A few fantastic films from the annual Fantastic Fest


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At Ars' first Fantastic Fest back in 2016, local film critic (and Internet radio legend) Matt Shiverdecker told us that the beauty of this genre-centric film festival is that one viewer's least favorite film is inevitably someone else's perfect 10. And in our annual trips since, Fantastic Fest's dizzying array of films has certainly confirmed the program's diverse and vast taste.

Perhaps only at Fantastic Fest would you find a straightforward documentary about an alien experiencer who believes he's had lifelong sexual relations with an otherworldly being (and turns those memories into art). The same can be said for a foreign-language tale of being an individual in oppressive Russia that hinges on growing a tail. Fantastic Fest simply has a bit of everything: future blockbusters like the Anne Hathaway-led Colossal, animation from retro-styled indies to the latest from Studio Ghibli, biopics on electric car makers or Jeffrey Dahmer, and eerie folk horror from places like Laos, of course.

Fantastic Fest 2018 luckily kept up the precedent, starting with the latest iteration of Halloween for its opening night film. In the coming month or so, look for reviews on Ars for films like Laika, a stop-motion animated exploration of what might have happened had the iconic space dog survived. This year we also caught upcoming theatrical releases of note like The Guilty (coming 10/19), Suspiria (10/26), and Border (10/26)—reviews coming for opening weekend. But to tide you over for now, this week's edition Orbital Transmission offers info on some Fantastic Fest film alumni to read up on and seek out right now.  

Orbital Transmission 10.02.2018
Still from You Might Be The Killer

Twitter is a horror show (well, technically a movie)

If Twitch can play Pokemon and AI can write a short film, why can't Twitter inspire a full-length feature? Well, now it has. You Might Be The Killer is a new horror-comedy based on a viral Twitter thread between fantasy authors Chuck Wendig and Sam Sykes. It started with a summer camp counselor, soon involved a massacre, and eventually evolved in a genuine film debuting at this year's Fantastic Fest (our review coming soon). YMBTK doesn't yet have a distributor, but the film was fun enough that it feels like merely a matter of time.

A handpainted sign maker in India

Fall in love with film again by obsessing over art

In my three years of this movie-obsessed festival in a movie-obsessed town (seriously, have you tried a Drafthouse yet?), the two documentaries that have stood out the most have been, well, movie-obsessed. Back at Fantastic Fest 2016, the program included both 24x36, a doc examining the evolution of movie posters, and Original Copy, a doc on one of the last hand-painted signmakers for Bollywood cinema. The former is available in places like Amazon Prime and Google Play; the latter also on Prime. Either can help you fall in love with the art of film all over again. 

Anna in Anna and the Apocalypse

Singing, zombies, and high school drama do go together after all

Coming to theaters on November 30, you've probably never seen a film quite like Anna and the Apocalypse. It's kind of a high school drama. But it's also a musical. And... well, everything takes place during a potential apocalypse. If that sounds like a highwire act, trust that this film's leadership (which took over after originator Ryan McHenry—the creator who's best known previously for the "Ryan Gosling won't eat his cereal" meme—tragically passed away) delivers the best possible version of this genre-masher. "I can't remember the last time, if ever, I teared up, snorted, got an ear worm, and whoa'd at a zombie death all in the same viewing," as we put it.

A poster for Top Knot Detective

Fake documentaries about fake subjects say very real things

Showrunner/creator worship. Overwhelming consumerism and increasing product placement. Granular coverage of every scandalous personal celeb detail. Obsessive fan culture. In the vein of things like American Vandal, somehow a fake documentary about a fake 90s samurai-crossover show says so much about our modern times. “Objectively it’s a terrible show,” one dedicated show blogger concludes in the film. “The acting’s really shitty, there’s a ton of continuity errors—the whole thing doesn’t make any sense. That’s what’s beautiful about it

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