With this year’s Fantastic Fest film festival well underway, and after having such a great opening night of programming and events, one would think that perhaps the second day might be a tad bit slower and a relaxing day of film and event programming. Well, day two of the long running Austin, TX staple of an event definitely wasn’t calm.
The standout films of day two would most definitely have to be Jeremy Saulnier’s punks vs skinheads film, THE GREEN ROOM and Mickey Keating’s descent into madness, DARLING. The crowd blew the roof off for MURDER PARTY/BLUE RUIN helmer Saulnier’s violent film about a punk band that makes the mistake of pissing off the wrong skinheads,ending in a LOT of bloodshed and offering what of attendees called “one hell of a performance” by Patrick Stewart, as the leader of the group.
The film that completely stole day two for me was the previously mentioned DARLING, Mickey Keating’s homage to the madness that came with films like Polanksi’s REPULSION and so on. Telling the story of “Darling” (a completely terrifying performance by JUGFACE/POD star Lauren Ashley Carter, also starring in the Fantastic Fest day three premiere of Joe Begos’ THE MIND’S EYE), a young woman who takes the job of a caretaker for a mansion-like house that may or may not be haunted. It’s a very trippy and artistically wonderful film that provides mood and tension and is easily Keating’s best film to date.
Attendees of the annual Secret Screening were given the special treat of being the first to see director Guillermo Del Toro’s “gothic romance” film CRIMSON PEAK, which was quite unexpected.
After day two’s film programming, most of the festival’s attendees made their way to the annual Fantastic Fest Debates, which featured everything from directors Joe Begos and Mickey Keating debating whether David Lynch or David Cronenberg is the superior filmmaker; THE MONSTER SQUAD’s Andrew Gower winning the important debate of whether THE MONSTER SQUAD or THE GOONIES is the superior child adventure film; About half a dozen other arguments. What made the night even crazier than it already was gearing up to be, was the fact that directly after debating their viewpoints, the two opponents of each argument would put on some gloves and beat the crap out of each other. While that seems a bit odd to some, it’s not every night that you look 10 feet to your right and see Guillermo Del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn cracking up over people arguing over the merits of GODZILLA’s 2014. Now with two very entertaining and downright insane days in the can, here’s hoping that day three and beyond will live up to the momentum built with the festival’s first two. Something in me thinks it’s going to be a wild ride for the rest of the week. Stay tuned for day three!
*All Other Images: Jerry Smith