Joshua Chaplinsky's Fantastic Fest Diary: THE REVENANT

[Our thanks to Joshua Chaplinsky for the following.]

For anyone that was there, I'm the jerk that flipped off the screen and walked out during the screening of The Revenant at Fantastic Fest this year. 

For those who weren't, The Revenant is an irritatingly mediocre horror-comedy featuring a David Spade lookalike and his recently deceased pal, Bart.

After returning from the war in Iraq minus a soul, Bart is laid to rest by his family and friends. But apparently that rest is short lived, and he awakens from his  dirt power nap with a thirst for blood. After clawing his way out of the grave, he seeks out his best friend Joey to help him adjust to his new life as a member of the walking undead. Shenanigans ensue. 

In retrospect, The Revenant isn't the worst movie I've ever seen. It's been getting good buzz on the festival circuit and has even won some awards, so I wasn't expecting to have such a visceral negative reaction. But I did. Seeing how this was the 16th film I'd seen in four days, I have come to the conclusion that I was suffering from "Festival Fatigue."   Festival Fatigue is a condition defined (by me) as a proportionate lack of patience in direct relation to the quality and quantity of films viewed in a short period of time. The shorter the time period and the shittier the films, the more adverse the reaction.

So it was only ten minutes into The Revenant when my ire started rising and I knew I wasn't going to make it. I had just come off a string of four films I really liked, and could have easily sat through something good, but the mediocrity of The Revenant was multiplied exponentially by almost four days of movie watching and I snapped. I had to get out of there.

After the film let out, the general consensus was that I was a dick, because the director was in the audience to witness my little display. I was lambasted as such by my friends as well as the Austin social elite. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't trying to be disrespectful to the filmmaker. My single digit salute was more of an explanation of my feelings to my friends as I vacated the premises. In fact, I had no idea the director was in the audience. But this is not an apology. My reaction was as honest a one as he is likely to get and he should take it for what it's worth.

I was also informed that I missed out on the best parts of the film, especially the ending, which most of my friends seemed to enjoy. It seems my opinion was in the minority, but once you start down the road of hating a film, it is hard to turn around. It is like pulling an airplane out of a nosedive.

If this had been one of the first films I'd seen, or I'd seen it as a one-off, I probably would not have been so harsh. I don't think I would have liked it, but I probably would have made it through till the end. Take it for what it's worth. Consider this a cautionary tale, to filmmakers and moviegoers alike. Beware of Festival Fatigue. 

Joshua Chaplinsky


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