Review: ‘Depraved’ reminds us who the real monsters are.

The legend of Frankenstein gets a provocative modern update in the stylishly disturbing new film from indie horror master Larry Fessenden. Suffering from PTSD following his stint as an army medic, Henry (David Call) now works feverishly in his Brooklyn laboratory to forget the death he witnessed overseas by creating life in the form of a man cobbled together from body parts. After procuring a brain from an unwitting victim, his creation—Adam (Alex Breaux)—is born. But it soon seems that giving life to Adam was the easy part; teaching him how to live in a dark and troubled world may be perilous. A complex, emotionally shattering tale about what it means to be human, Depraved brings Mary Shelley’s immortal fable fully into the 21st century.

 

Like Mary Shelley‘s novel, as you watch Depraved, you immediately realize that our Dr. Frankenstein character is the monster and not his creation. The emotional connection in this script is what engrosses you from the very beginning. It explores the good, the bad, and definitely the ugly of the human condition.

Performances are out of this world. David Call as Henry is exceedingly ambitious. He easily flips from hopeful excitement to an underlying irrational rage, fueled by military PTSD. As a mother, it’s like watching myself teaching my toddlers, especially when I’ve reached my mental and emotional limits. Joshua Leonard as Polidori is the diabolical shit starter that propels the insanity to the next level. Alex Breaux as Adam is captivating. His vulnerability is literally a head to toe performance. These men give us a complex dynamic that is undeniably intense and brilliant. Director Larry Fessenden has created something spectacular in every way. Depraved is easily one of my favorite films of 2019.

The overall editing of Depraved is a masterclass unto itself. Utilization of flashbacks fills in the backstory gaps. The visual overlays of synapses firing are truly effective. We become Adam. It is damn near perfect. The special effects make-up is striking. The sound editing is hypnotizing and the score is breathtaking. Fessenden has given us a complex character study that subtly shines a light on issues from big pharma to the treatment of our veterans and beyond. It is a story about moral corruptibility at its finest. You will be left in awe. Depraved is a modern-day, movie monster masterpiece.

 In Theaters September 13

Directed and Written by Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter, Until Dawn, Habit)
Starring David Call (“The Sinner”), Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project), Alex Breaux (“When They See Us”), Addison Timlin (Odd Thomas, Fallen), Maria Dizzia (“Orange Is The New Black,” “13 Reasons Why”)

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: Let us all worship at the altar of ‘THE DIVINE FURY’.

The Divine Fury

After losing his father at a young age in a terrible accident, Yong-hu (Park Seo-jun) abandons his Christian faith and chooses to only believe in himself. Now as an adult, Yong-hu is a champion fighter and has everything he has ever wanted, that is until mysterious wounds appear in the palms of his hands. He solicits help from a local priest Father Ahn (Ahn Sung-ki), hoping the priest can help relieve him of the painful markings, only to find himself in the middle of a dangerous fight against otherworldly evil forces seeking to wreak havoc on the human world.

Set against the neon lights of Seoul, The Divine Fury utilizes incredibly effective special fx mixed with a dynamic plot of good vs evil. Roman Catholic use of exorcism is rare and must be approved by the Vatican. As a former Catholic school kid and genre fans since the age of 2, I know this to be fact… At least as factual as one can attribute to organized religion in general. All that aside, The Divine Fury adds an extra supernatural element by giving an MMA fighter a demon expelling stigmata superpower. It takes faith into a genre-bending underworld and it is fascinating. From the very first shot with its heightened sound editing, you know you’re in for a ride. There is never a dull moment during its 2-hour runtime. The fight choreography is outstanding and meticulously specific to this unique plot (Think MMA meets demon streetfighter goodness). As a “lapsed Catholic” viewer, it does a brilliant job of melding together religion and otherworldly lore for one hell of an entertaining storyline. I cannot express how truly fun this film is. As the closing film of Fantasia International Film Festival 2019, The Divine Fury puts this year’s selections over the top.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘The Deeper You Dig’ will never let you rest in peace.

THE DEEPER YOU DIG

In the aftermath of a roadside accident, the line between the living and the dead collapses for a mother, a daughter and a stranger.

This is one of the most unique films of this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival. The fact that our three stars wrote, directed and shot this film is absolutely astounding. The script is filled with intrigue from the get-go. You can feel the isolation of the Catskills location and the weather exacerbates the ominous tone. I’m a born and bred New Englander so I know what it feels like, smells like, sounds like to have a woodsy area covered in snow. I grew up with snow tires, daring to trek out in snowy weather when all else stayed home for safety. This super cool family dynamic works wonders on film. Not just between mother and daughter, but the trust that John and Toby must have had in an elaborately choreographed climax. Not to mention the gruesome violence inflicted on each of them during the course of the film. Toby Poser as Ivy is grounded and complicated. Her character’s intuition and boldness make her a strong hero. Zelda Adams as Echo (which, by the way, the name is a total double entendre for the plot and ridiculously genius) is pretty magical in both her vulnerability and her playfulness. John Adams as Kurt is scary. His slow descent haunted madness is wild. I was completely enthralled by these performances and the writing. Not only is it a complex ghost story, but it has intense dreamlike trances, communication with otherworldly spirits, and pure guilt-driven vitriol is quite a thing to behold. The practical and special FX are damn good. This talented trio of filmmakers deserves attention and applause. The Deeper You Dig had a visceral effect on me. This film will stay with me for a while and I am proud to highly recommend it.

THE DEEPER YOU DIG

 

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘HARPOON’ is a wild ride of deceit on the high seas.

Wealthy Richard (Christopher Gray) is prone to fits of violent anger, particularly when he believes his girlfriend Sasha (Emily Tyra) is cheating on him with his best friend Jonah (Munro Chambers) — who’s been having worse luck than even his Biblical namesake. Once they reassure him that his fears are unfounded, Richard invites Sasha and Jonah on an excursion aboard his yacht The Naughty Buoy to make amends. What starts out as a pleasure cruise becomes a fateful trip when festering suspicions and resentments bubble to the surface, and the trio become stranded on the open sea with a dead motor, extremely limited food and water, and one of them grievously injured. Unconsciously violating any number of maritime superstitions, they are soon at the mercy not so much of the elements, but of each other.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 has had some instant hits this year. Saturday night was no exception as HARPOON wowed audiences at its Quebec premiere. From the incredible opening shot, this film comes at you like a rabid animal. Amazing, quippy, profanity-laced dialogue kicks off a ride we are are now ready for. This love triangle at sea plays off a classic dynamic of a wealthy asshole, girlfriend, and third wheel best friend where suspicion fuels jealousy. The script utilizes literary references, voiceover narration by Brett Gelman, and the kind of honest intimacy in dialogue that you only find between best friends. But, secrets are the one thing that can be a real friendship killer, even for those not stuck out in the middle of the ocean. Our three cast members are phenomenal. I completely buy these performances. Each is funny, vulnerable, and kind of dickheaded in their own unique way. The practical fx are gruesome and awesome. Writer-director Rob Grant has given us a goddamn indie gem. It’s got a twisted ending you will never “sea” coming. What’s a little murder between friends, after all? Fantasia International Film Festival fans will go overboard for Harpoon.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: “Culture Shock’ takes fake news to task with genre realness.

CULTURE SHOCK

The White House and their white nationalist propaganda make for great resistance in art these days. Hulu’s Blumhouse Into the Dark series is now streaming Culture Shock to its subscribers. Using real-life scenarios as a jumping-off point, this film takes illegal immigration beyond the hell we’re currently seeing at our border and brings it into true sci-fi territory. Our leading lady wakes up in a Valley Of the Dolls nightmare with its sweater vests and pastel coordinated everything and begins to lose time and all sense of rea Something about this “American Dream” is way off. Once she cracks the code, nothing can stop her from escaping.

Performances are eerie and amazing. Genre legend and timelord extraordinaire, Barbara Crampton plays a motherly figure looking after Marisol and her newborn baby. She sets the tone for the remainder of the film with her saccharine-sweet smile and creepy overbearing politeness. She is outstanding. Martha Higareda is the real wow factor. You are rooting for her the entire way and hope she gets everything she seeks. Her IDGAF survival attitude is pure magic. The script is edgy and brings a major creep factor that gets under your skin. The enhanced audio editing is a fantastic tool that heightens the inevitably squirming you’ll do while you watch. The story is one that will resonate with so many people living their own version of what is looking more and more like the American nightmare. This is a stunning debut feature for director Gigi Saul Guerrero and I know the industry, as well as Fantasia International Film Festival fans, can be excited for whatever comes next.

CULTURE SHOCK

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘The Art Of Self-Defense’

Jesse Eisenberg has mastered playing the quirky, whipsmart, douchebag. In The Art of Self-Defense, he plays genuinely sweet, pushover Casey looking to stand up for himself after a brutal attack. He gets a lot more than he bargains for when he signs up for karate lessons. The film is an unapologetic look at toxic masculinity.  It’s over the top dark comedy is a political blowtorch. If you can’t laugh at this film you need the stick removed from your ass. The snark factor is so high that even Casey’s answering machine is kind of a dick. Imogen Poots is equally impactful with both her physical and emotional performance. The humor lies in the absolute seriousness in which the cast says their lines. The film appears to take place sometime in the ’80s by the look of technology and funny enough, the misogynistic dialogue is most likely insanely accurate. Eisenberg is undeniably incredible. He is vulnerable and fearless and funny as hell. The Art of Self-Defense absolutely belongs at Fantasia International Film Festival 2019. The timing of the film is sheer perfection and this fest has the right audience.

THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘The Incredible Shrinking Wknd’ is insightful genre bender.

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WKND

Alba is losing time. A mysterious place in the woods has caused her days to take a true Groundhog Day turn but with an added twist. Each repetitive day during an overnight trip with her friends is one less hour than the day before. The only consistent thing is the clothing she ends her day with is the clothing she restarts in… and any bodily damage such as injuries or hangovers. Alba must decide how she’ll handle each repetition. How will she change her fate and those of her fellow cabin mates before the final hour runs out? This film doesn’t immediately reveal its deeper meaning. It takes it time and in a smart fashion. It’s much more introspective than at first glance. Abla takes risks to challenge her surroundings and presumptions about her predicament. All while finding buried childhood treasures around the property. Oh, that’s the only other thing that carries through. The film is not only a scavenger hunt for her past but her present as well. Iria del Río as Alba is amazing. She is raw and untethered. The Incredible Shrinking Wknd keeps the audience on its toes with its ” what would you do” scenario. It challenges the viewer to think about how selfish we are and how little we actually care for the people in our circle. The writing is truly engrossing and the performances are all extraordinarily solid. The very specific visual framing is a trick that I didn’t even catch until about midway through the film. Brilliance. Huge congrats to writer-director Jon Mikel Caballero. Fantasia International Film Festival is a delightful venue for this feature that is a relationship film wrapped in science fiction.

Review: ‘Astronaut’ soars.

ASTRONAUT

Starring Academy Award Winner Richard Dreyfuss

Richard Dreyfuss plays Angus, a grandfather who’s family has made him feel like a burden.  Forced into a home and with failing health, Angus and his grandson see a competition held by a billionaire entrepreneur calling for applications for the first civilian flight into space. Slowly drowning in a sea of the sad and lonely old folks residents, Angus takes a leap of faith and applies under false pretense with only seconds to spare. Could this 75-year-old civil engineer make it to space, with all the odds stacked against him? Not before making waves, of course.

Astronaut isn’t just about space. It’s about humanity at best and at it’s worst. It’s about joy and loss and time. It’s about family and sacrifice. It addresses ageism is a smart way. Dreyfuss is as endearing and brilliant as ever. His ability to connect through the screen has not waned from American Graffiti to now. His genuine and grounded performance is a masterclass in technique from head to toe. It taps into the curiosity of the unknown stokes in all of us. The idea that we’re not alone. And not just with respect to space. Astronaut explores the idea that we’re somehow all connected and the need to feel seen and heard. Elegantly scored, beautifully written and directed by Shelagh McLeod, Astronaut will touch your soul.

Quiver Distribution will release the heartwarming family drama ASTRONAUT in theaters and On Demand and Digital on July 26, 2019The film will release timely to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing (7/20/1969).

ASTRONAUT stars Academy Award Winner Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye GirlJaws), Lyriq Bent (“She’s Gotta Have It”, Acrimony), Krista Bridges (Land of the Dead, “Schitt’s Creek”), Graham Greene (The Green MileDancing with Wolves), Richie Lawrence (“Odd Squad”, “Heroes: Reborn”) and Colm Feore (ChicagoThor).

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘Black Magic For White Boys’ spells it out in dark humor.

BLACK MAGIC FOR WHITE BOYSOnur Tukel is truly one of a kind in his IFGAF honesty and deliciously bizarre approach to storytelling. (There I go again with the tasty metaphors. This all started with Applesauce.) At this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival, Tukel has given us another smart indie with Black Magic for White Boys. The film uses the power of magic to heighten the toxic masculinity, racism, and misogyny of white men. Tukel brilliantly plays Oscar, a manchild with an inheritance who thinks he can command the uterus of his new girlfriend. Jamie Block plays real estate mogul, Jamie, trying to undercut and oust his rent-controlled tenants. Ronald Guttman as French magician Larry, in desperate need of ticket sales, utilizes a book of ancient spells to the benefit of all three men. Black Magic for White Boys is a not so subtle metaphor for the gentrification of New York City and perhaps the state of our country during this truly hideous period of our history. Every great/disastrous recent newsworthy story is integrated shamelessly (a total compliment) into the dialogue. The modern-day Greek chorus of bus riders making social observations is perfection. Performances across the board are nuanced and raw, funny and wild, in your face and effed up. Shout outs to Franck Raharinosy, Brendan Miller, Colin Buckingham, and Eva Dorrepaal specifically.  Therein lies the cinematic magic of Tukel. Putting himself in each of his films is also essentially my favorite thing. Watching him transform from role to role only reminds me our how insanely talented he is as a writer, director, and actor. Ultimately, like each of Tukel’s films, this stands as a unique experience packed with insight, bold ideas, humor, and a grab ’em by the balls mentality. No surprise, I loved it.

BLACK MAGIC FOR WHITE BOYS

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘Ode To Nothing’ is everything a cinephile wants.

Synopsis:

“Sonya, an old maid is about to give up on herself until one day, she meets a corpse in her family’s embalming business that changes her life.”

Another North American premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 is that of Ode To Nothing. The slow burn of creepy factor launches this film into skin-crawling territory. The setting alone is horror movie gold. A family mortuary? Besides My Girl, when does anything fun and happy occur? Hell, even with a mostly delightful plot, the end of My Girl still makes me bawl my eyes out every damn time I watch it! “He needs his glasses! He can’t see without his glasses!” *Cue ugly cry* Anyhow, Ode To Nothing takes the family business and infuses humor as it transitions to the unsettling. As Sonya runs the business, the mystery body becomes her confidant. The reality of her loneliness becomes next level when she takes this unknown woman’s body and treats it as her own personal best friend. I don’t know if it’s sadder or more upsetting. Imagine you find a lost dog and take it in and begin to love it. You treat it like it’s your own knowing full well that at anytime the owner could show up to claim their dog. Now replace the dog in that scenario with a dead body. Yeah, it’s just as weird as you’re picturing. The audience is unsure if it’s supposed to laugh at the lunacy or cringe at fact that both father and daughter act like this is totally normal. Therein lies the brilliance of Ode To Nothing. The film’s framing feels reminiscent of a vacation slide. We often peer through a window, a door, or watch a scene in the reflection of the mirror. It’s simply beautiful. The dialogue is unexpected in its intimacy. If you can separate yourself from the odd, the number of monologues that Marietta Subong has are stunningly performed and wonderfully honest. As the body decays, this family’s life blossoms. Ode To Nothing is something special in its eccentricity.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: DREADOUT plays well on the big screen.

Jessica, Beni, Dian, Alex, Erik, and Linda want to increase their popularity through recording their adventures to upload to their social media accounts. They chose to go to an abandoned apartment famous for its awesomeness. Linda manages to persuade Kang Heri, security guard, to enter the apartment. Linda and friends found one apartment unit which is given a police line. Encouraged by curiosity, they brake down the door of the apartment unit. When they are researching the room, they find an old parchment, which only Linda could read. After Linda reads the writing on the parchment, suddenly a portal open. Inadvertently Linda and her friends have opened the door to the magical world and anger the portal guardian supernatural creatures.

Those crazy teenagers. Always opening the gates to other worlds. DREADOUT had its North American premiere last night at Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 and audiences were not disappointed. The film begins with all the buildup of suspense and visual feel of playing the DreadOut video games. The framing feels sharp and the character dynamics are as fresh as Cabin In The Woods. As the audience peers through the cell phone lense of the group’s live stream, it has an amazing effect on how the lighting is filtered and you find yourself glancing at the viewership every so often. But mostly, it forces your attention to the mysterious surroundings even more intensely. This is simply the introduction to this film’s plot. 30 mins in, some creative and fresh hell awaits our ingenue Linda (Caitlin Halderman). She must explore her new otherworldly environment and figure out why she’s there and how to escape. The film’s location bounces between realms keeping the audience on its toes and the pace moving. The sets are incredibly intricate and the film really never ceases to entertain. Now, I’ve never played the game but it is reminiscent of Silent Hill and I have played that for years. The best shots recall first player gameplay with pointed POV camera work that’s impossible to miss. I do wish that had not completely disappeared. If I’m being honest, I could have used a bit more otherworldly background, perhaps flashes just as the gang is discovering the storyline. As someone who has not played the game, I feel like this was a missed opportunity.  As a whole, I was fully engrossed. DREADOUT has all the elements of a great horror adventure. Genre fans should be nothing but pleased.

DREADOUT

 

Hold onto your butts, Fantasia International Film Festival is back!

To give you an idea of why Fantasia International Film Festival is my favorite redheaded stepchild of a festival, here are a few films from my youth that still haunt/entertain the crap out of me. 1. Poltergeist: the film my father thought a 2-year-old should watch. 2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show: because a sci-fi musical with Tim Curry in drag should be shown in every Kindergarten class on the planet I inhabit. 3. Princess Bride: one of the most quotable and inconceivable films, I mean that with the utmost respect and if you say otherwise I will fight you (with a sword). 4. Pulp Fiction: a film whose dialogue is filled with sermon, innumerable expletives, drug overdose, and bloody violence for days was just the beginning of a long career of effed up magic. Love it or hate it, it was original. So, for me, Fantasia encompasses all that is weird, wonderful, wacky, wtf, and any other “w” descriptor I’m missing out on in this precise moment.

Fantasia is in its 23rd year and with every passing fest, the films you’re talking about all year play here. This festival gives genre fans something to look forward to and never disappoints. Last year, CAM, The Night Eats The World, Mega Time Squad, and Relaxer just to name a few, all rocked my socks. This year, I’m jonesing to catch a list of films that have already been buzzing for months. There are too many to share in just one post, so here are ten (ish) features I’m fired up for.


Bliss– Joe Begos brings us a blood-soaked trip. Handheld 16mm, punk rock, and vampires? Sign me up for this visceral ride. Check out the trailer in all its glory.


Ready or Not– is this a weird twist on The Most Dangerous Game meets You’re Next? All I know is that I don’t know, and I cannot wait for the mayhem to begin.


Little Monsters– who would have thought that Lupita Nyong’o would be a repeat horror heroine? And Josh Gad, beloved voice of Olaf alongside her? As a former teacher, I’m all in.


AstronautRichard Dreyfuss plays a grandfather trying to fulfill his dream of going into space. With his family as only one if his obstacles, Dreyfuss a genre legend in his own right, is sure to dazzle once more.


1BR– this is already on the Sold Out Screening list. Need I say more about a finding an apartment and the horrors that inevitably surround that experience. My guess is that this goes above and beyond the normal hassle.


Black Magic for White BoysOnur Tukel (we once described one another as “delicious and super natural” in an interview for Applesauce) is sheer perfection for Fantasia. His IDGAF attitude in his writing and directing style are ripe for genre fans. This looks absolutely… well, magical.


The LodgeVeronika Franz and Severin Fiala follow up the haunting Goodnight Mommy with their first English-language horror film. Starring a heavy-hitting cast including Richard Armitage, Alicia Silverstone, Riley Keough, and Jaeden Lieberher, trying to figure out a new family dynamic amidst a trip to a secluded lodge… On Christmas… In a blizzard. Sounds like nothing could possibly go wrong here.


Tone-Deaf– Politics has spiraled into horror in real-life since the orange garbage person cheated his way into the White House. Seems apropos for a MAGA white man and millennial to duke it out over a living situation.


Paradise Hills– With hints of A Handmaid’s Tale, this pink saturated nightmare has another phenomenal big-name cast including Mila Jovovich, Emma Roberts, and Awkwafina, to name a few. Young women being groomed in any fashion doesn’t lend itself for happy tidings.


Culture Shock– Part of Hulu’s Into the Dark horror anthology series (under the Blumhouse production name), this take on America’s “Dreamers” is killing it already. Not to mention it stars cult icon Barbara Crampton who in real-life is clearly some magical sorceress because she never ages.


And finally, every year, I personally look forward to the Born of Woman program. This year there will be 9 short films from around the globe. This year Fantasia is showcasing films from Australia, Netherlands, USA, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Fantasia’s annual showcase of intimate, auteur genre visions returns with nine extraordinary works from an array of international talents who will leave you gobsmacked and amazed.


The number of women represented behind the camera is growing exponentially. And everyone benefits from that.

Fantasia will run from this Thursday, July 11th until August 1st. To find out more information on all the films and if you’ll be in Montreal over the next three weeks, you can purchase tickets at www.fantasiafestival.com

Review: ‘The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot’

A legendary American war veteran is recruited to hunt a mythical creature.

Sam Elliot is a legend of the silver screen, and at the age of 74 it’s always wonderful seeing him in new films. So it’s no surprise that he shines in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot. The story has a tongue-in-cheek fairy tale quality to it. It’s unique and phenomenally engrossing. Elliot’s character, Calvin Barr,  has done more than most men in history, combined. Now he has come to the point in his life where he thinks he’s done all he’d care to. With so much accomplished on paper,  a long lost love is the one thing haunts him most. But the government is not done with him just yet. They have one last mission in mind. He’s essentially the greatest, most badass, action hero you’ve never heard of. His nonchalant nature is the perfect balance to the over the top nature of the storytelling. Elliot is this character, somehow. He embodies a quiet strength even as he hurtles through the bizarre. The parallel between the target and Elliot’s character is almost poetic. This film is weird, wonderful, and pretty unbelievable in every sense of the word. Though I’m positive that is the point entirely.

RLJE Films will release THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT in theaters and on VOD and Digital HD on Feb. 8, 2019.

Written by Robert D. Krzykowski , who is making his directorial debut, the film stars Sam Elliott (A Star is BornThe Hero), Aidan Turner (“Poldark”), Ron Livingston (Office Space, Tully), Caitlin FitzGerald (“Masters of Sex”), Larry Miller (Pretty Woman) and Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood).

Fantasia International Film Festival review: ‘The Night Eats The World’ breathes new life into the zombie genre.

The morning after a party, a young man wakes up to find Paris invaded by zombies.

The Night Eats The World is all about isolation. Sam is alone in his ex’s apartment, walls splattered with blood, and the other floors are not much better. Realizing the outside is even less safe, he begins to use his wits by gathering what he can find, little by little, staying organized but perhaps not sane. Actor Anders Danielsen Lie is in every single scene of the film. His performance is so engrossing that I almost missed his complete physical transformation along the way. He must remain as calm as possible, which is pretty difficult considering the circumstances. Director Dominique Rocher has given us quite the gem here. The Night Eats the World easily sets itself apart from the average zombie film. The film delves into the complexity of human intimacy. This is explored through a relationship with an undead individual trapped inside an elevator (played magnificently by Denis Lavant), an encounter with a fellow survivor, and a cat. An added element of interest that propels the plot is the fact that Sam is a musician. This becomes both an advantage and a misstep along the way. We’ve all watched The Walking Dead for years now but off the top of my head, I’m not sure I would be as methodic in my solitary survival as Sam. While we don’t get any information about the outbreak specifically, it never stopped me from enjoying the film, rooting for Sam to stay alive. Sometimes you don’t need it all spelled out for you, sometimes great storytelling is more than enough.

The Night Eats The World made is Canadian Premiere at this year’s Fantasia International Film festival. The 2018 fest came to a close last night, but we’ll keep you updated on the release dates. As for The Night Eats The World, you can catch it in theaters now and on VOD platforms like Amazon, Google Play, and YouTube.

Fantasia International Film Festival review: ‘CAM’ flips subject and voyeur.

Cam is unique for so many reasons. First, it’s a genre-bending menagerie. You think you know what you’re in for with a sex worker vying to be in the top ten of her live sex show site. But the script is flipped several times and in completely unexpected ways each time. It’s difficult to categorize Cam and I do mean this as a compliment. It seesaws from horror to thriller and swings into surreal territory all while keeping the audience in the dark until the very end. Rarely do we see sex workers treated as human beings, but in Cam, there is a sense of empowerment attached to the storyline. Lead actress, Madeline Brewer, has the massive task of being more than two distinct characters and to explain further would ruin the plot. Brewer knocks it out of the park here. Her talent is undeniable. I will say that the commentary on social media and immediate gratification it can produce is front and center. The final scene renders the plot unapologetic. Cam is an all-around good trip.

Fantasia International Film Fest 2018 ends tonight. But we’ll keep you updated on release dates for all the films that screened this year.

Fantasia International Film Festival review: ‘THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW’ takes its place among the classics.

The Witch in the Window has a classic ghost story feel. Anchored by a local legend, the film’s uniqueness is amped up by the fact that the locals can also see the ghost in question. With all of the usual tropes in place, The Witch in the Window uses humor to keep the peace in a genuine way between father and son until the subtle scares become huge ones… in broad daylight. That’s the key to this film. Much like Ted Geoghegan‘s We Are Still Here, it’s the daylight scares that make The Witch in the Window so powerful. While Geoghagan’s makeup FX are beyond compare, this film’s in your face close-ups are what grab you. I literally shouted, “OH!” as I was not expecting to be yelled at from the screen. You absolutely feel like you are in that house. Alex Draper and Charlie Tacker are outstanding together onscreen. Their father/son chemistry is extraordinary. Writer/Director/Composer/Editor (and clearly all around badass) Andy Mitton‘s storyline may also be taking a page from David Robert Mitchell’s IT FOLLOWS. To say much more would take away from the viewer’s experience. It is a solid film that should garner its rightful place in ghost story cult catalog. 

Check out the awesome trailer below.

Fantasia International Film Festival closes tonight, but we will keep you updated on all of the release dates for films that screened at the fest!

Divorced dad Simon (Alex Draper) brings his 12-year-old son, Finn (Charlie Tacker) out to Vermont to help him renovate an old house he recently purchased. Used to the speed of New York City, Finn has an impossible time slowing down to a smalltown pace, and he’s disappointed before even getting there. So is Simon (“I guess I was hoping I would catch you on the 12 side of 12, instead of the 13 side of 12”). Afflicted with a rare medical condition in which there’s a literal hole in his heart, Simon, ever resourceful, does what he can to make things good as he and his son attempt to repair what’s broken. Soon, a series of nonsensically terrifying happenings occur, nightmarish and incomprehensible. It becomes clear that they aren’t alone in the house. That there is more work to be done than either could be capable of grasping. That death is a partially living state. And that they are in a very special kind of danger.

Fantasia International Film Festival Review: ‘Relaxer’ pulls you in with its beautifully weird premise.

Y2K is right around the corner, and Cam just gave his younger brother Abbie ( Joshua Burge) the dopest, most ultimate challenge, um, ever: to beat Billy Mitchell’s infamous Pac-Man high score (by going beyond level 256’s glitch, of course) without ever getting off the couch.

Emotionally abused Abbie has accepted this challenge to finally prove a point to his older brother. He is not a quitter. With the very real threat of Y2K looming on the horizon, Abbie is hell-bent on defeating his brother’s perception of him and earning a massive cash prize all at once. But literally not getting up has consequences for our leading man. Eventually, food and drink run out. The lengths to which he will go to survive on this couch are beyond ludicrous, some downright disgusting. But this is about principal dammit. Joshua Burge, once again, proves to be a master at tackling the oddball guy with an ease that is frightening. A longtime collaborator with writer/director/editor Joel Potrykus, the two have brought some of the boldest characters and stories to life over the past 6 years. Buzzard is still one of my top recommended films of all time. Potrykus pulls inspiration from his real-life experiences. Relaxer is set at a very specific moment in time and anyone who is of a certain age will feel bombarded (in a great way) with 90’s nostalgia. Fantasia International Film Festival is the perfect platform for this film to shine. The film has a genius undertone of supernatural and the final sequence is so satisfying, I cheered out loud.

Relaxer Director Joel Potrykus

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 12th- August 2nd. You can find out more about the full lineup and tickets at Fantasia.com 

Fantasia International Film Festival 2018 Review: ‘Mega Time Squad’ is an editor’s masterpiece.

Think “Multiplicity on crack” (and yes, I am referencing the 1996 Micheal Keaton and Andie MacDowell sci-fi comedy delight… and crack cocaine) and you’ll begin to understand the insanity that is Mega Time Squad. Our main man, Johnny, is a low-level criminal who accidentally discovers he is wearing an ancient bracelet that will bring him back in time. Problem being, each use of said bracelet also produces another version of himself, all while running from the both he stole from and his gang of thugs. This heist movie with an incredible twist is hilarious. Packed with deliciously colorful local slang and plenty of four-letter words for punctuation, Mega Time Squad hits every mark. Anton Tennet, writer/director Tim Van Dammen, and editor Luke Haigh deserve your applause and as many beers as a bartender will allow in one sitting. Tennet, as each version of Johnny, brings a distinct specificity that is wildly impressive. Haigh had one hell of a challenge in editing and holy hell is this a triumph. Van Dammen has gifted the Fantasia 2018 audience with a warped premise begging the question of one’s own morality. You have to really pay attention to keep up with the shenanigans and you will have a blast doing so. If you enjoyed The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Mega Time Squad is your jam. And speaking of jams, the music is totally sick. Mega Time Squad is a blast from past to present.

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 12th- August 2nd. You can find out more about the full lineup and tickets at Fantasia.com 

Fantasia International Film Festival 2018 starts this week! Here are 10 films that are getting us excited.

The Fantasia International Film Festival officially begins in two days. If you don’t already know about the fest, you are in for a cavalcade of horror, sci-fi, action and the out of this world twisted with the strange and unusual. How’s that for a description? Some of last year’s hits include LowlifeThe EndlessMohawkGood TimeSpoor, and Mayhem to name a few. If you haven’t seen any of these yet, do yourself a huge favor and seek them out. 2018’s lineup is no exception with films like Under The Silver Lake from David Robert Mitchell, which takes us into a neo-noir surreal romp and a complete 180 from It Follows. Nicholas Cage stars in Mandy, already being touted as a genre-bending blood fest of epic proportions. Hint, it’s already sold out. Let us not forget the enormously popular Fantasia Shorts Program. One, in particular, that was phenomenal last year was the Born of Woman section. As the title might suggest, these are shorts made exclusively by female filmmakers. They were as disturbing as they were profound and they are not to be missed. Fantasia has something for everyone. Cinephiles easily plan their year around this one festival and we don’t blame them. Here are a few titles we are stoked to check out over the next few weeks.
​​Blue My Mind
Blue. Of the bewildered spirit intermediating between child and sea. Blue is the colour of Mia (Luna Wedler), 15 years old, newly arrived in a town that looks like all the others. Breaking away from the sterile environment provided by her parents, she is drawn to the pack of popular kids, the ones who smoke, shoplift, mess around. Mia has everything, yet she suffocates. Then comes an odd thirst, an irresistible instinct that has her reaching out for air where there is none. In her head are the turbulent sounds of crashing water against the pebble beach. In her tortured flesh, the alienation of nature, the terrifying and unstoppable transformation of her body conflicting with the need for stillness, to press pause on the perfect breath.
Heavy Trip
Life has its downsides in a small, northern Finnish town. The local bros give long-haired, leather-clad Turo a tough time, and his job at the mental hospital is literally shitty. His crush on Miia at the flower shop is thwarted by the tacky lounge singer Jouni, and his band jams in the back of a reindeer slaughterhouse. In the plus column for Turo, well… there’s the band, even if these black-metal true-believers have never gigged in all their 12 years together (Turo’s concealed but crippling stage fright hasn’t helped). A miraculous crack at a major metal festival in Norway jumpstarts the quartet’s dreams, and Impaled Rektum set out on a metallic mission that will make them confront not only doubts, detours and difficulties, but also Vikings in longships (plus an elf), graverobbing, Swedish rocket launchers and wolverine-wrestling (dangerous… and awkward!).
Cold Skin
In the early years of the 20th century, a young man (David Oakes) takes over the responsibility of surveying the weather of a secluded island in the Antarctic. Hoping for isolation and time for self-reflection, he instead finds a crazed and weathered person named Gruner, played by genre favourite Ray Stevenson (DEXTERTHORDIVERGENT). Gruner quickly reveals that there is more to this island than meets the eye and that below the icy depths, a terrible scourge lurks. The extent of Gruner’s madness slowly becomes more and more pronounced as his bloodlust for the creatures becomes apparent. Struggling for survival, the surveyor must choose between a madman and a legion of creatures he does not fully understand.
Tokyo Vampire Hotel

Set in 2021 as the Dracula family and another family of vampires, the Corvins, prepare for the end of the world by getting into a massive rumble.

The Draculas wear billowy pirate blouses, are scared of crucifixes, and have retreated into an interdimensional salt mine beneath Transylvania. The Corvins are pop-idol hot and have retreated into a posh hotel located inside the interdimensional vagina of their leader. There, theyve invited a herd of humans they’ll force to breed at a “Special Coupling Party” to ensure an endless future supply of blood. Enter Manami (Ami Tomite), a girl looking to fit in someplace, who has special vampire blood, and suddenly everyone wants to shoot each other in the face to stash her in their apocalypse bunker first.

Tales from the Hood 2
Horror is back in the hood! The sequel to the groundbreaking original film TALES FROM THE HOOD reunites executive producer Spike Lee (Honorary Academy Award® winner) and writers/directors/producers Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott for an all-new gripping, horrifying and oftentimes devilishly comical anthology. Keith David stars as a contemporary Mr. Simms to tell bloodcurdling stories about lust, greed, pride, and politics through tales with demonic dolls, possessed psychics, vengeful vixens, and historical ghosts. Mr. Simms’s haunting stories will make you laugh… while you scream.
Mega Time Squad
Johnny (Anton Tennet) lives an underwhelming life. He is a low-level drug dealer in Thames, New Zealand, he lives in his mother’s garage, his time is spent with a blundering friend Gaz (Arlo Gibson) at the local bowling alley and doing petty errands for the local kingpin Shelton (Johnny Brugh of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS) and his henchmen (including Milo Cawthrone of DEATHGASM and ASH VS. EVIL DEAD). When a once-in-a-lifetime chance at a big score reveals itself, Johnny finds himself wondering, “Do I have what it takes to pull off a caper?” He quickly realizes no, he doesn’t. That is, not until he stumbles upon an ancient relic that allows him to travel across time. With the power to bend time in Johnny’s hands, a hodgepodge of hilarity ensues and the “bogans” (Kiwi for loser) sets his sights once again on the wealth just beyond his grasp. However, what are the consequences of this temporal insanity, and does Johnny have what it takes to face off against Shelton and his henchmen?
Nightmare Cinema
At a forgotten, haunted bijou, a group of strangers have assembled to watch a series of macabre vignettes unspooled by the mysterious Projectionist (Mickey Rourke). Like the best anthology films (DEAD OF NIGHTCREEPSHOWTRICK ‘R TREAT), the stories’ tones range from truly deep, dark, psychological, demented horror to ones with a lighter, satirical spin. Witness a ghost story that will chill you to the bone; an exorcism story guaranteed to make your head spin; a B&W descent into clinical madness; a plastic surgery gone horrifyingly awry; and a cabin-in-the-woods slasher ditty with a unique twist you’ll never see coming.
A Rough Draft
Over a mere handful of hours, successful Moscow video-game designer Kirill has watched his life vanish. There is no longer any official record of his existence. His colleagues, his loved ones, even his dog no longer recognize him. Homeless, heartbroken, battered and framed for murder, Kirill is at the mercy of a mysterious cabal, and they have a new life planned for him. He is now to reside in a dismal old tower near the Kremlin, and there he will serve as an interdimensional gatekeeper, opening the doors to a myriad of possible Moscows that could have been, would have been? or should never have been. Kirill discovers that he now has the power to manipulate the material world around him. But who is manipulating Kirill?
The Night Eats The World
Sam (Anders Danielsen Lie) is not legend, though he may be the last man on earth. After falling asleep in a back room of his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, he wakes up to discover that the world, or at least Paris, has been overrun by a zombified populace. Barricading himself inside the building, he faces life as the sole survivor of the plague, gathering the supplies he can as the ghouls stagger and slaver outside. He can sustain his body, but can he sustain his mind as the days alone in a world gone to hell stretch out endlessly before him? He finds “companionship” and a sounding board in a zombie (Denis Lavant) trapped in an elevator, while facing an existential crisis: “Being dead is the norm now. I’m the one who’s not normal.”
Summer of ’84
“The suburbs are where the craziest shit happens,” 15-year-old Davey Armstrong (Graham Verchere) tells us at the beginning of SUMMER OF ’84,, and he should know. It’s June of the eponymous year in Ipswich, Oregon, and Davey is spending his days and nights hanging out, talking about sex and the finer points of STAR WARS sequels, and playing “manhunt” with best friends Eats (Judah Lewis), Woody (Caleb Emery) and Curtis (Cory Gruter-Andrew). The innocent fun ends when Davey begins to suspect that his next-door neighbour, outwardly friendly cop Wayne Mackey (Rich Sommer), is the Cape May Slayer who has been preying on kids his age in the area. Davey recruits his pals to help investigate and expose Mackey, initiating an adventure that threatens to turn dangerous and deadly for the boys at any moment.

We could keep naming films but that would be a bit overkill, don’t you think? But seriously, see whatever you can. We’ll be bringing you reviews of everything we’re able to catch. You can find out more info about the full program and tickets at fantasiafestival.com
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The Fantasia International Film Festival, North America’s largest and longest-running genre film fest, will be celebrating its 22nd year in Montreal this summer, taking place from July 12 through August 2.

 

Review: ‘ The Endless’ is an unsettling trip.

THE ENDLESS

Directed by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

Written by Justin Benson

Starrs Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Emily Montague, Lew Temple, Tate Ellington, James Jordan

Synopsis: Following their Lovecraftian modern cult classic SPRING, acclaimed filmmakers Moorhead and Benson return with this mind-bending thriller that follows two brothers who receive a cryptic video message inspiring them to revisit the UFO death cult they escaped a decade earlier. Hoping to find the closure that they couldn’t as young men, they’re forced to reconsider the cult’s beliefs when confronted with unexplainable phenomena surrounding the camp. As the members prepare for the coming of a mysterious event, the brothers race to unravel the seemingly impossible truth before their lives become permanently entangled with the cult.

The Endless is a truly mindbending cinematic experience. The story alone is strange enough but when combined with breathtaking cinematography and some serious FX, you’ve got one of the coolest films so far this year. It addresses the question of cult mentality and what we consider to be familial relationships. The Endless begs for multiple viewings and not just because you think you might be able to figure out exactly what’s happening, though that’s definitely a reason. You’ll come back for cool visuals, solid performances from the entire cast, and really snappy dialogue. There is so much going on in this film that your brain may not be able to keep up with all the awesome being thrown its way. More than once, I literally said aloud, “How’d the hell did they do that?!” Benson and Moorhead have undoubtedly given us a cult classic. To think this was all done on a limited indie budget is downright mind-blowing. The Endless will surprise you and keep you on your toes until the very final frame.
Check out the trailer below:

Opening in New York April 6th and Los Angeles April 13th with a national rollout to follow

TRT: 112 minutes

Country: USA

Language: English

Directors: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Writer: Justin Benson

Cast: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Emily Montague, Lew Temple, Tate Ellington, James Jordan