2022’s epic Fantastic Fest finally comes to a close, and with it so does our coverage. We ran plenty of reviews this week, but if you’ve been wondering about some of those titles on the fringes, we have got our readers covered! Check out our full coverage of the festival after the jump, including Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle, Bones and All, Unidentified Objects, and many more…



During my formative years of college well before I had ever seen trashterpiece The Room, one movie stood tall above the rest. Birdemic: Shock and Terror left its mark in competition for the title of the worst movie ever made, reveling in its Playstation One-level bird graphics of terror, abysmal acting, and an instant-classic song performance of Damien Carter’s seminal “Just Hanging Out.” Birdemic 2: The Resurrection took the series more meta, yet followed every major story beat, and is by all accounts the exact same type of movie. For Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle, writer/director James Nguyen has made the same movie a third time—Sea Eagle contains series trademarks from poorly-edited sequences that go on far too long, flat characters spelling out their entire backstories to one another, a brand-new Damien Carter song, completely inconsistent lighting, attempts to tie global warming into the larger framework, and, of course, poorly-animated killer sea eagles that do not emerge until a whopping fifty-eight minutes into the film. One question remains: is Birdemic 3 so-bad-its-good or just plain bad? Clearly there is an audience here for this type of content if we are three movies deep; with an audience, I have no doubt Nguyen’s film will incite laughter. However, three Birdemics is a bit too much for this thin concept. I am unconvinced that this warranted a full feature, and when its basic-Font title credits began to roll, I questioned why I even cared to watch in the first place.


Full review at the link.


What better way to epitomize the deplorable way we often view the elderly than to filter it through the lens of an eerie horror creation? The Elderly, from directors Fernando Gonzalez Gomez and Raul Cerezo, certainly has a lot to say about how we treat those of a certain age. However, its concept would have worked much better if either embraced earlier in the runtime, or strictly executed as a potentially excellent short film. As the temperatures begin to rise due to unexpected heat waves that could be particularly harmful for the elderly, their behavior becomes erratic and unpredictable. Everything from self-mutilation with razor blades to soiled clothes and uncomfortable nudity greets the viewer plainly. The problem here is that The Elderly is expertly made, but it does not even get close to satisfying a premise exploding with possibilities. 


While I love a good queer romance as much as the next person, the fantastically bizarre and emotionally disconnected The Five Devils left me cold. Young Vicky (Sally Drame) is very close to her swim instructor mother, Joanne (Adele Exarchopoulos), yet distant from her firefighter father, Jimmy (Moustapha Mbengue). Vicky’s Aunt Julia (Swala Emati) comes back into the picture, upsetting her mom for some unknown reason. Using her immense powers of smell, Vicky crafts a cacophony of smells that quite literally transport her back in time to uncover their secrets. I loved the constant use of “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” and Vicky herself is fascinating to follow, but the disparate connections and free-flowing format are difficult to penetrate. The Five Devils ends up coming across as very well made and in the same breath, rather pretentious. A saccharine ending may be pleasing to some, certainly; for this viewer anyway, the film altogether felt too half-baked.


Full review at the link.


Danish film Nothing, based on the acclaimed novel from Janne Teller, contemplates the meaning of life through the lens of a young group of miscreant children. When eighth grader Pierre Anthon (Harald Kaiser Hermann) abruptly walks out and quits school in the midst of demands from a career adviser, he puts the entire class into quite the uproar. Anthon stations himself up in a tree and refuses to come down. He insists that soon they will “all be dead.” Anthon won’t even accept food, and shuns Agnes (Vivelill Sogaard Holm), the lone girl who seems cognizant of imminent horrors at hand. Life means nothing, so if everything means nothing, then surely the important things to each person can prove how very wrong Anthon is. The class collectively team up and decide to get rid of what means the most to them, one by one, and to discard their items in a giant “heap of meaning.” Each request is more outlandish than the next—one child calls for hair to be cut, a hamster to be sacrificed, the school’s flag to be removed. Destructive, awful things happen as the kids get more savage. I am all for disturbing content in film, but it needs to have a purpose. I can honestly say that Nothing seems content to go too far, and to push the envelope without having anything to say. Not only that, Nothing takes it even further by positing its characters as sort of acclaimed heroes doing something subversive and important. Murdering animals or forcibly taking a young girl’s virginity against her will do not make for a fun watch by any means.


Full review at the link.


Full review at the link.


Full review at the link.


It is 2041 France, and twin brothers, Tristan (Louis Peres) and Laz (Pablo Cobo), are aiming to be among the lucky French candidates selected for a colonization effort called Eternity Mission. Both train tirelessly, and Tristan in particular seems to be the emerging star who can hold his breath for an impressive amount of time. Everything changes when what looks to be a shooting star crash-lands into the pond where Tristan and Laz are training together. Tristan becomes infected with some kind of extraterrestrial substance that not only makes him physically deformed, but also affects his brain cells into a “slight mental retardation.” Tropic is filled with fascinating ideas about how we act towards people who look different than we do, and the unstoppable drive for perfection when nothing around you is perfect. Indeed, one has to admire the acting prowess of both Peres and Cobo, as well as impeccable vision from co-writer and director Edouard Salier. When Tropic shifts focus in the concluding minutes to a sort of Frankenstein’s monster angle and an explosive moment of violent, cathartic release, it finally delivers on what has been promised all along. Part sci-fi weirdness, part familial/competition drama, Tropic is ultimately a divisive feature that never feels fully-formed enough to satisfy the viewer.


Its heart squarely in the right place, Unidentified Objects is a curiosity of a dramedy for the Fantastic Fest crowd. Openly queer, grumpy little person Peter (Matthew Jeffers, New Amsterdam) is awoken in the middle of the night by his alien-obsessed sex worker neighbor, Winona (Sarah Hay, The Mortuary Collection). Begging to borrow the car left to Peter by his recently-deceased best friend Shay, Winona offers $1,700 for a way to get to Labrador City in Canada to “visit her sister”, but only if they leave immediately. Soon enough, Peter and Winona embark on a journey, headed not to see a relative, but for an “abduction site.” Winona believes she was taken by aliens at age fifteen, wherein they extracted her DNA for reproductive purposes. Now, they have given her the coordinates to meet up for a second extraterrestrial experience. There is a strange, dream-like quality to some of the visuals, and Winona and Peter make for an odd-couple pairing that frequently pops with personality and chemistry. Jeffers especially is great in a role that asks complex questions of the viewer, and calls for him to explore darker places. When Unidentified Objects decides to randomly get heavy, that is when it started to lose me. At its core, this is a simple road trip movie; though it tries to tug at one’s heartstrings, I could not shake the feeling that something was missing.

While several titles I wish had been granted digital access, we still loved covering Fantastic Fest from afar. I know for me, Smile and Terrifier 2 will rank among my favorite horror movies of the year. I am dying to see Bones and All! We look forward to covering another eclectic iteration of the fest next year.

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