[Many of the films featured at Fantastic Fest 2013 will be making their way to theatres, VOD, home video, and other film festivals throughout 2014. RM contributor Michele Galgana offers a list of five films to watch for.]
Top Five Horror Films of Fantastic Fest 2013
By Michele Galgana
Fantastic Fest is one of the world’s best genre film festivals, and the 2013 edition did not disappoint. Founded by Alamo Drafthouse owner Tim League, the festival prides itself on finding the weirdest, roughest, strangest films around. Last year’s edition wrapped in September and offered brilliant, genre-bending films such as Blue Ruin, Why Don’t You Play in Hell, Cheap Thrills, Grand Piano, and Big Bad Wolves. For those of you who like your scares a little more straightforward, here’s a sampling of 2013 Fantastic Fest horror films you can look forward to in 2014.
We Are What We Are
Director: Jim Mickle
When I first heard about this remake, I had low expectations, particularly given the source: Jorge Michel Grau’s fantastic 2010 film of the same name. A viewing of Mickle’s re-imaging blew me away, and I now count this film as one of my favorite horror films of the last 20 years. The only thing the two films have in common is the title and the core concept of a family dining on human victims. The last horror film I can recall that offers such phenomenal, believable performances was The Silence of the Lambs (1991). After a short festival and sneak-preview run, this film has strangely gone straight to DVD and Blu-ray. Pick it up ASAP; Mickle has far surpassed his previous features, Mulberry St. and Stake Land, and that’s saying a lot. His next film, Cold in July, starring Dexter himself Michael C. Hall, just premiered at Sundance.
Director: Ti West
As a filmmaker, Ti West has grown leaps and bounds over the last few years. The Roost? Cabin Fever 2? The Sacrament is in an entirely different league, and the horror genre is the better for it. The film features two journalists who decide to document their friend’s search for his sister, who has moved to a series of communes. Their travels lead them to Africa and to the utopia that the isolated cult now calls home. Things go from suspicious, to unsettling, to very dark in this pseudo-found footage, slow-burning film. Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen and Amy Seimetz star, with Gene Jones portraying the charismatic, manipulative “Father” in this interpretation of the Jonestown Massacre.
The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears
Directors: Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani
The directors of Amer are back with another neo-giallo film that’s even better than their feature debut. This is as it should be; before Amer, the duo made a series of short films, which you can view on the Amer North American Blu-ray. Anyway, The Strange Colour (pictured at top of post) takes place entirely in a strange, dark Art Nouveau apartment building in which most — or perhaps all — of the tenants harbor deadly secrets. One man tries to find his wife among the denizens, and comes in contact with some very weird people — in addition to plenty of sex and violence. That’s about it for the plot, but these directors are better known for their heavy focus on lush art direction than linear storytelling. Like their previous films, Cattet and Forzani give us lurid sights and sounds, but here, they are even more delirious and delicious.
Director: Zack Parker
One of the more original entries on the festival circuit right now is Proxy, which shows a woman beaten hard enough for her to lose her unborn child within the first fifteen minutes of the film. The woman, Esther (Alexia Rasmussen), joins a support group and finds a friend in Melanie (Alexa Havins), also the victim of tragedy — or is she? Throw in a lesbian lover with severe anger issues, a bit of stalking, and enough deception to power a De Palma film, and you have Proxy. In lesser hands, this masterful study of mental illness may not have had half of the emotionally disturbing resonance that Parker and his mostly female ensemble cast, as well as a great Joe Swanberg, bring to the project. Proxy is a fierce find in a sea of watered down scares, unnecessary exposition and audience pandering in today’s current wave of horror films.
Director: Can Evrenol
At only eleven tight, terrifying minutes, this short film blows anything Eli Roth’s done lately out of the water (sorry, Green Inferno). Directed by Can Evrenol (To My Mother and Father), Baskin follows a group of cops investigating their latest call-in. Immediately upon arriving, a scream is heard in the distance and all hell breaks loose. They find evidence of cult behavior, weird medical diagrams on the walls, eggshells full of blood, eyeballs, and other assorted viscera lying about the property, along with several other nasty surprises. Imagine a bit of Audition mixed with Martyrs by way of Satanism and a touch of Lovecraft, and you have Baskin. There’s a possibility that Evrenol may get the chance to turn Baskin into a feature, and if that happens, get ready to be truly frightened.