Every September, the film gods smile upon Austin, Texas; most hallowed among their promised lands. For one week, Fantastic Fest springs forth like a utopian garden; paradise at 24 frames per second. This wellspring of marvelous genre fare may seem worlds apart from mainstream film-goers, but each year a number of the movies make such an impact as to resonate in multiplexes.
Forewarned is forearmed, and as such, here are ten Fantastic Fest offerings that should be on your radar whether you're attending this filmic festivus or not.
Keanu Reeves has played villains, but never a character so drenched to the bone in violent tendencies. John Wick was an assassin, whose vicious nature is forced back to the surface by, of all people, a friend. When he's forced to once again give over to the darkness within himself, people don't just die, they die spectacularly. All early buzz on this flick is that not only is it a strong action thriller, but may be Reeves' best performance in years. [John Wick](movie:1116115) will be unleashed on your local theater on October 24th.
For almost two years before its ultimate theatrical release by Lionsgate, you probably heard one, maybe two dozen critics lauding the horror/thriller [You're Next](movie:908894); the home invasion frightfest with a darkly comedic edge. Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett bring a similarly genre-redefining angle to their new thriller The Guest. In spirit, tone, and reach, [The Guest](movie:997887) is very much a throwback to the 1980s, but without the overly nostalgic visual gimmickry. Highly recommended is going into your viewing blind, but suffice to say, The Guest will be a welcomed addition to your local multiplex when it arrives this week!
THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN
Charles B. Pierce's 1976 true crime slasher [The Town That Dreaded Sundown](movie:825061) was the last horror film one would expect to receive the contemporary remake treatment. And indeed the upcoming Jason-Blum-produced MGM version isn't a remake, but in fact a cleverly conceived sequel. The new film takes place, fittingly, 65 years after the murders upon which the original film was based occurred, with a potential copycat terrorizing a new generation of victims. Blumhouse isn't the only studio logo on the poster that thrills us. After filing for bankruptcy in 1991, former genre film powerhouse Orion Pictures makes its triumphant return with this horror update, due to hit theaters October 16th.
After finally (and conveniently) burying the hatchet with critics, Kevin Smith is set to release his first film with a promo tour since reaction to the infamous Cop Out pushed him a bit over the edge. The plot, derived from a story from Smith's Smodcast, revolves around a podcaster who interviews a seafarer named Howe, only to have Howe take him hostage and attempt to turn the young protagonist into a walrus. Justin Long, Michael Parks, Genesis Rodriguez, and Haley Joel Osment star in what is being described as a horror dramedy that's a little bit weird and a lot brilliant.
It can sometimes be difficult surviving a breakup, but when your ex happens to be a mob boss with an army of assassins at his command, survival becomes decidedly tougher. Joe Lynch, who previously brought the schlock-tastic Wrong Turn 2 to Fantastic Fest, directs Salma Hayek in this female-driven take on the Assault on Precinct 13 formula in [Everly](movie:1166899). The conceit alone is enough to pique my interest, but also Lynch is still carrying a great deal of buzz from the much-anticipated, and disappointingly studio-sabotaged [Knights of Badassdom](movie:1058898).
NYMPHOMANIAC: EXTENDED DIRECTOR'S CUT
Lars Von Trier is one of the most controversial filmmakers on the planet. He has previously caused a stir at Fantastic Fest with Antichrist and certainly his latest film [Nymphomaniac: Volume I](movie:214201) has been turning more than a few heads. Hell, the posters alone became their own internet sensation. A fearless examination of all sides of human sexuality and self-destruction, Nymphomaniac was notoriously split into a pair of two-hour segments. Now, Fantastic Fest is presenting the full story, the extended director's cut even. With a run time that exceeds five hours, this may well be one of the most ambitious film-going undertakings in quite some time.
Daniel Radcliffe continues to flex his creative muscles in order to unshackle himself from the Harry Potter persona. In [Horns](movie:466677), Radcliffe plays a man named Ig, who, following the death of his girlfriend, wakes to find horns sprouting from his head and starts being blamed for her murder. Directed by Alexandre Aja (High Tension), and adapted from a story by Joe Hill (the son of Stephen King), this horror fantasy comedy has received quite favorable reviews out of the Toronto International Film Fest. You'll be able to see what all the fuss is about when Horns hits theaters October 31st.
Film noir may be a genre nearly as old as film itself, but with the right twist, it is one that is always a welcomed sight on the cinema marquee. In [Nightcrawler](movie:938302), Jake Gyllenhaal plays a man who accidentally encounters L.A.'s underground crime journalism scene and gets sucked into the dangerous lifestyle. The film is tautly suspenseful and turns the media into its own racket. Co-starring Rene Russo and Bill Paxton, Nightcrawler will sneak into theaters on October 31st.
OVER YOUR DEAD BODY
It's been a while since Japanese director Takashi Miike has dabbled in the horror genre, but given the outstanding caliber of films like Audition and Ichi The Killer, we are more than a little excited for [Over Your Dead Body](movie:2154464). Here, Miike puts his own spin on a classic Japanese ghost story titled Yotsuya Kaidan. While Over Your Dead Body may only appear theatrically in your town in the smallest of independent theaters, keep this title on your radar for its inevitable manifestation on your Netflix streaming library.
A twisted bedtime story becomes a nightmare for an already strained family in this highly anticipated debut film from Australian writer/director Jennifer Kent. Not in recent memory has a horror filmmaker so exploded onto the scene, but [The Babadook](movie:1194465) is already garnering Kent the highest of praise from the multitude of film fests at which it has played. Keep a lookout for Babadook's likely creeping into your local theater.