Top 10 of the 2016 Fantastic Fest Film Festival

By Antonio Quintero

Safe Neighborhood

safeneighborhood

A dark version of home alone. A kid and his babysitter are been stalked by a mysterious figure that is trying to break into their home. It follows all the steps you were expecting from a home invasion movie; but then this film takes a turn you were not expecting. The kid in this film is amazing. You just want to kill him.
The Handmaiden

handmaiden

Park Chan Wook tackles the con men genre in his new film. It takes place in the 1920’s during the period in which Japan had annex Korea. The movie deals with a group of con men that want to steal a fortune from a rich art collector; they get one of their members to infiltrate the home of their mark by having her pose as the new handmaiden for the future heiress of this fortune. The handmaiden and the heiress start developing a relationship which leads to a lot of double crosses. This film weaves a tale of betrayal and deception. It features amazing cinematography and some of the best costumes I seen in a Park film.

RAW

raw

My favorite film of the festival. A coming of age story about a young girl that goes to Veterinarian College. She is a vegetarian just like the rest of her family; but after a hazing ritual in the university in which she is force to eat meat; she develops an appetite for human meat. The film has develop infamy after people in the audience fainted during the screening at the Toronto International Film Festival; at fantastic fest nobody fainted. The movie does have gory scenes; but I found the hazing scenes to be the most disturbing
Raw is a metaphor about a girl changing into a woman. You see her grow from a recluse vegetarian to a more assertive cannibal. This film is the perfect horror film from its slow beginning to its amazing final shot of the movie. You will be cheering by the final shot of the film.

 Aloys

aloys_film

I was wrong about this film. I thought it was going to be a murder mystery movie. Instead, this film is about two reclusive people that find romance with each other. It’s about a private investigator that likes to tape people without their permission. One day his tapes are stolen. He is contacted by the person that stole the tapes. I thought here the movie was going to take a dark turn; but then this becomes one of the best films about long distance relationship.
It has this great amazing party scene which is in the mind of the 2 callers; who are talking to each other over the phone. They are imagining having a party in their apartment with imaginary neighbors. A beautiful romantic film.

They Called Me Jeeg Robot

jeegrobot

This film should be called Italian Unbreakable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great superhero film. They called me Jeeg Robot is about a thief that after a bad robbery he comes in contact with radioactive toxic waste. The toxic waste gives him super human strength, Invulnerability, and fast healing. When he discover his superpowers, he is only interested is to use them to get more money. His starts to change when he meets the crazy daughter of his next door neighbor. She is obsess by this old Anime Mecha Sho Jeeg Robot. She is trying to convince him to use his superpowers for good. At the same time he comes in conflict with a bloodthirsty crime boss that loves Karaoke. I was surprised how dark it’s this movie; it has people being burn alive, fed to dogs and torture. I would definitely put it in the list of the best superhero movies. It does feature the final act battle between two superpower people we didn’t get to see in unbreakable.

 

Colossal

colossal2

This is how I imagine a Kaiju film by Nacho Vigalondo would look like. Anne Hathaway plays this woman that has recently come out of a relationship and heads back to her hometown to put her life together. There she reunites with an old friend who gives her a job at his bar. At the same time in Seoul, South Korea a colossal Monster (Kaiju) appears in the center of the City. Our lead slowly starts to realize that there is a connection between her and this Kaiju. It seems that whenever she feels depress the monster attacks Seoul.

The film features great performances from Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudekis. This film seems to be a metaphor about being stuck in an abusive relationship. It shows her being a victim and then standing up for herself. It’s the most ambitious film Nacho Vagabond has ever made. This is a giant step for the filmmaker. I’m definitely excited about this new direction from Nacho.

 

A Monster Calls

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A fantasy drama about a boy whose mother is afflicted with Cancer. He summons a tree monster to help his mother. The monster tells him that before he can save his mother; he must tell him 3 stories. This 3 stories are presented in beautiful hand drawn animation. Liam Neeson is perfectly cast as the monster. The most emotional screening I experienced at Fantastic Fest. I cry at the end of the movie. It’s a great film about having to deal with the difficult things in life. Don’t forget to bring a tissue when you go see this movie.

Asura, City of Madness

asura

A crime drama clearly inspired by the wire, and its shown in 2 montages in the movie in which they use the TV series main theme. Asura is a fine crime drama about a corrupt cop I that is forced by a prosecutor to help him take down his boss; the corrupt mayor of Asura, Tak. The Mayor is the best thing in the film. He is the best villain at this year festival. His look reminds me of Tetsuo the Iron Man. Tak is this charismatic Mayor that can switch into terrifying mode in the blink of the eye. It shows the great ability of this actor that you can buy him as a successful politician and a bloodthirsty crime boss.

 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

autopsy-of-jane-doe

The much awaited follow up to the director of Troll Hunter, Andre Ovredal. This is not a found footage movie. The police find the cadaver of a woman in a house were a massacre took place. The police wants to know more about the identity of this woman. They take her body to a father and son coroners. The police want them to find the cause of her death and any clues to her identity. Once the father and son start the autopsy weird things start to happen. It seems there is something supernatural inside her body of this Jane Doe. Now they have to find a way to escape the funeral parlor and the evil coming from the corpse of Jane Doe.
The autopsy of Jane Doe is an exciting supernatural thriller that does not pull any punches. I cannot tell you all the really freaky things that happen in this movie. It does not rely on cheap jump scare, but is a film that earns its suspense. I would warn you if don’t like autopsy footage you might feel queasy with this film. Many freaky moments happen in this movie.

 

Bad Black

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The film that took Fantastic Fest by storm. It’s this year Fantastic Fest Audience award winner. I don’t think this movie was in anyone’s radar before the festival, but it earn great word of mouth. A great low budget film. Even the behind the scenes stories of the making of this movie would make a great feature itself.
Bad Black is a Ugandan Action movie made with a budget of $65; but with a lot of heart. According to its producer and star of the film, they spend $40 in tents and the rest of the budget was spend on gas and incidentals. The film is about a woman name Bad Black that is a con artist. She takes money from the rich and gives to the poor in her neighborhood. One day bad black makes the mistake of stealing an American’s doctor dog tags and now the American doctor is about to carve a path of destruction to get his tags back. You never seen an action film like this one all the weapons look really good even thought they were made from Scrap Metal from old cars. The gun flash effects were done thru PCs that the director got from the landfill. The movie also features a VJ: a narrator that is like the chorus of the film. According to the filmmakers this is a Ugandan narrative tradition. The VJ feels in parts of the dialogue and also make funny comments about the movie.
Its producer Alan Hoffman aka Commando Jesus has very interesting back story. He told us he was left by his fiancée. He fell into a depression and his friend was trying to cheer him up and he show him the trailer from the movie “Who Killed Captain Alex? The trailer had a profound effect on him. He decided to use the money from his cancel wedding to buy a plane ticket to Uganda. Now Alan had never travel to another country; much less Africa. He found the filmmakers and ask them if he could be in their movie. Now he works as an actor and a producer for wakaliwood.
Special Mentions:

Retrospective film:

 

Magaheedra

magaheedra

This year we had a retrospective series of Bollywood films. The best of this films to me was the 2003 Telegu Film, Magaheedra. The film is about this stunt biker that falls in love with a college student. He learns the reason he is madly in love with her because in a previous life they were lovers and both were murder. In their past life he was a brave warrior and his love was a princess. At the same time there is this rich man that is obsess with the female lead and is willing to do anything to get her, even if he has to kill someone.
It’s a great movie, it has 5 great musical numbers. It also features this part in the middle were we travel 400 years into the past to see the lovers previous lives. This part has the best costumes in the movie. It has an amazing 1 vs 100 fight at the top of the cliff. This part of the film would totally worked into a great Conan the barbarian film.

Short Film:

The Stylist
Directed by Jill Gervazahian

stylist1

A short that I hope one day gets adapted for a feature. It’s the story of a hair stylist that collects the scalps of her customers. The stylist seems like a tragic character in this short. I want to know more about this character, there are a lot of clues about her background thru out the short. I also commend on the beautiful cinematography in the short, it reminded me of 70s Italian Giallo films.

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