NOTE: This review was originally published on September 29th 2011 from a secret screening that took place at Fantastic Fest, and is being republished for the wide release.

The second half of Paranormal Activity 3 is the most consistently intense and frightening segment so far in the popular found footage series. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (the guys behind Catfish) take their sweet time getting to it but once the scares begin, they don’t let up. That’s the good news. The bad news is for a third film in a series, it adds almost nothing to the overall Paranormal Activity mythology. (Not to mention well over half the footage in the new trailer is NOT in the movie.) Fans might also be disappointed that Katie Featherstone, the star of the first two films, only makes a brief cameo to give a bit of context to the rest of the film which is primarily about her character and her sister as little girls. And they did not have a pleasant childhood.

The world premiere of Paranormal Activity 3 was the second Secret Screening at Fantastic Fest 2011 and you can read more about it after the jump. Read More »

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Another Fantastic Fest is in the books and the festival once again lived up to its name. For eight straight days I slept little, met friends, ate, drank and watched an inhuman amount of crazy genre movies. Now that it’s over, it’s time to not only rank the best films I saw at the festival, but point out a few trends that defined Fantastic Fest 2011. Read More »

Certain movies undeniably pop off the screen. Movies such as Amelie, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Waking Life and What Dreams May Come each have a visual style that is colorful, stylized and a treat for your senses. Milocrorze: A Love Story, winner of Best Fantastic Feature at Fantastic Fest 2011, is one of those movies. It’s a three-part Japanese anthology film directed by Yoshimasa Ishibashi and starring Takayuki Yamada (13 Assassins) in each part. There are very minor through lines between the segments, but the major connective idea is that each shows a different viewpoint on love. All three are visual and emotional delights. Read More »

Bullhead and Two Eyes Staring have nothing in common except their country of origin. They’re both from Belgium, two of the three films from that country playing Fantastic Fest this year, in fact. Two Eyes Staring was optioned by Charlize Theron last year for an American remake and is about a woman who inherits her childhood house after her estranged mother passes away. There, her young daughter begins to have visions that illuminate mommy’s seedy past. That’s a very female-centric film and Bullhead is the opposite. Winner of Best Picture in the AMD & Dell Next Wave Spotlight Competition and the Belgian contender for the 2012 Academy Awards, Bullhead is about a muscle-bound, hormone-peddling gangster who himself has a huge childhood secret that has affected everything he’s done since.

One is realistic and the other ethereal; one has compelling points but both have major flaws. Read More »

Somehow, with only two full days left at Fantastic Fest, I’d avoided movies that were about sex. That was remedied on Tuesday as I saw two films that have wildly different takes on the subject in Michael and Boys on the Run. Michael is a German film by Markus Schleinzer about a normal, down to earth guy who also keeps a young boy trapped in his basement. The Japanese film Boys on the Run is much, much more playful as it follows a sex-crazed salesman who literally must fight for the woman he loves. Both films are very solid but while one is focused and effective, the other meanders around before reaching its point. Read which is which and why both are worth your time after the jump. Read More »

Buying a ticket to see a film called Extraterrestrial brings with it a lofty set of expectations. You expect sci-fi, you expect action and most of all you expect to see aliens. Nacho Vigalondo‘s second feature film says screw that. His Extraterrestrial has an alien invasion in it but it’s there only to put a new spin on the romantic comedy, a spin only the man behind Timecrimes could create. Incredibly, Extraterrestrial feels almost as layered as that film, but instead of multiple levels of time-travel, this features multiple levels of lies, laughs and love. It’s a wonderful, almost screwball, comedy that does pretty much everything right. Read More »

In the world of creature and makeup effects, there’s one name to rule them all: Rick Baker. In addition to films like King Kong, Star Wars, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Planet of the Apes, Hellboy and The Ring Baker has won seven Best Makeup Oscars for the films Harry and the Hendersons, Ed Wood, The Nutty Professor, Men in Black, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Wolfman and An American Werewolf in London. His creature and makeup effects on the 1982 An American Werewolf in London were so impressive, it finally pushed the Academy to recognize the category, which is why it’s sometimes referred to in the industry as “The Rick Baker Award.” That film is also why Baker made his first ever trip to Austin for Fantastic Fest 2011. He did a special Q&A after a screening of American Werewolf, which also included a print by Olly Moss.

Before the movie, I had the chance to sit down with Baker to pick his brain about the effects business as it stands today, his career, his latest work on Men in Black III and more. Read the full interview as well as see some exclusive images from the event after the jump. Read More »

Two guys who use their heads for very different things are the stars of Headhunters and Aardvark, another pair of films playing at Fantastic Fest 2011. Headhunters is about a job recruiter who also steals art on the side. He is forced to use all his wit and skill to compete against his latest mark, played by the man best known as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. As for Aardvark, Larry Lewis Jr. is a real-life blind man who plays himself in a movie that combines his aptitude for jiujitsu, inability to see and a murder mystery. Read about each after the jump. Read More »

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