Fantastic Fest Day 2 Recap: ‘John Wick’, ‘The Hive′ & More

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Cole Clay // Critic

JOHN WICK screening with Keanu Reees, Adrianne Pelicki, directors David Leitch, Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad during Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse- South Lamar in Austin, Texas on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Photo courtesy Jack Plunkett.

JOHN WICK screening with Keanu Reees, Adrianne Pelicki, directors David Leitch, Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad during Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse- South Lamar in Austin, Texas on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Photo courtesy Jack Plunkett.

Fantastic Fest is now in full-effect and fun level has been turned up to eleven. We haven’t yet discovered many hidden gems lying around the schedule, but most films have lived up to our expectations thus far. With MondoCon starting Saturday, the crowds were anxious to pile in an many films as they can before indulging in a weekend full of art, vinyl, and toys.

Keanu Reeves was in the building to premiere his film JOHN WICK, which was better than expected. It’s ostensibly a B-level action movie about a hit-man’s quest to avenge the death of his dog. Reeves gives a nimble performance that has has him kicking-ass and taking names. Reeves’ charisma made the film a much more joyous experience than anticipated. Also in attendance for JOHN WICK was Adrienne Palicki and director Chad Stahelski, who worked with Reeves as a stunt coordinator for THE MATRIX.

Check back for our interview with Keanu Reeves tomorrow!

For the second year in a row, horror film director Eli Roth toured the red carpet after accepting the first “LA DE DIOS” with producer partner Chilean director Nicolas Lopez, who is showcasing the world premiere of his latest film THE STRANGER.

Unfortunately, none of this could top the appearance of the year’s highest-grossing film and Marvel film’s “it-guy” – Mr. James Gunn. He was here to moderate a Q&A session for the world-premiere of David Yarovesky’s THE HIVE, a film about a deadly viral outbreak. This drew a huge crowded covered over three screens, which was surprising because this film has been the worst of the festival up to this point. As the fans filed out there wasn’t much positive praise for the film. However, Ain’t it Cool News founder Harry Knowles praised the film on social media.

James Gunn (center) and the filmmaker of THE HIVE during Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse- South Lamar in Austin, Texas on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Photo courtesy of Jack Plunkett.

James Gunn (center) and the filmmaker of THE HIVE during Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse- South Lamar in Austin, Texas on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Photo courtesy of Jack Plunkett.

We posted a rapid review of the Swedish film FORCE MAJUERE yesterday praising it for the stark balance of comedy and drama. For those of you who missed the screening, it’s playing again on Monday, September 22 at 11:30 AM.

Other Fantastic events included a live record of the immensely popular podcast Doug Loves Movies, hosted by stoner-comic Doug Benson. It was scheduled to start at 4:20 PM, but ironically got off to a late start. His guests included Pat Healey from Fantastic Fest 2013 favorite CHEAP THRILLS and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League.

The night ended with a Fantastic Fest tradition Chaos Reigns Karaoke Party where festival goers, journalists and filmmakers sacrifice their vanity to the Gods of Karaoke.

Upcoming this weekend are screenings of David Cameron Mitchell’s horror film IT FOLLOWS, Australian film THE BABADOOK, and the Daniel Radcliffe film titled HORNS. There are definitely some hidden gems out there at Fantastic Fest that we are determined to uncover.

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.

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