Fantastic Fest 2011 is almost upon us, with a film line-up terrifyingly full of genre gems from around the world. Not only is this Austin‘s most bizarre cinematic experience, it‘s also the most fun. Starting on September 22nd, Fantastic Fest runs a week of non-stop twisted amusement from bizarre supernatural pics, to gory body horrors and Asian actioners, to wild events including the famed Fantastic Debates which usually ends in actual bloodshed.
In anticipation of the upcoming weirdness, I’ve compiled my list of Most Anticipated Fantastic Fest films. Since the list might become laboriously long if I included shorts and events, I’m limiting my list to feature films.
Since there are some films making their world premiere at FF this year, like the much-buzzed about Human Centipede 2, and some that are making the festival circuit and have already received critical acclaim like Lars von Trier‘s Melancholia, I’m just going for personal preference here.
The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence
This movie has me both excited and afraid. As I’ve said before, I think creator Tom Six could go one of two ways with this sequel to his disturbing body horror The Human Centipede that premiered at FF in 2009. This film could just be a gratuitous attempt to out-gross the original film, in which case I feel it would be exploitative pulp. It could also go the other way, and end up a disturbing yet artistic body horror that breaks rules and boundaries. I’ve heard some disturbing reports about barbed-wire sex scenes and other pervo scenarios (which I guess is what one would expect from a film called The Human Centipede 2). The jury is still out as The Human Centipede 2 is making its world premiere here in Austin on Thursday and so no one knows quite yet what will unfold (except maybe the UK film censors, who have banned it).
As much fun as I’ve had following Trier’s controversial Cannes showing earlier this year, finally getting a chance to see his atmospheric sci fi Melancholia is like the cherry on top of a cinematic sunday. I love horror films, and a close second is sci fi/fantasy pics, particularly those that are intelligent and thought-provoking. Given Trier’s former cinematic offerings, as well as his penchant for controversy, I’m expecting this end-of-the-world tale to be memorable, if nothing else.
This is another title that has been gaining buzz since it premiered earlier this year at Sundance. Take Shelter stars the versatile Michael Shannon as a family man who believes the end of the world is coming. It looks to be a psychological drama as much as it will be a supernatural apocalyptic pic, which ups the ante for me.
Beyond the Black Rainbow
The name alone is intriguing, but when you add in plenty of psychedelic trippiness and director Panos Cosmatos’ past work in music videos, Beyond the Black Rainbow is one of my most anticipated sci fi pics of the festival. The story might not shape up as nicely as it should given what looks like a heavy reliance on visual artistry, but the atmosphere and visuals promise a unique graphic thrill ride.
This Canadian horror looks to be surreal and bizarre, and stars a supernatural corridor discovered in the woods by a group of friends. As the corridor begins to effect the friends, the group dynamic begins to change. Sounds intriguing; that’s pretty much all I can say for it now. And the fact that it reminds me of YellowBrickRoad, an indie horror that could have been great but missed the mark, has me hoping The Corridor goes right where YellowBrickRoad went wrong.
The Day is another post-apocalyptic thriller. Yes, there are plenty of them out there, but when done right they can kick ass and entertain. From the plot synopsis provided, this one reminds me of The Divide, one of the best horror films from SXSW about a group of post-apocalyptic survivors trying to survive each other. I can only hope The Day is as good, and has something new to bring to this sub-genre.
This French horror promises an atmospheric and twisted fairytale about an old mansion and its secrets. Filmmakers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo brought the extremely violent home-invasion pic INSIDE to FF in 2007, so this change in pace for them from ultra-violent to highly amospheric is one I’m looking forward to checking out.
So there are my Most Anticipated films, though there are plenty of honorable mentions that I will be making time for, like a French film about a prostitute-possesses gun called Calibre 9. Alien-invasion pic Extraterrestrial looks interesting enough, as does the highly buzzed pinko-zombie pic Juan of the Dead. No doubt I’ll end up seeing plenty of films that take me by surprise, and some of my most anticipated just might disappoint.
I’ll keep you updated on FF happenings; check back here to learn how the films on my list fared, and if I survived The Human Centipede 2 with my sanity (and last meal) intact.