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10 Freaky Horror, Sci-Fi, and Genre Movies that Shocked Fantastic Fest – And Are Coming to You Soon

Epic survival flicks, pitch black comedies, and something called Butt Boy. Time to get excited.

by | October 4, 2019 | Comments

Just a week after the prestigious audiences and midnight crowds of Toronto International Film Festival, it’s Austin’s moment to shine as host to the weirdest and most fantastic week of the year. Unlike Austin’s other big fest SXSW, which shows a varied program of indie dramas, big blockbuster movies and crowd-pleasing comedies, Fantastic Fest thrives on providing an audience with the best horror, sci-fi, action and plain bizarre movies from all around the world.

Though the festival has held world premieres for big titles like There Will Be Blood, Zombieland, and Split, and this year prides itself for showing acclaimed films from other festivals like Parasite, Knives Out and Jojo Rabbit, what makes Fantastic Fest special is how it manages to find genre gems from every corner of the world. Some of the films take years before anyone is able to see them, and some become overnight successes after playing in the heat of the Texas capital.

To help you plan your future watch-list of weird and unforgettable genre films, we’ve put together a list highlighting some of the genre movies that blew audiences and critics alike away at Fantastic Fest 2019, which ran September 19-26, and show genre movies can come in many forms.


Butt Boy (2020) 71% 

Here it is. The weirdest, most bizarre movie of the year, and one that just screams Fantastic Fest. You probably already have an idea of what this movie is about based on the title, but Butt Boy is so much more than a gross-out comedy. Yes, it is a one-joke movie about a guy who becomes addicted to putting anything and everything up his butt, but it is also a near-homage to David Fincher, with director Tyler Cornack delivering a pulpy crime thriller involving a cat-and-mouse chase between a hardboiled detective and our titular Butt Boy. Critic Germain Lussier wrote for io9: “Butt Boy is a wholly entertaining and engaging film that dashes expectations at every single step. By the end, you may even shed a tear–and absolutely won’t judge a movie by its title ever again.”

No release date has been announced yet.


Sweetheart (2019) 94% 

A bit of an anti-Shape of Water, J.D. Dillard’s sophomore feature is a terrifying and monstrous survival story of a woman stranded on an island. Think Cast Away, but instead of a volleyball our protagonist’s only companion is a man-eating sea monster. The survival aspect of the movie allows breakout performer Kiersey Clemons to give us full gritty determination in a largely mute role, while the sea monster element allows for impressive creature design and terrifying and bloody confrontations. “One woman, one gilled foe, one gorgeous escape ploy that rations tension as to sustain all 90-ish minutes,” wrote /Film’s critic Matt Donato, and critics agree that the film’s fast pace, creature design and terrific performances make for an entertaining and engrossing aquatic thriller.

Universal will release Sweetheart digitally on October 22.


Bliss (2019) 88% 

Joe Begos’ third feature (though he also showed his fourth, VFW, at the festival) is a grindhouse look at a painter who over-indulges in drugs, unlocking her full artistic potential at the cost of an insatiable thirst for blood. Begos creates a fever dream of a movie, one that feels inspired by Gaspar Noé’s Climax but with the hallucinogenic aesthetic of a heavy metal music video, which gives a new twist to the vampire genre. Writing for Flickering Myth, critic Shaun Munro says, “Bliss imbues a familiar subgenre with oodles of free-wheeling punk-rock audacity.”

Bliss is now out on VOD.


Why Don't You Just Die! (Papa, sdokhni) (2020) 97%  

What if someone took the Itchy & Scratchy cartoon segments from The Simpsons and made a movie out of them? Well, Kirill Sokolov did the next best thing, combining cartoon-violence with a Sergio Leone western aesthetic to make an entertaining movie about a guy who agrees to kill a police detective and his struggles to get the job done. Like early Tarantino, Sokolov enjoys getting his characters into the messiest of situations and watching them fail fantastically to get out safely. Eye for Film’s critic Jennie Kermode writes, “Impeccable comic timing and keen self-awareness makes what is essentially slapstick plus gore into something much more entertaining.

No release date has been announced yet.


The Lodge (2020) 74% 

Goodbye Mommy directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz have crafted another meticulous, chilling slow-burn that is full of dread and nightmare-fuel. Taking a page from Kubrick, The Lodge finds horror in isolation and the cold of winter, with two kids finding themselves trapped in a cabin with their future stepmother in the middle of a blizzard. The movie plays expertly with audience expectations and gives Riley Keough a breakout role. Critic Brian Tallerico, writing on RogerEbert.com, says The Lodge is “a truly unsettling movie, the kind of horror film that rattles you on an almost subconscious level.

Neon will release The Lodge on February 7, 2020.


I Lost My Body (2019) 96% 

One of the few animated movies at Fantastic Fest, I Lost My Body dares anyone to see it and call it a children’s movie, with its macabre and touching exploration of loss, both physical and emotional. We follow a literal hand that is trying to find its way back to its owner, whom we get to know via flashback. Jérémy Clapin’s film – from a script by Amelie writer Guillaume Laurant – is infused with a dark sense of humor. Writing for Book & Film Globe, critic Stephen Garrett called I Lost My Body Eerily beguiling…a darkly comic standout….”

Netflix will release I Lost My Body in select theaters starting November 15, before it premieres the streaming platform November 29.


The Pool (2019) 100% 

One man. One empty pool. One crocodile. Ping Lumpraploeng’s The Pool takes one ludicrous concept and goes to town with it, forcing our protagonist, a dog trainer called Day, to go through every Murphy’s Law scenario imaginable when he falls asleep in a drained Olympic pool and finds himself having to fight a crocodile to survive. Despite using a single location, The Pool keeps the action fresh by throwing frequent new predicaments at Day and inviting us to laugh at his failure to escape them. It’s a mean-spirited but hilarious thriller. Writing for Bloody Disgusting, critic Trace Thurman wrote, “Every once in a while, a movie comes along that is so stupid and so aware of that stupidity that you can’t help but be won over by its charms. The Pool is that movie.”

No release date has been announced yet.


We Summon the Darkness (2020) 69%  

Combining Heavy Metal Parking Lot with Satanic panic and a lot of thrashing music, Marc Meyers’ We Summon the Darkness is a midnight film that will keep you amped ’til dawn with headbanging tunes, a kickass leather-wearing girl gang, and a good amount of bloody fun. According to reviews, Alexandra Daddario gives a helluva rocking performance as the badass leader of said girl group who finds herself in the middle of a killing party with possible Satanic undertones. Critic Joe Lipsett wrote for The Spool that “This satanic, heavy metal horror-comedy is everything…audiences never knew they wanted.”

Saban Films will release We Summon the Darkness on December 13.


Dogs Don't Wear Pants (Koirat eivät käytä housuja) (2019) 88%  

One part Flatliners, one part 50 Shades of Grey, Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää’s Dogs Don’t Wear Pants is a film about domination and submission, exploring grief and catharsis through BDSM. There are some heavily emotional scenes that allow Pekka Strang to take full command of the screen, but Dogs Don’t Wear Pants stands out for its comic tone. One of the weirdest movies to have played at Fantastic Fest in recent years, this one sticks with you long after you leave the theater. “A gem that is bound to have serious legs on the festival circuit, and with a little luck, on cinema screens around the world,” wrote ScreenAnarchy critic J Hurtado.

No release date has been announced yet.


After Midnight (Something Else) (2020) 86% 

Hank and Abby’s romantic relationship starts to dwindle just as a monster begins appearing at Hank’s doorstep every night, forcing him to try and save both his relationship and himself. Jeremy Gardner’s After Midnight combines the melancholic existential angst of an aging relationship with the thrills and macabre tone of a creature feature. Gardner’s film is a slow-burn that builds dread through a combination of claustrophobia and self-loathing as Hank battles against a monster that may be some kind of reflection of himself. Dread Central’s critic Michelle Swope wrote, “Sublime and emotional… one hell of a love story, a nightmarish monster movie, and an overall fantastical experience.”

Cranked Up Films will release After Midnight in the first quarter of 2020.


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