15 Movies We’re Dying to See at Fantastic Fest 2018

Fantastic Fest, the largest genre film festival in the United States, kicks off tomorrow and /Film will be in attendance. Soon, we’ll be neck-deep in horror, fantasy, action, and general all-around weirdness and we’ll be sharing with you what you must see and what you must seek out. Few film festivals encourage curiosity and being adventurous quite like this one.

But before things kick off, our team came together to talk about the movies we want to see above all others. Sure, we’re going to discover new favorites and hidden gems during the fest, but these are the movies we’re prioritizing.

Apostle Trailer

Apostle

Director: Gareth Evans

Synopsis: The year is 1905. Thomas Richardson travels to a remote island to rescue his sister after she’s kidnapped by a mysterious religious cult demanding a ransom for her safe return. It soon becomes clear that the cult will regret the day it baited this man, as he digs deeper and deeper into the secrets and lies upon which the commune is built.

Why We’re Excited: Gareth Evans is best known for directing The Raid and The Raid 2, you know, films that belong in the “best action movies ever made” conversation. But in-between those two masterpieces, he co-directed something else that was awfully unforgettable: “Safe Haven,” a lengthy short film and the centerpiece of the horror anthology V/H/S 2. In 30 minutes, Evans delivered one of the most visceral and downright terrifying horror tales of the 21st century. So the thought of him diving into the genre with a proper budget and a recognizable cast (led by Dan Stevens) is a thrilling prospect. Evans has conquered the action movie. It’s time for him to brand the horror genre with his signature style. (Jacob Hall)

bad times at the el royale featurette

Bad Times at the El Royale

Director: Drew Goddard

Synopsis: Seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption… before everything goes to hell.

Why We’re Excited: Drew Goddard is an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and successful television producer…and he is also the mad man who directed the instant-classic The Cabin in the Woods, a horror satire that eviscerated its own genre in a way that could only be accomplished by someone who loved it a great deal. Bad Times at the El Royale looks to be a very different beast – a more straightforward thriller about strangers all in one place with bad intentions – but honestly, I don’t need Goddard to deliver something as batshit nuts as Cabin. All I need is another film from this clever and surprising filmmaker who shouldn’t have to wait years between helming feature films. (Jacob Hall)

Cam

Director: Daniel Goldhaber

Synopsis: Alice is a camgirl with principles. She doesn’t do public shows, she doesn’t tell her fans she loves them, and she doesn’t fake her orgasms. But when a mysterious lookalike takes over her channel, the rules no longer apply.

Why We’re Excited: As of 2016, the money generated by the camming industry reached upwards of $2 billion annually with 12,500 cam models and more than 240,000 viewers online at any given time. The staggering number of people utilizing social media and the internet to project a fabricated image of themselves for money or validation is fascinating to me. Despite shining a neon-soaked light on sex workers, the themes of Cam appear to be eerily relatable in our society’s need for attention and the blurred lines between what we are and what we pretend to be behind the seemingly safe computer screen. The fact that writer Isa Mazzei utilized her own experiences in the cam industry to write the film, drives the horror component even deeper down the internet’s deviant echo chamber. Cinematographer Katelin Arizmendi provides a dreamy and lush feminine touch to the screen complete with bright pink and purple hues that juxtapose the dark side of the web that we all know exists, but rarely experience. This psychological thriller teases a multi-layered approach with its themes and relevance in the modern technological age while simultaneously allowing audiences a potential sympathetic yet disturbing glimpse into the cam girl subculture. (Marisa Mirabal)

Deadly Games

Director: René Manzor

Synopsis: Deadly Games (3615 CODE PÈRE NOËL) is the terror version of Home Alone. A 9-year old kid in his house, tormented by a demented Santa Claus, fights for his survival by setting traps. Christmas will never be the same again.

Why We’re Excited: Fantastic Fest’s curation is a work of marvel year-by-year, not only loading schedules with hotly anticipated premieres, but also lesser-seen retros the programming team knows audiences will go gonzo over. This year, one such oldie is René Manzor’s 1989 Deadly Games (aka 3615 Code Père Noël). Why does this specific repertory screening excite me so, you ponder? Simple: Christmas Horror with a French twist.

European filmmakers always take it just a step further.

Those of you who’ve been following /Film long enough might know that last Christmas I ranked 80ish XMas themed horror films because I’m an absolute madman (every single one I could find). Holiday horrors are a delicacy in this sacred house. Ask /Film collaborator Rob Hunter, who shares equal enthusiasm for halls decked with dismembered limbs and warped holiday cheer. Deadly Games was on my massive ranking radar at the time, but unfortunately no possible viewing option existed for me in the states – UNTIL NOW. Bless you, Fantastic Fest. (Matt Donato)

Deadwax

Director: Graham Reznick

Synopsis: A young woman is pulled into a murder investigation revolving around a curious vinyl record which has driven those who possess it mad, and killed anyone who dared to listen to it.

Why We’re Excited: Right now, I am spinning Christopher Young’s Hellraiser score on vinyl which was released by Death Waltz, a record company that had a small part in the making of Deadwax. As a collector of film scores on vinyl and avid horror fan, a movie about a record that causes harm to its listeners once the needle hits, is right up my dark and twisted alley. The nefarious folklore behind backmasking, or spinning a record backwards to reveal a hidden message, has been explored in beloved campy horror films such as The Gate and Trick or Treat. Then there’s The Ring franchise that follows a murderous videotape that once played, kills off its viewers. Deadwax seems to drive full-force into the horror/physical media realm with Shudder and sound designer-turned-director Reznick (The House of the Devil) at the wheel. Any time there’s a film that utilizes ‘70s giallo-esque music splattered with ‘80s-style gore, you can color me intrigued. Speaking of ‘80s, Ted Raimi even guest stars in this atmospheric eight episode series. Suffice it to say, I’m stoked about this film and a potential vinyl release as I currently flip my Hellraiser record to side B. (Marisa Mirabal)

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