tigers are not afraid review

With 2018’s Fantasia Film Festival officially in the books – Montreal’s cologne of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy still wafting into my dreams – let us reflect on some highlights before time brings yet another genre celebration worth covering. Gangster crime-thrillers from South Korea, despicable exploitation slashers from America, magnificent pitch-black fairy tales from Mexico – Fantasia always does well to spice their program with varied flavors. What a trip, what a festival. So many sleepers you should keep highlighted for later.

As a means of acknowledging my favorite golden nuggets from Fantasia 2018, let’s have some fun with superlatives. I know the festival elects its own judging committee and categories, but why do they get to have all the fun? I’ve assembled my own little “Best Of” list in the form of unique awards outside the normal realms of “Best Picture,” “Best Acting,” and so on. Where’s the excitement? Where’s “Best Kill Sequence” or “Best Usage Of A Severed Head?!” Who am I to deny the people what they want?

Best Undistributed Film – Tigers Are Not Afraid

I was attending Fantastic Fest in 2017 when Issa López’s Tigers Are Not Afraid premiered. Critics and audiences throughout Austin raved non-stop, and since then it’s been programmed 13 more times to massive acclaim (López’s shelf filled with Best Director accolades). Screamfest. BiFan. FrightFest. Morbido. Yet, somehow, we live in a world where this daring Guillermo-Del-Toro-esque shapeshifter still doesn’t have a distribution deal. Once you eventually behold Tigers Are Not Afraid, you’ll understand why frustration is blowing smoke out my ears.

Prepare to be harmoniously gutted by López’s dark Mexican fairy tale with human, devastating implications. She tells a story from the heart about children being failed every day by cartel violence, handled with the utmost wonder and compassion. As moving as it is mortifying, furious as it is fearful. My favorite of Fantasia hands-down (full review proves it) and not another millisecond should go by without positive release news. You’ll all be as shocked as I am…hopefully soon.

Best Villains – Pledge Bros

In Daniel RobbinsPledge, toxic masculinity is weaponized by a Grecian-devoted radical fraternity. Kidnapped students survive as they can, but we’re here to talk about the backwoods social club’s “existing members.” Max (Aaron Dalla Villa), Ricky (Cameron Cowperthwaite) and Bret (Jesse Pimentel). Boys who breathe hatred. Torturers who see weakness as punishable by death. Aggressors who seeth sadism, chomp at the bit for more demoralization and will do whatever it takes to get ahead. No Van Wilders.

Their version of “Hell Week” drill sergeants chug bottled tension and liquid nightmares as performance enhancers. No boundaries exist whether partying or disciplining, and each actor so monstrously adapts to “kill or be killed” sanctions. They’re motivated by old-world barbarism, devoted to teachings when gladiators were fed to lions. Still. In modern times. Robbins’ white-collar bros see nothing wrong with approval by combat, making Pledge all the better. Terrifying enough to swear any college freshman off rushing come first semesters.

Best Horror Movie Everyone Is Going To Call “Elevated Horror” – The Witch In The Window

Before Andy Mitton’s The Witch In The Window hits Shudder later this year, let me get ahead of the inevitable: THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW IS CHECK-UNDER-YOUR-BED HORROR. Downright mortifying, screw with your senses kind of stuff that, yes, might not be classified as your generic haunted house fare. Mitton plays around with time, space, and perception as to challenge linear stuffiness, but that doesn’t make The Witch In The Window anything less than pure, unfiltered horror.

“A terrifying family drama.” “A suspenseful wade into paralyzing parental fears.” I can see all the different descriptions now, none of which are right without including the word “horror.” Bless Mitton for daring to warp horror’s malleable form-fitting definition to his will, still clearly playing inside said box. Just don’t pull an It. Don’t talk like you did for Hereditary. For the love of Black Phillip, please just call it a damn good horror movie.

Best Asskicker – Don Lee

Korean actor Ma Dong-seok (AKA Don Lee) has been sharing the spotlight most his life, but barrels into The Outlaws fists-clenched, ready to pummel his way into action stardom. You may remember the burly-as-a-bear steamroller from such films as Train To Busan and The Good The Bad The Weird, but The Outlaws understands his indomitable presence as few have. Mere imposition isn’t enough as threaded suit seams barely withstand his hulking form. Lee goes straight-up gorilla justice on multiple occasions, unstoppable in his quest for bloody knuckles.

We’re talking about a man who doesn’t even need to punch. Criminals are knocked unconscious with one deafening slap, like a palm-shaped brick lands with freight-train momentum. Lee scuffles, evades knife swipes and lumbers after fleeing thugs, but there’s never a question once gaps shrink. If Lee’s investigator is within swiping distance, someone is gettin’ manhandled. With witty quips and genuine comedic chops as an added bonus!

Continue Reading Best of Fantasia >>

Pages: 1 2 3Next page

Cool Posts From Around the Web: