Fantastic Fest

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.

suspiria post-credits scene

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.

Apostle Review

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.

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