Tag Archives: Fantastic Fest

Fantastic Fest 2021: Homebound — Movie Review

Homebound is screening as part of the 2021 Fantastic Fest.

Sebastian Godwin’s debut feature, Homebound, is a lean domestic thriller with a transfixing tone and a less-than-satisfying conclusion.

Holly (Aisling Loftus) is off to meet her fiance Richard’s (Tom Goodman-Hill) ex-wife and children in the countryside. On arrival, most of the family is nowhere to be found. Eventually, Richard’s estranged children come out of the woodwork. However, they are cagey and distant. The ex-wife, Nina, is apparently not planning on showing up at all. By dinner, even Richard is acting somewhat strange, exhibiting mood swings which Holly is off-put by.

Something is amiss. Perhaps it is just collective nerves over this novel situation. Richard hasn’t seen his children in quite some time. Holly is meeting them for the very first time, and at least two of them are not providing a warm welcome. But… Continue reading Fantastic Fest 2021: Homebound — Movie Review

Fantastic Fest 2021: Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest — Movie Review

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is screening as part of the 2021 Fantastic Fest.

Seth Gordon’s 2007 The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters has become something of a cult doc. It depicts a classic underdog story within the arcade gaming community. An unknown family man who plays a Donkey Kong cabinet in his garage at nights goes after the world record set by video gamings biggest name at the time, Billy Mitchell. (Mitchell was later accused of cheating and falsifying his achievements. His world records were temporarily stripped from him and ultimately reinstated in 2020. There remain open legal cases on the issue which have yet to be resolved).

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest, from director Mads Hedegaard, is something of a spiritual sequel to The King of Kong in its story of niche glory among average joes in the increasingly fading arena of the video arcade. But even more so it is an Continue reading Fantastic Fest 2021: Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest — Movie Review

Parasite (2019) Movie Review

Much has been made of Bong Joon-ho’s genre hybridity, or rather his “genre unto self” mythos—the director himself has referred to it as an ambiguity of genre. At the risk of belaboring this idea, Parasite is a perfect example of Bong’s ability to elude the walls of genre. The film has flashes of gritty horror and a pervading sense of Hithcockian suspense, as well as tropes of the family drama and social problem film (used in entirely unconventional ways). A premise hinging on gaslighting adds a psychological layer on top. And a somewhat bitter sense of humor provides a dark comedy element.

What makes the film so extraordinary (in part) is the ease by which these diverse genres intersect to create a Continue reading Parasite (2019) Movie Review

The Lighthouse (2019) Movie Review

It may be cliched to refer to beautiful-looking films with the phrase “every frame is a painting,” but in the case of Robert Eggers’ latest, The Lighthouse, many of the shots are picturesque. The introduction of our two characters, lighthouse keepers Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) and Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe), looks like a stoic portrait. The reverse shot that follows, depicting the lighthouse on the black ocean, looks like a Gothic landscape piece.

The shot compositions in The Lighthouse are the icing on the cake that is this film about the mental disintegration of the two men, who find themselves Continue reading The Lighthouse (2019) Movie Review

Review: The Platform (El Hoyo) – Fantastic Fest 2019

Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s The Platform concerns not so much the platform as it does the pit, a pit descending hundreds of stories down through a concrete prison established by “The Administration.” Two people are housed on each level of this enclosure. Some are volunteers, others are criminals, but they are all prisoners. Each day, a platform descends housing a bounty of food and drink. The people at the top can eat as much as they want; those down below get what’s left, if anything. And every month the prisoners switch floors.

Goren (Ivan Massague) wakes on his floor—47, not too shabby all things considered—not knowing what Continue reading Review: The Platform (El Hoyo) – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: Die Kinder Der Toten – Fantastic Fest 2019

Die Kinder der Toten is a zombie movie, technically. But fewer scripts with the word “zombie” in it stray this far from what we consider standard operating procedure for a “zombie film.”

In Styria (not to be confused with Syria), a car wreck sets off a chain of events that disrupts the entire town (eventually). Call it experimental or avant garde or surrealism; it certainly is not Continue reading Review: Die Kinder Der Toten – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: VHYes – Fantastic Fest 2019

Jack Henry Robbins’ VHYes begins straightforward enough. On Christmas morning, 1987, young Ralph (Mason McNulty)—he can’t be older than 13—is gifted a VHS camcorder by his parents (Christian Drerup and Jake Head). With this gift, the film buzzes to life, as Ralph finishes scrambling to find a tape on which to record—his father asks if the tape is blank, and the footage promptly cuts to the answer: Ralph is recording over his parents’ wedding footage.

Ralph learns that he can use his new toy to directly record programs off of the television set, prompting him and his friend Josh (Rahm Braslaw) to spend holiday season late nights banking these various programs. As we are housed explicitly within the world of this tape, this television footage becomes an increasingly Continue reading Review: VHYes – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: The Vast of Night – Fantastic Fest 2019

At the beginning of Andrew Patterson’s The Vast of Night, we are shown a vintage television set, on which we will watch the remainder of the film, the narrative of which is housed within the The Twilight Zone-inspired show Paradox Theater.

On tonight’s episode of Paradox Theater: 1950s, small town New Mexico. The Cayuga High School boys are gearing up for their big basketball game, and the night’s event has brought nearly the entire town to the school gymnasium. Amid this bustle of people is Continue reading Review: The Vast of Night – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: After Midnight – Fantastic Fest 2019

Abby (Brea Grant) and Hank (Jeremy Gardner, who also writes and co-directs) make a rather cute couple. They nestle against each other and joke about “Peanut Noir” (to be clear, it is a wine made on a peanut farm, not a wine made with peanuts as an ingredient). They razz each other as they slowly get drunk. But their relationship is on the rocks. We know this because Abby spontaneously leaves their rural abode for Miami, leaving Hank with only a note as an explanation.

Also, every subsequent night following her exit, an unseen monster barrels itself against Hank’s door, mentally terrorizing him. So there’s that.

After Midnight (formerly Something Else) is a domestic drama with a tinge of horror. But the horror element functions more as Continue reading Review: After Midnight – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro – Fantastic Fest 2019

In 1991, a 20-year-old, punk-rock-inspired Canadian made his debut in the Lucha Libre AAA ring. A decades-long career followed for Ian Hodgkinson, the “Canadian Vampire,” and Michael Paszt’s Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro chronicles the latter decade of this career, particularly honing in on his declining health and his relationship with his daughter.

Other threads come and go in the process of this exploration: the history and influence of Lucha Libre (this one could be a movie onto itself, and if such a movie exists please let me know; I will watch it), the differences between Continue reading Review: Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro – Fantastic Fest 2019