Fantastic Fest 2016 Wrap Up

Switching back to “real life” and saying good bye to friends is always the worst as was the case this year after Fantastic Fest. Never mind that it was a particularly strong year of movies, which made the occasion all the more bittersweet.

Here’s some of the highlights:



JUNGLE TRAP and ZODIAC KILLER are two lo-fi horror/thrillers that had very little recognition until recently. Thanks to Bleeding Skull and AGFA respectively both of these movies are getting a new lease on life. Not to be seen with an ironic eye, both of these movies are a celebration of the small budget and bizarre stories.


Indian movies:

This year’s sidebar and focus was Indian movies. This year had a great mix of old and new with my personal favorite being the 1993 crime drama, KHALNAYAK. Telling the story of a criminal and his redemption it is freaking long at 3 hours and it’s so much fun. It’s cheesy and the choreography is outstanding and it really opened my eyes to these types of movies. It really opened to the style and these types of movies and I’m excited to go back and check out the Bollywood canon.



You might have heard about them last year. You might’ve thought sure this is a lot of ridiculous hype. But let me tell you, this band is the real deal. Dramatically entering the Highball — a bar adjacent to the Drafthouse — the band proceeded to freak out, surprise and amaze the audience for 90 minutes. Like a Satanic version of the Polyphonic Spree, the various members all covered in masks would play and walk through the audience. While the music itself is not conducive to headphone listening, the live show is some nightmare to behold.



This was a feature and short that were paired together but they could not have been more perfect together. TWISTED is a short film is an exploration of the malleability of memory and how it can trick us. The short deals with people telling true accounts of a fantastic instrument that may or may not have occured.

Then FRAUD is even more insane. The director took raw YouTube footage of a family’s mundane recording and edited them to have a storyline which involves everything from insurance fraud to dumping a car on a lake. The movie is an amazing exercise in the power of editing and manipulation.



Nacho Vigalondo has become a sort of mascot for the festival and his career owes a lot to the festival as well. Screening his newest movie at the festival seemed to be the right choice since everyone seemed to love this movie. It’s not any sort of built-in hype or anything, this movie is amazing.

Starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, it deals with Hathaway as an alcoholic woman who may or may not turn into a kaiju in Seoul, South Korea. Working well as a dramedy and an allegory of the destruction of alcoholism, “nice guy” entitlement, and abusive relationships. While it may not have a release date, it does have US distribution so look out for it when it comes out.

Overall, this was a great Fantastic Fest. It seems that the festival keeps on improving its programming but it also manages to top itself each year with the special events, and screenings. The festival is as much an experience as it is about the movies.

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Javier Fuentes

Javier Fuentes