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Fantastic Fest At Home 2022 Coverage
Seeing What The Virtual Version Of The Genre Festival's 2022 Edition Had To Offer
Unfortunately I was not able to get a press pass to remotely cover the 2022 Fantastic Fest Film Festival in Austin, Texas from my Tampa Bay area home - something I hope will change come next year now that I’ve been able to join two critics organizations. So I forked up the money for the “FF at Home” virtual option that is offered from Thursday, 09.29.2022 to Tuesday, 10.04.2022. Unfortunately Hurricane Ian and the troubles it caused me lead to me getting around to no more than just six movies, less than one for each day. What follows are some quick notes from me on my thoughts on each of the films I caught using this option with my overall thoughts on the underwhelming experience at the end of the post. They’re in the order of when I watched them.
THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER PART V
Plot: It’s Part V! Unstoppable killer Jakkariah “Jack” Harding is back in town after seven years as he stalks and kills at random before chancing upon a football watch party. The game is, of course, between longstanding rivals the Alabama-Mobile Seahawks and the Tennessee A&M Commonwealth. Chaos ensues, in increasingly ridiculous fashion, with inventive murders and multiple love triangles! Hearts are broken and appendages are torn.
Notes: Very cool and intriguing concept that touches on so much of cultural eighties slasher horror flicks; mainly the gimmick that plays on watching a fourth sequel to this “franchise” before watching “the original” in the way some of us had to back when there were no streaming services. Its a satire of the subgenre that pokes fun at movies like Halloween, Friday The 13th, and even has some left for having fun with college football culture. However even with it being a satire there are moments of legit horror in here. I just wish that there had been better consistency in making this FEEL like it was an early nineties movie, and the characters felt much to be desired. But it was such a cool concept and I laughed enough times at the satire parts of it that I was mixed but more on the positive side than not.
THE THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER
Plot: A lost slasher film from the golden age of the slasher genre. October 1979, Ricky Dean Logan is a man on a mission. Years ago, he lost a child at the hands of a psychopathic killer named Jakkariah Harding. When Harding escapes Death Row, Ricky Dean throws himself into the line of fire to stop him from killing again as Harding preys upon a group of friends gathered to watch a college football game.
Notes: This “prequel” to the previous film I watched for the virtual film festival felt like a significantly better movie in terms of hitting more home runs with the satire and having much better and more likable characters. I don’t know if that was done on purpose seeing the first movie from these type of franchises tend to be the best quality ones, but I would definitely rank this one over “Part 5”. That said the inconsistency in making this feel like a movie from its time remains and the character motivations and actions seem even more idiotic this time even though they are more interesting and likable than the previous movie’s. I’d say I’m mixed on this one but more higher on the positive side on it than I was on its mirror version.
Plot: Three students celebrate their graduation with a visit of the Paris catacombs. When they discover a bunker, little do they know it’s not the only thing that Nazis have left behind.
Notes: Half-way in I thought this was going to be my first above average grade movie from the virtual film festival. I liked the concept of things going wrong while a couple of dumb (but well meaning) kids explored the Paris catacombs with skinheads and some sort of monster running around after them. But in the third act when this French horror movie reveals what that monster is, it starts to go downhill fast. All the slow burn potential this had devolves into a generic horror flick that feels cheap and unimaginative in a way that any small indie flick should avoid coming off like.
Plot: Two cousins use a Magic Rock to assist their uncle.
Notes: From what I understand the filmmakers behind this project are well known in some super niche indie scenes, and I try my best not to begrudge the production limitations of those working with little to make their vision become an actual movie, but good God almighty up above, was this the perfect example of how NOT to produce a movie. Not only are character arcs and motivations in this so absurdly non-sensical, but the acting in this is without a shadow of a doubt the worst acting I’ve ever seen in my life. And I’m not exaggerating, the worst I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m baffled that this had good reviews last I checked on Letterboxd - is it a bunch of the filmmakers’ friends or something? A horrendous movie that I wish I never laid eyes upon; were it not for the offensive 365 Days movies this would be the worst I’ve seen this year.
Plot: The Japanese government sets up a special task force to fight the giant creatures suddenly appearing across the country. Soon, the squad unexpectedly meets a giant silver humanoid who starts appearing every time a space monster attacks.
Notes: While I am not a massive Ultraman fan and have barely any knowledge of the lore around the character, as a Godzilla and taiketsu movie fan in general I was very much looking forward to this. Especially given that this is the follow-up to my all-time favorite Godzilla movie, Shin Godzilla and even plays like it could be seen as a direct sequel. I would say forty minutes into this I thought I actually found an A-tier movie from the virtual section of the festival, but the film then gets bogged down in dialogue, politics, and fan service that could easily take a non-fan of the franchise out of it. The action isn’t particularly great either when there’s any fighting (and there’s not much), but at least the great human characters make up for it. There’s also a lot of attempts to re-create some scenes from Shin Godzilla that at times made some story beats come off like retreads rather than natural parts of a new tale. I think a Ultraman fanboy will appreciate this more than I did, but I found myself disappointed after the strong first act of the movie and instead just came away finding this to be “just fine”.
Plot: Two hapless drifters, Frank and Bruno, team up with Linde to recover her land and trek across eighteen-seventies Southern Arizona to find an elusive frontier musician. The complex quantum time theory is blended with philosophical musings about art as the way we understand our history and memories, with gunfights, horses, dance halls, cacti, and saloons.
Notes: I don’t know if its because I’m a sucker for a good western tale or because this was such a weird and experimental movie, but I ended up digging this more than I thought I was going to on paper. Its certainly not for everyone and it subverts so many subgenres all at once that span between multiverses, time travel, animation, and a good old fashioned western adventure. Weird, unconventional, inaccessible, but I walked away from it liking it enough.
So on one hand I can blame the Hurricane and all the issues around it for causing me to have such a lackluster experience. I certainly didn’t get in as many movies as I would have liked but alas it is what it is. At the very least I did catch the movies that most intrigued me out of the virtual selection sans Birdemic 3 which I just missed out on thanks to a prior engagement keeping me.
However I have to say I bought the badge for the “at home” option because doing my research the options for the last two years featured more than just one major festival movie, but instead the selection this year wasn’t much to write home about with only Shin Ultraman standing out as a major movie which unfortunately I walked away liking but also being disappointed by. I understand the whole point of this festival is to check out some smaller genre films, but it would have helped to have more major options mixed in as well. Undoubtedly the physical festival looked to have been a blast, but this was just not a great lineup for those of us who had to watch some of these at home.
Its certainly a learning experience from me as someone who hasn’t gotten to do too many film festivals virtual or otherwise, but unless I can get a pass to cover next year’s Fantastic Fest remotely, I’m not even going to bother. All in all I honestly feel like I lost money on this that I could have saved otherwise. Here’s hoping I get to and have a better experience with next year’s Fantastic Fest.
06: Magic Spot (F)
05: Deep Fear (C-)
04: The Third Saturday In October Part V (B/C)
03: The Third Saturday In October (B/C)
02: Quantum Cowboys (B-)
01: Shin Ultraman (B-)