By: Ben & Nolan McBride
Fantastic Fest 2022 kicks off today! Dead Ringers is making its return to the largest genre festival in North America. Four of us — Nolan, Ben, Emily, and Kat — will be at the festival this year, and we’ll be sharing our thoughts on all the movies we see on a special series of podcast episodes releasing throughout the festival. Until then, check out some of the films we’re most excited to see this year!
Ever since the The Ring and The Grudge made their way to the U.S. in the 2000s, we’ve gotten a wide release horror movie every couple of years (if not multiple per year) that tries to recapture the success of those early aughts “death curse” flicks. You have recent entries like (Blumhouse’s) Truth Or Dare in 2018 and Countdown from 2019, the latter of which is a cheesy but ridiculously entertaining watch. Smile seems like it’s taking things a little more seriously, but very little is known about the movie besides what’s been shown in the trailers. Smile is this year’s opening night movie and should be a fun way to kick off the festival!
Synopsis: “After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can’t explain. As an overwhelming terror begins taking over her life, Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.”
Directed by Parker Finn. Starring Sosie Bacon, Caitlin Stacey, Jessie T. Usher, and Kyle Gallner.
Jason Eisener’s Hobo With A Shotgun is a blast (pun very much intended) of trashy fun. It’s arguably the highlight of the Grindhouse resurgence that Tarantino and Rodriguez kickstarted, yet Eisener hasn’t made a movie since it came out in 2011. We’re finally getting a follow-up in the form of Kids Vs. Aliens, which expands Eisener’s “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” segment from V/H/S/2 to feature length.
Synopsis: “As local authorities busy themselves with the disappearance of three fishermen on the same night that an unexplained fiery object appears in the sky, Gary and his best buds busy themselves with finishing their latest kickass movie about a group of dino-sorcerers vying for world domination and staying clear of neighborhood toughs led by head bully Billy.
Much to his chagrin, his older sister, Samantha, finds herself charmed by Billy and agrees to host a Halloween party while their parents are out of town. Angered by the intrusion, Gary seeks some adolescent payback at Billy’s expense, and as the tension between the feuding groups comes to a head, a bright light heralds the arrival of a much more powerful and terrifying enemy. Now Samantha must battle these blood-seeking extraterrestrials to get Gary and his crew back while still dealing with all the baggage that only a two-timing teenage punk like Billy brings to the table.“
Directed by Jason Eisener. Starring Dominic Mariche, Calem MacDonald, Emma Vickers, and Phoebe Rex.
Sick is exciting for a couple reasons. First off, it’s co-written by Kevin Williamson, which is a big draw considering we haven’t seen his work on the big screen since 2011’s Scream 4. Second, it’s directed by John Hyams, who made the excellent kidnapping thriller Alone a couple years ago, as well as Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning, two DTV legacy sequels that blow away the original (plus, he’s directing the upcoming Maniac Cop remake next). Between Hyams’ proficiency in low-budget genre fare and Williamson’s clever wit, Sick promises to be something special.
Synopsis: “As the pandemic steadily brings the world to a halt, Parker and her best friend Miri decide to quarantine at the family lake house alone — or so they think.”
Directed by John Hyams. Starring Gideon Adlon, Bethlehem Million, Marc Menchaca, and Jane Adams.
There are few directors in the world of indie horror & sci-fi that are as singular, consistent, and beloved as Benson and Moorhead. We’re huge fans of the duo and their brand of thoughtful, poignant genre flicks. We covered their first movie on one of our earliest episodes, and they’ve only gotten better with each film. It’s best to go into their movies with as little information as possible, so that’s what we’re doing with this sci-fi thriller.
Synopsis: “Levi and John become fast friends after Levi bums a cigarette in the courtyard of the LA apartment complex he’s moving into a month before leaving town. While moving furniture into Levi’s long abandoned unit, the two discover a quartz crystal levitating on its own and emitting beams of light. When the phenomenon repeats days later, the pair cobble together some filmmaking gear to produce a documentary on their findings, hoping that the end result will yield the recognition they have long craved.”
Directed by and starring Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead.
Belgian filmmaker Jonas Govaerts landed on our radar with the camp slasher Cub from 2014. Like a lot of directors on this list, Govaerts hasn’t directed a feature since his awesome and brutal debut, making us all the more excited to see what he does next. His newest looks like a bombastic action comedy and we can’t wait to check it out.
Synopsis: “Noah Hazard has the dopest ride in all of Antwerp. His prized gold Lexus is dipped, detailed, and immaculate. The custom vanity plates — H4Z4RD — announce the self-proclaimed “driver” as a professional who will safely get you wherever you want to go.
When Noah accepts a job from his wayward cousin, Carlos, who casually drops that they are picking up an old buddy from jail, he isn’t expecting to be drawn into a murderous drug war. The greasy fingerprints that Carlos’ cellmate wipes on the pristine leather seats are the least of Noah’s worries as he and Carlos frantically speed through the streets of Antwerp, trying to hunt down a mystery drug that the bumbling ex-cons foolishly swiped from a mysterious sharpshooter. Things go from bad to worse as the cousins face run-ins with grenade-toting teenage hoodlums, determined mall cops, an urban werewolf, and a security guard with sexual hang-ups straight out of TITANE.”
Directed by Jonas Govaerts. Starring Dimitri Thivaios and Jeroen Perceval.
The Child’s Play franchise has always felt like a family affair due to the way Mancini has shepherded it from the beginning. This documentary continues that thread since it was directed by Kyra Elise Gardner, daughter of legendary special effects maestro Tony Gardner (The Blob, Army Of Darkness), who worked on Seed Of Chucky. We’ve talked about how much we love the Child’s Play series on the podcast, so we can’t wait to catch this new documentary and learn more about the franchise and its impact on the people involved.
Synopsis: “Living With Chucky is an ode to a horror franchise and a movie monster icon directed by Kyra Elise Gardner, the daughter of one of Chucky’s longtime visual effects supervisors. Having grown up with a Chucky doll in her home since childhood, the filmmaker recounts the behind-the-scenes process of bringing the doll to life as well as the cultural impact of Chucky and his bloodthirsty family on modern horror. Living With Chucky is a delightful peek into the craft of special effects and blood spatters, with delightful interviews from creator Don Mancini, Chucky’s voice actor Brad Dourif, the incomparably talented Jennifer Tilly, and filmmaker and one-time murderous doll victim John Waters.”
Directed by Kyra Elise. Featuring Chucky alumni Don Mancini, Brad Dourif, Fiona Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, Billy Boyd, and John Waters.
Year Of The Shark sounds like a riff on Jaws filtered through a dark, comedic lens. Word of mouth is quite positive, suggesting a nuanced character study in addition to shark antics. We’re eager take a dip in this satire.
Synopsis: “Maja Bordenave is a maritime police officer who lives in La Pointe, a little French beach town where nothing ever happens. She’s uptight, has no sense of humor, and is extremely serious about the job that gives her life meaning. A few days before Maja reluctantly begins her retirement, tourists start to disappear and body parts wash up on the beach. She suspects that a shark is roaming her shallow waters and decides to close the beaches, thus turning the entire community against her. Even though the case has been assigned to another team, Maja pushes her retirement back a few days so that she can capture the shark herself. And that’s when the movie takes an unexpected turn.“
Directed by Ludovic & Zoran Boukherma. Starring Marina Fois, Kat Merad, Jean-Pascal Zadi, and Christine Gautier.
A dark comedy reteaming the In Bruges trio of McDonagh, Farrell, and Gleeson? Count us in! McDonagh has a knack for well-drawn characters with plenty of laughs amid good drama. The anticipation for this one is high.
Synopsis: “Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.”
Directed by Martin McDonagh. Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan.
As huge fans of Hideaki Anno’s Shin Godzilla, we have to see the follow up — even if he’s only writing the screenplay and producing this time around. We are not versed in the world of Ultraman at all, so we are looking forward to getting our first taste with this reboot.
Synopsis: “There’s never a dull day on Japan’s newly established SSSP kaiju defense taskforce, led by Kimio Tamura, played by DRIVE MY CAR’s Hidetoshi Nishijima. After a particularly challenging encounter, a giant silver robot descends from the sky to rescue the country. Dubbed Ultraman, this robot’s identity and purpose are a mystery. SHIN ULTRAMAN is a delightful reimagining of one of Japan’s classic superheroes, full of cosmic twists, campy villains, and giants of all species.”
Directed by Hideki Anno. Starring Hidetoshi Nishijima.
The Secret Screenings
Part of the fun of the festival is being surprised by whatever movies show up as one of the two secret screenings, which aren’t (officially) revealed until you’re sitting in the theater. Will it be Halloween Ends? Glass Onion? The new Hellraiser? Or something else entirely? We can’t wait to find out!