“True there are more than just horror films at Fantastic Fest, but this site isn’t called Charming Quirky Foreign Comedy’s Not Dead.”–John Gholson
Mr. Gholson is quite right, while we enjoy making discoveries across genre lines at Fantastic Fest, we are forever devoted to the category to which this site’s existence is beholden. Every year, cinematic scares from all across the globe come pouring into Austin, into the Alamo Drafthouse, for a week of pure geek consumption. We have collected the Horror’s Not Dead hive mind to give their thoughts on the horror films they are most anticipating for FF 2012. Read on, should you dare…
1. American Mary
The Soskas have been on my radar since I reviewed their debut film, Dead Hooker in a Trunk. While that film was earmarked with low-budget limitations and general inexperience from the cast and crew, it had a genial kitchen-sink approach to its mayhem that won me over by the time the credits rolled. The first teaser for American Mary showed a drastic visual improvement over Dead Hooker‘s rough approach, and when the film was picked up by Universal, something I was already curious about became a must-see. The film chronicles a rising young surgeon’s descent into the underworld of underground plastic surgery, with Katherine Isabelle (Freddy Vs. Jason, Ginger Snaps trilogy) in the title role. Body modification is one of my personal bugaboos (I can barely even look at body suspension – ugh), so the idea of it being the centerpiece of a horror film means I’m in for one squirm-inducing time at the movies.
2. The American Scream
All right, I promise I’m not just picking films with “American” in the title. I will admit, however, that I’m predisposed to see this one, as I created some early art for the project back when it was called Homemade House of Horrors. The documentary, from the makers of the lovely Best Worst Movie, focus their camera on individuals who live to open their homes as homemade haunted houses every year at Halloween. Even if I didn’t have a connection to this film, Best Worst Movie was so good that I’d make time for any doc from director Michael Stevenson.
3. The Exorcist in the 21st Century
What can I say? I’m a sucker for docs. This one, from Norwegian director Fredrik Horn Akselsen, examines not only the men who still work as professional exorcists, but also people who are convinced of their own possession. Some of the horror-themed docs I’ve seen in recent years, like Fantastic Fest alum Cropsey, have been more unsettling than many mainstream narrative horror flicks. I’m expecting that from The Exorcist in the 21st Century, as well as walking away with more knowledge on the subject than I had when I sat down to watch the film.
1. The ABC’s Of Death
Ever since this project was announced last year, I think nearly every Fantastic Fest regular has been anticipating this release on some level. While the small preview at SXSW earlier did seem to indicate that this film might be a little overstimulating, the names of the directors on the list of this anthology indicate that even if every short doesn’t work, at least more than a few of them will.
2. Doomsday Book
Kim Jee-woon is one of my favorite directors right now. I Saw The Devil, A Bittersweet Life are some fantastic movies and his films are rewatchable despite their length; much the same way David Fincher’s films are. Even though he’s a co-director here, seeing his name attached brings about immediate excitement.
3. Cockney’s vs. Zombies
A British horror/comedy with zombies might make this sound a little too familiar to a certain Edgar Wright film that we all know and love, but watch the trailer and you’ll see. This is something special, and could end up being a crowd favorite at Fantastic Fest! There might not be a familiar face in the cast, but look up Alan Ford, or go watch the Guy Ritchie film, Snatch. He’s got amazing line delivery and he should be, well, fantastic in this film.
I try to avoid trailers as much as possible, so what I know about this movie is relegated to a synopsis and the little bit I heard while cramming my fingers in my ears with my eyes shut when its trailer played in front of a movie at the theater. I’ve heard nothing but good things, and given that my tastes in horror are…hard to please, I’m looking forward to seeing if it can become one of my favorite horror flicks of the year.
2. Paranormal Activity 4
Work print or not, I am an unabashed apologist for these films. They represent what found footage should be (part two notwithstanding), and with Joost and Schulman at the helm, I have no doubt that part 4 is going to continue their trend of creating new and inventive ways to present the footage.
3. The Collection
I liked The Collector. A little too close to Saw for my tastes, but original enough and possessing unique enough characters to make a damned interesting and fun film, so I’m genuinely curious to see in what direction Dunstan and Melton go in with The Collection.
1. The Collection
Despite its jumps in logic, I firmly believe The Collector is a damn fine horror movie. It’s filled with clever kills, fantastic camera work and it put an interesting, sympathetic character at its heart. With this sequel I’m hoping for at least more of what was brought to the table before, but with further insight into the purpose of stuffing people into trunks and making off with them into the night . I don’t need a midi-chlorian level of explanation but if Dunstan can demonstrate more exciting deaths and some nice tension, then I’ll come out a happy viewer.
2. Room 237
The Shining is not only one of my favorite horror movies, but also one of my favorite movies ever. But I don’t attribute anything extra to the film than what is there. I’ve already seen a documentary that explored whether Kubrick used The Shining as an outlet to express how he faked the moon landing, a notion I find absurdly ridiculous. However, I can’t wait to see what other theories are out there about one of cinema’s finest movies. And then I have to certainly follow it up with watching The Shining superimposed over itself forwards and backwards!
3. Come Out and Play
Killer children movies are immensely awesome. It only proves what a nightmare kids are and that they’re all out to get us. One of the finest of these is 1976′s Who Can Kill A Child? Now, a masked man (seriously, he filmed the entire movie in a mask!) with the pseudonym Makinov has remade it. I have no real expectations going into it, but I know it just got picked up. I really just want to see what this insane person has produced. I also want to see a bunch of kids terrorize a couple on an island vacation.
In the end, what do I want to see? Supernatural and monster horror with a good story and the promise of some real scares. This may be one of the more “mainstream” releases, but it has most of the elements I look for in my favorite horror movies. Humans don’t scare me. Monsters and ghosts do.
What do I hate more than celebrities? The people who worship them. So, when the son of Cronenberg makes a film about the ultimate, almost fetishistic, worship of celebrities and the horrifying consequences, I come for the story, but I stay for social commentary.
3. The ABCs of Death
I know I tend to rant and rave about story, structure, and character, but sometimes I just want to see blood, guts, and creative deaths. Twenty-six directors promising twenty-six of the worst ways to die sounds like just the kind of guilty pleasure to make my brain unwind.
1. Doomsday Book
3. The Collection
Had I not already seen Sinister at SXSW, it would be number one on my list. But I have, and it’s damned excellent – one of the scariest horror movies in years – so I’ll leave it off to make room for some wildcards. Doomsday Book because it’s a Korean anthology with one of the directors being Jee-woon Kim (I Saw the Devil), one of my favorite living directors. Antiviral because its plot sounds crazy and it’s from David Cronenberg’s son. And, of course, The Collection, because Marcus Dunstan’s The Collector is a brutal bit of American horror and seeing him top it will be, at the very least, pretty ridiculous.
1. The ABCS of Death
As a fan of both the short film format and all of the directors involved, The ABCs of Death has me most interested. I imagine an exhausting yet hugely entertaining anthology. TIFF buzz has only heightened my curiosity.
2. Berberian Sound Studio
The premise is a winner, I love anything that explores the behind-the-scenes of filmmaker and Toby Jones is always a huge plus in my book. The trailer has hints of giallo atmosphere which immediately makes it a must-see for me.
3. Memory of the Dead
The festival guide writeup promises a mix of Sam Raimi and giallo which gives me an instant horror boner. This slice of Argentian gonzo filmmaking looks to be right up all of my alleys.