Hot Tickets at Fantastic Fest 2012


Fantastic Fest

Today is the beginning of another (8th, in fact) Fantastic Fest, the homegrown brainchild of Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League, Ain't It Cool head geek Harry Knowles, Paul Alvarado-Dykstra  and Tim McCanlies, which has grown into an international powerhouse of the genre film world. The fest runs through Thursday, September 27, and genre film lovers are arriving in Austin from around the country ... around the world, even, as the emphasis on international films brings filmmakers from countries including Chile, Denmark, Spain and Japan.

The films have been chosen, attendees are arriving, and the schedule has been set (though some surprises may yet lie in store).  As you look at the schedule planning which films to see this week, consider these hot-ticket shows:

  • Sinister -- No one can fail to mention this homecoming film to be released on October 12, scripted by Austin writer C. Robert Cargill. J.C. reviewed the movie after its secret SXSW screening. Sinister will only screen once, on Friday at 8:30 pm. This is perhaps the hottest ticket of the fest not only because of local roots, but because of the overwhelming positive reception it has received from critics and audiences alike.
  • Dredd 3D -- Karl Urban returns as a Fantastic Fest guest (he appeared previously for a Q&A with RED in 2010). Early reports say Dredd is a winner. Debbie has seen it and says she "didn't want to like it due to the ultra-violence and mounting indiscriminate body count, but a well-developed character arc and the pacing engaged me more than I initially intended." It screens tonight at 9:05 pm -- if you don't have tickets already, you'll want to get in the standby line.
  • Looper -- Writer/director Rian Johnson will be in attendance for this single screening on Sunday at 6:15 pm, unless his future self travels back in time and stops him.
  • Paranormal Activity 4 -- The original Paranormal Activity screened at the fest in 2009. This work-in-progress print screens Wednesday at midnight.
  • Aftershock -- Directed by Nicolas Lopez (Promedio Rojo, Santos), this movie about the aftermath of an earthquake stars Eli Roth. Date and time is not yet confirmed on the schedule, but Lopez has tweeted he will be presenting the film at Fantastic Fest on Tuesday.

And then there are the secret screenings, which keep everyone guessing. Of course, those theaters are always filled to capacity, but there are a few regular films with multiple screenings that I'm anticipating.

  • The History of Future Folk -- This played the Los Angeles Film Festival in June and has been very well received. A rare quirky comedy on this year's schedule.
  • Room 237 -- This year, the fest introduces a new documentary category. Everyone is buzzing about Room 237, which studies the work of Stanley Kubrick in depth, particularly The Shining, with an eye for hidden messages.
  • Doomsday Book -- The latest from perennial Fantastic Fest favorite director Jee-woon Kim, director of The Good, the Bad, the Weird and I Saw the Devil.
  • The ABCs of Death -- 26 letters, 26 directors bring their visions to the screen. This anthology premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last week.
  • Bring Me the Head of Machine Gun Woman -- Ernesto Diaz Espinoza (who is also one of the ABCs of Death filmmakers) is another favorite of the Fantastic Fest audience, with Mandrill, Mirageman and Killtro.