrifically funny deluge of gooey special effects.

Daughters of Darkness

Belgium/France/West Germany, 1971

World Premiere of the 4K Restoration from Blue Underground, 87 min

Director: Harry Kümel

The classic lesbian vampire tale reignites the screen as the lives of a young newlywed couple take a dramatically sexy turn after their paths cross with Elizabeth Báthory in a deserted Belgian hotel.Special Event: An interview with director Harry Kümel, moderated by Kat Ellinger.

Girl

USA, 2020

US Premiere, 92 min

Director: Chad Faust

When Girl (Bella Thorne) sets out to a no-name small town to track down her deadbeat father, she finds herself wrapped up in a situation far more dangerous and twisted than she expected.


How to Deter a Robber

USA, 2020

World Premiere, 81 min

Director: Maria Bissell

Two teens playing amateur detectives get more than they bargained for when they investigate the wrong cabin in this darkly comedic romp.


Laughter

Canada, 2020

International Premiere, 124 min

Director: Martin Laroche

Léane Labrèche-Dor gives an unforgettable performance as a woman who struggles with survivor guilt following a civil war in Quebec.

The Old Man Movie

Estonia, 2019

US Premiere, 87 min

Directors: Mikk Mägi & Oskar Lehemaa

Three children must aid their deranged grandfather in recovering his prized cow to prevent a rural cataclysm in this surreal and hysterically scatalogical stop-motion comedy.

Possessor

UK, Canada 2020

Texas Premiere, 103 min

Director: Brandon Cronenberg

In Brandon Cronenberg’s latest gore soaked sci-fi thriller, identity theft takes on a new meaning as corporate assassins can virtually take over other people to carry out their kills. Special Event: Join us before our official celebration for a special in-theater premiere September 23rd


The Queen of Black Magic

Indonesia, 2019

North American Premiere, 99 min

Director: Kimo Stamboel

Childhood friends Hanif, Jefri, and Anton take their families on a trip to the orphanage where they grew up to pay their final respects to the man who raised them. But they’ll soon discover that the secrets from their past refuse to stay buried.


The Stylist

USA, 2020

World Premiere, 105 min

Director: Jill Gevargizian

Few things in life hold more promise than a new hairstyle. But the women who visit stylist Claire’s chair get more than they bargained for, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “extreme makeover” in Jill Gevargizian’s first feature film, based on her acclaimed 2016 short.

Teddy

France, 2020

International Premiere, 88 min

Directors: Ludovic Boukherma & Zoran Boukherma

In a rural French town, twenty-something Teddy is scratched by an unknown beast and slowly undergoes frightening changes

AGFA presents Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas of Long Island

USA, 2012

Austin Premiere of HD Restoration

Director: Dan Kapelovitz

Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano, and Noelle Parker are Amy Fisher in this meta-melodramatic mashup of three TV movies that would make Brian De Palma proud.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow

USA, 2020

Texas Premiere, 84 min

Director: Jim Cummings

A small mountain town full of quirky characters is thrown into chaos when dead bodies start piling up after every full moon in Jim Cummings’ supremely fun foray into horror.

Special Event: Join us after our official celebration for a special in-theater premiere, October 8th at Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane.

SHORT FILMS

FANTASTIC SHORTS

A celebration of some of the year’s most fantastic short film offerings, spanning a myriad of genres and sensibilities.

Blocks 

Dir. Bridget Moloney, USA

Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran 

Dir. Farbod Ardebili, Iran/USA, World Premiere

I Love Your Guts 

Dir. David Janove, USA, Texas Premiere

Jack and Jo Don’t Want Die 

Dir. Kantú Lentz, USA, Texas Premiere

Please Hold

 Dir. KD Davila, USA, World Premiere

Solution For Sadness 

Dir. Marc Martínez Jordán & Tuixén Benet Cosculluela, Spain, World Premiere

(You’ll Make It In) Florida 

Dir. Phil Chemyak, USA, Texas Premiere


SHORT FUSE

A parade of short-form horror in all its permutations, from “Boo!” to “Eww!”

Abracitos 

Dir. Tony Morales, Spain, US Premiere

Blitzkrieg 

Dir. Alexander Lemus Gadea, Spain, World Premiere

Fish Whiskers 

Dir. Roney, Canada, World Premiere

Great Choice 

Dir. Robin Comisar, USA

Heat 

Dir. Thessa Meijer, The Netherlands, Texas Premiere

Milk Teeth 

Dir. Felipe Vargas, USA, Texas Premiere

Mime 

Dir. Ruwan Heggelman, The Netherlands, Austin Premiere

Mourn 

Dir. Joanna Tsanis, Canada, World Premiere

Otttie Dir. Paola Ossa, USA, Texas Premiere

Stuck Dir. David Mikalson, USA, World Premiere

The Three Men You Meet at Night 

Dir. Beck Kitsis, USA, Texas Premiere

SHORTS WITH LEGS

The experimental and the esoteric; shorts that upset conventions and defy expectations.

Düsseldorf 

Dir. Mike Lars White, USA, Texas Premiere

Emergency Action Plan 

Dir. Dylan Redford, USA, Texas Premiere

Hipolita Dir. Everardo Felipe, Mexico, World Premiere

How to Re-Caulk Your Tub 

Dir. Sean Pierce, USA, Austin Premiere

Lusty Crest Dir. Kati Skelton, USA

Mickey Reece’s Belle Île 

Dir. Mickey Reece, USA, World Premiere

They Salivate Dir. Arianne Boukerche, France, Austin Premiere

Unfinished Business 

Dir. Mary Dauterman, USA, Texas Premiere

DRAWN AND QUARTERED

After a 6-year hiatus, Fantastic Fest’s animation showcase returns!

Ghost Dogs 

Dir. Joe Cappa, USA, US Premiere

Homo ErecTattoos 

Dir. Tae-woo KIM, South Korea, US Premiere

Jimi 

Dir. Joren Cull, Canada, World Premiere

A Night in Camp Heebie Jeebie 

Dir. Dylan Chase, USA, Texas Premiere

Pilar 

Dir. Yngwie Boley, J.J. Epping & Diana van Houten, The Netherlands/Belgium, US Premiere

Routine: The Prohibition 

Dir. Sam Orti, Spain, US Premiere

The Shawl 

Dir. Sara Kiener, USA

Star Crossed 

Dir. Jon Frier, USA, Texas Premiere

Thin Blue Variety Show 

Dir. Gretta Wilson, USA, Texas Premiere

Tomorrow I Will Be Dirt: Scenes From the Afterlife of Lothar Schramm 

Dir. Robert Morgan, UK, North American Premiere

PARTIES AND EVENTS

“Fantastic Fest’s special events, parties and amiable mayhem are among the things that set it apart from any other festival,” says Zack Carlson, Creative Producer. “Any celebration of FF absolutely needs to include those traditions, and though the cold fist of 2020 may prohibit us from having a food fight or demolition derby, we’re still here to bring the good-natured chaos.”

Master Pancake: Invasion of the Bee Girls

USA, 1973

Director: Denis Sanders

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Master Pancake, John Erler, Owen Egerton and friends are revising one of the very first films they ever roasted back in the year 2000.

100 Best Kills: Decapattack!

FF’s life-defying clip show returns from the grave with a dazzling onslaughter of the 100 finest decapitations in the nation!

Fantastic Fest Triviadome

The Drafthouse’s beloved movie trivia night returns just for Fantastic Fest! Start coming up with your clever team name now and study up! Featuring a round in honor of Fantastic Fest tradition Nerd Rap, written and performed by superstars of years past.

Fantastic Feud

Filmmakers, journalists and various other movie megamasters collide in this no-holds-barred deathride of useless cinematic information and on-screen in(s)anity, all masterminded by Triviadome’s teeny-tiny host Maxim Pozderac.

King of Movies: The Leonard Maltin Game Challenge

Beat the Hollywood screenwriters and win glory and an exclusive Mondo Prize Pack! Enter to play against a trio of Fantastic Fest Favorite writers in Mondo’s brand new game KING OF MOVIES.

For 51 years, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide served as the film geek’s Holy Bible, an annually updated softcover brick of a reference book, packed with thoughtful, witty, and occasionally weird capsule reviews of thousands of films. Those synopses are at the heart of King of Movies: The Leonard Maltin Game, a tabletop casual party game of creative invention and hilarious deception.

In King of Movies, it doesn’t matter if you’ve seen every film ever made or if you’ve never seen a movie in your life. The fun is in the fibbing. One player reads a movie title and the other players invent a short synopsis in Leonard Maltin’s unique style, with the goal being to trick the other players into thinking theirs is the real Maltin review. If you choose the real Maltin or you fool another player, you score.

IMMERSIVE SHOWCASE

Harkening back to the Satanic Panic Escape Room, VR debuts and Mondo Games First Looks of years past, this year features hand-picked selections of the best virtual escape rooms from around the world, curated by Cara Mandel (Story Experience Producer, Meow Wolf and Co-founder/CEO, Interwoven Immersive, Inc.) and Rachel Walker (Head of Programming & Creative, Drafthouse LA).

“As someone who was on track to completing 120 physical escape rooms, I was initially skeptical of how this beloved artform could be adapted to virtual play.” Says Mandel, “but I can now confidently say that these remote escape rooms are emerging as an exciting new artform unto itself. It has opened up this world to players internationally and is proving that innovative creators will thrive in any format. I’m so excited to be able to shine a spotlight on just a handful of the many wonderful online experiences available right now.”

Adds Walker, “The five selected experiences represent how escapes have adapted to the virtual space, in many cases providing an experience that simply could not be replicated in a physical room alone. It’s a thrill to be able to highlight them and support an industry going so outside of the box with narrative storytelling.”

All rooms will be keeping Fantastic Fest only scoreboards, with top times announced each day.                        

How to book: At 10:00 AM PST on Sept 11th, anyone who purchased a 2020 Fantastic Fest Badge prior to cancellation of our badged event will be sent an email with instructions on how to book the rooms at a discounted rate and have 72 hours to book. After 72 hours, instructions will be posted on FantasticFest.com and on Fantastic Fest socials. After another 48 hours, the Fantastic Fest holds on those slots will be opened up to the general public. Tickets will be booked directly through the rooms’ individual ticketing sites, so 100% of the ticket price will be going straight to the creators.

EVIL DEAD 2 REMOTE ESCAPE ROOM

Created by Hourglass Escapes (Washington)

Synopsis: You get a strange email from your paranormal investigation group “Gnostic Research of the Occult, Omens, Vampires, and Yetis” aka G.R.O.O.V.Y. Seems your leader decided to break into the old Knowby cabin and can’t escape…You and your team must guide him via his ghost gear technology through this misadventure so he can escape and find a way return the evil dead to their realm and escape before the cabin is sucked into the time-space vortex forever.                                                                                   

THE TRUTH ABOUT EDITH                                                      

Created by Mad Genius Escape Rooms (Oregon)

Synopsis: ​You may recognize Edith Humphreys, your sweet neighbor with 24 cats. You may have even helped her out, snooped around her apartment. But there’s something about Edith that doesn’t quite add up… she looks way younger than she is, she says she was born in 1902 but that she’s 97 years young… and she lives at a business called Mad Genius Escapes?! What is going on here…The Truth About Edith is an hour-long, cooperative, timed adventure sprinkled with interactive theater and a good dose of humor! This game is an eccentric mix of a video game, an escape room, and a great who-done-it story.         

EXORCIST ONLINE

Created by: Emergency Exits (Manchester, UK)

Synopsis: Exorcist Online will take you deep into the history of Crowley manor which was last owned by the infamous Aleister Crowley. You will join your tour guide via remote feed and control them on this haunted adventure. The real excitement is the history of Crowley’s mysteries and puzzles. This house has been famous throughout history as there have been many disappearances over the years. It is said that Aleister Crowley is still trying to trick and trap his victims from beyond the Grave. Enjoy the tour but DO NOT out-stay your welcome.

PROJECT AVATAR

Created by Legendary Quest (Ukraine)

Synopsis: Avatar is a traveler of worlds, whose vocation is to maintain a balance of good and evil on earth. Having traveled into a parallel realm, Avatar needs help from the support team (you!) to complete the mission and survive! This fascinating interactive live- action race against the clock is stylized as a video game, complete with cut scenes and a HUD, reminiscent of titles like Duke Nukem, Half Life and Tomb Raider. Players use voice commands to navigate the hero across a 2000 square foot warehouse, and complete tasks that appear along the way. Non-linear gameplay allows for over 100 different variations of adventure.

PURSUIT OF THE ARTIST ASSASSIN

Created by: Omescape (California)

Synopsis: In Pursuit of the Assassin Artist, you will be teaming up with a secret agent to discover the secrets of the world-famous modern artist. A live-action room created just for the virtual space, Pursuit employs a unique function of your character being able to die and come back to life with all the knowledge acquired previously. This allows for unpredictable gameplay, keeping both your team and the live actors on their toes. Filled with innovative puzzles and easter eggs that win you achievements, this brand new room is a shining example of how to create a truly immersive experience for a virtual audience.                         

THE BEST OF FANTASTIC FEST SIX PACK ON ALAMO ON DEMAND

We have curated a collection of over 120 (and growing) of our favorite Fantastic Fest films on Alamo on Demand. The programming team has curated six of our favorite films from this collection and for the duration of September, we are offering this “Best of Fantastic Fest Six Pack” for 25% off purchase or rental. Check out the six pack and the complete collection here.
 

ATTEND: This year’s Celebration of Fantastic Fest is open to anyone within the United States, no badge necessary. The majority of films and events are FREE to access, though some have limited capacity and will require an RSVP in advance. Instructions for accessing these films and events will be provided closer to the event.

For a complete listing of films, events, and pricing details when applicable, simply visit www.fantasticfest.com and click on the film or event link.

For the latest developments, visit the Fantastic Fest official site www.fantasticfest.com and follow the festival on Facebook &Twitter.

2019 Fantastic Fest: second wave of films announced

August 20, 2019

Knives Out
Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, K. Callan, Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer, Michael Shannon, Jaeden Martell, Riki Lindhome, Toni Collette and Katherine Langford in “Knives Out” (Photo by Claire Folger/Lionsgate)

The following is a press release from Fantastic Fest:

Fantastic Fest is proud to announce its second wave of programming, led by a closing night screening of writer-director Rian Johnson’s hotly anticipated new Lionsgate and MRC mystery KNIVES OUT. A tribute to the work of Agatha Christie, KNIVES OUT stars Daniel Craig as debonair Detective Benoit Blanc, sent to investigate the death of a renowned crime novelist played by Christopher Plummer. KNIVES OUT will be Fantastic Fest 2019’s closing night film with Johnson in attendance for a special presentation at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin, TX on Thursday, September 26th.

“Rian Johnson is a consistently thrilling and brilliant director whose work has enthralled Fantastic Fest audiences for the past 15 years,” said Fantastic Fest Creative Director Evrim Ersoy. “The chance to close out the festival with his unique and ingenious murder mystery was too good an offer to pass up!”

Cannes Palme d’Or winner PARASITE will also play this year’s Fantastic Fest with director Bong Joon-ho (SNOWPIERCER, OKJA) in attendance. Reaping near-universal acclaim around the world, PARASITE is a darkly comic tale of two very different families who find their lives inexplicably intertwined.

A celebration of Mexican genre film

This year, Fantastic Fest celebrates the rich and varied history of Mexican genre film with a trio of rarely seen repertory titles, programmed in association with Mexico City’s Mórbido Film Fest. In THE BLACK PIT OF DR. M (MISTERIOS DE ULTRATUMBA), two doctors make an unholy bet to discover just what’s in the afterlife; in THE SHIP OF MONSTERS (LA NAVE DE LOS MONSTRUOS), two extraterrestrials traverse the universe collecting sample species to repopulate their planet resulting in the wildest spaceship ever with a wide array of characters from singing cowboys to Martian princes and other otherworldly beings starring none other than the brilliant Lorena Velázquez; and finally, TRAMPA INFERNAL (a.k.a. HELL’S TRAP) sees a group of young people go after a bear, only to find themselves terrorized by a crazed Vietnam vet in a mannequin mask and Freddy Krueger glove, combining the best of slasher traditions with an incredible visual style and ‘80s fashions galore! A dedicated shorts program exploring up and coming young Mexican filmmakers will be presented as part of the program, as well, which will be announced at a later date.

Mórbido Film Fest’s head of programming Abraham Castillo Flores will give a lecture titled “The Mórbido Crypt’s Guide to Mexican Fantasy and Horror Cinema,” a co-presentation with The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, founded by film writer/programmer/producer Kier-La Janisse. The sidebar is also supported by Cine Las Americas, the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE), the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin, Fundación Televisa, Alameda Films, and Grupo Galindo.

Flores says: “As Mórbido continues its primal mission to promote Mexican fantasy and horror cinema throughout the world, we are proud to collaborate with Fantastic Fest to highlight three unique films that represent peculiar moments in our complex national film history.”

LGBTQ+ programming

Fantastic Fest shows its full (rainbow) colors with a sidebar dedicated to LGBTQ+ representation in genre cinema, including the US Premiere of SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, a documentary focusing on the journey Mark Patton’s life took from actor to activist after starring in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE, as well as a rep screening of that seminal title with the cast in attendance. There will be a very special presentation of Norman J. Warren’s PREY (1977), which focuses on the disintegration of a relationship amidst a very real alien threat. The sidebar wraps up with a screening of LYLE with director Stewart Thorndike in attendance, where the grief of a mother turns to abject paranoia when she suspects her neighbors of being part of a satanic cult.

“The two most unwavering pieces of my identity – my queerness and my love of horror – come together in some fascinating and unexpected ways over the course of film history,” says Fantastic Fest programmer Brian Kelley. “I can’t think of a better group of people to explore and celebrate some of the crazy, frequently daring and often challenging films that make up the universe of queer horror with than my Fantastic Fest family.”

Fantastic Fest’s LGBTQ+ sidebar is proudly sponsored by Shudder and co-presented by community partners aGLIFF and OUTsider, the Horror Queers podcast, and drag horror titans Peaches Christ and Louisianna Purchase, who along with Die Felicia will slay at an epic BYOW (Bring Your Own Wig) party in The Highball.

The witching hour arriveth at Fantastic Fest and with it brings titles that promise the audience all those forbidden sights that the daytime can’t handle. In the World Premiere of Joe Begos’ VFW, a group of veterans find themselves in a deadly showdown against a gang of punk mutants dead-set on killing them. Also from Begos is BLISS, where a creative mental block threatens to tip an artist into uncontrollable bloodbath in a very special 35mm screening. Seth Ickerman expands the unique vision of a neon sci-fi universe first presented within his astounding short TURBO KILLER and teams up once again with synth master Carpenter Brut in the North American premiere of BLOOD MACHINES. And Richard Stanley recruits the help of Nicolas Cage to explore just what mysteries THE COLOR OUT OF SPACE holds in an adaptation of the seminal Lovecraft story in the US premiere of the highly-anticipated title.

Science fiction and visions of the future are represented at the festival with a trio of titles that run the gamut of all fears. Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson return to the festival for the US Premiere of their newest fever-dream SYNCHRONIC starring Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan as a pair of paramedics in the throes of a losing battle against a brand new designer drug. Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots are a couple who find themselves moving into their dream house, only to discover a trap in Lorcan Finnegan’s Cannes hit VIVARIUM. And in a small town in 1950s New Mexico, a mysterious radio signal sends a pair of teenagers on an exciting journey to discover its source in the masterful debut THE VAST OF NIGHT from director Andrew Patterson.

Cinema itself is explored at Fantastic Fest with a duo of documentaries that focus on wildly varied subjects. Gilles Penso & Alexandre Poncet’s PHIL TIPPETT – MAD DREAMS AND MONSTERS takes an extensive look at the great genius behind the visual effects of films such as ROBOCOP, STAR WARS and JURASSIC PARK while IRON FISTS AND KUNG FU KICKS explores the history of kung fu cinema from 1960s Hong Kong through ‘70s 42nd Street and beyond with the help of experts, historians, kung fu stars and more! Prior to the festival, Alamo Drafthouse will be running a series to prep for the screening titled Fists of Iron, Wheels of Steel where Texas DJs will be live-scoring some of the most beloved Kung Fu classics, including MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE with DJ Jester the Filipino Fist, POLICE STORY with DJ Catwalk, and more!

The world at large is explored through a genre lens with films that take aim at topical subjects. In the US Premiere of Karl Markovics’ NOBADI, the unlikely friendship between an old German man and a migrant worker will show them the true horror of their existence, while the US Premiere of THE PLATFORM sees society use a very new and unique punishment for criminals and those in need. In ABOU LEILA, two men hunt for a vicious terrorist leader while trying to hide from the bloodstains in their soul, and in the US Premiere of Orçun Behram’s THE ANTENNA, a sinister government broadcast in Turkey corrupts the very nature of everything it touches.

Worldwide, weird and wonderful genre films return with a selection of titles that refuse to be categorized. In Martin Krejčí’s THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF WOLFBOY, an unusual young man goes on a journey of discovery with a roster of eccentric characters in a film that mixes the best of fairy-tales and Czech magical realism. In VHYES, the discovery of a video camcorder leads a 12-year-old boy to create a unique time capsule. In PATRICK, a young man goes to extreme lengths to find his lost hammer in his father’s nudist colony. Finally, in BUTT BOY, a man discovers he has a fetish of the most extraordinary kind during a routine prostate examination.

More FF alumni return to the festival with new and exciting titles. Mickey Reece uses the cold backdrop of a New England winter to explore a homecoming of a very weird kind in the astounding CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER. In Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s THE LODGE, the relationship between two children and their stepmother gets strained to its murderous limit when the trio are trapped in a cabin. And Mattie Do explores the power of mistakes, choices, and consequences in the stunning and unique Laotian science-fiction exploration THE LONG WALK.

SECOND WAVE FILM LINEUP BELOW:

ABOU LEILA
Algeria, France, Qatar, 2019
North American Premiere, 139 min
Director – Amin Sidi-Boumédiène

In the midst of the Algerian Civil War, Lotfi ventures into the desert with his lifelong friend S., who hopes to find and kill the elusive, dangerous terrorist Abou Leila.

THE ANTENNA
Turkey, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Orçun Behram

Somewhere within an unnamed city in Turkey, the residents of an apartment block await the installation of their new antenna as ordered by the central government. No one can prepare them for the evil that will be unleashed.

THE BLACK PIT OF DR. M
Mexico, 1959
Repertory Screening, 82 min
Director – Fernando Méndez

Two doctors make a pact on behalf of science: Whichever one dies first will return to share the secrets of the afterlife. This pact will not end well.

BLISS
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 80 min
Director – Joe Begos

While trying to complete her latest painting, a starving artist facing a lack of inspiration spirals out of control in a blaze of blood-soaked, drug-fueled glory.

BLOOD MACHINES
France, USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 50 min
Director – Seth Ickerman

The wild sequel to the Carpenter Brut music video, “Turbo Killer,” shoots you into a turbulent psychedelic adventure of galactic hunters tracking down the soul of a spaceship set to a killer synthwave soundtrack.

BUTT BOY
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 100 min
Director – Tyler Cornack

In attendance – Director Tyler Cornack

Writer/director/comedian Tyler Cornack’s BUTT BOY introduces us to Chip, a middle-aged man whose first prostate exam stirs feelings deep inside leading to an addiction that can only be shown to Fantastic Fest audiences.

CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Mickey Reec

The “Soderbergh of the Sticks,” Mickey Reece, returns to Fantastic Fest with his 27th feature. Two beautiful sisters vie for the affections of a man who may or may not be a vampire.

COLOR OUT OF SPACE
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 111 min
Director – Richard Stanley

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.

IRON FISTS AND KUNG FU KICKS
Australia, 2019
North American Premiere, 107 min
Director – Serge Ou

From the Shaw Brothers to THE MATRIX, this wild documentary tells the story of how kung fu films conquered the world from the 1960s to now.

KNIVES OUT
USA, 2019
Special Presentation, 130 min
Director – Rian Johnson

In attendance – Director Rian Johnson

From acclaimed writer, director Rian Johnson comes KNIVES OUT, a fresh and modern take on the classic “whodunnit” mystery genre.

THE LODGE
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 108 min
Directors – Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala

Five years after GOODNIGHT MOMMY stunned Fantastic Fest audiences, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala are back with another disturbing psychological twister about a brother and sister spending Christmas with their shadowy soon-to-be stepmother.

THE LONG WALK
Laos, Spain, Singapore, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Mattie Do

In attendance – Director Mattie Do

An old Laotian hermit discovers that the ghost of a road accident victim can transport him back in time fifty years to the moment of his mother’s painful death..

LYLE
2014, USA
Repertory Screening, 65 min
Director – Stewart Thorndike

In attendance – Director Stewart Thorndike

After the loss of her child, a young woman begins to suspect that her neighbors might be part of a satanic cult and that she might be their next target.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE
USA, 1985
Repertory Screening, 87 min
Director – Jack Sholder

In attendance – Actors Mark Patton and Kim Myers

Jesse (Mark Patton) is the new kid on Elm Street and Freddy Krueger might not be the only monster in the closet in this much discussed but under-appreciated queer horror classic.

NOBADI
Austria, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Karl Markovics

In a retirement allotment in Vienna, a crabby 91-year-old finds both himself and his humanity when he hires an Afghani refugee to help him in Karl Markovics’ remarkable and poignant third feature.

PARASITE
South Korea, 2019
Texas Premiere, 131 min
Director – Bong Joon-ho

In attendance – Director Bong Joon-ho

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.

PATRICK
Belgium, 2019
North American Premiere, 97 min
Director – Tim Mielant

Patrick is not having an easy time. First his domineering father passed away and now his favorite hammer is missing. Before the day is out, Patrick’s search will lead him to discover answers to the questions he didn’t even know existed.

PHIL TIPPETT – MAD DREAMS AND MONSTERS
France, 2019
International Premiere, 80 min
Directors – Gilles Penso & Alexandre Poncet

After their documentary CREATURE DESIGNERS – THE FRANKENSTEIN COMPLEX, French journalist Alexandre Poncet and filmmaker Gilles Penso deliver an in-depth, sad, and beautiful documentary about the stop motion and VFX artist Phil Tippett, a man who changed the landscape of visual effects in film.

THE PLATFORM
Spain, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

In attendance – Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Somewhere in the future exists THE PLATFORM, a vertically tiered prison where the upper levels have access to exquisite food and the lower levels fight for survival. Level assignments are random, but how long can a prisoner’s luck hold? One man is about to find out.

PREY
1977, United Kingdom
Repertory Screening, 78 min
Director – Norman J. Warren

Jessica and Josephine find more than their relationship at stake when they’re chosen by a shape-shifting alien as his target for an observational study.

SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 100 min
Directors – Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen

In attendance – Directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen

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.

THE SHIP OF MONSTERS
Mexico, 1960
Repertory Screening, 81 min
Director – Rogelio A. González

Two Venusian women and their robot servant are on a mission to find suitable candidates to repopulate their planet. Soon their ship is filled with bizarre specimens from across the universe, leading to an adventure like no other!

SYNCHRONIC
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 96 min
Directors – Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

In attendance – Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Two paramedics find their world ripped apart when they start encountering deaths linked to the otherworldly effects of a new designer drug called Synchronic.

TRAMPA INFERNAL
Mexico, 1989
Repertory Screening, 77 min
Director – Pedro Galindo III

In Mexico’s most notorious unseen video-era masterblast, a crew of toxically masculine bear murderers runs afoul of a forest-dwelling war veteran wearing a mannequin mask and Freddy Krueger glove. Entertainment ensues!!

THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF WOLFBOY
USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 88 min
Director – Martin Krejčí

Suffering from hypertrichosis — which covers him with animal-like fur — Paul knows he’s not like other kids. But a seemingly random package from his estranged mother will send him on a journey of self-discovery alongside extraordinary characters.

THE VAST OF NIGHT
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 90 min
Director – Andrew Patterson

A rural 1950s radio DJ and a telephone operator uncover a strange signal that could change everything in this stunning science fiction debut feature.

VFW
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 92 min
Director – Joe Begos

In attendance – Director Joe Begos

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.

VHYES
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 71 min
Director – Jack Henry Robbins

In attendance – Director Jack Henry Robbins

This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, takes us back to when 12-year-old Ralph, over one formative week, mistakenly records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.

VIVARIUM
Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, 2019
US Premiere, 98 min
Director – Lorcan Finnegan

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.

ATTEND:

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