Day One: Fantastic Fest – A Recap

It may technically be the shortest day of the entire fest, but that doesn’t mean that day one of Fantastic Fest is any less fun. In many ways it’s a portent of things to come. Crowds, drinks, friends and above all, movies. Oh, the movies.

A lot happened in a condensed period of time, so here’s some highlights.

Vampire Clay started out the day in the zaniest, warmest way possible. Imagine distilled low-key insanity. Toss in a dash of melodrama and practical effects. That equates to a good time. Now no one is going to argue that this Japanese horror film from (who previously directed the “Y is for Youth” section of ABC’s of Death 2) is subtle. That adds to its charm though, even if it runs a tad too long. Strong words for a film that’s 82 minutes long.

Shortly before any of the movies began, Kristen Bell (not the actress, but an exceptionally awesome individual all the same) came out and gave a speech. She spoke lightly about current events surrounding the festival, while making sure to stress that people here are a community and family. It’s was a beautiful sentiment she expressed and a great way to kick things off.

The starting film of the “true” festival (Vampire Clay was a press screening) started with Corey Finley’s debut THOROUGHBREDS. Featuring stellar performances by Anya Taylor Joy, Olivia Cooke and the late Anton Yelchin. The story revolves around 2 old friends thrust together when one of them requires tutoring. Immaculately lensed, while the story ends up lacking in the later portions it’s elevated by the 3 main leads.

Next up was the light supernatural thriller Thelma. Coming across at times as a slow meditation on sexual awakening, coming of age and branching out. Away at University Thelma suffers from a series of seizures as she starts to get close to a new female friend. At the same time possibly unearthing special powers. It’s languid and beautiful in its poetic flow, but always confident in the choices it makes.

Because this is Fantastic Fest, there’s always things going on. Given that this was the start of the festival, it felt right that there be an opening party. The theme was Pajama Party and sure enough plenty of people were dressed in their finest onesies. Pillow fights occurred, eventually littering the floor in feathers as balloons desended from the ceiling. The karaoke rooms were also packed, voices screening into the hallways, as servers came through each door.

All in all it was a great beginning to a long week.

More recaps and full fledged reviews (as well as a few surprises) will be popping ip this week, so be sure to check back soon!