‘The Martian’ and Rooster Teeth part of dazzling Fantastic Fest 2015 line-up

It is time for me to make my peace with the fact that I will not be at Fantastic Fest this year. Last year's fest was one of my favorites ever, fitting for a tenth anniversary, and I would love to go this year. It's just not in the cards, though.

It guts me, too. The event continues to grow and change and evolve, and it features one of the greatest programming teams in the business right now. There are films playing at the festival that I'll see in Toronto, and I'm sure I'll catch up with others, but that's not the point. Fantastic Fest is an experience, and an amazing one.

If you want to go, you still can. “DAYTIME ONLY Badges, FAN Badges, and 2ND HALF Badges for Fantastic Fest 2015 are available for purchase here,” today's press release urged. If you can go for the second half, you'll get repeat screenings of most of the films, and you'll have a chance to hear from people what they're loving the most.

And the line-up just keeps getting more and more dense with interesting titles from around the world. I can rewrite their release, but what's the point? They made a perfect case for this next wave of titles with the announcement they sent out:

Fantastic Fest is excited to announce the second wave of programming featuring the US Premiere of Yorgos Lanthimos' THE LOBSTER as the opening night film. Lanthimos will be in attendance to share his wonderfully surreal examination of human connections. Joining THE LOBSTER is a dazzling array of the year's most anticipated genre films from heavyweight directors including Ridley Scott's sci-fi epic THE MARTIAN, Ben Wheatley's HIGH-RISE and Jeremy Saulnier's GREEN ROOM.
Fantastic Fest will also host the World Premiere of LAZER TEAM, the first feature film from web series gods Rooster Teeth. LAZER TEAM director Matt Hullum and cast members Burnie Burns, Alan Ritchson, Colton Dunn, Michael Jones, and Gavin Free will be in attendance to celebrate the highly anticipated sci-fi comedy and join Fantastic Fest's official opening night party, presented by Rooster Teeth.
“This is a big year for genre cinema. We're exceptionally proud to honor incredible filmmakers and welcome back some of Fantastic Fest's favorites,” said Tim League, Fantastic Fest and Alamo Drafthouse CEO/Founder.
Fantastic Fest filmmaking alumni are represented in three of the fest's hottest titles: HIGH-RISE, GREEN ROOM and KLOVN FOREVER. Since his debut Down Terrace world premiered and sold at Fantastic Fest, Ben Wheatley has seen all of his subsequent films play at the festival. That streak continues with HIGH-RISE, his dizzying adaptation of J.G. Ballard's chilling view of modern life. Jeremy Saulnier follows up his Fantastic Fest smash BLUE RUIN with GREEN ROOM, a brilliantly crafted and wickedly fun horror-thriller starring Patrick Stewart as a diabolical club owner who squares off against an unsuspecting but resilient young punk band. On a lighter note, the lovingly idiotic Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen reunite for KLOVN FOREVER, the latest installment in their hilariously disturbing friendship.
Sticking true to Fantastic Fest's penchant for chaos and explosive events, they welcome Itchy-O to Austin for the first time. A blazing, 32-member aural assault from the darkest depths of Colorado, Itchy-O is a wholly immersive, musical experience on a massive scale. Said festival director Kristen Bell, “We cannot wait for them to unleash their percussive mayhem on our audience as hysteria has a welcome home at Fantastic Fest.”
Emphasizing the “world” in World Premiere, this year's slate is proud to debut titles from all corners of the globe. Regional hotbeds South Korea (Lee Sang-woo's DIRTY ROMANCE), Denmark (Bo Mikklesen's WHAT WE BECOME) and the United Kingdom (Gareth Bryn's THE PASSING) are dutifully represented while attention is paid to the less familiar markets like Puerto Rico (Angel Manuel Soto's LA GRANJA). And for the first time in Fantastic Fest history, we're world premiering a film out of the United Arab Emirates, Majid Al Ansari's electrifying cat-and-mouse thriller, ZINZANA.

See what I mean? Dense. I am so excited to see what the Rooster Teeth guys have done, for example. A new film from the writer/director of “Mr. Nobody”? And a bigscreen sequel to KLOVN? Part of what would make that great is the audience reaction to what I'm guessing will be another gleeful destruction of all things good and decent. There is so much in there already, and that's in addition to the first wave of titles that were announced, including the closing night premiere of “Bone Tomahawk,” the first of this year's Kurt Russell Westerns. Personally, I'm dying to see Sion Sono's “Love and Peace,” especially after the high of last year's “Tokyo Tribe” from him.

For those who get to see “The Witch” at Fantastic Fest, you're in for something special. I love that movie. I've embedded the trailer at the head of this story, and I am so pleased to see they quoted my Sundance review. It's still one of the very best things I've seen in 2015. And I haven't seen “The Lobster” yet, but considering Yorgos Lanthimos is the director of “Dogtooth,” it's pretty much a given that I need to see it and see it soon. “The Martian.” The Miike. “The Mind's Eye.” The Mads and the “Men and Chicken.” I mean…

Here's the full second wave for you:

France, Belgium, Canada, 2015
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci

In an alternate history where Napoleon's heirs rule France, scientists and scholars have gone missing for years, leaving behind a world deprived of their technological innovations. In this land powered by coal and steam, young April searches for her missing scientist parents.

Japan, 2015
US Premiere, 110 min
Director – Eiichiro Hasumi

The most heart-warming, touching coming-of-age tale of 2015 just also happens to be the story of how one classroom of kids gets trained as assassins so they can kill their teacher before he destroys Earth.
Turkey, 2015
US Premiere, 97 min
Director – Can Evrenol

It”s a quiet night on the beat for a mobile unit of Turkish police until they”re called out to support a squad encountering trouble in a remote building.
Japan, 1973
Regional Premiere, 86 min
Director – Eiichi Yamamoto

A young and in love Jeanne is attacked by the local lord and makes a pact with the Devil himself in one of the most important rediscoveries of this year. Never before released in the US, this seminal psychedelic masterpiece has been painstakingly restored in 4k digital.
France/Belgium/Luxembourg, 2015
North American Premiere, 110 min
Director – Jaco Van Dormael

When Ea gets fed up with her overbearing father (who happens to be God), she decides to follow in her older brother's footsteps by leaving the house, gathering her own apostles, and writing her own testament.
Chile, 2015
US Premiere, 98 min
Director – Pablo Larraín

In a secluded Chilean village, four men lead a quiet life, trying to redeem themselves of their past sins. Their existence is threatened by the arrival of a man whose own secret may reveal all which the four have worked to forget.
Ghana/Romania, 2014
North American Premiere, 63 min
Directors – King Henry Blackson & FOKN Bois

Beaten, robbed and left for dead, Wanlov and M3NSA are back and looking for revenge. But first, singing. And lunch. Prepare yourself for “the world”s second first pidgin musical”!
Poland/Israel, 2015
US Premiere, 94 min
Director – Marcin Wrona

A day after discovering human remains in the backyard of their new home, a man begins experiencing strange things which come to a head on his wedding night.
South Korea, 2015
World Premiere, 94 min
Director – Lee Sang-woo

In Lee Sang-woo”s follow up to last year”s I AM TRASH, Chul-joong is too busy forcing his friend to sexually please his developmentally disabled sister to notice someone may want to actually love her for who she is.
France, 2015
US Premiere, 81 min
Director – Lucile Hadzihalilovic

Lucile Hadzihalilovic returns to directing with a surreal tale of a young boy on a remote island who develops a mysterious illness and is subjected to sinister medical treatments.
United States/Canada, 2015
US Premiere, 93 min
Director – Osgood Perkins

The lives of two high school students will be linked together when they”re forced to stay at their boarding school over the winter break and an evil presence starts to stalk them.
United States, 2015
US Premiere, 94 min
Director – Jeremy Saulnier

Green Room is a brilliantly crafted and wickedly fun horror-thriller starring Patrick Stewart as a diabolical club owner who squares off against an unsuspecting but resilient young punk band. 
Canada, 2015
World Premiere, 110 min
Director – Allan Ungar

A tactical assault officer is saddled with a hard partying star out to rehabilitate his image – and avoid jail time – in this throwback to the odd couple buddy action flicks of the early ’90s.
South Africa, 2014
Regional Premiere, 94 min
Director – Zee Ntuli

Supremely confident ladies man TK may have bitten off more than he can chew when he sets his sights on Skiets, a township beauty with an edge who sets the pair off on a non-stop rollercoaster ride through the local underworld.
United Kingdom, 2016
US Premiere, 118 min
Director – Ben Wheatley

Laing, a young doctor, joins a community in a luxury building in Thatcher”s England, who exile themselves from society and gradually divide into violent tribes.
United States, 2015
Texas Premiere, 95 min
Director – Daniel Barber

In the waning days of the Civil War, three southern women (Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld and newcomer Muna Otaru) defend themselves from two Yankees in Daniel Barber”s second film.
Denmark, 2015
International Premiere, 90 min
Director – Mikkel Nørgaard

Five years have passed since the first KLOWN, and with their friendship at risk of fracturing forever, Frank must follow Casper to America… with typically disastrous results.
France, 2014
Texas Premiere, 120 min
Director – Frédéric Tellier

Frederic Tellier”s tight police procedural recreates the events around the decade-long search and trial of “The Beast of the Bastille,” France”s first serial killer, who was tracked down using DNA evidence.
Puerto Rico, 2015
World Premiere, 100 min
Director – Angel Manuel Soto

The lives of a midwife, a young boxer, a mute kid and a young couple collide unexpectedly in a story about the desperate pursuit of happiness on the streets of Puerto Rico.
United States, 2015
World Premiere, 93 min
Director – Matt Hullum

When Earth is threatened by an advanced alien race, our only hope lies in four morons, the self-proclaimed “Lazer Team.”
Ireland, Greece, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, 2015
US Premiere, 119 min
Director – Yorgos Lanthimos

Somewhere in the near future, single people face a choice: Join a program to find a mate in forty-five days or be transformed into an animal.
India, 2015
US Premiere, 92 min
Directors – Q & Nikon

Time and space collide when a possessed game grabs hold of two friends eager for a sinful night of sex and drugs in Indian auteur Q”s first foray into horror.
United States/Canada/Italy/Japan, 2015
World Premiere, 93 min
Directors – Andrew Seklir and Tim Kinzy

1984. One shiny quarter. 44.5 hours of continuous play. The race to be the first gamer in history to score one BILLION points. Until recently, Timothy McVey (not the terrorist) thought he had – for all these years – held the world record on Nibbler. Note: a Nibbler cabinet will be available in the lobby for the duration of Fantastic Fest for attendees to attempt to break the current world record.
United States, 2015
Special Screening, 120 min
Director – Ridley Scott

Get ready to be blown away by Fox's latest action-packed 3D adventure, THE MARTIAN starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kristen Wiig with a special screening of the upcoming film directed by Ridley Scott. THE MARTIAN is the story of what happens during a manned mission to Mars, when Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission.
Denmark, 2015
US Premiere, 100 min
Director – Anders Thomas Jensen

Mads Mikkelsen as only his longtime absurdist Danish collaborator Anders Thomas Jensen could conceive, a chronic masturbator with a hair-trigger temper, desperately searches for his true identity.
United States, 2015
US Premiere, 87 min
Director – Joe Begos

On the heels of his Fantastic Fest debut ALMOST HUMAN, Joe Begos returns with a classic battle of good versus evil. A drifter with suppressed psychic powers must learn to unleash them to save the woman he loves.
United States, 2015
US Premiere, 89 min
Director – A.D.Calvo

Mort, a lonely and disillusioned owner of a comic book shop, has fallen for his new employee Ellen, a smart, aspiring graphic novelist. A dark past and a missing girl, however, will complicate their story more than anyone can imagine.
United Kingdom, 2015
World Premiere, 87 min
Director – Gareth Bryn

After their car is driven off the road and crashed into a river, a young couple on the run is taken in by a simple man living with his secrets in his isolated home.
France, 2015
US Premiere, 99 min
Director – Eric Hannezo

Four violent criminals escaping a robbery take a man, an ailing child and a young woman on a nightmarish road trip in this remake of Mario Bava”s near-lost Euro-crime nasty.
Canada/Laos, 2015
US Premiere, 88 min
Director – Jamie Dagg

John, a volunteer doctor, finds himself on the run in a strange country when he tries to stop the rape of a drunk girl at the hands of an Australian man.
United States, 2015
Regional Premiere, 107 min
Director – Dennis Hauck

A troubled private eye trawls through the belly of Los Angeles looking for a missing young woman, slowly revealing a careful web of intrigue, lies and connections.
Denmark, 2015
World Premiere, 85 min
Director – Bo Mikkelsen

An idyllic suburban summer is shattered with the outbreak of an unexplained disease. With residents forced into quarantine with no explanation, the situation quickly spirals out of control.
Canada/United States, 2015
Texas Premiere, 90 min
Director – Robert Eggers

Sixty years before the Salem witch trials, a Puritan moves his family away from civilization to a homestead which shares its borders with inescapable evil.
Japan, 2015
Texas Premiere, 115 min
Director – Takashi Miike

After a yakuza vampire boss is struck down, his most loyal disciple takes it upon himself to avenge his mentor”s death and eliminate the assassins and their giant plush frog leader in Miike”s classic yakuza tale turned inside out.
United Arab Emirates, Jordan, 2015
World Premiere, 91 min
Director – Majid Al Ansari

Talal wakes up in a cell with no memory of the night before with no I.D. and no escape. Nothing can prepare him, however, for the arrival of a brilliant psychopath and the games he wants to play.

Fantastic Fest 2015 runs from September 24th to October 1st. If you are attending, I am green with envy.