Fantastic Fest returns for its thirteenth year, kicking off with this year’s opening night film, the US premiere of Martin McDonagh’s THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, a beautifully comic and delightfully dark tale of loss and redemption.
S. Craig Zahler makes his triumphant return with the US premiere of 2018’s most hyper-violent slice of brute force, BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99. Not to be outmuscled, Zahler’s bringing backup in the form of the thunderous trifecta of Vince Vaughn, Don Johnson and Udo Kier. And Barry Keoghan marks his first Fantastic Fest, sharing Yorgos Lanthimos’ savage horror epic THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER for the first time in the US.
Embracing cinema spanning from Egypt to Lebanon to Iraq to Afghanistan, the festival turns an eye to celebrate the best of the region. Highlights include Egypt’s rarely seen Rocky Horror Picture Show adaptation ANYAB and the International Premiere of the box office smash AL ASLEYEEN (aka THE ORIGINALS) directed by Marwan Hamed. “It’s truly a joy to be able to showcase a variety of Arabic genre films never before seen in the US to shatter preconceptions.” said Fantastic Fest Creative Director Evrim Ersoy. “Cinema from this region is as exciting, inventive and as wild as anything we’ve ever seen and we’re here to prove it. It’s going to be a wild ride! Yalla, Habibi!”
Fantastic Fest’s global reach isn’t relegated exclusively to Arabic nations, as it has once again scoured the corners of the globe to bring the best cinema to Austin, TX. Sweden is well represented with Ruben Ostlund’s brilliantly sardonic THE SQUARE; Japan’s master of malevolence, Takashi Miike, hits a bloody century with his 100th feature, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL; Scotland flies its flesh-eating flag with John McPhail’s zombie musical, ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE; and Austrian Oscar winner Stefan Ruzowitsky delivers a brutal and relentless ride with COLD HELL.
Maine’s finest son, Stephen King, is gorgeously represented with two standouts from Netflix’s burgeoning genre slate. GERALD’S GAME receives its US premiere along with the welcome return of Fantastic Fest alumni Mike Flanagan, who delivers a chilling adaptation of one of King’s most beloved bedside tales starring Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood. And Fantastic Fest first-timer Zak Hilditch will be in attendance to share his perfectly precise vision of King’s uber-creepy novella, 1922, for its world premiere.
Sticking with the theme of world premieres, this year’s program features a selective set of titles from first-time feature filmmakers whose wildly impressive debuts belie the depth of their filmographies. Spanish short master Yayo Herrero excels with his fantasy horror, MAUS; Bradley Buecker explores wasted youth and packs a visceral punch from the wrong side of the tracks with JUVENILE; and Lukas Feigelfeld shocks with his atmospheric exploration of a medieval hell in HAGAZUSSA – A HEATHEN’S CURSE.
Fantastic Fest alumni are well represented this year as DAN DREAM reunites KLOWN’s dynamic duo of Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam for an electric road trip back to the ‘80s; GENERATION B sees WASTE LAND director Pieter Van Hees return with a mad comedy; and RON GOOSSENS: LOW-BUDGET STUNTMAN delivers the warm embrace of directors Steffen Haars and Flip van der Kuil, whose previous NEW KIDS features and BROs BEFORE HOs crushed at previous editions of Fantastic Fest.
2017Fantastic Fest FIRST WAVE FILM
World Premiere, 101 mins
Director – Zak Hilditch
1922 is based on Stephen King’s 131-page story telling of a man’s confession of his wife’s murder. The tale is told from from the perspective of Wilfred James, the story’s unreliable narrator who admits to killing his wife, Arlette, in Nebraska. But after he buries her body, he finds himself terrorized by rats and, as his life begins to unravel, he becomes convinced his wife is haunting him.
Regional Premiere, 91 min
Director – Alexandre O. Philippe
This masterful documentary focuses on a single aspect of Hitchcock’s PSYCHO to demonstrate the master’s technical ability in storytelling. With expert interviews and rollicking analysis, 78/52 sets a new bar in how to examine film overall.
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE
World Premiere, 107 min
Director – John McPhail
Anna’s life is dominated by the typical concerns of her youthful peers until the Christmas season in her small town brings not Santa, but an outbreak of the undead in this genre-mashing holiday horror musical. Yep. Musical.
Repertory, 100 min
Director – Mohammed Shebl
ANYAB (FANGS) is an oddity worth rediscovering! An Egyptian take on THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, this eye-popping musical of madness manages to cram horror, science fiction and even social commentary together while charming with its outrageous costumes and action.
BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL
US Premiere, 141 min
Director – Takashi Miike
Takashi Miike’s 100th journey is an adaptation of the BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL manga. Manji, a samurai who cannot die, crosses paths with Rin Asano, a young girl whose parents were killed. Manji swears to help Rin Asano avenge her parents’ deaths.
BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99
US Premiere, 132 min
Director – S. Craig Zahler
S. Craig Zahler (BONE TOMAHAWK) returns with his sophomore feature, BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99. An exhilarating exercise in analog violence, CELL BLOCK follows the brutal exploits of a former boxer who finds himself incarcerated after a drug deal goes wrong. Trapped in a maximum security facility, he must fight to stay alive and to protect those he loves.
US Premiere, 91 min
Director – Stefan Ruzowitzsky
A young Turkish woman living in Vienna feels increasingly lonely after she witnesses a murder and finds herself next on the killer’s agenda in this smart and gritty thriller from the director of ANATOMY and the Oscar-winning THE COUNTERFEITERS.
US Premiere, 97 min
Director – Jesper Rofelt
KLOWN duo Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam reunite for a true-life tale of epic failure. Witness the non-arrival of the Danish electric car!
Texas Premiere, 111 min
Directors – Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
When brothers Justin and Aaron return to the cult that they escaped from ten years ago, they encounter a web of secrets and mysteries that threatens to tear them apart.
GENERATION B (GENERATIE B)
ep. 1-4 = North American Premiere; ep. 5-6 = World Premiere, 210 min
Director – Pieter Van Hees
The generation gap has never been wider than it is in Pieter Van Hees’ deliriously absurd satire, pitting old generation money against Millennial apathy — and the occasional naked anarchist — following Belgium’s economic collapse.
US Premiere, 103 mins
Director – Mike Flanagan
Flanagan unites with master of the macabre Stephen King for his cinematic interpretation of King’s beloved GERALD’S GAME. Starring Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood, GERALD’S GAME delivers pitch-perfect performances in a faithful adaptation where the horrors of the mind are much worse than what’s in front of you.
HAGAZUSSA – A HEATHEN’S CURSE
World Premiere, 102 min
Director – Lukas Feigelfeld
Set in the 15th Century in the Austrian Alps, Lukas Feigelfeld’s HAGAZUSSA takes us back to a dark period in which even the remotest parts of Europe suffered from the paranoia and superstition of the time.
US Premiere, 92 min
Director – Jimmy Henderson
Cambodia’s traditional martial art of bokator is unleashed in all its bone crunching fury in this action-packed tale of police trapped in the midst of a raging prison riot.
World Premiere, 87 min
Director – Bradley Buecker
The emotionally powerful story of Billy, an angry youth who spends his evenings stealing cars with best friend Mikey while attempting to cultivate a stable relationship with his girlfriend Jules.
THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER
Ireland / United Kingdom, 2017
US Premiere, 120 min
Director – Yorgos Lanthimos
The life of a brilliant surgeon is thrown into disarray when his friendship with a bizarre teenager threatens the lives of his entire family. Faced with a frightening choice, the man will be forced to assess all that he’s ever done.
US Premiere, 104 min
Director – Steve Mitchell
Featuring interviews from some of the biggest names in genre cinema including Joe Dante, Robert Forster and Fred Williamson, this documentary tells the story of one of the best and hardest working exploitation filmmakers.
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Yayo Herrero
Yayo Herrero’s directorial debut is a couple’s nightmare journey into the heart of darkness. A superlative horror parable, this shocking film is an indictment of modern history, war and the difficulties of reconciliation. It is a story for our times.
MY FRIEND DAHMER
Texas Premiere, 107 min
Director – Marc Meyers
This is the story of Jeffrey Dahmer, a high school loner whose life would shape up to be something far more frightening than anyone could have imagined.
International Premiere, 125 mins
Director – Marwan Hamed
Samir works for a bank, provides for his ever-demanding family and dreams of being in an Egyptian talent show. When he’s unexpectedly fired, Samir finds himself recruited to be part of a secret society and finds a darker side to life in Egypt.
RON GOOSSENS: LOW-BUDGET STUNTMAN
The Netherlands, 2017
US Premiere, 78 min
Directors – Steffen Haars & Flip van der Kuil
The latest from the comedic team behind the NEW KIDS films and BROs BEFORE HOs. Ron Goossens is totally shitfaced. Only by working as a movie stuntman and bedding the hottest actress in the Netherlands can Ron save his marriage.
US Premiere, 150 min
Director – Ruben Östlund
An art museum director’s life becomes a comedy of errors when trying to put together his latest exhibit in FORCE MAJEURE director Ruben Ostlund’s latest, which won the Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes.
SUPER DARK TIMES
Regional Premiere, 102 min
Director – Kevin Phillips
A split-second act of violence forever changes the lives of two ‘90s kids. Now they must cope with both the fallout of that moment and the pressures of high school in this clever and bloody coming-of-age thriller.
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
US PREMIERE, 110 min
Director – Martin McDonagh
A grieving mother takes drastic measures in an attempt to catch her daughter’s killer. Challenging the police to solve the case, she posts a series of billboards that threaten the fabric of rural, Missouri.
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Jakob Lass
Failing to crack the ranks as a would-be cop, Maggie begrudgingly settles for a security guard job until she encounters Tiger, a fierce young woman whose rebellious antics leave Maggie questioning which side of the law she truly belongs on.
TOP KNOT DETECTIVE
North American Premiere, 87 min
Directors – Aaron McCann & Dominic Pearce
Aliens! Ninjas! Robots! Enormous egos! Get ready to enter the world of TOP KNOT DETECTIVE! Possibly the greatest cult TV series you’ve never heard of, TOP KNOT DETECTIVE and its creator Takashi Tawagoto come to life in this gonzo documentary.