It’s that time of year when some of the most insane, original, and glorious genre films in the world descend upon Austin, in the US state of Texas, for Fantastic Fest, one of the world’s foremost genre film festivals. Over the past 15 years, some incredible films have played Fantastic Fest (see some previous coverage at these links) and 2019 looks no different.
Below, we picked out 20 movies – the majority of which you’ve probably never heard of, at least not yet – that we’re most excited to see at the festival.
I Lost My Body
The title says it all, doesn’t it? I Lost My Body is an animated film about a hand that has lost its body and travels across Paris to try and reunite with it. But this isn’t Evil Dead 2. No, it’s supposedly more of a poignant rumination on life – which, either way, just screams awesome.
A still from Sweetheart
Ever since this film premiered at Sundance, we’ve been dying to see it. We loved director J.D. Dillard’s first feature, Sleight, and now he follows that up with a movie about a woman (Kiersey Clemons) stranded on an island that may or may not have monsters on it. Great directors generally hit their stride with feature number two and that could be the case here.
The Vast of Night
This War of the Worlds-inspired, sci-fi period piece about an alien invasion in the 1950s blew audiences away at Slamdance and has been on our must-see list ever since. That mysterious premise, blended with a truly beautiful period aesthetic, has us hoping The Vast of Night is something special.
A still from The Wave.
I hadn’t heard of The Wave until I read about it on the Fantastic Fest site and now I want to know nothing more until I see it. All I know is that it stars Justin Long as a corporate lawyer who takes a drug during a night out and then ends up on some kind of mind-bending, time travel adventure. Sold!
An image from In the Tall Grass.
In the Tall Grass
Before it hits Netflix next month, this Stephen King/Joe Hill adaptation from director Vincenzo Natali (whose credits include episodes of Hannibal, American Gods, and Westworld) premiered at Fantastic Fest. It stars Patrick Wilson, and it’s about a couple of kids who hear voices in some tall grass and, when they investigate, realise they can’t get out. Grass has never seemed so menacing.
Here’s one of the fest Fantastic Fest films you absolutely have heard about already. Taika Waititi’s darkly comedic drama is about a young boy in World War II whose imaginary friend is Hitler (played by Waititi). Reviews out of the Toronto International Film Festival were all over the map, even though it won the Audience Award, so we’re anxious to see what this crazy concept is all about.
An image from The McPherson Tape
The McPherson Tape
Not everything at Fantastic Fest is brand new. Sometimes the event brings back old cult movies, some of which you know but others you don’t. And I fully admit I had never heard of this one. It’s a 1989 found footage movie (yes, 10 years before The Blair Witch Project) shot on a camcorder; it was never released, but it tells the story of a young girl’s birthday party that happens to coincide with an alien invasion. We can’t wait to see how it all goes down.
A still from Wyrm.
Just by looking at the above image you probably think, “Oh, some kind of nerdy high school movie.” Yes, but look at his neck: If the characters don’t kiss by a certain age, that collar you see there will never come off. Wyrm is not just a nerdy high school movie – it seems like a weird blend of coming-of-age humour and a recognisable but disturbing dystopian future, which is all right with us.
The Cleansing Hour looks creepy.
The Cleansing Hour
The Cleansing Hour is about a group of people who perform fake exorcisms online, only to eventually run into a real one. On its own, that already sounds like a winner – but the most intriguing bit is that the film supposedly uses that scenario as a commentary on online culture, and if you can blend horror with a movie about bad internet trolls, we’re in.
The repetition found in suburban life can sometimes be a little scary. Same houses. Same lawns. Same cars. And in Vivarium, Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots play a couple looking for a house in one of those areas who realise, somehow, they simply can’t leave.
Vhyes promises to be star-studded.
Children of the ‘80s are very familiar with that low-quality look of a VHS tape that’s been recorded over and over again. In Vhyes (pronounced V-H-S) director Jack Henry Robbins – son of Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon – uses that aesthetic to tell a story of a young boy who mistakenly tapes a bunch of weird shit from television over his parents’ wedding video.
The thought of being stranded on the ocean is straight-up terrifying. So the premise of Sea Fever is already scary. The new twist here is that there’s a monster aboard the stranded boat, too – and it lives in the water supply. I’m thirsty and frightened just thinking about it.
Some of the legendary stars of VFW.
Imagine walking into a bar and seeing Stephen Lang, William Sadler, George Wendt, Martin Kove, and Fred Williamson just hanging out. That would be pretty amazing. Some things you wouldn’t want to do in that scenario, though, include taking a bunch of drugs, becoming mindless near-mutant punks, and trying to invade that bar. But that’s what happens in the latest action film from director Joe Begos (Almost Human).
The Long Walk
The Long Walk has one of those incredible descriptions that when you hear it, you just want to see it. Ready? It’s about a hermit who meets a ghost who allows him to time travel 50 years back to the moment of his mother’s death. Boom.
We’re guessing Nicolas Cage gets much weirder in Color Out of Space.
Color Out of Space
Nicolas Cage stars in this adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft short story about what happens when a meteor lands in the front yard of an unassuming family. Expect weird on weird when Cage meets Lovecraft.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street
Much has been said over the years about the queer subtext in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. Now, in this documentary, the film’s star, Mark Patton, opens up about not just that, but how it changed the trajectory of his career. It sounds like fascinating stuff.
Wrinkles the Clown
Wrinkles the Clown is a real clown that went viral a few years back when news got out that he would scare kids for money. Now, there’s a documentary about him, and you get the odd sense that the documentary could potentially veer into faux-documentary and turn into a horror film. We just don’t know, but can’t wait to find out.
50 Shades of Captain America.
Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan star in what on the surface appears to be a film about two paramedics dealing with the impact of a new designer drug. But the drug’s side effects may be “otherworldly,” according to the description, and that makes us think things get real weird real fast.
Jay Baruchel directs and stars in Random Acts of Violence.
Random Acts of Violence
Jay Baruchel can usually be found in front of the camera – but in Random Acts of Violence, he’s behind it too. His second directorial effort is about a pair of comic book creators who have to deal with their comics inspiring real-life violence. Feels like a very timely story, here viewed through the prism of gross-out horror filmmaking.
Again, the title says it all. Butt Boy is about a man who, after a trip to the doctor’s office, develops an enjoyment with stuffing things up his butt. But (no pun intended) as he continues to explore new objects, things go wildly off the rails in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.
Featured image: All Images (Fantastic Fest)