Simon Barrett

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The doorbell rings, startling Laura Peterson (Sheila Kelley) out of a silent grievous moment. She rises and opens the door to find a handsome young man (Dan Stevens) waiting for her on the front porch. He has striking blue eyes; piercing crystal spheres that soften with kindness upon taking in her form. He says his name is David. He says that he knew her son and served with him in the war. He says that he was with him when he died. He says that he promised to ‘check on’ her family, and that pledge is what led him to this encounter. Laura asks David if he’d like to come inside and opens the door a little wider, letting him know that he is welcome in her home.

Thus begins The Guest, the latest from Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard, the writing/directing team behind You’re Next and A Horrible Way to Die. Outside of being a sparse set up for the mess of mayhem which follows, this opening scene acts as a kind of manifesto for the rest of the movie. This time out, Wingard and Barrett are playing with the unassuming; subverting the trust we put in those who have earned it. What results from the basic conceit is an evolutionary leap forward in craft for both the writer and director, as they combine the sure-handed simplicity of early Cameron with the meticulous, widescreen framing of Carpenter. Not only the best film both artists have put their name on, The Guest is easily one of the most economically entertaining action films since the original Terminator. (more…)

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This is the best week of the year.

Seriously. If you’ve never been to Fantastic Fest before, start saving now to book your flight to Austin, Texas in 2015. Even if you have no idea what Fantastic Fest is as you’re reading this article, just start monitoring your bank account and scanning Southwest Airlines’ website for cheap flights. Because no other film fest in the world is like this one — a non-stop cortège of badass genre movies, video games, boxing matches, trivia challenges, drunken debauchery and the biggest food fight Texas has ever seen. Where at most other fests you have to parse through a sea of party-hopping star fuckers to find the real film fans, at Fantastic Fest you’re rubbing elbows with the most hardcore sect of cinephiles from the world over every single day. Simply put: if you love movies, this is Nirvana.

In 2014, Fantastic Fest is celebrating its tenth year of existence. To ring in such a grand occasion, the programmers and Alamo Drafthouse Founder/CEO Tim League are sparing no expense. Want to see League verbally spar with Ti West about whether or not found footage is a legitimate sub-genre (before they both don gloves and wail on each other in the ring)? Fantastic Fest X has got you covered. Wondering if the new Kevin Smith horror picture is worth its weight in snoogins? Fantastic Fest X has got you covered. How about a detailed Q&A with longtime film critic Leonard Maltin, moderated by former Drafthouse programmer extraordinaire Zack Carlson and suave Vulcan Video head Bryan Connolly? Fantastic Fest X has got you covered.

Welcome to Fantastic Fest X. To get you started, here are the eleven films we here at Nerd Bastards are most excited for. Not gonna lie, it’s going to be a rough and tumble seven days, but just remember what the fox once said:

“Chaos Reigns” (more…)