Love and Saucers

A documentary about David Huggins, a 72-year-old man who claims he lost his virginity to a UFO alien woman. No, this isn’t a comedy, but an ernest documentary about a true believer. The filmmakers present the man’s story and first-hand testimony at face value, without dismissing or confirming its objective validity. He claims he’s had sex many times with this alien, but he didn’t start “remembering” it until he read the alien abduction books by author Bud Hopkins, describing just this kind of close encounter. He’s also obsessively painting his experiences in oil and canvas, something that ultimately means the subject provided the visuals for the documentary to show while he’s describing his experiences. During the Q&A, the filmmakers say that they (and plead for the audience to) keep an open mind, but then they only tell you one side of the story. I want to believe. 6/10


All You Can Eat Buddha

A tourist shows up at a resort in Cuba and doesn’t do anything except eat at the buffet. Then miracles start to happen. Of course he interacts with the quirky guests and hotel staff, and a beached octopus. That would be a pretty good synopsis of All You Can Eat Buddha, which is quite a literal description of the main character, Mike, a rotund, bald man with a large appetite. The film has the look of a Wes Anderson production, if Anderson were taking Xanax and LSD at the same time. The film is surreal, and after a while, you’re not sure if the film should even be interpreted literally. The way scenes are framed and shot, the quirky characters, the hotel setting, all contribute to the Wes Anderson vibe. The film doesn’t have a plot in the conventional sense of the word nor does it explain where reality ends and the surreal begins. Still, the movie is LOL funny in places. 8/10


The Cured

This is the Ellen Page zombie movie of the festival. There was a claim going around Fantastic Fest crowds that The Cured is not a conventional zombie movie because the zombies can be ‘cured.’ The premise is that they retain all the memories from when they were zombies and are not in control of their actions. Legally, they were absolved of all criminal acts committed while they were infected. While this angle of the zombie story was very original, it’s just the premise, the rest is a rather conventional zombie movie, including the ending which was pretty predictable. Ellen Page gives a good performance as a young widow and mother in the post-cure world, but I ultimately think The Cured could have been a clever allegory for the power struggle between differnet social classes. But it’s just a zombie movie with a unique premise. 7/10


See You Up There

Sprawling and emotional epic set in post-WWI France, about love, art, and competing schemes to profiteer from the war. A late entry into this year’s festival, this was hands down the best movie of the festival, period. Yet ironically, it wasn’t on many people’s radars. It’s “too good for Fantastic Fest.” That’s not a slam against the festival, but an acknowledgement that this is still a genre film festival, not a TIFF, and See You Up There isn’t a genre film (except for a few scenes requiring special make-up effects). But I think it’s worthy of attention from the MPAA voters in the Best Foreign Picture category. Think of Bullhead or Toni Erdmann level good. Don’t miss it. This one gets a perfect score: 10/10


Vidar The Vampire

Meet Vidar. Devout Christian farm boy who dies and is resurrected into a vampire by Jesus Christ. I mean, right? This movie was selected because it ticked off almost all the Fantastic Fest genre icons. In other words, it’s the Samsung Galaxy of midnighters, if there was such a thing. But having all the boxes checked off doesn’t make for an entertaining-to-watch film. Despite a few good gags, it ran out of steam before the whole movie ends. And it just ended without any real closure. 4/10