It has been a long time since stuff felt normal. The last film festival I attended in person was the 2019 Fantastic Fest and it only seems fitting that the first time I get back to one is this years Fantastic Fest 2022 at the South Lamar Alamo Draft House in Austin. From documentaries about beloved movies to pandemic slashers this year’s fest appears to be the most diverse thematically and when coupled with the menagerie of events we have come to love, Fantastic Fest 2022 will be one to remember. You can still get your badge or individual tickets here. Here are the five movies that MUST be on your radar
1. King on Screen
There has been a bit of a Kingoseance as of late. If it is even possible for the most popular genre writer of all time to experience a rebirth. Looking around right now it feels Stephen King is everywhere. Heck even at Fantastic Fest there is an entire live show devoted to the podcast which is devoted to him. Perhaps this is why I found the documentary so charming. While I will keep most of my thoughts on the film until after the screening, this is me singing from the rooftops that the King movie documentary is top notch.
Daphne Baiwir, actress turned director takes an ambitious idea, and manages to squeeze out every bit of humanity as she makes her way through the films based off of King’s work. Even non genre lovers will eat up the countless anecdotes and nostalgia laden tidbits that have been expertly put together to make you smile for days.
Motherhood can be rough. The perils of becoming a mother have been well documented throughout the annals of horror movies. What receives significantly less attention (but is still fertile ground….hehehe) is how scary gestation can be. With some notable exceptions (looking at you Prevenge) we are due for a movie that tackles the subject matter with the abject terror it deserves.
Moreover as the United States seems to be taking monumental steps backward when it comes to maternal health, first time director Gabriela Ortega sets off on a horrific journey exploring just how scary pregnancy can be. Full of not so funny tidbits like “you can literally hear your bones breaking during labor”, and “It’s called Labor because you have to work at it” Huesera is ready to give us the goods on what its like to have a baby. Spoiler alert, its rough. Rough enough to make those in the audience uncomfortable. I mean there are warnings about bone cracking noises. Color me interested.
Sometimes a movie’s aesthetic can be so interesting it can drive interest in the film. The movies description is pretty familiar to fans of post apocalyptic fiction. A full ecological disaster leaves a handful of oligarchs living comfortable in climate controlled towers while the rest of humanity tries to live off of what is left for them. The special effects only reinforce how beautifully grimy this film looks. The art design alone should compel badge holders to take a look. When you insert an urgent climate message on top of solid genre elements you have a film that looks beautiful and means something. In a world where often it feels like you have to pick between fun and important Vesper looks to do both. This is going to be a film that folks will include in their best of the Fantastic Fest 2022 lists. Don’t miss it.
There was this little known slasher franchise that started in the mid nineties with a killer who wore a ghost mask and used a voice modulator. It was called Scream, maybe you have heard of it. The director was a nobody named Wes Craven and the writer of the film, Kevin Williamson went on to write another film that has been mostly forgotten, I Know What You Did Last Summer. All joking aside no one is more excited for Williamson’s newest feature than I am. Sick uses Covid creatively to introduce cabin in the woods isolation. The cast is absolutely loaded with young talent looking to capitalize on another fantastic Williamson script. If pandemic proto-slashers are the newest sub-genre I cannot wait to see how it is treated by a seasoned veteran. We have traded in our ghost faces for clothe masks. Yep, that seems about right.
5. Life on the Farm
It wouldn’t be a list from me, or a list about Fantastic Fest if we didn’t include something entirely bizarre in what we are excited about. Life on the Farm is exactly that. A found footage documentary about a farmer who appears to be in a Robert Aickman story without ever realizing it. The trailer is perhaps the weirdest trailer I have seen for movies screening at #FF2022. The folks at Fantastic Fest give us this gem in the description of the movie ‘If Bob Saget had shown CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST on AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS, the cutdown would have been A LIFE ON THE FARM. Literally what is going on and can I watch twelve hours of this absolutely bonkers footage of a farmer who appears to be answering the universes questions by using puppets fashioned out of dead cats…..WHAT???
Fantastic Fest opens Thursday with the premier of Smile, followed by a party in The Highball with robots that will mix drinks for you (??!!). While not mentioned in this list, I was particularly excited about the foreign language films coming into the festival. With hits like RRR, and the absolutely bonkers Jallikattu (which I saw by happy accident in 2019 at #FF2019) there is undoubtedly another soon to be hit waiting in the wings. My money is on Satanic Hispanics which appears to be an anthology film featuring some phenomenally talented Latinx directors including Gigi Saul Guerrero, who has been absolutely killing it lately. It is a late edition but I predict will be the sleeper hit of the week. Find me at The Highball and I might just buy you a beer if you will talk movies with me! Have a blast at Fantastic Fest 2022.
Tyler has been the editor in chief of Signal Horizon since its conception. He is also the Director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University a class that pairs horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he is not watching, teaching or thinking about horror he is the Director of Debate and Forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.