Fantastic Fest headliners offer films about cowboys, animal transformation, Neo-Nazis

Alex Pelham

Cinema lovers from across the globe are flocking to Austin for Alamo Drafthouse’s annual Fantastic Fest, which runs from Thursday to Oct. 1. The week-long film festival showcases strange and avant-garde movies, with some highlighting 19th-century cannibals, stranded astronauts and alien invasions. There will be foreign films that send chills down audience members’ spines and a number of headliners featuring big stars and major special effects. Here is a list of some of the most anticipated movies of the week.
“The Lobster”
Thursday, Sept. 24, 5:45 p.m.
This surreal film centers on a futuristic society in which people must find a mate or else be transformed into an animal. Given 45 days to find his one true love, a man must find her or be cast out into the woods as a creature. A movie with such an odd, dark setup is hard to overlook. The film stars Colin Farrell, John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw.

“The Keeping Room”
Thursday, Sept. 24, 9:00 p.m.
This gritty Civil War drama follows three southern women whose home is attacked by a couple of Yankee soldiers. Depicting a war-torn South as a devastated wasteland where no one is safe, the film promises a dark tale of a group of women who must trust each other to survive. The film stars Academy Award nominated actress Hailee Steinfeld, along with Brit Marling, Sam Worthington and newcomer Muna Otaru.

“Lazer Team”
Thursday, Sept. 24, 9:15 p.m. & Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2:30 p.m.
The first major feature film produced by Austin-based production studio Rooster Teeth, “Lazer Team” presents a new look on sci-fi comedy. After an advanced race of aliens sends Earth a mysterious package, they inform the government that they must pick a champion to participate in a duel. Unfortunately, the package falls in the hands of four idiots, and they must band together to stop the invasion. Starring Rooster Teeth alumni Michael Jones, Gavin Free and Burnie Burns, this movie is sure to please genre fans and Rooster Teeth fanatics alike.

“Green Room”
Friday, Sept. 25, 8:45 p.m. & Tuesday, Sept. 29, 5:15 p.m.
Not much is known about this thriller except that it involves the creative premise of a punk band battling it out with a gang of murderous neo-Nazis. The film serves as a follow up to director Jeremy Saulnier’s acclaimed “Blue Ruin,” meaning that it’ll probably feature tense, heart-pounding action and complex characters. The film stars acting powerhouse Patrick Stewart, as well as Anton Yelchin and Joe Cole.

“The Martian”
Tuesday, Sept. 29, 5:30 p.m.
Directed by science-fiction guru Ridley Scott, “The Martian” is about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars when his crew leaves him behind. With limited supplies, he must find a way to survive on the desolate planet as NASA works to bring him home. Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and Chiwetel Ejiofor, this film attempts to show audiences the ultimate tale of survival.

“Bone Tomahawk”
Thursday, Oct. 1, 7:15 p.m.
Fantastic Fest’s closing night selection features the legendary Kurt Russell hunting down a tribe of cannibals. In this Western adventure flick, a strange man and housewife go missing, and Russell must round up a posse to save them from being devoured by cave-dwelling savages. The film also stars Richard Jenkins, Patrick Wilson, Lili Simmons and David Arquette.