The Best, Weirdest, And Wildest Movies Of Fantastic Fest 2018

Over eight jam-packed days, the /Film team saw dozens of amazing, crazy, and unforgettable movies at Fantastic Fest 2018. The largest genre film festival in the United States is always a good time, but this year was especially wonderful. The programming was just killer: a diverse blend of major blockbusters, wild indies, and international oddities. Even the films we didn't like were worth seeing for the sake of conversation.

But now, we're ready to close to the book on this festival. We're ready to hand out a batch of useless awards that nonetheless come from the bottom of hearts. Jacob Hall, Matt Donato, and Marisa Mirabal are here to award the best, weirdest, and wildest movies of Fantastic Fest 2018.

Best Film

Matt Donato: The Night Comes For Us

Timo Tjahjanto's magnum opus granted me a second Fantastic Fest wind as 2018's back-end half began. What a marriage of all Tjahjanto's talents. Effortlessly brutal, ceaseless momentum, cinematic experimentation – I mean, who dares stage an entire action set-piece inside a claustrophobic police van? Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, and too many more The Raid/Headshot veterans ensure this two-hour rumble won't soon be forgotten.

Jacob Hall: Suspiria

Luca Guadagnino's remake of Dario Argento's classic 1977 horror nightmare couldn't be more different. It's an hour longer, it swaps the original's eye-searing color palette for winter tones, and it trades traditional scares for an unnerving examination of a city, and a supernatural dance academy, on the verge of violence revolution. Let yourself fall under the spell of this lush, strange, sometimes intentionally obtuse experience. Let it intoxicate you and let it pull you through scenes of great beauty and great horror. There will be no film like this one in 2018. Hell, there may be no film like this ever.

Marisa Mirabal: The Perfection

Richard Shepard successfully combines elements of horror, drama, romance, and comedy that amalgamate into a meandering thrill ride. Allison Williams shines as a damaged cellist who's seeking revenge and hopes to secure her overdue chair in the spotlight. Playing her nemesis turned lover, Lizzie, Logan Browning foils Williams perfectly while both of the women give applause-worthy and dynamic performances. Containing the most uniquely structured narratives, The Perfection is one film you won't forget and, like a beautifully complex song, will want to revisit time and time again.

Best Audience Experience

Matt Donato: You Might Be the Killer

No other film deserves a night doused in booze, shared by friends, in front of a radiating screen. It's not Cabin In The Woods, but Brett Simmons' meta-slasher commentary is still a pun-filled skewering of horror norms worth many a chuckle. Fran Kranz and Alyson Hannigan navigate horror comedics with the best of 'em.

Jacob Hall: One Cut of the Dead

Shinichirou Ueda's One Cut of the Dead has an iffy start, to say the least. The first 30 minutes depict a zombie attack on a film crew making a zombie movie in one unbroken take and it's...well, it's not particularly impressive in any way. But stick with it. Because if you do, you will discover what this instant-classic is going for and you will be rewarded with great cinematic riches. And if you see it with a crowd, there will be gasps, screams, laughter, applause, and maybe even some joyous tears as everyone discovers where this movie is going. The destination is worth the journey. See it with a crowd if you can.

Marisa Mirabal: Halloween

It's been 40 years since John Carpenter and Debra Hill introduced the world to Michael Myers. To say audiences were excited about the ultimate scream queen facing off against The Shape again is an understatement. Moviegoers donned their favorite Halloween attire (myself included) and clapped whenever certain industry names appeared in the opening credits. Once Jamie Lee Curtis graced us with her presence on screen, there were several cheers of excitement. Multiple scenes aroused laughter as the characters jokingly referenced other films in the franchise and secondary characters shined in their sarcastic wit. The third act is filled with tricks and treats that caused the most uproarious reactions as all three generations of Strode women fiercely fought the boogeyman in an epic finale.

Best Performance

Matt Donato: Dan Stevens in Apostle

Unhinged Dan Stevens is the best Dan Stevens. In Apostle, we get to watch the former Downton Abbey sophisticate string out on drugs, flee from screeching ghouls down a bloody river, pay homage to The Wicker Man, and so much more. Stevens' genre work is his best stuff. Producers need to continually remember this.

Jacob Hall: Eva Melander in Border

Actors vanishing under make-up to play unattractive people is nothing new, but few have used their make-up to craft a character as memorable or heartbreaking or one-of-a-kind as Eva Melander in Border. Playing a woman with the face of a neanderthal and abilities that suggest she is more than human, Melander embraces a role that asks her to do things that should be preposterous, that should be silly, that should make us roll our eyes. But the film meets her halfway and catches her, resulting in a tragic and oddly beautiful character that I will not soon forget.

Marisa Mirabal: Allison Williams in The Perfection

Williams is a jack of all trades. From her neurotic and self-obsessed tendies as Marnie in HBO's Girls to a white supremacist in Jordan Peele's debut Get Out, she has now stretched her abilities to the fringes of sanity in The Perfection. Tackling feelings of rage, love, and jealousy, she is able to deliver a multi-faceted performance that simultaneously engages audiences and teases them. You never know how her character arcs will develop, but you can bet she will deliver them flawlessly.

Scariest Scene

Matt Donato: The One-Shot Murder in Halloween

Halloween's portrait of a killer is primal, emotionless, and exquisitely savage. No scene depicts said slasher abuse better than Michael's slaying of a neighborhood Stepford wife. Start on Michael peering past a living room window. Woman #3 chats via telephone about being on-edge. We then watch Michael's shape walk nonchalantly down her driveway, through her backdoor, and right up behind her for a final piercing stab in-and-out her neck. A one-take kill for the ages that is dread incarnate.

Jacob Hall: Something Under the Bed in May the Devil Take You

So much of Timo Tjahjanto's riff on Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead is wacky and wet and drenched in gore that you take notice when the film decides to slow down. And when it does slow down, it's because he's setting up a scare. And roughly halfway though this delightful and nutty romp, he delivers a heart-stopping take on the "Is there a monster under the bed?" scene that we've seen so many times. It's a classic set-up, played to perfection. Yes, there is something in that dark room with you.

Marisa Mirabal: The Little Boy Returns Home in Terrified

Demián Rugna channels some serious Pet Sematary and Psycho vibes when a young boy returns home from the grave. His childhood house is covered with muddy footprints walking up the walls and leading into the kitchen, where his grief-stricken mother prepares him a bowl of cereal and milk. Most of the movements are implied, but there is a very creepy sense of tension the entire time his corpse is on camera. These scenes hold the audience hostage and keeps viewers painfully on edge for any slight shift of his morbidly decaying body.

Gnarliest Moment

Matt Donato: The Voodoo Doll Death in May the Devil Take You

One poor character suffers a horrible death at the hand of a possessed woman. She finds his miniature voodoo doll and first starts with an arm. Bend, snap, ouch. She finally tortures him enough, finally ending his misery by popping his head off like there's a CO2 cartridge loaded inside his throat. Pop!

Jacob Hall: Pick a Scene in The Perfection

Look, to tell you why this "estranged former cello prodigy reunites with her old mentor" thriller earns a place in this category would be a major spoiler. So trust me. Trust me when I say you can blindly point to a scene in the back half and find reason why. This film goes places. And those places will sear themselves upon your brain.

Marisa Mirabal: The Dance Spell in Suspiria

Utilizing dance as a weapon of spellwork, Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria brought a whole new meaning to body horror. Dance student Olga defiantly refuses to dance and yells at her instructors, accusing them of being witches. After storming out, Susie steps in to dance the lead. Her sharp, violent movements correspond with the movements of Olga, who is trapped in a different dance room. Olga's body twists, bends, snaps, and slams up against the wall as gruesome images are coupled with disturbing sound design. To top it off, her body is stabbed with hooks and carried away by the coven.

Craziest Action Sequence

Matt Donato: The Final Fight in The Night Comes For Us

Throughout The Night Comes For Us, Tjahjanto teases a square-off between Joe Taslim and Iko Uwais. Their brawl doesn't come until the final act, but patience is a golden virtue. Taslim and Uwais not only deliver the fluid martial arts you'd expect, but utilize every warehouse object as a weapon. The fight goes on for what seems like an eternity, but there's never ever a desire for one competitor to bow. Masters of their craft, painkillers required.

Jacob Hall: The Apartment Raid in The Night Comes For Us

There's only about 15 minutes of downtime in The Night Comes For Us. The rest of the movie is Indonesians turning each other into red splatter with guns, machetes, and whatever else is lying around. Still, the best action movie since The Raid (yeah, I said it) does peak early with its first major action scene, one that takes up roughly the first half of the film. It's simple enough. A bunch of gangsters want to get into an apartment. A handful of our heroes want to keep them out. Lots and lots of people die in the bottleneck. You watch, slack-jawed, and wonder how any of these brilliant stunt performers didn't actually die while filming.

Marisa Mirabal: The Cabin Shootout in Hold the Dark

Throughout Jeremy Saulnier's mystery thriller, there's a sense of unease and tension with spurts of violence. All of that comes to a head during a lengthy shootout sequence where bullets rain down upon police officers. Assault rifles that can shoot through bullet-proof vests and penetrate car doors pick off nearly everyone on the ground and leave a crazy-high body count. The seemingly endless sea of shots is one of the gnarliest action scenes I've witnessed in awhile, and the orchestrated effects to make it all happen is quite impressive.

Incredible Moment You Never Want to Experience Again

Matt Donato: [MAJOR SPOILER]’s Death in Hold The Dark

(Immediate and major spoilers for this film, which is now streaming on Netflix). What makes Donald Marium's death in Hold The Dark so unsettling is how Jeremy Saulnier builds his hero character out – baby on the way and all – then discards him with one whizzing arrow. Through his neck, out the back. Nothing but a wolf hunter and the chilly mountain air to witness Donald's final moments. Pure Saulnier bleakness.

Jacob Hall: Dead's Suicide in Lords of Chaos

Early in the true crime/heavy metal odyssey Lords of Chaos, Dead, the death-obsessed lead singer of the band Mayhem, commits suicide. First he slashes his wrists. And then he cuts his throat. When that doesn't do the trick, he loads a rifle and finishes the job. It all plays out in agonizing detail, forcing us to live out his final, brutal moments step-by-step. The scene ends up being vital to the overall film (it launches the chaos that follows), but I'm hard-pressed to think of a suicide sequence this lengthy, this agonizing, and this lonely to witness. I'll never forget it and I never want to see it again.

Marisa Mirabal: The Shower Scene in Terrified

Strange thumping noises are coming from the other side of the walls in Demián Rugna's Argentinian horror feature. Upon investigating its origin, a sleep-deprived husband discovers blood splattered across the bathroom walls as his wife's body is suspended in mid-air, slamming itself into the tiles causing a reoccuring thud. Something out of an urban legend, this scene is jarring and very well-executed but will definitely scar your retinas.

Funniest Scene

Matt Donato: Eating the Oyster in Keep An Eye Out

Quentin Dupieux's offbeat sense of humor needs no introduction. In this particular example, Grégoire Ludig's hungry interrogation room prisoner is finally offered food in the form of one single oyster. Instead of slurping it down, Ludig crunches into its shell and continues to munch away without batting an eye. Such a simple gag – his interrogator looking dazed – and so very, hilariously, Dupieux.

Jacob Hall: The Final 30 Minutes of One Cut of the Dead

Remember above when I said that sticking with One Cut of the Dead is one of the best decisions you will ever make? Well, it is. The final stretch pays off dozens of moments you didn't even know were being set-up. This movie is pure joy.

Marisa Mirabal: The First Rewind in The Perfection

Director Richard Shepard uses comedy to alleviate tension. His labyrinthine narrative yields several different outcomes and each chapter feels like its own film. The first time he executes this style, the audience is exposed to a scene reminiscent of a Korean horror film filled with sickness and gore but once introduced to a different explanation, the relief is comedic and kicks in a light-hearted tone with an otherwise disturbing plot.

Movie You Didn't Expect to Fall in Love With But Did

Matt Donato: Climax

Gaspar Noé aims to divide audiences, which always has me nervous pre-screening. Climax's freeform conception is no different. Act I is just talking heads, Act II is a drug spiral, and Act III goes full red-saturated possession explosion. Step Up but with LSD and moral abandon. Also? I love it.

Jacob Hall: After the Screaming Stops

Look, I don't attend Fantastic Fest to watch documentaries about long-forgotten English pop bands reuniting, but I'll be damned: this is one of the most entertaining movies I saw all week. Luke Goss and Matt Goss used to lead the terrible boy band Bros and they're still terrible when they reunite 28 years later. But the music isn't why you watch. You watch because you'll rarely see a more honest and brutal and hilarious depiction of brothers. Matt and Luke are a natural born accidental comedy team and their dynamic is like the awkward love-child of This is Spinal Tap and Curb Your Enthusiasm. It's agonizing. It's wonderful.

Marisa Mirabal: Piercing

I went into Nicolas Pesce's film blind and chose the title solely on my love for his debut, The Eyes of My Mother. While Piercing is significantly different in storyline and execution, it's a love letter to a different era of horror with Italian giallo. A perfect balance of black comedy, gore, and thrills, this is one of the only films I wish would have lasted longer than its 81 minute running time.

The Film Everyone Liked Except You

Matt Donato: Cam

My issues with Cam stem from an ending that – as a horror fan – crashes without ever making a point. Many others are loving this digital abuse thriller and more power to them. Sometimes you have to accept outcast labels and move on.

Jacob Hall: Donnybrook

If you're going to double down on misery, you better have something to say. Donnybrook has one thing to say and it says it over and over again for a relentlessly boring 100 minutes: America is screwed. Yeah. I know that. Anything fresh to add? Jamie Bell is excellent as a struggling father who enters an underground bareknuckle boxing competition to win $100,000, but everything else around him is so po-faced, so obvious, and sometimes unintentionally hilarious. This film won big with the Fantastic Fast jury awards. Lots of people were deeply affected by it. I was not.

Marisa Mirabal: Luz

While I can appreciate the unique approach to demonic possession and creative narrative structure with vintage horror elements, Luz  simply didn't do it for me. The puzzling plot and indie filmmaker aesthetic is indeed intriguing. However, the pacing and convoluted storyline within a deceptively simplistic set-up ultimately fell short on its execution; and the characters lacked a sense of depth.

Most Promising New Filmmaker

Matt Donato: Tilman Singer (Luz)

How many students get their graduate thesis accepted to multiple high-ranking genre festivals across the world? Keep an eye on Tilman Singer. His feature debut takes possession storytelling and redresses norms to an unrecognizable – and rather compelling – degree. Maximum production value on a low budget. Creativity and ambition of the highest order.

Jacob Hall: Henry Dunham (The Standoff at Sparrow Creek)

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, watching The Standoff at Sparrow Creek reminded me of when I watched Reservoir Dogs for the first time. This isn't just a single-location crime movie with a small, contained cast and razor-sharp dialogue – it's one of the most assured and compelling debut features I have ever seen. Henry Dunham's first film hits some speed bumps and it can be shaggy around the edges and I'm not convinced its final scenes land the way they need to, but this thriller about a right-wing militia group trying to suss out the mass shooter hiding in their midst had me so far on the edge of my seat that i fell into the goddamn aisle.

Marisa Mirabal: Isabella Eklöf (Holiday)

Eklöf's ability to convey tension through subtlety is ridiculously impressive. Her use of framing draws the audience in as her protagonist flirts with danger in seemingly every scene of the film. She is able to capture a specific vision and tone with her film that sets her apart in a singular fashion.

The Under the Radar Award For Film That Deserved More Attention

Matt Donato: Lords of Chaos

Unfortunately, Lords Of Chaos only played opening and closing night, so Jonas Åkerlund faced hefty levels of competition. The story of Mayhem, Norwegian Black Metal, and flaming churches. You aren't ready for how hard Lords Of Chaos hits.

Jacob Hall: Tumbbad

Maybe it was poor scheduling and maybe it was the unspoken-of stigma that is often attached to Indian cinema amongst even seasoned film lovers. But Tumbbad, one of the creepiest and most beautifully made movies at Fantastic Fest in 2018, flew under the radar. This generational horror saga of greed and forgotten gods is one of the best weird fiction movies I've ever seen and its attention to detail and history recalls the best of Guillermo del Toro. Do not sleep on this one.

Marisa Mirabal: Cam

A sexy thriller that chronicles sex work in an empowering light, director Daniel Goldhaber's latest was well-received but not deeply discussed. Like cam girls themselves, there's a lot more going on behind the camera than what the surface suggests.

Best Score/Soundtrack

Matt Donato: Girls With Balls

Remember the honky-tonkin' exposition machine from Dead & Breakfast? Girls With Balls enlists their own musical narrator who ensures over and over the film's Falcon volleyball team will die horrible deaths (between giggles and gossip). Sacha Chaban's score does bop a cheerful party vibe, but a tip o' the hat to you Mr. Cow-Boy.

Jacob Hall: Apostle

Even before you see a single frame of actual footage, Apostle sets the table quite nicely with Aria Prayogi and Fajar Yuskemal's score, which drones over the opening credits. Did I say set the table? Sorry. I meant "properly conveys the terrible dread of the unrelenting movie you are about to watch."

Marisa Mirabal: Halloween

John Carpenter returns to score Halloween alongside Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies as collaborators. The synth soaked tracks pay homage to the 1978 original with its 5/4 refrain and creepy piano-driven pieces that stab through the screen like Myers' beloved knife.

Best Costume Design

Matt Donato: Knife + Heart

Costume Designer Pauline Jacquard embraces every ounce of sleaze while clothing Knife + Heart. A late-'70s Eurotrash gay-porn pastiche covered in BDSM latex, denim, leather, and other trashy accents. Vanessa Paradis is only one of many characters dressed to mean, die?

Jacob Hall: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Terry Gilliam movies paint with a broad brush and latest production is no different. Lena Mossum's costumes are lovely to look at, but they also let you know everything you need to know about a character before they even open their mouth. The blend of medieval garb and modern fashion ultimately blends in a fantasia of time-jumping weirdness, and  Mossum always keeps pace with Gilliam's deranged vision.

Marisa Mirabal: Bad Times at the El Royale

Costume designer Danny Glicker successfully captures the essence of the '60s through a stylish wardrobe. With a resume that includes Milk, The Hills Have Eyes, and Mother!, Glicker picked the perfect threads to compliment the group of misfits in Drew Goddard's latest feature. Cowboy boots, denim, and airy floral dresses capture both the Californian and Manson family vibe of the Summerspring sisters while flashy sequin and pastel casual dresses convey the wardrobe of female Motown singers reminiscent of the '60s.

Most Disturbing Creature Design

Matt Donato: Apostle

Something about an evil "Mother Nature" gets to me, primarily as in Apostle, when she's restrained by thickets to her sacrificial throne. Shout out to Wooden Masked Pyramid Head, her lumbering accomplice.

Jacob Hall: May the Devil Take You

We've all seen our fair share of long-haired demon ladies with wide mouths. But what it I told you that May the Devil Take You features the best long-haired demon lady with a wide mouth in ages? Well, it does.

Marisa Mirabal: Murder Me, Monster

Director Alejandro Fadel's haunting horror film supplies plenty of suspense, tension, and gore. On the hunt for a murderer, the local sheriff discovers a monster is responsible for beheading multiple women in the small Argentinian town. Once revealed, the creature contains a phallic tail that suffocates and decapitates its victims while its face has a vaginal aesthetic complete with multiple rows of sharp fangs. There's also green ooze that secretes from its mouth that is later regurgitated by its minions. Shying away from CGI, Fadel's monster is straight-up nightmare fuel.

Best Cinematography

Matt Donato: Tumbbad

Pankaj Kumar's cinematography in Tumbadd is good enough to make any snobby Academy voter rethink their stance on horror being a secondary genre. Shot selection frames Indian ruins and exotic marketplace landscapes so magnificently. That closing escape where monsters lunge towards the film's mid-climb lead? Perfection.

Jacob Hall: Hold the Dark

Magnus Nordenhof Jønck shoots the hell out of Hold the Dark, capturing both the beautiful desolation of Alaska and the suffocating poverty of its most isolated communities. Jeremy Saulnier's biggest film yet demands a larger cope and his cinematographer delivers in every way possible.

Marisa Mirabal: Holiday

Cinematographer Nadim Carlsen utilizes the dreamy seaside coast, sunny skies, and cotton candy color palettes to juxtapose the dark realities of violence and assault. The colorization and lighting contrasts the dangerous tone throughout the film all while providing the appearance of a high-fashion style magazine or popular Instagram filter. It's truly beautiful and almost helps serve as a comfort to the depravity audiences are otherwise subjected to within the plot.

Most Unconventional Romance

Matt Donato: An Evening With Beverly Luff Lynn

Jim Hoskins – responsible for The Greasy Strangler – is the definition of unconventional. Trust that his spin on a romantic comedy, An Evening With Beverly Luff Lynn, is every bit as eccentric. A five-way romantic collision between Aubrey Plaza, Jemaine Clement, Emile Hirsch, Matt Berry, and Craig Robinson? Too many awkward pauses and swimwear onesies worth counting.

Jacob Hall: Border

The heart of Border is the burgeoning relationship between two ugly people with seemingly supernatural abilities. However, the miracle of the movie is not only that you care deeply about the romance that grows between Tina (Eva Melander) and Vore (Eero Milonoff), but that it makes you feel guilty for labeling them as ugly in the first place. Here is a movie romance that challenges our pre-conceived notions of beauty in drastic, wild, and ultimately moving ways.

Marisa Mirabal: The Perfection

Most films featuring female competitors will pin the characters against one another. While there may be flirtations, there is almost always an underdog protagonist facing off against their antagonist rival. Director Richard Shepard spices up the competition with his two main characters falling in love before the plot twists and turns into a tale of savagery.

Most Fearless Female

Matt Donato: The Girls Show Us How It's Done in The Night Comes For Us

One of my favorite moments in The Night Comes For Us happens when two female assassins let their chauvinistic male counterparts enter an elevator before them. The men laugh, assuring themselves superior killers, until their female target blows them all to smithereens. Cue a three-way fight sequence that stands with the film's best – women forced to battle atop male corpses from previous failures – with just as much dominance as the Taslim/Uwais standoff.

Jacob Hall: The Three Leads of Halloween

The slasher genre treats women like meat. That's how it's always been. So what if, director David Gordon Green asks with his new sequel to the original 1978 Halloween, it didn't? Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the franchise as original "final girl" Laurie Strode, but she's joined by Judy Greer as her daughter and Andi Matichak as her granddaughter. Three generations of Strode women, united by shared trauma. And wouldn't you know it? The movie gives them the catharsis they need as they come together to defeat Michael Myers, who represents a whole lot more than just a masked maniac this time around. It's all crowd-pleasing stuff, but it touches a deeper truth. It's about time the women took control in slasher movies.

Marisa Mirabal: Isabella Eklöf (director/writer of Holiday and writer for Border)

Eklöf works with an almost entirely female crew to bring us one of the most unnerving films about sexual assault in years. Bold, daring, and dangerous, she pushes the limits with Holiday and gives a realistic depiction of the daily threats women have to face. Additionally, the sex scene is rumored to not be entirely simulated. Her decision to deliver such a controversial film amidst the #MeToo movement is both inspiring and necessary to the social conversations happening around the globe for women's rights and safety.

Best Sex Scene

Matt Donato: Tenacious D's Post-Apocalypto

If there's one thing Jack Black enjoys drawing, it's dicks. Post-Apocalypto loads artwork with phallic outlines and explicit sex scenes that are legendary-status-funny based on Black's crude doodles. Like a 12-year-old tried to recreate pornography in art class. All voices provided by Black and bandmate Kyle Gass. Oh, Tenacious D.

Jacob Hall: Border

What happens when two people who aren't quite human, and therefore don't have to follow the biological rules we're accustomed to, have sex? You are not prepared for this.

Marisa Mirabal: The Perfection

The chemistry between Allison Williams and Logan Browning is palpable. The adoration between their characters, Lizzie and Charlotte, shifts from praise to romance in a seemingly innocent manner that is tastefully executed. They explore their attraction for one another in a light-hearted and carefree manner that results in a sexy yet subtle seduction. Their romance is one that you want to root for and Shepard captures the love scene between these two heroines in a way that is stylish without being exploitative.

Fantastic Fest 2018 MVP

Matt Donato: James Badge Dale (The Standoff at Sparrow Creek, Hold the Dark, and Donnybrook)

Every Fantastic Fest sees a single actor or actress score multiple dynamite roles across festival programming, and this year that talent is James Badge Dale. Donnybrook, The Standoff At Sparrow Creek, and Hold The Dark areall exquisite in their usage of Badge Dale. If not for Dan Stevens, Badge Dale would have stolen my "Favorite Performance" spot as well thanks to The Standoff At Sparrow Creek. Intensity like a bottle rocket trapped in a glass jar that remains ignited for 90-ish minutes.

Jacob Hall: Timo Tjahjanto (The Night Comes For Us, May the Devil Take You)

The two films Timo Tjahjanto brought to Fantastic Fest this year come from very different genres, but they're united in one key way: they want to up the ante. The Night Comes For Us wants to be the wildest action movie ever made, and it seemingly succeeds. May the Devil Take You wants to pick up Sam Raimi's torch and be the best Evil Dead movie in decades, and it seemingly succeeds. We should be looking at Indonesia for the future of genre cinema at this point, especially if Tjahjanto keeps on delivering like this.

Marisa Mirabal: Dakota Johnson (Suspiria, Bad Times at the El Royale)

Johnson delivered two badass roles at this year's fest. Her captivatingly subtle performance as Susie Bannion in Suspiria casts a spell on viewers and her dancing abilities are nothing short of spectacular. As Emily, a protective older sister in Bad Times at the El Royale, her give-zero-fucks attitude refreshingly derails past characters that are more wholesome. Her characters span the emotional spectrum with each film, and who doesn't appreciate a girl who can navigate her way around sorcery and a shotgun?