Fantastic Fest 2014 Wrap: Over 70 Movies Reviewed + Our Top Picks!
Holy Toledo is that headline correct? Yes ScreenAnarchy has reviews published for over 70 of the films that played at Fantastic Fest 2014! (There were 76 non-repertory films screened at Fantastic Fest 2014). So why were we slacking? Well there were a lot of other fun activities at the festival too!
To be fair, ScreenAnarchy covered a number of this year's crop of films at festivals before the big Austin genre extravaganza kicked off. So we've included links to all of those reviews here, as well as some bonus interviews and features at the bottom. After you've read all of those, click through the gallery and see how all 12 of our on-the-ground contributors answered questions from "favorite film" to "most fantastic moment."
Were you at the fest? Give us your thoughts in the comments about what were your hits and misses of Fantastic Fest 2014.
ABCs Of Death 2 Review by Rachel Fox
Absent One, The Review by Peter Martin
Alleluia Review by Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg
As Seen By The Rest Review by J Hurtado
Automata Review by Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg
Babadook, The Review by Todd Brown
Blind Review by Ben Umstead
Bros Before Hos Review by Ard Vijn
Closer To God Review by Peter Martin
Creeping Garden, The Review by James Marsh
Cub Review by Jason Gorber
Danger 5 - Series 2 Review by Rachel Fox
Darkness By Day Review by Eric Ortiz Garcia
Dead Snow 2: Red Vs Dead Review by Dave Canfield
Duke Of Burgundy Review by Kurt Halfyard
Dwarves Kingdom Review by J Hurtado
Editor, The Review by Kurt Halfyard
Electric Boogaloo: Wild, Untold Story Of Cannon Films Review by James Marsh
Everly Review by Rachel Fox
Felt Review by Ben Umstead
Force Majeure Review by Ryland Aldrich
Free Fall Review by Martin Kudlac
Future Shock! The Story Of 2000AD Review by Peter Martin
Goodnight Mommy Review by Pierce Conran
Guest, The Review by Ryland Aldrich
Haemoo Review by Pierce Conran
Hardkor Disco Review by Patryk Czekaj
High Five (Relocos Y Repasados) Review by Charlie Hobbs
Horns Review by Kurt Halfyard
Horsehead (Fievre) Review by Rachel Fox
Housebound Review by Peter Martin
I Am A Knife With Legs Review by Andrew Mack
I Am Here Review by J Hurtado
I Am Trash Review by James Marsh
In Order Of Disappearance Review by Jason Gorber
Incident, The Review by Eric Ortiz Garcia
It Follows Review by Jason Gorber
Jacky In The Kingdom Of Women Review by Ard Vijn
John Wick Review by Peter Martin
Kung Fu Elliot Review by Ben Umstead
Let Us Prey Review by Pierce Conran
Lost Soul - The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island Of Dr. Moreau Review by James Marsh
Man From Reno Review by Ben Umstead
Man In The Orange Jacket, The Review by Peter Martin
My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn Review by Peter Martin
Nightcrawler Review by Jason Gorber
No Man's Land Review by James Marsh
Norway Review by Ben Umstead
Nymphomaniac Review by Ard Vijn
Open Windows Review by Peter Martin
Over Your Dead Body Review by Todd Brown
Redeemer Review by Ryland Aldrich
Shrew's Nest Review by Peter Martin
Spring Review by Kurt Halfyard
Stranger, The Review by Michele "Izzy" Galgana
Tale Of Princess Kaguya, The Review by Christopher O'Keefe
Tokyo Tribe Review by Jaime Grijalba Gomez
Tombville Review by Peter Martin
Tommy Review by James Marsh
Treatment, The Review by Peter Martin
Tribe, The Review by Ben Croll
Tusk Review by Jason Gorber
V/H/S Viral Review by Michele "Izzy" Galgana
Waste Land Review by Peter Martin
Wastelander Panda Review by J Hurtado
When Animals Dream Review by Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg
Whispers Behind The Wall Review by Peter Martin
World Of Kanako, The Review by Kurt Halfyard
Wyrmwood Review by Peter Martin
Interviews & Features
Alexander Aja Interview by Michele "Izzy" Galgana
Nicolas Winding Refn Interview by Michele "Izzy" Galgana
Repertory Screening Round--Up by Peter Martin
In The Ring With BitTorrent: Todd's Complete Text From The Fantastic Debates
Fantastic Fest Preview
Fantastic Debates Photos
Fantastic Fest Awards
Todd Brown, Peter Martin, James Marsh, Benjamin Umstead, J Hurtado, Pierce Conran, Shelagh Rowan-Legg, Rachel Fox, Dave Canfield, Joshua Chaplinsky and Michele "Izzy" Galgana contributed to this story.
What was your top film of Fantastic Fest 2014? Optionally, feel free to mention your 2-3 runners up.
Peter Martin: The Tribe, which keeps flooding back into my consciousness like a bad dream. But I was also mighty impressed by Redeemer, Spring, and Future Shock.
Rachel Fox: I am afraid I'd be remiss if I didn't say that The Tribe was my top film of this year's Fantastic Fest. Apart from that swoony feeling one gets from being repeatedly punched in the emotional gut, it's a marvelous cinematic achievement featuring some exceptional performances and a tremendous payoff. I applaud Drafthouse Films for having the bravado to pick it up and am really curious to see where it goes. Force Majeure and In Order of Disappearance are right up there, too.
Pierce Conran: This is definitely a toss-up between two films. I always expected to be blown away by The Tale of Princess Kaguya and it didn't fail to disappoint. Takahata once again turned me into an emotional wreck. A sublimely realized animation with an abundance of heart, this is one for the ages. Just as impressive, but less expected was the Ukrainian, no-dialogue, long-take The Tribe. For me it was a game changing tour-de-force. Hypnotic, raw, fresh and unique, I loved it.
James Marsh: My favourite films of this year's festival were an eclectic bunch. Two of my most hotly-anticipated titles proved more than worth the wait. The Tribe and Nightcrawler, although incredibly different in almost every single way, continue to vie for the top spot. The silent, fluid long takes, photographic dexterity and emotional rawness of Miroslav Slaboshpitsky's brutal drama - told entirely using unsubtitled sign language - will likely feature very highly in my year-end less. I was vocally sceptical of the lack of subtitles ahead of seeing the film, but was proved dead wrong, and for that I love it all the more. In sharp contrast, Jake Gyllenhaal's unhinged news man in Dan Gilroy's explosive directorial debut was about the most fun you could possibly have with such a deranged, sociopathic protagonist. Both deserve to be showered with accolades in the upcoming awards series, I just hope the relevant bodies have the balls to applaud something so darkly honest and amoral.
Ryland Aldrich: This is a pretty easy one for me to call as the one film I saw that will almost surely be on my top 10 at year's end was the Swedish black comedy Force Majeure. With pitch perfect timing this is one of the funniest movies I've seen in years. Runners up include a similar film (but with more killing) In Order of Disappearance and the totally badass Tokyo Tribe.
Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg: Force Majeure It's not exactly a genre film, but it blew me away with amazing storytelling, great acting, beautiful cinematography and its dark, comic look at masculinity and family. Runner-up: Felt Part autobiography, part fiction, this is a strange and beautiful film that made me cry more than I have a film in a long time. Its sophisticated and raw look at reaction to trauma is astonishing.
Dave Canfield: Always a difficult choice. Based purely on the quality of the film itself I would say Housebound. It was my second viewing having first seen it at the Chicago Critics Film Festival earlier in the year. Impeccable comic timing, tight writing, and star turns from female leads Morgana O'Reilly, and Rima Te Wiata. In a nutshell-entertaining from start to finish and utterly a prime example of what it sets out to be. Other standouts When Animals Dream, Spring, I Am Here, In Order of Disappearance. I haven't mentioned The Babadook or It Follows because well....everyone else is likely too. They're outstanding and deserve it. It Follows actually raised the hair up on the back of my stiff old critics neck. No mean feat that.
Joshua Chaplinsky: I'd have to say nothing topped the first film I saw, Eskil Vogt's spellbinding debut, Blind. Vogt is a big part of why I loved Reprise and Oslo, August 31st (he wrote both films), and here he proves he is just as adept behind the camera as he is with a pen. Simply put, the man's storytelling is so naturalistic, he makes the unreal real. Another film that does the same, Benson and Moorhead's Spring, was a close second. It just shouldn't work as well as it does, which is a testament to the skill of the filmmakers. Finally, the funny and sexy Duke of Burgundy bringing up the rear (mustavoidbadpunsmustavoidbadpuns) in the number three spot. But it hurts to only list three. There was so much greatness.
Ben Umstead: Eskil Vogt's feature debut Blind stands out for me. There's a sensitivity to character in his chronicle of a blind authoress and her imagination that probably rings truer than any other film this year. In turn, his narrative structure is bold and byzantine, offering visual tricks and styling that are humorous and inventive, but never bog down or distract from the emotion. That perfect marriage of style and substance can also be found in Force Majeure. Ruben Östlund's latest is perhaps the funniest film of the year, and is not once crass, rude or crude. It's a fascinating, uncomfortable deconstruction of the male ego while being a great family drama.. err.. comedy? By no means are either of these films what can be touted as typical FF genre fare. Benson & Moorhead's Spring is then closer to that fold, but again, it's what it does in deconstructing genre that really makes it sing. Call it "Before Sunrise with tooth and claw", the film encompasses science, myth and romance into a meaningful, moving package.
Michele Galgana: I adored the The Babadook, which Jennifer Kent directed the shit out of. I also really enjoyed the thoroughly fucked upGoodnight Mommy, the hilarious Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead, and the absolute gift of getting to see Charles Bronson blow punks away on 35mm in Death Wish 3. What a dream come true. "I like chicken."
Todd Brown: This is an exceptionally difficult question for me to answer given the fact that I started viewing films for the festival about nine months ago so am pretty divorced from my initial emotional responses to many of them and, also, that I'm directly involved with many that were there. But if I had to pick one that would have to be the only one that I went to see twice at the festival: Danger 5. Just a fantastically good time.
J Hurtado: My favorite film of this year's Fantastic Fest was Sono Sion's relentlessly kinetic Tokyo Tribe. I was aware going in that it was a hip hop musical, but I wasn't prepared for the level of commitment showed by everyone in the cast to making the film just an absolute beating of killer action and music. I was pounded into submission in the best possible way. Since Himizu, Sono has really fought not only turn around his image as a violent misanthrope, but to give his films truly positive messages, albeit in a way that will probably not come through for most people. All positivity and kneecapping of false bravado. Also, I've not seen Riki Takeuchi in a role with this much blatant and spectacular scenery chewing in ages, just a marvel to watch. A close second is definitely Astron-6's follow-up to their brilliant sleaze send-up, Father's Day, the giallo-centric The Editor. These boys know their cinema, and every single hit of this film lands squarely in the gut of giallo fans. Far from lampooning the films we love so dearly, they effortlessly craft a narrative into which jokes fit seamlessly. Playing "count the references" would get tiring, but it would be pretty fun to see how many you can find!