The 11 Films We Can’t Wait To See at Fantastic Fest 2016

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Mmmm, movies.

It’s here. Fantastic Fest 2016 starts tomorrow night, and a thorough look at the films and events planned for the next eight days confirm that Tim League and his Alamo Drafthouse friends are once again aiming to be the most memorable film festival of the year.

Having attended the fest for the last seven (eight?) years, Neil Miller and I have no doubt 2016 will be yet another exciting, entertaining, and unforgettable fest, and we’re anxious to get our eyeballs onto some movies. I’ve already seen some of the films heading into the fest including a few that would otherwise have made our list of the most-anticipated below. South Korea’s The Age of Shadows and The Handmaiden are both gorgeous, brilliantly executed period pieces, and Poland’s The Lure is a beautifully odd and magical experience, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering seeing one or more of them again at the fest.

But this is a list of our most-anticipated – the films we haven’t seen but very much want to – and here are the eleven movies we’re dying to catch at Fantastic Fest 2016:

24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters

People (including yours truly) love a good movie poster. There’s an entire cottage industry these days around art posters – alternate takes on a film’s marketing by artists – that is as vibrant as the music concert poster scene that spawned it. 24×36 promises a deep exploration into the history of illustrated posters from its birth long before the invention of Photoshop to its more recent renaissance. As a collector of illustrated works new and old, this one is at the top of my list. – Neil

Arrival

Fantastic Fest’s opening night film might be one of the fall’s most anticipated, let alone the most anticipated films of the fest. Amy Adams stars as an expert linguist who is tasked with communicating with visiting aliens. The first trailer is giving off all kinds of vibes – from Close Encounters to Contact to The Day The Earth Stood Still (the original, not that bastard child remake). It’s Denis Villeneuve’s precursor to resurrecting the Blade Runner franchise next year and if you talk to any sci-fi geek, it’s the one we can’t wait to see. – Neil

Asura: The City of Madness

As Neil points out below one of the many lessons of Fantastic Fest is that you never miss a Korean thriller at Fantastic Fest. No one produces as many high-quality, brutally exciting, and twisted thrillers as South Korea, and the opportunity to catch a new one on the big screen is a gift from the cinema gods. I know very few specifics about this one aside from it involves a corrupt cop trying to do wrong for the right reasons, and that’s more than enough to grab my attention. – Rob

The Bad Batch

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night marked Ana Lily Amirpour as a unique and poetic voice in the horror genre, so anything she did next was destined to be a must-see. The fact that her second film is a post-apocalyptic descent into cannibilism co-starring Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, and Giovanni Ribisi makes it even more so. – Rob

The Girl with All the Gifts

The zombie genre is a stale sea of identical features with only a handful of fresh ideas bobbing above the waves, and one of them looks to be this British chiller about a little girl with a hunger for flesh and a desire to be better. Part post-apocalyptic thriller, part exploration of what it means to be human, the film has already garnered high praise as a unique take on the zombie film. Add in a cast including Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, and Gemma Atherton, and it becomes a zombie film I need to see. – Rob

Headshot

Fans of The Raid and its sequel will note that director Gareth Evans doesn’t have a film at Fantastic Fest this year, as he’s busy thinking about making The Raid 3 and getitng other projects off the ground. What we do get is The Raid star Iko Uwais and Raid 2’s Hammer Girl, Julie Estelle, in a new movie from Killers directors The Mo Brothers. It promises that which Fantastic Fest audiences want most: a “bone-crunching, soul-crushing, face-breaking story” that leads to a “maelstrom of sweet violence.” Stop right there, you had me at bone-crunching. – Neil

Safe Neighborhood

A Christmas-set home invasion film focused on a babysitter and the boy in her charge tasked with defending themselves against intruders is more than enough information to get my butt into a seat, but add in the director behind the camera and it becomes even more of a priority. Chris Peckover’s previous film, Undocumented, is a relentlessly brutal found footage-ish thriller, but his latest looks to take a slightly lighter approach to the terror. Either way, count me in. – Rob

Toni Erdmann

A three-hour comedy from Germany doesn’t feel at first glance like a film I’d have on my radar, but something about this movie is calling my name. It played Cannes to massive critical acclaim, and by all accounts it’s an awkward, laugh out loud comedy about a family in distress. It’s an odd mix of ideas as evidenced by the trailer and stills from the film, and I’m hoping it all comes together into a memorably-affecting experience. – Rob

The Truth Beneath

Full disclosure: I’ve never seen director Lee Kyoung-mi’s previous film, Crush and Blush, but I’ve learned many things during my years of covering Fantastic Fest. One of the most important things is that you never – and I mean never – skip the Korean thrillers. I’m not saying that Lee’s film, which is about a politician’s wife who takes her missing daughter’s case into her own hands – is going to propel Lee to become the breakout Korean director, perhaps even the next Park Chan-wook. What I am saying is that if it is, I don’t want to be the last to find out. It’s also a great opportunity to see a thriller from Korea that’s written and directed by a woman, something we don’t often see in the genre-loving halls of Fantastic Fest. – Neil

The Void

The Editor remains my all-time favorite feature from the mad Canadian collective known as Astron-6, but their previous film, Father’s Day, is a close second. The film is an insane, gory, over the top, ridiculous revenge riff, and now two members of the team responsible have stepped outside the comforts of comedy to deliver a straight horror film. Thrills, chills, and eye-catching practial effects are a guarantee as they invite viewers into a late-night hospital beset by all manner of violent threats. Yes please. – Rob

Westworld

In years past, Fantastic Fest has dabbled in the importing and screening of strange TV shows and their adaptations. This year, they’ve convinced major networks like HBO and Starz to bring premieres of major genre shows to the festival. One of which is HBO’s Westworld, the Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Anthony Hopkins, and Ed Harris-led sci-fi show adapted from a 1973 Michael Crichton movie by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. Having seen the first few episodes – full review coming soon – I can say that the pilot being shown at FF is excellent. It quickly and chaotically opens up a world of futuristic tech, moral ambiguity, and wanton violence. Even though it’s debuting on HBO a few days later, it will be neat to see the Westworld pilot on the big screen. – Neil

"Rob is great. He likes movies. He writes about them. And he's a good person."