The jewel in the crown of beautiful Austin, Texas, is our annual Fantastic Fest!
Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the United States, specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi and, basically, all things weird at the movies. Some years are weirder than others and the current lineup of feature films for Fantastic Fest 2019 may be the weirdest yet!
What does weird mean to us at Shuffle? We’re talking the unique and innovative. We’re talking the bizarre and disturbing. We’re talking the films that you read the synopsis of or watch the trailer for and just say, “… What?”
Without further ado, here are our top five weirdest features coming to Fantastic Fest 2019.
“Butt Boy” (World Premiere)
Director: Tyler Cornack
Starring: Tyler Cornack, Brad Potts and Angela Jones
Official Synopsis: After a child goes missing, a newly sober detective suspects that his sponsor has a superpower that makes animals, objects and humans disappear in his butt.
What’s weird about it: A film about a man that becomes obsessed with sticking things up his butt is pretty weird. A film where it becomes a superpower is really weird. A movie about a man with the ability to make things disappear up his butt, played straight and within the noir genre is nuckin’ futz! “Butt Boy” is WEIRD, y’all!
Writer/director Tyler Cornack and his writing partner, Ryan Koch, have entered a play land of their very own, borne out of their unique stylings of sketch comedy and storytelling. Sources say it’s an experience that only the Fantastic Fest crowd can handle. So grab your ankles and prepare yourself for “Butt Boy.”
“JoJo Rabbit” (US Premiere)
Director: Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok” and “What We Do in the Shadows”)
Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell and Scarlett Johansson
Official Synopsis: A lonely German boy’s worldview is turned upside down when he discovers that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided by his idiotic imaginary friend, Hitler (played by Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism in this WWII satire.
What’s weird about it: Political satire is old hat, but have you ever seen it done with a skipping Hitler and lampoon of Nazi Germany? Didn’t think so. That would be pretty weird. “Jojo Rabbit” evokes notions of “Springtime for Hitler” a la “The Producers” but seems so much more fantastical. It’s an unusual cinematic experience that does not come along very often.
The stars come out to play from time to time to trip the light fantastique at Fantastic Fest, and “Jojo Rabbit” promises just that. Director and star Taika Waititi (who you may know from his Marvel projects… they’re pretty obscure) will be in attendance at the U.S. premiere in beautiful Austin, following close on the heels of the film’s world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film won the Grolsch People’s Choice Awards at TIFF. I mean, the cast includes Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson and Sam Rockwell. That’s more than star-studded, it’s star-stacked!
Director: Johannes Nyholm
Starring: Peter Belli, Leif Edlund and Ylva Gallon
Official Synopsis: When a disconnected couple takes a camping trip in an attempt to mend their marriage after tragedy, they find themselves tormented by a peculiar brand of misfits.
What’s weird about it: Things are not as they seem with this survival story. It sounds like it has all the familiar tropes — until they’re turned on their head. Our couple is being stalked by a straight-up weird cast of characters: a man in a white suit, a giant woman walking a pit bull and her strongman companion (who is carrying a dead pit bull), and an eerie white cat wearing a bow tie wraps up the merry band of creeps.
And if that isn’t enough to weird you out… take a second to consider that this whole story unfolds like some sort of demented “Groundhog Day” with the horrors repeating themselves over and over! “Koko-di Koko-da” will be coming to Fantastic Fest after screening at both the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival. Let’s see how the spooks do down South!
“Swallow” (Texas Premiere)
Director: Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Starring: Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell and Denis O’Hare
Official Synopsis: Hunter, a newly pregnant housewife, finds herself increasingly compelled to consume dangerous objects. As her husband and his family tighten their control over her life, she must confront the dark secret behind her new obsession.
What’s weird about it: Let’s be honest, the premise of a pregnant woman swallowing random household objects is pretty weird. But it only gets weirder when you start to peel back the layers of time and space, and autonomy, and gender roles. The whole world of the film feels a little off, a little weird. It’s a film that’s meant to give the viewer that delightful, uncomfortable feeling.
Haley Bennett has been lauded for her leading role in the film and “Swallow” enjoyed an extremely positive response at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Not bad for a directorial debut from Carlo Mirabella-Davis.
“Wrinkles the Clown” (World Premiere)
Director: Michael Beach Nichols
Official Synopsis: Pennywise isn’t real. But Wrinkles is. This documentary explores the story of the infamous freaky clown from Naples, Florida, who makes a living being hired by parents to terrorize their naughty children.
What’s weird about it: Truth is often stranger than fiction, and a creepy clown for hire will about goddamn do it, in the weird department. It’s accepted fact that Florida is the epicenter for all of America’s weirdness (if you exclude Washington, D.C., HEY-OH!), so it’s only natural that the truly weird true story of the truly weird viral video would originate here. Director Michael Beach Nichols is no stranger to weirdness, himself. In his previous documentary feature, “Welcome to Leith,” Nichols dove into the weird truth of white supremacists trying to take over a small North Dakota town.
When faced to choose between the horror of white supremacists and a creepy clown, we’ll take the clown every time. It’s an honor to see “Wrinkles the Clown” premiere at this year’s Fantastic Fest!
Fantastic Fest is coming up fast! Get all the info on tickets and the festival schedule here.
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Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. Bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.