Directed and written by Rian Johnson
Starring Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Pierce Gagnon, Qing Xu
The year is 2074, and time travel has finally been invented. Yay! We can finally go back in time and prevent the births of people we hate. Say you have a neighbor with white guy dreadlocks who blasts Dave Matthews Band at all hours of the night (I know you thought Dave Matthews Band could not possibly be “blasted,” but this asshole is proving otherwise). All you would need to do is find out when he was conceived (this may take some uncomfortable investigative work), time travel back to the point at which his parents are about to do the horizontal shuffle, and then locate his parents and distract them in such a way as to prevent a terrible mistake. You would essentially be murdering somebody in perfectly legal fashion. Granted, the parents could try again the next weekend, but that would entail a different sperm and, therefore, create a different child with a different path in life and hopefully better taste in music.
There was a point during the latest “found footage” film, Crowsnest, where I actually contemplated never watching a horror film again. About half an hour into this derivative and aggressively annoying backwoods thriller, I paused the DVD and took a short, dark tea time of the soul. (In this instance, it was coffee.) Five self-involved 20-somethings on their way to a remote cabin in the woods are terrorized by an RV. All of this, naturally, is captured by a hand-held video camera that is kept running even in the most dire of situations. Making the experience all the more insufferable was the monotonous dialogue highlighting my biggest pet peeve in this genre: confusing antagonism for drama.
Directed by: Nicolas Lopez
Written by: Nicolas Lopez, Eli Roth, Guillermo Amoedo
Featuring: Eli Roth, Andrea Osvart, Ariel Levy, Nicolas Martinez, Natasha Yarovenko
Aftershock is a Chilean product backed by Eli Roth, who any horror geek worth their salt knows. At Fantastic Fest, I chose this over a screening of the work-in-progress print of Paranormal Activity 4 since I generally like whatever Roth takes part in. Unfortunately, that cannot be said anymore because Aftershock is a mess, a film that's a mix of too many different genres and ideas where the result seems to be that no one said no to any concept, line or shot.
Directed by: Marcus Dunstan
Written by: Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton
Featuring: Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzpatrick, Randall Archer, Christopher McDonald
One of my more anticipated films of this year's Fantastic Fest was The Collection, sequel to the The Collector (2009). Filmmaking team Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton return for Dunstan's directorial debut, with actor Josh Stewart (most recently seen in The Dark Knight Rises) also returning in the lead role.
Subtitled "Severe Fantastic Shorts," this section of programming really did pack a punch. Whether you like gross-out special effects (making me really glad I didn't eat during this) or lyrical, emotional short films that demand your attention in a completely different way, "Short Fuse" had something for everyone.
Directed by: Branko Schmidt
Written by: Branko Schmidt
Featuring: Rene Bitorajac
It wouldn’t be a proper festival if there wasn't at least one film that I just didn’t enjoy. In truth, that’s partially why festivals are always so exciting: There’s an element of surprise inherent to each screening. Unfortunately, Vegetarian Cannibal is one of the bad surprises of Fantastic Fest. From the reactions of everyone in the theater (including one man who fell asleep), I’m guessing this wasn’t a positive experience for most. While I enjoy challenging films with difficult subject matter, I don’t enjoy boring ones, and Vegetarian Cannibal is really only challenging because of how much I wanted to leave my seat.