Fantastic Fest – Day 7 & 8

Hey guys, Ben here.  Horrorella finishes up her Fantastic Fest coverage with the last two days of the festival, Day 7 and 8!  Thanks goes out to Horrorella for being so kind as to share her thoughts on all the movies she saw!

After an earlier failed standby line didn’t grant me access, the movie gods smiled upon me on Day 7 when I got into Room 237.  Summary from the Fantastic Fest: Rodney Ascher’s ROOM 237 is a fascinating documentary that explores bizarre theories about the subtext and symbolism underlying Stanley Kubrick’s landmark film THE SHINING.

This documentary film explores a series of unconventional theories surrounding potential deeper meaning that Stanley Kubrick put into the subtext of The Shining.  The film is really fascinating if you haven’t delved very deep into this subculture before.  If you have, it is still interesting, but it probably won’t present you with a ton of new information.  It overlays audio interviews with scenes from the film so you can see exactly what aspects the interviewees are referencing.  Even if you don’t buy into what the theorists are saying (and you probably won’t), it is interesting to notice some of the elements of the film that they are picking out.  For instance, even if the Dopey Dwarf sticker disappearing from Danny’s door in the beginning of the film doesn’t actually mean anything specific, it does come off as a strange inconsistency.  Some of the theories presented go deep down the rabbit hole, but regardless, it’s definitely an interesting ride, particularly if you are a fan of The Shining.

Next up was Hellfjord. It was a bit of a departure from the other pieces I saw at Fantastic Fest, in that it is a television series and not a film. Summary from Fantastic Fest: Seven of Norway’s finest directors team up for writer/producer Tommy Wirkola’s fusion of HOT FUZZ and TWIN PEAKS.  A seven part TV series from the director of DEAD SNOW.

This series will begin airing in Norway in a couple of weeks.  The version I watched still had a couple of green screen shots that hadn’t been finished yet but this series is a blast.  I loved the crap out of it and found it to be a great way to spend a few hours.  The writers aren’t kidding when they list Hot Fuzz and Twin Peaks as influences; both are very well represented in the final product.  It’s a bit on the lighter side than Twin Peaks was but it does have a few mysterious elements running through it and a wicked Badalamenti-esque score.  Plus, it’s funny as hell and a lot of the humor from Dead Snow is on full display here.  Since this is about to air in Norway, it will probably be awhile before we have access to a DVD here in the States but be sure to jump on it when it becomes available.  You will be thoroughly entertained.

The evening of Day 7 wrapped with Doomsday Book.  Summary from Fantastic Fest: Innovative Korean genre directors Kim Ji-Woon (A TALE OF TWO SISTERS, A BITTERSWEET LIFE, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, I SAW THE DEVIL) and Yim Pil-Sung (HANSEL & GRETEL) turn their imaginations to apocalyptic sci-fi with this three-part omnibus film which outlines three possible ways in which the world goes kaput.

I had mixed feelings about this film.  It would be more accurate to say that this film is comprised of three stories based on the concept of the world ending, rather than ways in which the world ends.  They don’t all offer a big global picture of what the end of the world looks like – that is just a common theme running through them.  Like most anthologies, there are segments that click with you and others that don’t, but there is a lot of creativity running through these stories, so I say this film is worth checking out.

Day 8, my final day, at Fantastic Fest kicked off with Tower Block.  Summary from Fantastic Fest: The last remaining tenants of a deteriorating, soon-to-be-demolished tower block must band together to survive when a killer with a high-powered sniper rifle starts picking them off through the windows of their flats.

I enjoyed this fun British thriller.  The plot is fairly simple though well-structured.  The actors pull off their roles convincingly.  It’s certainly not mind-blowing but it is a fun thriller that makes good on its suspenseful opportunities.

Thanks to an added screening, I was lucky to find myself getting to see Holy Motors.  This screening was one of the highlights of my time at Fantastic Fest and I am so happy to have been able to see this.  Summary from Fantastic Fest: While following a day in the life of Mr. Oscar as he attends several appointments, things quickly unravel and spiral out of control, abandoning all sense of logic or sanity. Fans of Carax’s ‘Merde’ segment of Fantastic Fest 2008 hit TOKYO! will be right back at home.

Holy Motors was a huge hit at the festival, and generated big buzz at Cannes earlier this year, so it is bound to see some sort of release in the coming months. GO SEE THIS FILM!  It is amazing.  It is incredible.  It is beautiful.  It is the reason we love cinema.  That is all I’m going to say.  It is an amazing piece of art that really gives you an incredible experience by going in blind and absorbing it slowly.  Really a fantastic piece of film.

After the amazingness of Holy Motors came Red Dawn, which was kind of a step backwards.  Summary from Fantastic Fest: A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers.

I have never seen the original Red Dawn so I am unequipped to make a comparison there.  What I can say is that this version was rather dull, uneven and uninspired.  None of the characters were fully developed and come off kind of wooden.  The action scenes were entertaining but the road getting between them was bumpy.  The idea of South Korea invading the U.S. is just kind of weird.  It’s entertaining enough for a light action flick but you’ll probably be able to find something better to check out come Thanksgiving.

My final viewing experience of Fantastic Fest was Here Comes the Devil.  Summary fromFantastic Fest: Fantastic Fest veteran Adrián García Bogliano (COLD SWEAT, PENUMBRA) returns with his latest supernatural horror.  When two children who went missing while exploring a cave are found, it quickly becomes apparent something evil has come home with them.

I had mixed feelings on this film.  From the description, I had been hoping for something a bit more haunting and atmospheric which isn’t what this film had to offer.  While it had some shocking moments, they weren’t always well-delivered.  Laura Caro is good in the role of the worried mother and does a good job increasing the tension as she tries to figure out what happened to her children (one of the more compelling aspects of the story), but it’s not enough to save the plot when it starts wandering off on tangents that don’t always deliver.  It sort of merged two different possible stories into one but didn’t give either one the attention that could have made them compelling.  It’s not a waste of time but it’s not the strongest horror offering you’ll catch.

That’s it from Fantastic Fest!  Thanks to everyone for making it such a blast and I hope to be back again!

by Horrorella

Be sure to check out Horrorella’s blog (here) and you can follow her on Twitter @horrorellablog.


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