Fantastic Fest Day 1 Recap: ‘Tusk’, ‘ABCs of Death 2’ & More

0

Cole Clay // Critic

Fantastic Fest- Tusk

TUSK on the opening night of Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse- South Lamar in Austin, Texas on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Photo courtesy of Jack Plunkett.

This is the tenth year Fantastic Fest has showcased the best genre films from around the world. We are expected to have several guest appearances and a plethora of incredible films to cover over seven straight days of movie hopping, all taking place at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar.

Day one’s main attraction was TUSK, which marks Kevin Smith’s second plunge into horror. The reaction was mixed going into the Austin premiere, but that didn’t stop fans from selling out five massive theaters. However, this was a film that Fresh Fiction praised due to Justin Long’s daring performance (our review).

TUSK made a great pairing with Drafthouse Pictures’ horror anthology film ABCs OF DEATH 2, which has a different director for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. This was a vast improvement on the original for having far more hits than misses. Notable shorts (roughly 4-6 min. long) were A is for Amateur, directed by E.L. Katz; the hilarious G is for Grandad by Jim Hosking; and M is for Masticate by Robert Boocheck. There was a vast variance in quality between several of the shorts, whether they were too campy, dark, or they just didn’t strike the same tone as the others.

Writer-director Kevin Smith and TUSK star Justin Long on the opening night of Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse- South Lamar in Austin, Texas on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Photo courtesy of Jack Plunkett.

Writer-director Kevin Smith and TUSK star Justin Long on the opening night of Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse- South Lamar in Austin, Texas on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Photo courtesy of Jack Plunkett.

Peripheral screenings for the night included a Polish film called HARDKORE DISCO, a classic case of substance over style. It tells the story of a misanthropic young man who delves into a relationship with the daughter of the couple he plans on killing. This film felt cold to the touch, and although director Krzysztof Skokieczny paints a stark portrait, no startling revelations rise to the surface.

Friday has a crowded schedule with scheduled appearances by directors James Gunn, (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) Eli Roth, (Hostel 1 & 2) and it’s rumored that Edgar Wright (THE WORLD’S END) is running around on the premises somewhere.

Notable screenings include the Swedish drama FORCE MAJEURE, the documentary about Canon filmmaking ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, the Keanu Reeves revenge flick JOHN WICK, and a viral epidemic film titled THE HIVE.

All ticket and screening information can be found at fantasticfest.com

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.

Comments