And these are just a few of the great movies that Fantastic Fest has to offer. To read more festival information CLICK HERE!
DIRECTOR: BRANDON CRONENBERG
When your last name is Cronenberg and your dad was the director of The Brood, I guess there’s a lot to live up to. Brandon Cronenberg has already made his own path starting with his sneaky independent film Antiviral and now he’s more confident than ever with Possessor. Andrea Risborough stars as Tasya Vos, an assassin, who infiltrates people by possessing their bodies, committing violent acts, and then leaving the host. It’s a bit of a mixture on The Matrix or Total Recall, but Cronenberg makes sure to add much more blood to make us squirm. This is a futuristic film, using a hypnotic score and cinematography to suck us into the setting, and then smashing us in the face with intense action. The ending is almost too shocking to handle but it’s impossible not to praise Cronenberg for making something so original and never pulling a single punch. Possessor sucks us in and takes us over. It’s a big winner for Fantastic Fest. FOR MORE INFO GO HERE.
MOVIE: HOW TO DETER A ROBBER
DIRECTOR: MARIA BISSELL
How to Deter a Robber will be the secret hit of 2020. Hear me now, see it, and believe me later. There’s a chance that Maria Bissell’s debut feature is my favorite movie of Fantastic Fest, not just because it surprised me how good it was, but because it has a unique and delightful cast of characters. It’s Christmas time, with Madison (Vanessa Marano), a high school teenager preparing for college, her boyfriend Jimmy (Benjamin Papac) is an adorable doofus, and the two find themselves in the wrong places at the wrong time. They sneak into Madison’s neighbor’s house to get high, but while they are passed out, the house is robbed. It leads to a string of robberies in the neighborhood, with Madison and Jimmy, along with her uncle Andy, pathetically rigging their house for any would be invaders. Things do not go as expected and the final result is a collection of laughs and twisted accidents. How to Deter a Robber is sharply written by Bissell, with a cast that stays consistent, a score that adds to the slapstick comedy, and an energy that most Christmas movies lack. Do not be deterred by this one at all. It’s by far one of the best movies at Fantastic Fest this year. FOR MORE INFO GO HERE.
DIRECTOR: LUDOVIC BOUKHERMA; ZORAN BOUKHERMA
Teddy reels you in at first with setting up the possibility of a werewolf movie and doesn't deliver till it is much too late. That’s not to say I wasn’t amused by the French film, directed by brothers Ludovic and Zoran Boukherma. Teddy (Anthony Bajon) is an outcast, taking whatever job a temp agency can get him, and being more of an annoyance than a friend to people in his small town. When a string of sheep are killed by a wolf...or something, Teddy wants to stick his nose into the situation and find out. Instead of saving the day, he is attacked by something, leaving a bite mark on his back, and a bunch of weird changes start happening to his body. I enjoyed more of the small town, comedic side to Teddy, with the title character being a hard headed doofus, and denying his changing to a Lychan by chalking it up to his drug use. There are plenty of interesting moments, some disturbing, some not, and some bloodshed, but Teddy shook the bottle too long before finally releasing the beast. It’s a nice start to Fantastic Fest, but will be forgotten compared to the other great movies in this festival. FOR MORE INFO GO HERE.
MOVIE: THE STYLIST
DIRECTOR: JILL GEVARGIZIAN
It feels good when a movie you are looking forward to delivers on that anticipation. That is how I felt at the end of watching Jill Gevargizian’s The Stylist. It’s a centerpiece of Fantastic Fest and with plenty of good reason. The cast is filled with horror movie favorites Najarra Townsend and Brea Grant, and it is directed by Jill Gevargizian, who has been a rising star after her short film version of The Stylist earned national acclaim. The short proved the potential, but the feature length is Gevargizian stretching her legs, showing off that she’s the real deal. Townsend stars as Claire, a hairstylist with a twisted side. Instead of just cutting and styling, she tends to kill her patients, and tear their hair right off their heads. She becomes a bit obsessed with one of her clients Olivia (Grant) and within that obsession, Claire just might go over the edge. The Stylist plays as a fun filled bloody mess, but what’s surprising is how much restraint Gevargizian shows. Instead of this being a gore fest, Gevargizian shows off her lead Townsend, who continues to show why she’s a great lead actress. There’s a nice mix of The Stylist being half a Michael Meyer’s style serial killer and Single White Female obsession movie, and that's what makes The Stylist an instant horror genre hit. FOR MORE INFO GO HERE.
DIRECTOR: CHAD FAUST
The directorial debut for Chad Faust is playing Fantastic Fest and that’s a big highlight for this multifaceted artist. I see a lot of potential, that’s for sure. He’s a triple threat as writer, director, and co-star in his film Girl, but the highlight is the work of Bella Thorne, who continues to throw herself into different projects that expand her resume. With all of that said, Girl is not exactly the best movie of Fantastic Fest. It’s Faust’s riff on a modern western, with Thorne playing the title Girl, headed to a small, backwoods town, in search of her estranged daddy and to kill him. When she gets there, she finds out things in her life she should not have gone looking for, and finds out that the local sheriff (played by an out of place Mickey Rourke) is not the one to mess with. There’s a bit of intrigue along the way, but the final result is disappointing, with Thorne never able to unleash herself, and a cast of characters too vile to care about. Potential is there, the result is a miss. FOR MORE INFO GO HERE.
It will never not be weird or sad that Fantastic Fest is not taking place at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas this year. Instead, the celebration is going to happen from the comfort of my own home. No matter how good the movies are, I miss the faces of horror and genre movie fans that we typically see. But the folks at Fantastic Fest are doing a great job of making lemonade out of the lemon that is 2020. The collection of movies gathered are more than good, these are some of the best of the year. There are also throwback screenings for Invasion of the Bee Girls and Daughters of the Darkness and virtual gatherings with folks such as Doug Benson and Leonard Maltin. It should make for an incredibly entertaining weekend and plenty of the screenings are free. You just need to RSVP fast HERE. See below for my coverage on the movies that you don’t want to miss out on: