Fantastic Fest: Day 2 Recap

Day 2 of Fantastic Fest is where one can start to get a feel of just exactly how jam packed the days can get. That may seem like a slight complaint, but really, it’s pretty damn great. There’s so many options to choose from that there becomes a mad dash to ask other festival-goers in the hallways “what did you see?”, followed by the ever more frantic “did you like it?”. Not only do you want to feel vindicated that you made the right call with whatever film you ended up in, but you also start to mentally make note of what films to see when they play their second time.

The morning started off with Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer. A methodical, meandering (in a good way) and measured thriller, filled with off-kilter characters, matching a seemingly sterile world. Colin Farrell turns in possibly his best performance (as phrase attributed to him often now, it seems) as a surgeon, trying to keep his family together, as it starts to quite literally fall apart. It’s best to speak in vagaries, as Sacred Deer is a film that deserves to be gone into mostly blind. The only warning that should be carried, is that Lanthimos has turned in his strangest film to date. Big shoes given that he’s previously done Dogtooth and The Lobster. There’s a level of restraint and frankness with how characters talk to each other, that starts small, until it infects every scene. It may be a tiny example, but the effect it has on the proceedings is astounding. Like a nightmare in which a slow-rolling car that can’t be escaped from careens towards a cliff, Sacred Deer‘s mounting dread leaves a mark. It’s sure to be talked about thoroughly at the end of the year.

Next up was a box-office hit from Thailand, Bad Genius. Loosely based on real events pertaining to students cheating on SAT tests, the film is best described as a comedy heist thriller that has a focus (at times) on aping the traditional Hollywood flair. The last part may be debatable, but it feels like director Nattawut Poonpiriya has elements that are so over-the-top that he’s making a statement on the way those films often elevate the mundane, in name of thrills or audience manipulation. Regardless of the reason, it works like gangbusters in the initial first half of the film. Around the midpoint though, it starts to plant it’s feet and hopes to expose a better moral code, that tends to clash with the elements already established. Due in part to the actors that anchor the film, it never feels too too tedious. At lest until it comes to wrapping things up.  At 130 minutes, bloat threatens to sink Bad Genius. Close to 30 minutes could easily be trimmed from the runtime and it would be a film easy to recommend to anyone. As it stands now, it’s an entertaining film that most can pass on, unless it eventually comes to a monthly streaming service.

One of the most hotly anticipated films, at least by international genre fan’s standards, slotted into the third spot and may end up being one of the most contentious films to play the entire festival. Let the Corpses Tan is a visual feast. Colors pop, widescreen is implored and surrounded by a feeling that recalls Italian Exploitation films of the 70’s & 80’s. The strongest willed of viwers may eat it up. Others will have a harder time with some of the imagery. Everyone though will be hard pressed to figure out what the heck anything means.


Then it came time fora world premiere. To say this film was gotly anticipated, would be a disservice. Based on the light synopis, there was an electricity in the air. Thankfully Anna and the Apocalypse delivered on every possible level. In face you should read the review here.

In the past year there’s been some arguments cropping up as to whether Netflix original films should be allowed at film festival. Personally, after seeing a handful, I think they should be allowed. Wheelman is another perfect example. Seeing this in a theater is so much fun. The screeching tires, rubber burning and gun blasts land harder when it assaults you from every corner. The film is lean and ends up being better than it has any right to be, partially due to Frank Grillo. The grizzled older brother of Billy Crudup we never knew we needed Grillo smolders on the screen in a film that’s more thriller than true action film.

Naturally there has to be a bad one in the lot, so finishing the night with Applecart wasn’t the best. If there was a good way to capture how it feels, I can easily see it falling into a similar category as The Void. Which is to say, plenty of people will love it, but just as many will be turned off by it. For every point it wins by having great genre actors or practical effects, it loses them for a story that is severely severely lacking.

Two days were completed and many more to go. So much more fun yet to come.

(Honestly, this update comes late because of how crazy things are. Day 3’s recap, which you do NOT want to miss, will be out early on Sunday!)


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