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[Fantastic Fest ’21] Some final thoughts on Fantastic Fest 2021

Dark bumpers, also.

Fantastic Fest was a little different this year, but that did not prevent it from being a fun week. One of the most anticipated film fests of the year saw a slew of titles that included horror, science fiction, and short films. For many, the movies took a back seat to the opportunity to attend a film festival in person. Now that Fantastic Fest is over (kind of; FF@Home takes places through October 11), we take some time to reflect.

The WTF Award goes to…

[Fantastic Fest '21] Some final thoughts on Fantastic Fest 2021

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Take your pick. Do you want to go with the movie whose synopsis is literally a definition of the title or do you prefer the one that is named after an animal? Either answer would be correct. Titane is filled with bright colors, violence, nudity, and a serial killer who really likes cars. Not to be outdone, Lamb tells a more understated story that will stay with anyone who sees it. The two stories have a surprising amount in common, though they are nothing alike. 

After Blue (Dirty Paradise) belongs in a category all its own. The surreal movie looks like something airbrushed on a van, has a character named Kate Bush, and weapons named after fashion designers. And these are the more normal things.

Look what I found

V/H/S/94

Shudder

Found footage is a polarizing genre. While it is popular, it gets something of a bad rap. It is considered not as good as “regular” movies and is seen as something of a guilty pleasure. Fantastic Fest had two offerings. The first was The Found Footage Phenomenon, a documentary that is strictly for fans. It is interesting, but will probably not appeal anyone outside of a niche audience.

More impressive is V/H/S/94. The fourth entry in the franchise is arguably the best one. The stories have the mix of horror, laughs, and shaky cam the series is known for. It is wild, topical, and an all around good time. There is always trepidation when another sequel arrives, but this one exceeds expectations.

Everything old is new again

slumber party massacre

Along with another VHS movie, there were other homages to the past. Netflix’s There’s Someone Inside Your House tried to channel the energy of Scream with mixed results. There were also some fun restorations with Eyes of Fire being an especially fun one. But leading the way may have been SYFY’s Slumber Party Massacre remake. The original was unlike any other slasher of the 1980s. The new one takes things one step further and was one of the most pleasant surprises of the fest.

Secret screenings deliver big

last night in soho

The first secret screening saw Edgar Wright introduce Last Night in Soho. Beautiful to look at with a compelling story, the movie was perfect for the genre crowd. Benedetta was going to be a tougher sell. A movie about lesbian nun in the 17th century does not seem like the right fit for a genre film festival. And yet, the Paul Verhoeven film won the crowd over. The performances were stunning and the story was captivating. Reminiscent in many ways to Ken Russel’s The Devils, the movie examines religion and sexual freedom. Plus, there just are not enough movies that feature Jesus wielding a sword.

Anime makes an impression

the deer king

Anime had great representation at Fantastic Fest. Ike Boys was a coming of age story that mixed animation into its live action story. Poupelle of Chimney Town told a story that could have come from Disney or Pixar. The Deer King was mature and grounded while Belle told a more fantastical story. There was a little something for everyone and you did not need to be an anime fan to appreciate them.

Check out AIPT’s Fantastic Fest coverage.

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