It’s the kind of film festival that reminds you of all the wholly unique and utterly original stories that are being told the world over, and brought all under one roof at a movie theater in Austin, Texas. Now in its 11th year, it’s the world’s largest genre film festival, focusing on everything from horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and cult films both from today and from years past. With the 12th annual fest set to kick off this Thursday, here’s a rundown of our eight picks we’re most excited about.
Don’t Kill It
1980s action movie staple, and current Expendable, Dolph Lundgren stars as Jedediah Woodley, in this B-movie horror thriller about an ancient demon that gets unleashed on a small Mississippi town. Woodley, a burnt out drunk who tells people he’s a demon hunter, claims he’s encountered this very spirit before. Genre favorite Kristina Klebe co-stars in director Mike Mendez’s follow-up to 2014’s Big Ass Spider.
The film that had people passing out in theaters all during the Toronto International Film Festival, Raw is the story of a young vegan who goes through a bizarre, brutal hazing ritual after going off to veterinary school. One that sparks some kind of irreversible change that promises to make even the most stoic movie goer wince. The debut film from writer/director Julia Ducornau, Raw has all the earmarks of an era-defining horror classic.
Oldboy director Chan-Wook Park’s latest film, an adaptation of the Sarah Walters novel, takes place in 1930s Korea, where a young girl, Sook-Hee, is hired as a handmaiden to Lady Hideko, a Japanese heiress who lives in seclusion with her uncle. Made with the same visually arresting style that Park has become famous for, this historical journey through Korea’s past comes complete with all the intrigue, intellect, and heartbreak that one would expect.
Documentarian Morgan Spurlock has tackled a number of subjects over his career, and now he takes a look at the world’s rat population, and how they’re viewed in different cultures, from dinner plates to deities. We’ve been sharing the world as long as we’ve been around, whether we can see them or not, and Spurlock delivers his usual unflinching, introspective look at mankind’s shared history with one of nature’s most resilient survivors.
A movie about the art of the movie poster, from its earliest days to its eventual decline, and its current fan-driven resurgence thanks, in part, to companies like Mondo. A compelling look at an endangered art form, it asks the question: In an era where studios are no longer interested in illustrated poster artists, can the artists themselves keep the medium alive?
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Brian Cox and Emile Hersch star as a coroner and his son in a noir-tinged mystery about the half-buried body of a young woman whose autopsy is bringing up more questions than it’s answering. It’s director Andre Ovredal’s follow-up to 2010’s Troll Hunter, who makes use of long, lingering camera shots to develop a tense, uneasy atmosphere.
It’s your standard coming-of-age tale whose main character is a middle-aged woman who comes into her own after she grows a tale. The second film from director Ivan I. Tverdovskiy, who crafts a complex and wholly unique tale of the pains and triumphs of self-discovery.
RZA: Live From The 36 Chambers
This is the kind of thing that makes Fantastic Fest one of the most uniquely fun film festivals around. After a year-and-a-half of planning, Wu-Tang mastermind RZA will be doing a live re-scoring of Lau Kar-leung’s kung fu classic The 36 Chambers of Shaolin. Given RZA’s personal attachment to the film, this promises to be a wholly unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience. And it’ll be happening at 10:45 on a Thursday morning. You just can’t beat that.