Observations from a Fantastic Fest Virgin: Looking for the Magic and Finding It in 'You're Next'

Observations from a Fantastic Fest Virgin: Looking for the Magic and Finding It in 'You're Next'

Sep 25, 2011

Day 4 of Fantastic Fest brought the heat (literally), with 100-degree sweatiness trailing each of us like a killer in a horse mask that's practically impossible to see out of. That's probably my only qualm with the festival's top highlight so far, You're Next, which absolutely destroyed with this audience, and is now easily one of my favorite films of the year (though it won't come out till 2012 so it'll have to count as one of my favorite films of this year and next year).

The ensemble home invasion horror flick expertly balances the scares with the humor in a way that immediately reminded me of the similar feelings I felt after watching Scream for the first time. Don't get me wrong, this is its own beast completely, and the cast -- including many familiar (and up-and-coming) indie filmmakers and actors -- wrecks the joint, with Sharni Vinson owning the film's lead role (and your undivided attention whenever she's on screen), while filmmaker Joe Swanberg steals every scene he's in. Real crowd pleaser from start to finish -- definitely put this at the top of your to-do list when Lionsgate releases next year. And keep an eye out for our full review (TIFF capsule here) coming soon.

Some more observations ...

The Fest Favorites So Far: Based on the around-the-theater buzz, it seems like the films folks are loving the most include You're Next, Sleepless Night, Headhunters, A Boy and His Samurai, Take Shelter, The Skin I Live In (secret screening), Boys on the Run, Juan of the Dead, A Lonely Place to Die ... and the list keeps going.

My Personal Favorites Include: You're Next, Sleepless Night, Headhunters, and El Narco.

The Cast of You're Next Can Hang: After the midnight screening of You're Next, many of us were still high on the movie and the great Q&A, forcing our conversations with each other and the cast to spill out onto the Alamo benches. You're Next stars Sharni Vinson and A.J. Bowen posed for a pic underneath the You're Next graffiti (that didn't come from Banksy, for those curious), with Vinson later grabbing one of the film's killer animals masks for more. Check out pics I took below.

I Look Like a  Dope on Camera, But I'm Proud of That Muppet Shirt: A little earlier I spoke with Germain Lussier from Slashfilm on camera about You're Next. This was literally 10 minutes after I walked out of the theater and my mind was racing to catch up with my emotions, so please excuse my jittery reaction.

Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan Really Fought Each Other: When I heard Lord of the Rings co-stars Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan were going to fight in a ring during Knuckle Fantastic Debates, I was pretty positive they'd have some rehearsed fight where no one really got hurt. Wrong. Wood walked over to us late last night and revealed the shiner under his right eye after these two dudes went at it pretty hard following a debate about World of Warcraft. The winner of the debate: Wood. The winner of the fight: Monaghan. Check out the video highlights below.

There's a Song Going Around: Without spoiling anything from You're Next, this song is prominently featured in the film and it has successfully lodged itself into the brains of hundreds of festgoers who've been listening to this on repeat for the past 24 hours. Beware, it's addicting. But maybe that's the point.

The One-Location Festival is Truly Something Special: Having all the screenings at one movie theater really adds another layer to a film festival because it immediately makes it more intimate. It makes the post-screening conversation among friends and colleagues that much easier, and when you're giving out free ice cream in front of the theater all day it's impossible to find anyone who's not having a great time. 

More observations coming tomorrow. Be sure to tip your writers by reading the rest of our Fantastic Fest 2011 coverage here, and follow us on Twitter @moviesdotcom.

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