Fantastic Fest, one of the genre’s most beloved film festivals, is finally here. The annual Austin, TX event, running from September 24th through October 1st, already had its hooks in genre film lovers with the announcement of its impressive lineup: the Kurt Russell-led cannibal western BONE TOMAHAWK, POD/RITUAL director Mickey Keating’s experimental film DARLING, BLUE RUIN director Jeremy Saulnier’s followup, THE GREEN ROOM and the list goes on and on. But with Day One behind us, it became immediately apparent that this year is already gearing up to be one for the books.
While a few films were screened opening night, the film that left attendees talking for hours following its premiere was the Satanic masterpiece (yes, I said masterpiece) FEBRUARY. Directed by PSYCHO star Anthony Perkins’ son Oz Perkins, the tension and terror-filled film gave genre fans quite a few excellent performances, especially MAD MEN star Kiernan Shipka. FEBRUARY revolves around a fragile Christian private school girl who is slowly taken over by the devil himself, losing her mind and putting everybody around her in mortal danger. It’s a very non-linear film and is so artistically effective that it leaves you breathless when the end credits roll. It’s incredible when the first film you see at a festival blows you away, because it sets the tone for the Festival itself and with such an impressive feature debut from Perkins, it’s awesome to discover a filmmaker who knocks it out of the park on his first outing. It’s going to be hard to top this one, but with so many interesting films, both feature and short, if the opening night blast of FEBRUARY is any indication of what’s to come, the week of genre films, debates, Twin Peaks-themed karaoke rooms and Alamo Drafthouse craziness is going to be a horrifyingly impressive and fun experience.
Closing the opening night’s festivities, was a “Satanic Christmas”-themed party, complete with a drunken Santa spinning music, Christmas trees filling up the Highball bar at the Drafthouse Theater and an overall fun get together featuring festival goers, filmmakers and various genre journalists all getting together to welcome in the epic event.
What continues to make the annual festival so entertaining and quite easily the most enjoyable fest around, is the continual appreciation for genre films and the fans of those films given by Drafthouse leader Tim League and the always helpful and friendly Fons PR team.