Fantasia 2024: It’s Heeerrreee (almost). Genre’s best of the best is about to begin.

Fantasia 2024 posterFANTASIA 2024

It’s no secret that Fantasia is the festival I gush about the most. If you want to call yourself a genre film fan you have to know about the buzziest films coming out of the fest each year. Once again, Quebec will host a plethora of premieres, a gaggle of talks with the industry’s best, and scare the pants off of you. Would you expect any less? Fantasia 2024 is the 28th edition of this wonderfully wacky cinephile playground.


IN OUR BLOOD Fantasia 2024

IN OUR BLOOD

Nothing is as it seems when filmmaker Emily Wyland (Brittany O’Grady) teams up with cinematographer Danny (E. J. Bonilla) to shoot an intimate documentary about reuniting with Emily’s estranged mother after a decade apart. When her mother suddenly goes missing, possibly succumbing to the addictions that first tore her family apart, Emily and Danny must piece together increasingly sinister clues to find her before it’s too late.

Directed by Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Pedro Kos (Rebel Hearts, Lead Me Home) in his first narrative feature, IN OUR BLOOD masterfully blends psychological mystery with chilling horror. The film weaves a twisted tale of reconciling with the ghosts of our past and confronting the complicity we share in creating a world that preys on the most vulnerable.


HELL HOLE Fantasia 2024

Hell HoleA road trip through Canadian oil fields conjured up fantasies of secrets deep in the dirt for the Adams family, and inspired them to create HELL HOLE, an indie rock-n-roll monster movie set at a far-away fracking site. Known for their DIY ethos, John and Lulu Adams and Toby Poser, partnering with Shudder, have joined the team behind The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and FX legend Todd Masters to shoot their latest in Serbia with a local cast and crew. Absurd, mutinous, and transgressively comical, Hell Hole is old-school sci-fi horror, yet in typical family fashion, they subvert the genre with textures of biological and environmental horror in tandem with questions of gender and bodily autonomy. This will be the fourth time Fantasia World Premieres work from the gifted filmmaking family, following launches of THE DEEPER YOU DIGHELLBENDER, and WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMSWorld Premiere.


THE BEAST WITHIN

The Beast Within Fantasia 2024

The haze of childhood is a magic lantern that throws light on the wall through a veil of dark both frightening and exciting, and nowhere is this better articulated than in THE BEAST WITHIN (previously titled WHAT REMAINS OF US). Kit Harington (GAME OF THRONESETERNALS) is a father with a secret that he is desperately trying to keep under control. His mysterious excursions at night leave his ailing daughter (Caoilinn Springall, THE MIDNIGHT SKYSTOPMOTION) plagued with questions. The old, timeless house in the woods that she lives in with her caring mother (Ashleigh Cummings, NOS4A2) and absent father feels more like a haunted castle than a loving home. As she investigates her father’s bizarre and dark behaviour, a monstrous figure emerges from the shadows, terrorizing those who encounter it. Supported by her grandfather (James Cosmo, HIGHLANDERBRAVEHEART), she attempts to unravel the mysteries of the creature, and the revelations that she discovers will rock her family and leave her forever changed.


FRANKIE FREAKO Fantasia 2024

Frankie FreakoAfter the success of PSYCHO GOREMAN, FX artist and director Steven Kostanski hits back with the zany, over-the-top FRANKIE FREAKO! Starring Conor Sweeney and Adam Brooks of Astron-6 fame, the film follows a nerdy man who just isn’t cool. In an attempt to impress his wife and boss, he’s lured by a 1-900 TV ad to party with a strange little creature called Frankie Freako. All hell breaks loose when Conor calls and Frankie and his two friends wreak interdimensional havoc in Conor’s life. Kostanski fans will flock to his latest imaginative adventure, saturated with throwback cartoonish fun à la GHOULIES, wildly creative puppets, big laughs, and a helluva good time! Septentrion Shadows section. World Premiere.


THE CODE Fantasia 2024

The CodePeter Vack (ASSHOLES) and Dasha Nekrasova (THE SCARY OF SIXTY-FIRST) star as couple on the rocks during the early part of the Covid-19 pandemic in American filmmaker Eugene Kotlyarenko (SPREE)’s latest, THE CODE – a generation-defining, wickedly dark comedy that blends post-New Wave French sensibilities of aesthetic disillusionment with a singularly alien view of contemporary American life. A transgressive and singular experience, nothing is off limits in this surveillance-heavy narrative, which uses multiple formats, points of view, and cameras to create a visionary collage-like experience of modern life. An epic poem for our post-pandemic world. Underground Section. World Premiere.


BLACK EYED SUSAN Fantasia 2024

Black Eyed SusanIt’s been 21 long years since Scooter McCrae (SHATTER DEAD) released a new feature, and he’s lost none of his smart, transgressive bite. Desperate for work, Derek (Damian Maffei, THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT) accepts a job at a shady tech start-up, working intimately with Susan (Yvonne Emilie Thälker in a powerful debut role), a bleeding-edge BDSM sex doll meant to receive and appreciate sexual punishment as an integral part of her evolving AI. Shot on Super 16, BLACK EYED SUSAN counterbalances its dark, vulgar core with a surprisingly tender vulnerability, creating a lo-fi science-fiction landscape infused with surprising fragility, as legendary Italian composer Fabio Frizzi (THE BEYOND, ZOMBIE) lends the picture a lush, atmospheric backdrop. Not for the faint of heart, BLACK EYED SUSAN delves into themes and questions that will only become more pertinent with the continued evolution of artificial intelligence. World Premiere.


CHAINSAWS WERE SINGING Fantasia 2024

Chainsaws Were SingingA true DIY passion project from Estonian filmmaker Sander Maran, CHAINSAWS WERE SINGING is a zany, blood-soaked musical about lovers split up by a chainsaw-wielding killer. Over a decade in the making, Saran not only directed but wrote, scored, shot, and edited this colorful murder-fest that’s part gory horror movie and part ridiculous musical. The camerawork is inventive, the editing slapstick, and the tone truly absurdist. Most importantly, though, the songs are incredibly catchy, with Sander clearly deeply indebted to Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL and Frank Oz’s LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. Underground Section. International Premiere.


THE CHAPEL Fantasia 2024

The Chapel Fantasia 2024The stunning sophomore feature from award-winning director Carlota Pereda (PIGGY), THE CHAPEL marks the fantastic return of atmospheric, character-driven supernatural Spanish horror. Emma (Maia Zaitegi) wants to learn how to communicate with the spirit of a little girl who has spent centuries trapped inside a chapel. She tries to convince Carol (THE ORPHANAGE’s Belen Rueda), a cynical and fake medium, to help her in the hopes that contacting the spirit may help her to remain close to her dying mother after she passes. What Carol doesn’t suspect is that Emma really does have “the gift” and, if she keeps on trying to use it without her guidance, she will be putting her young life at terrifying risk. Winner: Best Actress, Belen Rueda, Cinefantasy 2023. Official Selection: Sitges 2023. North American Premiere.


BORN OF WOMAN 2024 Fantasia 2024

https://fantasiafestival.com/en/program/born-of-woman-2024

Fantasia 2024 - Born of Woman 2024 - fantasiafestival.comMy favorite shorts collection of the year, this wildly eclectic and insanely talented group of female filmmakers aims to please, shock, and gag audiences. You never know what you’ll get with each passing year and I get giddy in anticipation. Fantasia 2024’s Born Of Woman lineup includes the following films:

IZZY

Nahema Ricci stars in this sharply staged build piece expressionistically conveying a person’s realization that they’d rather not fit in, if it means continuingly giving in.

 


the_bleacher_poster_THE BLEACHER

An outright bonkers stop-motion freakazoid about a woman, a laundromat, and a missing sock. From the makers of SEXY FURBY.

 


wildflower posterWILDFLOWER

A reclusive woman gives everything she can to a blood-sucking flower that she’s devoted every waking minute towards caring for.


Mosquito Lady poster Fantasia 2024

MOSQUITO LADY (see our previous coverage)

A sharp intersection between Filipino folklore and the ever-devolving issue of bodily autonomy in the U.S.

 


Dead Tooth posterDEAD TOOTH

A stylishly inventive and considerably bloody take on the one-terrible-day film.


LES YEUX D’OLGA

A senior vampire who moves herself into an elder care facility so as to feed solely on those already at the edge of death.


I'm Not A Robot posterI’M NOT A ROBOT

We’ve all had the annoyance when forced to solve wonky online captchas to convince a website that we’re real-deal human. What if we were to repeatedly fail it?


BERTA

Following the extraordinary DANA, Spanish filmmaker Lucía Forner Segarra returns to Fantasia with BERTA, a tensely compelling new work that continues her explorations of accountability and empowerment following gendered violence.

(You can find past Born of Woman coverage here) Fantasia 2024


You can find more info on Fantasia 2024’s lineup and tickets by tapping HERE


Fantasia 2024 Dates:
Thursday, July 18 – Sunday, August 4th

For previous years’ FANTASIA coverage, click here!

‘BLACK EYED SUSAN’ first-look trailer drops prior to its Fantasia 2024 World Premiere

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TRAILER PREMIERE

BLACK EYED SUSAN


Black_Eyed_Susan_POSTERLegendary underground filmmaker Scooter McCrae (SHATTER DEAD, SIXTEEN TONGUES) returns after a 21-year absence from feature filmmaking with the bold, vulgar, and deeply thought-provoking BLACK EYED SUSAN. Simultaneously brutally challenging and deeply vulnerable, the latest from the New York-based provocateur appropriates bleeding-edge science fiction concepts to address the seemingly-endless lengths that men will go to satisfy their darkest impulses without questioning the consequences of their actions.
 
In the film, down-on-his-luck Derek (Damien Maffei, THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT) is hired by a shady tech industrialist to “test” Susan (Yvonne Emilie Thälker, in a striking feature debut), a lifelike robot built for the purpose of receiving and “enjoying” sexual abuse. Initially hesitant to take part, Derek accepts, but quickly finds himself drawn to Susan’s developing personality and inquisitive nature. As the robot’s expanding humanity chips away at him and he learns more about his own secret desires, he questions if what he’s been tasked to do – even to a robot – should ever be condoned.
 
Black Eyed SusanHere is the first-look trailer for Scooter McCrae’s dark sci-fi drama BLACK EYED SUSAN, which World Premieres at Fantasia on Friday, August 2nd.
 

A Vinegar Syndrome Production in association with Not the Funeral Home and Moose + Squirrel, the feature was filmed on Super 16mm film and features a luscious musical score from legendary Italian composer Fabio Frizzi (THE BEYOND, ZOMBIE). 
 
The film’s cast includes Damian Maffei (THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT, 2023’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Game), model Yvonne Emilie Thälker, Marc Romeo, and ex-WWE Superstar Scott Fowler.


Black_Eyed_Susan_02

For all things Fantasia 2024 stay tuned to Reel News Daily and be sure to check out our bestie, Steve Kopian, at Unseen Films

Fantasia 2024 poster

Follow along with our festival coverage as it rolls out by searching Fantasia 2024

Fantasia 2022 ‘BORN OF WOMAN’ rules supreme, again.

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BORN OF WOMAN (2022)

born-of-woman-2023

One of the best shorts collections at the Fantasia International Film Festival is the annual Born Of Woman program. This year’s selections ran to a sold-out audience. The Born Of Woman selection is special because the films are bold genre stories created exclusively by female filmmakers. 2022’s iteration saw nine films from five countries and every single one blew me away. Each year, this is my personal favorite program. The films are fresh, vibrant, scary, relatable, and wildly intriguing.

Lily’s Mirror

A shocking opening leads to one of the sharpest takedowns of the patriarchy I’ve seen in quite some time. Lily receives a therapeutic mirror allowing her to take back the power so freely stolen by men. The depiction of the erasure of women is a comic and creative chef’s kiss. I didn’t think it was possible to make misogyny funny, but the script is carefully crafted. I found myself nodding, laughing, and exclaiming, “This is sheer perfection.” Highlighting women going to bat for other women and the fragility of the white man, Lily’s Mirror could easily be an entire series or feature film. This type of short drives audiences wild, and Fantasia 2022 knew what they were doing programming this film. A slow, celebratory clap for everyone involved. 

Everybody Goes to The Hospital

Everybody Goes to the HospitalThis haunting stop-motion animation speaks to the often barbaric side of medicine. Fear, misogyny, and the medical staff’s good complex are all in full view. While the story occurred in the 60s, its relevance does not wane. Writer-director Tiffany Kimmel does an excellent job capturing the terror of a child that undoubtedly attached itself to adulthood. The narration from Lucia Hadley Wheeler hits you square in the heart. The short was surprisingly personal for me. When I was 20, doctors at Saint Luke’s Roosevelt subjected me to a battery of invasive tests, unconvinced that I was a virgin. What I knew was appendicitis was treated as an STD. After 12 hrs and an emergency surgery later, my medical gaslighting experience still haunts me. Fantastic 2022 audiences will watch in awe of the artistry and storytelling style. Everybody Goes To The Hospital will make your blood run cold.

Wild Card

Writer-director Tipper Newton gives us a glorious, tongue-in-cheek, neo-noir throwback. Daniel makes a dating tape, and his first date brings nothing but good trouble. I’m not sure if Wild Card was shot on 16mm, but the combination of costumes, sets, and score gives the film’s overall aesthetic an era legit look. Fantasia 2022 viewers got an excellent treatment in Wild Card. When the credits rolled, I was left wanting to know what happened to Daniel. I needed to know what happened to Daniel! Billy Flynn and Newton give great performances. I cannot stress how perfect they are for these roles. The subtle nuance between them walks a fine line between serious and absurd. Overall, I’m beyond thrilled to follow Wild Card‘s journey.

Punch Drunk

A young woman recovering from surgery works the night shift as a bartender and contends with the memories of her surroundings. Horror doesn’t have to be a creature feature in the traditional sense. Punch Drunk is a creative declaration of power. Writers Cason Weiss and Emily Lerer (who also directs) bring a uniquely intimate short to Fantasia 2022. Danielle Argyros is stunning in the lead role. I would love to see this developed into something bigger. It has endless potential. Punch Drunk is a bold, fearless, funny, and relatable look at the trauma that sent a shiver down my spine. 

Stained Skin

A mesmerizing juxtaposition of live action and 2D animation, Stained Skin uses fable storytelling to ease the reality of women stuck in an endless work cycle. Attempting to combat their sadness, the story passes from Samy to Alba as a coping mechanism. As screenwriter Mirjam Khera’s narrative grows, so too does their sense of hope. Marisa Wojtkowiak and Safinaz Sattar are captivating in the eight minutes they share alongside beautifully drawn images from Andrei Ebîncā. Directors Adam Graf and Mandy Peterat understand the balance of dark and light. It’s films like these that bring Fantasia audiences to Born of Woman. Stained Skin is a gorgeous addition to 2022.

The Anteroom

Writer-director Elisa Puerto Aubel gives Fantasia 2022 audiences a heart-stopping short. In the near future, a refugee and her infant daughter must negotiate with a customs AI. As the seconds dwindle toward one of two options, tension is palpable. The sparse and ominous set adds to the suffocating feeling, and the desperation in actress Irene Anula’s voice against the callous echoes of the machine will take your breath away. 

Daughters of Witches

A young mother brings her baby Iris to participate in a traditional ritual. Generations of women trek into the forest, but Clara is unsettled and guilt-ridden, having missed her grandmother’s recent passing. Written by Karen Acosta, Naria Muñoz, and director Faride Schroeder, Daughters of Witches is another excellent example of the intrigue a short can generate. As night breaks into dawn and Clara finds Iris crying in another location, the final reveal left me emotionally invested in each character of this family lineage. Starring Yalitza Aparicio (ROMA), Daughters of Witches builds an engrossing world in ten minutes. 

Don’t Go Where I Can’t Find You

This intoxicating short film from writer-director Rioghnach Ni Ghrioghair teases every one of your senses. Margaret has lost her lover Freya to something she believed was haunting them inside the walls of their expansive Victorian mansion. Capturing Freya’s presence becomes an obsession, compromising her relationships with the living and the dead. Garrett Sholdice and Benedict Schlepper-Connolly’s score becomes a plot point. Truthfully, the sound design from Garret Farrell is one of the most impactful aspects of the story. The film’s audio consumes the viewer, placing them in the stranglehold of grief. Fantasia 2022 audiences will undoubtedly fall in love with this film, from its costumes to Allyn Quigley’s editing. It’s nothing short of sumptuous. 

Kin

Striking cinematography by Marc Patterson and a dissonant score from Jonathan Keith set the scene for director Sarah Gross’ Fantasia 2022 short film Kin. Three siblings must survive the western plains on their own. Eldest sister Ida takes the familial reigns to protect everyone. Madison Tebbutt’s screenplay subverts expectations bringing us an unusual creature feature that twists and turns from beginning to end. The final shot made me shudder.

 

More Fantasia coverage can be found here 🙂

‘PANDEMONIUM’ (2023) Explore the depths of Hell, streaming on ARROW May 27th,


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PANDEMONIUM

PANDEMONIUM poster

Step into the twisted brain of filmmaker Quarxx’s mind-bending, genre-obliterating PANDEMONIUM. Nathan awakens on the side of the road to discover his wrecked car. When another man begins to explain that they are dead, all Hell breaks loose. 

Arben Bajraktaraj is Daniel, the man on the bicycle whom Nathan struck. He is much like a philosophic tour guide to their plight, slyly steering Nathan and the audience to the heart of the plot, but there’s a twist. In PANDEMONIUM, there’s always a twist. 

Pandemonium 1The narrative shifts into a visionary anthology of stories as Nathan moves through the levels of Hell. The progression feels like the dark films by Jim Henson in the 80s, but PANDEMONIUM takes it to an entirely new level of demented. It is the definition of French Extreme Cinema.

As Nathan comes across the bodies of other eternally damned souls, we experience their unique tragedies, ranging from mental illness to guilt. Ushered from one level to the next, something goes awry in the underworld, yet again changing the film’s trajectory. 

Pandemonium 2 ARROWHugo Dillon is Nathan. He is the only constant in PANDEMONIUM. We have pieces of his story, but only what he reveals. Dillon delivers a brilliant performance filled with fear, disdain, and bargaining. He’s phenomenal. 

Handheld camera work and a foreboding yet haunting score quicken the pulse. The production design is exquisite, and the Special FX makeup is stunning. 

Pandemonium 3 ARROWAn imaginative descent into the personal Hell we create, PANDEMONIUM is like nothing you’ve seen before. The film is a deep dive into denial and despair, a peak into the darkest corner of our psyche. Authentically disturbing, relentlessly engrossing, and deserving of a sequel as soon as possible, Nathan’s story is far from over. 

 


On May 27, ARROW drags audiences into their new release, Pandemonium (UK/IRE/US/CA).


Director Quarxx (All the Gods in the Sky) explores the peculiar, welcoming all those hungry for wonder, in Pandemonium, a unique cinematic blend of fantasy, drama, genre, and humour.
Pandemonium takes the viewer on a chilling journey as three interconnected stories unravel in this macabre exploration of tales depicting fallen souls. From the intricacies of everyday drama to the realms of supernatural intrigue, each narrative weaves a haunting tapestry that blurs the lines between the mortal and the supernatural.

Head over to ARROW to start watching now.
Subscriptions are available for $6.99 monthly or $69.99 yearly.



ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Samsung TVs, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.

With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface, and an unparalleled roster of quality content from westerns to giallo to Asian cinema, trailers, Midnight Movies, filmmaker picks and much, much more, ARROW is the place to go for the very best in on-demand entertainment.

About ARROW

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From Arrow Films, a recognized world-leader in curation and creation, ARROW is a premium platform giving audiences an unparalleled viewing experience across multiple devices, so fans can explore the films and TV shows that the Arrow brand is famous for.

Specially curated by members of the ARROW team, ARROW is home to premium film and TV entertainment, exclusive new premieres, cutting edge cinema, international classics and cult favorites – such as the works of Lars Von Trier, Brian De Palma, Dario Argento, David Cronenberg and Park Chan-wook, and brand-new short films from both new and established filmmakers.

In the coming months, ARROW will be adding Oscar-winning hits, European classics, Asian cinema masterworks, rediscovered Westerns, offbeat gems and much more as part of ARROW’s international strategy to support and celebrate the medium of film.


YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ArrowVideoUK
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/arrowPlayer
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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArrowVideo


For more Horror films, click here!

Review: ‘THE ELDERLY’ is clever social commentary wrapped in a terrifying horror film.

THE ELDERLY

Following the sudden suicide of his wife, Manuel begins acting violently strange. Soon a series of paranormal events has all of the local elderly behaving oddly. They all seem to know something the young do not – paired with a lust for blood.

From the directing duo of the gooeytastic Spanish horror film The Passenger, Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez serve audiences their latest original story, THE ELDERLY.

Family tension grows after the unexpected suicide of the family matriarch. Manuel begrudgingly moves in with his son, granddaughter, and bitter daughter-in-law. As the temperatures outside rise, so does the mind-boggling behavior of Manuel and the rest of the octogenarian population.

Ignacio Aguilar‘s cinematography is breathtaking. Closeups, panning, overhead shots, each take meticulously planned for maximum impact. The visual trickery is out of this world. The score is unsettling, with its string-heavy intensity mixed with hauntingly written love standards.

A shockingly violent moment halfway through jolts an audience now accustomed to the eerie din of quietly disturbing imagery. The Elderly shines in the power of visual suggestion, shadow play, reflections, and long lingering takes.

The slow-burn film boasts a brutal and traumatizing, no-holds-bar climax. Otherworldly communication connects to climbing temperatures. The hotter the temp, the more intense the violence. The Elderly taps into the idea of the older generation feeling unheard and dismissed. It also utilizes classic supernatural tropes, adding one shocking last frame.


Distribution Company: Dark Star Pictures 
Theatrical Release Date: October 13, 2023
VOD & Blu-Ray Release Date: October 31, 2023
Directors: Raúl Cerezo, Fernando González Gómez
Writers: Raúl Cerezo, Javier Trigales, Rubén Sánchez Trigos

Runtime: 95 Minutes
Starring: Zorion Eguileor, Gustavo Salmerón, Paula Gallego, Irene Anula, Juan Acedo, Ángela Gamonal

The biting brilliance in ‘BORN OF WOMAN’ wows again.(Fantasia 2023)

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

BORN OF WOMAN

Born of Woman 2023 banner

Fantasia’s top-tier showcase of intimate auteur genre visions returns with eight works from six countries that will leave you shaken and amazed. 


Sayani

A crashed pilot seeks a way out of her unfamiliar and harsh surroundings. As her hopes of rescue fade, memories become her saving grace and doom. This beautifully lit short takes advantage of its pace. A final reveal shocks.


Se Dit D’un Cerf Qui Quitte Son (Said of a Deer That Sheds Its Antlers)

A black comedy version of The Lottery, this film kills off its eldest family members, and everyone is cool with it. This laugh-out-loud absurdist short had me grinning uncontrollably. Salomé Crickx has a real winner here.


Only Yourself To Blame

In a sharp look at rape trauma and its eternal demons, filmmaker Noomi Yates‘ 8-minute short creates a powerful statement that speaks volumes.



Sweet Tooth poster 2023Les Dents Du Bonheur (Sweet Tooth)

What begins as a bring your daughter to work story quickly spirals to a darkly absurdist commentary on class. The production design and cinematography have you believe this short is a timeless French narrative drama. Director Joséphibe Darcy Hopkins takes us down the rabbit hole of deranged power structure, revenge, and respect.


The Taster

A near-future scenario plays the backdrop for director Sophia Bierend‘s Fantasia short. A young woman becomes the official taster for a high-ranking general. Learning about the recent demise of her predecessor, her insight into the fearmongering of her new environment grows clearer. Mandy Peterat‘s production design is top-notch. THE TASTER is one hell of a treatment for a feature. It screams franchise development.


Madeline Brewer in PRUNING
PRUNING


Nian

Racism and folklore come together for a sweet tongue-in-cheek revenge tale from Michelle Krusiec. It is a satisfyingly smirk-inducing addition to the program.


Mancha

Writer-director Nicole Mejia‘s visual metaphor for generational trauma comes to life through a beautiful combination of Seth Macmillian’s camerawork, Alain Emile’s music, and performances. Its inevitability haunts you.


For all other Fantasia coverage, click here!

 

You can find 2024’s Fantasia BORN OF WOMAN lineup right here

Fantasia 2023 review: ‘PIAFFE’ is a surprising tale of obsession, sexual awakening, and otherness.

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

PIAFFE

Piaffe posterEva takes over as a Foley artist for her hospitalized sibling Zara. With no knowledge or self-esteem for the task, Eva endures shockingly abusive behavior from every angle; Zara, her boss, and the hospital nurse. When threatened with dismissal from Zara’s position, she becomes obsessed with the assigned commercial clip.

The video features a horse. Upon visiting a stable for research, Eva’s determination to perfect the audio ignites an immersive approach. Her relentless work ethic causes Eva to grow a horsetail. As she embraces her newfound appendage, Eva becomes entangled with a Botonist who opens her eyes to different forms of pleasure, increasing her confidence and sparking her sexual awakening.

PIAFFE gives audiences a fever dream of imagery and sound. Music is an eclectic Giallo-inspired mix of ominous cello and techno. The color Red features symbolically in lipstick, a telephone, tinsel, roses, and lighting. Simone Bucio is fearless as Eva. Her palpable anxiety and social awkwardness pour off the screen, making her relatable in the most unexpected ways.

The real star of PIAFFE is Robert Hefter and Jonas Vincent‘s jarring augmented sound mixing. As a viewer with Sensory Processing Disorder, PIAFFE is equal parts hair-raising nightmare and auditory orgasm. The sparse dialogue contributes to the focus on the heightened sound. Writer-director Ann Oren celebrates otherness in all its forms. Fantasia 2023 audiences experienced a sensory explosion with an unpredictable complexity.

Oscilloscope Labs will release PIAFFE on August 25th


Shot on lush 16mm, PIAFFE is a visceral journey into control, gender, and artifice.

The film will open in New York on August 25th at The Quad Cinema and in Los Angeles on September 15th at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre.

DIRECTED BY ANN OREN

STARRING SIMONE BUCIO, SIMON(E) JAIKIRIUMA PAETAU,

and SEBASTIAN RUDOLPH

SCREENINGS:
Mon August 07, 2023
2:15 PM

Salle J.A. De Sève

Fantasia 2023 review: ‘HOME INVASION’ is one of the year’s most upsetting films.

HOME INVASION

Home Invasion stillUtterly fascinating, this documentary horror hybrid effectively puts the fear of God into the audience. The film begins by sharing the history of each incarnation of what we now refer to as the “Ring” security camera, each inspired by a recurring nightmare. Historical recounting gets the creepy treatment with a random subject’s security footage playing in its fisheye lens version behind the storytelling text. There is no formal dialogue. This voyeuristic nightmare is unlike anything we’ve seen before, featuring videos of everything from natural disasters to doorstep theft and animal encounters to delivery people behaving badly and creatively.

The score is bone-chilling, with its piano cords striking. It’s something straight out of hell. But, the film is even scarier than it initially appears when we learn the global and societal impact of advancing technology. Cinematic tropes alone reflect the world’s potential terror. Fantasia 2023 audiences get a taste of a film that would be a perfect Fall statement at MoMA. HOME INVASION is exceedingly disturbing. If anything, it reminds you how quickly the scales of good and evil tip. It will haunt you.


Official selection – Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2023
Berlin International Film Festival 2023
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 2023

DIRECTOR

Graeme Arnfield

PRODUCER

Graeme Arnfield

WRITER

Graeme Arnfield

SOUND DESIGNER

Sarah Naylor, Baudoin Oosterlynck

EDITOR

Graeme Arnfield

Fantasia 2023 review: A visual feast, The Adams Family ‘s ‘WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS,’ showcases the fiercest loyalty to family and the macabre.

Fantasia Festival 2023 logoWHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS

A Film by The Adams Family

Where The Devil Roams posterOn behalf of their freakish and fantastical extended family members, three Depression-era carnies leave blood in their wake from town-to-town while trying to right the wrongs committed by locals. WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS is the latest and greatest from the filmmaking phenom family Toby Poser, John, and Zelda Adams. The production design is delicious. Fall color palettes and jewel tones mingle in a curated, handmade Martha Stewart Halloween spread. The lighting is breathtaking. The Adams create stunning tableaus that are stylistically orgasmic. All of this visual feast as H6LLB6ND6R‘s newest rock songs crank in the background. The dialogue is poetic. The special makeup and practical effects by Trey Lindsay, John Adams, and Toby Poser are squirm-worthy.

Sam Rodd plays sinister magician Mr. Tibbs with a skin-crawling, almost slithery delivery. His otherworldly dealings with the devil peak Eve’s interest when she needs to keep the family together. John Adams is Seven, a PTSD-ridden army doctor. Like each of his real-life family counterparts, John Adams wears all the hats behind the camera. As Seven, post-war, the sight of blood outs him in the throw of shock. This irony plays spectacularly against their murderous tendencies.

Zelda Adams plays Eve, a primarily mute, morbidly curious young woman who only speaks in song during their act. Portraying Eve and in real life, Zelda is the best of both her parents. Her ability to keep pace with John and Toby as a writer, singer, and cinematographer is astounding. Toby Poser is Maggie, the mother hen of the circus. If you fuck with the family, you’ll regret it. Poser’s brilliant vocal stylings contrast with the darkness of Maggie’s actions. This level of specificity makes the character exponentially more disturbing, and yet you fall in love with her immediately.

As in Hellbender, menstrual blood features briefly, but its symbolic feminist nature screams off the screen for any human who bleeds every month. Normalizing periods and the power they represent is a consistent message in their filmmaking. WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS puts women in the front seat, again. The final image made my mouth drop open. It is a wow. If you haven’t seen Hellbender and The Deeper You Dig, you are in for a treat. You have a homework assignment.

The Adams’ creative world is unrelentingly impressive. WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS is another notch in their horror belt, showcasing the best in the indie business. Their loyalty to their genre family and their literal one (scan the credits for proof) is unmatched. The film features the largest cast The Adams have worked with thus far, including friends old and new in Razor de RockefellerHitomi Nakamura, and Justin Julio. Their fearless and bold storytelling takes me by surprise with each new chapter. Fantasia audiences have the honor of experiencing a fresh way to make movies. I cannot wait to see whatever they have been working on overseas. I’m already counting down the days until Fantasia 2025. No doubt we’ll get a newfangled fix we never knew we needed.


Fantasia 2023 review: ‘RESTORE POINT’ is life and death against progress and profit.

Fantasia Festival 2023 logoRESTORE POINT

It’s the year 2041, and humanity has reached the point where it can cheat death. Anyone who dies an unnatural death has the right to be brought back to life. All you have to do is to create a backup of your personality – a restore point – at least every forty-eight hours. But there exists a movement of people who try to sabotage this concept. “Agent Em” finds herself drawn into a case that is not as simple as it first seemed and the consequences of which reach to the highest levels of politics.


A wildly original premise and magnificent worldbuilding send Fantasia audiences headfirst into Robert Hloz‘s sci-fi crime thriller RESTORE POINT. It is 2041, and citizens have gained the right to resurrection if they die an unnatural death, as long as they have backed up their personalities and memories within 48 hrs. This information remains in the cloud. Following the murder of one of the lead scientists and his wife, a detective with a vendetta comes on board to discover corruption on every level.

I kept thinking about the franchise potential of this story. RESTORE POINT’s visual epicness from production designer Ondrej Lipensky is stunning. More reminiscent of Total Recall and Minority Report and less punk rock neon than Blade Runner. Aside from the overarching and mind-blowing plot device, it feels like a logically progressing technological surrounding. Costuming is beautifully subtle, punctuated by small angular details, predominantly around the collars and tailoring.

Matej Hádek plays David with an intentional glitchiness. The physical and emotional choices draw you into the mystery. Andrea Mohylová brings humanity that grounds her performance. You can see the gears turning, the struggle between the personal and principles of the case. Mohylová is badass, effortlessly carrying the action. She is extraordinarily watchable. As a duo, they are inarguably compelling.

The film is a commentary on automation and morality, progress, and profitability. It makes you think. It is a carefully crafted tale filled fueled by both greed and the greater good of humanity. RESTORE POINT will wow Fantasia 2023 audiences, forcing them to answer more than one “what if” long after the credit roll.



Fantasia 2023 review: ‘LOVELY, DARK, and DEEP’ is a fever dream of trauma

Fantasia Festival 2023 logoLOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP

lovely dark and deep poster

A thoroughly unsettling opening scene plunges us into Fantasia 2023 film LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP. Georgina Campbell plays Lennon, a newly hired park ranger with a personal agenda, solving a tragedy from her past. Writer-director Teresa Sutherland brings trauma and psychological terror to audiences with a twisted dive into memory and mystery.

Campbell is magnificent, carrying the film with the same ease as BARBARIAN. Her ability to hold your attention as the mostly sole individual on screen is unsurpassed. Lennon’s guilt, grief, and unresolved trauma seep from Campbell’s pores and tie you in knots.

The dizzying camerawork from cinematographer Rui Poças and ominous original music from Shida Shahabi raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Sharp sound design by Branko Neskov, which includes podcast audio, is a clever device. As a National Park After Dark fan, this was a slick addition to Sutherland’s narrative style. Editor Alexander Amick furthers Lennon’s isolation amid flashbacks and ghoulish visuals that muddy the lines of reality. It is the ultimate manipulation. All of these elements come together for an atmospheric stranglehold of fear. LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP holds you tightly, only momentarily loosening its grip for minutes at a time. With a script that keeps you guessing at every turn, Fantasia is a uniquely crafted atmospheric journey into psychological terror.


Tue July 25, 2023
4:15 PM

Fantasia 2023 review: Run to see the powerful Ukrainian drama ‘STAY ONLINE.’ It will rock you to your core.

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

STAY ONLINE

Stay Online poster

Best served on the biggest movie screen possible, STAY ONLINE takes us on a real-time journey of political mayhem through the eyes and laptop screen of one Ukrainian resister. Switching from tab to app to window, Katya places us inside the war via news popups, video calls, and chats while air raid sirens blare in the background. This coordinated chaos forces you to sit up and pay attention. Following the action takes focus, and there isn’t a moment of downtime.

Stay Online - Ukrainian thrillerThe narrative flips when Katya becomes entangled with the son of the laptop owner. Her online sleuthing would put the cops to shame. It is millennial cyberstalking at its best. Liza Zaitseva gives a heart-stopping performance as Katya. Her relentless emotional investment is a rollercoaster ride. She is simply magnificent.

STAY ONLINE speaks directly to the power of information sharing in a time when news media outlets gloss over images of war in tightly edited clips that run every hour. Grisly is profitable, and so is fear-mongering. The human aspect often becomes a political pawn. Ukrainian filmmaker Yeva Strelnikova‘s feature-film debut leaves your heart in your throat. The film’s premiere comes at a particularly auspicious time, with Ukraine throwing its hat in the ring at NATO. STAY ONLINE is gripping, devastating, and entirely brilliant. It is one of the most powerful films of the year.



Mon July 24, 2023
2:05 PM

Fantasia 2023 review: ‘VINCENT MUST DIE’ is darkly funny and genuinely rattling.

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

VINCENT MUST DIE

Vincent suddenly finds people violently attacking him. An average graphic designer looking for love, Vincent notices a pattern in the behavior’s trigger and discovers he is not alone. Director Stéphan Castang unravels a mystery for Fantasia 2023 audiences in the entirely unpredictable film VINCENT MUST DIE.

As the violence heightens, our leading man turns to isolation for survival. When a glitch in the behavior has him come face to face with a local waitress, his yearning for human connection looks hopeful. But nothing in VINCENT MUST DIE comes easily.

Vimala Pons gives Margaux a badass edge. Her chemistry with Karim Leklou is fierce. There is an ease that works every second they share the screen. Leklou brings desperate humanity to Vincent. Carrying the film on his shoulders, he is undeniably compelling.

This film is a fresh and thoroughly disturbing take on apocalyptic scenarios. I left fingernail impressions on my palms while rooting for Vincent to be happy and safe. Writer Mathieu Naert never allows the audience to get comfortable. The tonal shifts break up the madness as the twists keep coming. While the film has elements of Rob Jabbaz‘s The Sadness, VINCENT MUST DIE is much less diabolically gory, stringently more chilling, darkly funny commentary on human connection. It is a rattling film.


Fantasia 2023 review: Larry Fessenden’s ‘BLACKOUT’ is more than a monster movie.

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

BLACKOUT

 

Opening with a bang, quite literally, horror auteur Larry Fessenden gives Fantasia 2023 audiences the premiere of his latest film, BLACKOUT. With previous titles like Depraved and Habit under his belt, it’s clear he is a classic monster movie fan. His complex modern-day versions give you the shivers and make you think. BLACKOUT is yet another perfect chapter in what I suspect to be a long line of Fessenden cult classics.

The ensemble cast is enormous. Joe Swanberg, Jeremy Holms, and Motell Gyn Foster add to the validity of Fessenden’s horror community building. Barbara Crampton, horror legend extraordinaire and a woman who appears in more movies than I thought humanly possible, plays Charley’s family lawyer with a touch of cougar for extra hotness. Rigo Garay brings relaxed authenticity to Miguel. His chemistry with Alex Hurt is electric.

A still from Larry Fessenden's BlackoutJoseph Castillo-Midyett and Ella Rae Peck are a great team as the local cops. Their scenes together are a welcome break. Marshall Bell plays Hammond as the wealthy town villain with the precise amount of elitist disdain we need. Alex Hurt plays Charley with a passion and relentless do-gooder attitude despite his surmounting inner turmoil. His physical work is magnificent. He has a strangely calming presence, even through his sullen outlook. I could watch him all day.

The second half takes several tonal shifts, but you’re already into the narrative. Fessenden injects family legacy, environmental and racial politics into the narrative organically. Small town and small-mindedness read universal, never forced. We even get a subtle glimpse of MAGA idiocy. One of the most intriguing aspects is the film’s overall look. It could have been made in the same year as An American Werewolf in London, down to the ominous era soundtrack. The special FX makeup progression also possesses a timeless monster movie feel. Beautifully painted animation illustrates Charley’s physical and innermost turmoil.

Part nostalgia and part modern-day commentary, Fantasia 2023 gets Fessenden at his best with BLACKOUT.


Fantasia Screening Schedule

World Premiere Screening 
Thursday, July 20th @9:45PM – Salle J.A. de Sève

Public Screening #2 
Thursday, July 27th @11:30AM – Salle J.A. de Sève
 

 

Writer/Director: Larry Fessenden

Producers: Larry Fessenden, James Felix McKenney and Chris Ingvordsen

Cast: Alex Hurt, Addison Timlin, Motell Gyn Foster, Joseph Castillo-Midyett, John Speredakos, Michael Buscemi, Joe Swanberg, Barbara Crampton, James Le Gros, and Marshall Bell.

103 MIN / 2023 / USA / ENGLISH / HORROR


 

Vampires, Werewolves, Frankenstein, Time Travel, and Fever Dreams. Oh, is that all? Nope. What to Watch at Fantasia Festival 2023, coming this week!

Fantasia Festival 2023 logo

Fantasia 2023 is almost upon us, or as we like to say, “It’s Christmas in July, Motherf*ckers!” But, we usually keep that on the inside. Now that you have a taste of how demented we naturally are, here is a handful of films we are stoked to check out at this year’s fest. It’s the stuff we’ll undoubtedly be buzzing about for the remainder of the year. We have been lucky enough to have seen a few of the titles already making the rounds. You can catch our reviews for the following films:

With Love and a Major Organ

Suitable Flesh

Satan Wants You

Paiffe

Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls

Talk To Me

Molli and Max in the Future


Now, onto the films that we cannot wait to get our eyeballs on for the first time…

 

LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP

lovely dark and deep poster


LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP is the hotly anticipated directorial debut of Teresa Sutherland, screenwriter of THE WIND and a writer on MIDNIGHT MASS. Laced with stunning visuals, this ominously beautiful, deeply frightening nightmare is anchored by a captivating lead performance from BARBARIAN’s Georgina Campbell. Campbell plays a park ranger in an isolated forest outpost, the site of multiple mysterious disappearances, and she is plagued by visions blending the past and present with something even more sinister. This transfixing film oozes an immersive, fever-dream atmosphere. Also starring Nick Blood, Wai Ching Ho, and Edgar Morais. World Premiere. 

You had us at Georgina Campbell and the woods. Teresa Sutherland understands how to create atmospheric chaos, both physically and emotionally. We’re betting on this one.



APORIA

Sophie’s (Judy Greer, HALLOWEEN) life takes a sudden hard turn when either fate or a terrible chance of circumstance sees her husband Mal (Edi Gathegi, THE HARDER THEY FALL) killed in a drunk-driving accident. Left to parent her grief-torn teenaged daughter (Faithe Herman, SHAZAM!) on her own while trying to keep things together with an emotionally taxing nursing job, her breaking point might be coming up fast and it takes every bit of her remaining strength not to fall apart. One day, her husband’s best friend (Payman Maadi, A SEPARATION), a brilliant former physicist, approaches her with an experimental machine that he’s secretly been working on for years. One that’s capable of bending time in specific ways. A device that could — perhaps — bring a version of Sophie’s old life back to her. She understands that by taking a chance with this, the consequences will be entirely unforeseeable. It’s an impossible choice to make. And a lifeline that’s all but impossible to resist.

As a self-proclaimed Whovian, time-bending is my jam. Add in Judy Greer, whose career is a delicious buffet of eclectic tastes, and you’ve got my eyeballs for however long you want them.


STAY ONLINE

Stay Online poster

STAY ONLINE, the feature-film debut of Ukrainian filmmaker Eva Strelnikova, follows Katya (Liza Zaitseva), a volunteer from Kyiv who is fighting against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While using a laptop donated to the resistance, she comes into contact with the original owner’s superhero-obsessed son, who is looking for his lost parents. In an effort to make a positive change in this boy’s life and pull herself out of a destructive cycle, Katya risks all that she holds dear to locate his parents.

If your heart isn’t pumping, palms sweating while watching this film, check your pulse. Told through the lens f a laptop screen, this political thriller set during the early days of the war in Ukraine will have you on edge from start to finish.


BLACKOUT

A still from Larry Fessenden's Blackout

In a small upstate New York town, artist Charley Barrett (Alex Hurt) checks out of the motel that’s been his recent home and sets out on a series of personal missions. These include exposing the corruption of ruthless developer Hammond (Marshall Bell), and reconciling with former lover Sharon (Addison Timlin), Hammond’s daughter. Another is connected to his tragic secret: Charley is a werewolf, recently infected with the curse and responsible for a series of gruesome murders. The local residents have scapegoated one of the Latino workers on Hammond’s construction site for the killings, and as a full moon rises, their desire for justice hits a fever pitch while Charley succumbs to his transformation once more.

Larry Fessenden, Ladies and Gentlemen, and All Genre Fans. This horror legend not only appears in every single instant cult classic but writes and directs slick horror through his production company Glass Eye Pix. Fessenden’s Monster Mania takes a new turn in werewolf form this go around. 


WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS

Darkest prayers will be answered, in sawdust and sacrilege, when Fantasia goes WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS. This astonishing new feature from cult favourites The Adams Family (Toby Poster, John Adams, Zelda Adams), follows a family of traveling sideshow performers as they traverse Depression-era America on a bloody search for eternal life. As in THE DEEPER YOU DIG and HELLBENDER, both Fantasia World Premieres, the gifted filmmaking family’s latest creation continues their inspired explorations of familial power dynamics through the prism of horror. Haunting, poetic, sometimes funny, frequently freakish, and told with conviction through a deeply personal lens. World Premiere. 

Filmmaking phenoms The Adams Family has been rocking my world for years with their uniquely smart storytelling and jarring imagery. Fellow born and bred New Englanders, I love them and their work on a deeply personal level. If you check Twitter notes, they have publicly accepted me into the family. They can do no wrong in my book.


EMPIRE V

EMPIRE V

A disaffected student (Pavel Tabakov) follows an invitation to join “the elite” and finds himself forcibly transformed into a vampire, joining a supernatural ruling class who exercise an anonymous dictatorship over humans. Celebrated Russian-American director Victor Ginzburg (GENERATION P) demonstrates a striking visual imagination, perfectly complementing a story that reinvents nearly every aspect of vampire lore in clever and fantastical ways. This is the MATRIX of vampire cinema. Years in the making, EMPIRE V is both next-level blockbuster storytelling and megabudget anti-Oligarch satire, electrified with breathtaking visuals from the great Aleksei Rodionov (COME AND SEE). Co-starring Miron Fedorov, AKA rap star Oxxxymiron, whose anti-War benefit concerts led the Russian justice ministry to condemn him as a “foreign agent.” EMPIRE V itself has been banned by Russia’s Ministry of Culture, ensuring that the citizens of its home country may never see the film. World Premiere. 

I don’t care how many vampire films we’ve seen, I’m a Child of the Night, an Anne Rice, Stephen King lover. And yes, even Twilight, baby. Vampires will get me through the door every single time. Empire V looks slick as hell, and I’m all for satire. Especially when it involves Russia and all forms of revolt. This new take clearly has teeth.


BIRTH/REBIRTH

Rose (Marin Ireland, THE DARK AND THE WICKED) is a morgue technician with little patience for the living. Brilliant and obsessively driven, she also has a personal side-project that’s consumed much of her waking energies: The reversing of physical death. Celine (Judy Reyes, SCRUBS) is a hardworking maternity nurse who gives her all to patients shift after shift, the emotional intensity of her work only finding reprieve when she comes home to her effervescent six-year-old daughter, Lila (A.J. Lister). Fates take a horrific turn that smashes the lives of both women into each other, dropping them down a gruesome rabbit hole of desperate choices and ascending moral compromise that will shake you to your core. We’ll reveal no more.

Female-driven horror storytelling with motherhood at the center, Birth/Rebirth may connect with childbearing audiences that don’t usually go for this kind of fare. Risky, visceral, and unafraid to shock, audiences cannot prepare for what they are about to witness. Mary Shelley approves. 


WHITE NOISE

white noise short film still

Ava’s debilitating hyper-sensitivity to sound is becoming unliveable. Her doctor’s prescription of exposure therapy backfires as she descends into a fit of panic in both her class and the subway. When her attempt at suicide fails, she pleads with her doctor to enrol her in an experimental trial involving an anechoic chamber: the world’s quietest room. The doctor has his reservations, but Ava is convinced this is the ticket to her salvation. In this soundless space, her euphoria quickly mutates into madness when she begins to hear the inner workings of her own body.

Drawing on producer Christina Saliba’s experiences, this short film from director Tamara Scherbak made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Suffering from the same affliction, this brilliantly torturous short places the viewer inside the body of someone with constant sensory overload. *Shiver and wince*


Last but not least, the annual goodness that is BORN OF WOMAN 2023 shorts program. Every year I look forward to the brutal, genius, angry, gorgeous, bloody storytelling from a handpicked group of female filmmakers. 130 mins, 8 films, from the United Kingdom, USA, Belgium, France, Germany, and Argentina. 

For all things Fantasia Festival 2023, click here.

 

Reviews will be rolling out as fast as we can watch and type!


 

Review: Still sly like a fox, Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote’s ‘THE WRATH OF BECKY’ is the “f*ck yeah” of sequels.

presents

THE WRATH OF BECKY

Lulu Wilson is back for more blood-soaked revenge in THE WRATH OF BECKY. Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote bring audiences a much-deserved sequel to BECKY where we find our titular leading lady four years later. Now 16 and an absolute Sarah Connor badass, Becky lives with an enigmatic caretaker while she makes money as a waitress. When three over-the-top nazi misogynists retraumatize her and steal her dog, Becky finds a new reason to wreak havoc. Think Tank Girl meets John Wick, and you’ll have some idea of the brilliance of THE WRATH OF BECKY.

The script is equally as brutal as the first film. You have to respect it. WRATH takes us a step further into the depths of Nazi incels. The timely nature of the plot is brilliant and terrifying. Having Becky break the fourth wall is beyond satisfying. The mystery from the original begs for an extended storyline and a larger franchise.

Sean William Scott takes a page from his performance in BLOODLINE to play Daryl, the leader of a militant rightwing group called The Noblemen. His quiet assertiveness is undeniably unsettling. It’s a frighteningly compelling turn.

Lulu Wilson is magnificent. You can not take your eyes off her. She is aware of every minute gesture and idiosyncrasy of Becky. Her iconic knit fox hat gets an upgrade, and I was not disappointed. Wilson’s sardonic delivery is chef’s kiss. The fact that she is strictly anti-gun makes for some spectacularly creative kills. Wilson handles them like a maniacal little pro.

Becky represents every woman who is sick of your shit. This feminist horror icon, because that is precisely what she is to me, lets me live out my daily fantasies of earned rage. THE WRATH OF BECKY is a “fuck yeah” of a film. I implore Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote to keep this franchise alive and kicking (ass).

Quiver Distribution will release the action/thriller/horror film 

THE WRATH OF BECKY exclusively in theaters on May 26, 2023.  

NEWS- FANTASIA ANNOUNCES A BLISTERING FIRST WAVE OF TITLES FOR ITS 27th EDITION

FIRST WAVE OF TITLES FOR ITS 27th EDITION


A spotlight on South Korean cinema, a Canadian trailblazer Award for underground legend Larry Kent and World Premieres of new works from Larry Fessenden, Xavier Gens, Jenn Wexler, Jared Moshe, The Adams Family, and Victor Ginzburg + International Premieres of Tsutomu Hanabusa’s blockbusters TOKYO REVENGERS 2 – PART 1 & 2 headline the first wave of titles announced for Fantasia’s 27th edition!

Thursday May 11, 2023 // Montreal, Quebec — The Fantasia International Film Festival will be celebrating its 27th edition with a whiplashing program of screenings, workshops, and launch events running from July 20 through August 9, 2023, taking place at the Concordia Hall Cinema, with additional screens at the Cinémathèque québécoise and Cinéma du Musée.

The festival’s full lineup will be announced in early July. In the meantime, Fantasia is excited to reveal a selected first wave of titles and happenings.


BRIGHT SPOTLIGHTS ON SOUTH KOREAN CINEMA ILLUMINATE FANTASIA’s 27th EDITION

Since the selection of Kang Je-gyu’s GINGKO BED at Fantasia’s 1998 edition, the festival has become one of the premiere destinations for South Korean cinema. Over the years, Fantasia’s audience has had the opportunity to discover several essential Korean auteurs: Bong Joon-ho (BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE), Park Chan-wook (SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE), Kim Ji-woon (THE QUIET FAMILY), Hwang Dong-hyuk (MISS GRANNY), and Yeon Sang-ho (THE KING OF PIGS) among many others. These filmmakers are now mainstays of the international film scene, lighting up the big screen and streaming platforms alike.
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Celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and the Republic of Korea, the Fantasia International Film Festival –in collaboration with the Korean Cultural Center Canada and the Cinémathèque québécoise– is proud to showcase this unique national cinema. The festival will emphasize the vitality of current works and the versatility of South Korean creators, who work in a multitude of genres ranging from action to arthouse, breathtaking thrillers to outlandish musical comedies. The festival will also present a retrospective highlighting several significant works that led to the revival of Korean cinema in the 2000s, an effervescence that hasn’t stopped since.

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Fantasia will host the North American premiere of NEW NORMAL by Jung Bum-shik (GONJIAM: HAUNTED ASYLUM), a cynical and timely one-man horror anthology. The festival will also host the Canadian premieres of An Tae-jin’s period acupuncturist thriller THE NIGHT OWL; the violent and boisterous THE ROUNDUP: NO WAY OUT by Lee Sang-yong, featuring Don Lee once again; the 4K restoration of Jeong Jae-un’s coming-of-age TAKE CARE OF MY CAT (2001) and a screening of the unmissable THE PRESIDENT’S LAST BANG (2005) by master Im Sang-soo. More titles will be announced soon.

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In recognition of the spotlight, this year’s poster art was created by Montreal visual artist Donald Caron as an interpretation of the mythical nine-tailed fox, a fantastical creature that appears in the folktales of East Asia and legends of Korea. 

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FEAR RUNS LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP

LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP is the hotly anticipated directorial debut of Teresa Sutherland, screenwriter of THE WIND and a writer on MIDNIGHT MASS. Laced with stunning visuals, this ominously beautiful, deeply frightening nightmare is anchored by a captivating lead performance from BARBARIAN’s Georgina Campbell. Campbell plays a park ranger in an isolated forest outpost, the site of multiple mysterious disappearances, and she is plagued by visions blending the past and present with something even more sinister. This transfixing film oozes an immersive, fever-dream atmosphere. Also starring Nick Blood, Wai Ching Ho, and Edgar Morais. World Premiere. 

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A SUPPRESSED AND SPECTACULAR REINVENTION OF VAMPIRE LORE: EMPIRE V

A disaffected student (Pavel Tabakov) follows an invitation to join “the elite” and finds himself forcibly transformed into a vampire, joining a supernatural ruling class who exercise an anonymous dictatorship over humans. Celebrated Russian-American director Victor Ginzburg (GENERATION P) demonstrates a striking visual imagination, perfectly complementing a story that reinvents nearly every aspect of vampire lore in clever and fantastical ways. This is the MATRIX of vampire cinema. Years in the making, EMPIRE V is both next-level blockbuster storytelling and megabudget anti-Oligarch satire, electrified with breathtaking visuals from the great Aleksei Rodionov (COME AND SEE). Co-starring Miron Fedorov, AKA rap star Oxxxymiron, whose anti-War benefit concerts led the Russian justice ministry to condemn him as a “foreign agent.” EMPIRE V itself has been banned by Russia’s Ministry of Culture, ensuring that the citizens of its home country may never see the film. World Premiere. 

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THE TOKYO REVENGERS SAGA REVEALS HIGHER STAKES AND LOADS OF EMOTIONS

Tekemichi gets another blast from the past when his beloved Mio perishes again before his eyes in a freak accident… Or was it? Tekemichi must go back in time to save her, and find out how his involvement with the Tokyo Maji Gang ruined his real life once more. Nothing can prepare you for the amount of action, suspense and emotion TOKYO REVENGERS 2 – PART 1 and TOKYO REVENGERS 2 – PART 2 bring to the big screen! Director Tsutomu Hanabusa surpasses himself with two riveting new chapters in this beloved saga, whose legions of fans break Japan’s box office at every occasion. Come see this acclaimed manga-turned-anime in its ultimate incarnation as a star-studded live-action juggernaut. International Premiere. 

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A HEARTBREAKING, TIME-BENDING MASTERPIECE OF SPECULATIVE SCIENCE-FICTION: APORIA

Since losing her husband Mal (Edi Gathegi, FOR ALL MANKIND) in a drunk-driving incident, Sophie (Judy Greer, HALLOWEEN) has struggled to manage crippling grief, a full-time job, and the demands of parenting her devastated teenage daughter (Faithe Herman, THIS IS US). When her husband’s best friend (Payman Maadi, A SEPARATION), a former physicist, reveals he and Mal had been building a time-bending machine that could restore her former life, Sophie will be faced with an impossible choice.This riveting character-driven sci-fi work from award-winning writer/director Jared Moshe (THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN), imaginatively grapples with the ripple effects of morally fraught choices made in the name of love and raises timely questions about ethics in technological innovation.  World Premiere. 

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THE ADAMS FAMILY TAKE YOU WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS

Darkest prayers will be answered, in sawdust and sacrilege, when Fantasia goes WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS. This astonishing new feature from cult favourites The Adams Family (Toby Poster, John Adams, Zelda Adams), follows a family of traveling sideshow performers as they traverse Depression-era America on a bloody search for eternal life. As in THE DEEPER YOU DIG and HELLBENDER, both Fantasia World Premieres, the gifted filmmaking family’s latest creation continues their inspired explorations of familial power dynamics through the prism of horror. Haunting, poetic, sometimes funny, frequently freakish, and told with conviction through a deeply personal lens. World Premiere. 

 

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© Thanaporn Arkmanon

XAVIER GENS BRINGS SHATTERING FISTFULS OF MAYHEM!

Xavier Gens (FRONTIER(S), GANGS OF LONDON) is back! Sam, (Nassim Lyes) a professional boxer recently released from prison, breaks probation, flees to a faraway island in Thailand, and starts a family there. But when he’s blackmailed by a fierce local Godfather (Olivier Gourmet) into becoming a drug smuggler, things go straight to hell.. and then some! A blood-soaked revenge roller coaster, MAYHEM! starts slow and seething before exploding off the screen with tendon-snapping tension and unbelievably ferocious fight choreography of the sort that’s seldom seen in modern film. Also starring Loryn Nounay, Vithaya Pansringarm, Mehdi Hadim and Kenneth Won. World Premiere. 

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LET IT ALL OUT WITH PEOPLE WHO TALK TO PLUSHIES ARE KIND.

When sophomore student Nanamori joins the Plushies Club, he is encouraged to share his feelings with stuffed animals. You could call it an introvert’s paradise, or better yet, a safe space. And while for some it’s a natural fit, for others it’s an insular distraction. Adapted from a novella by rising literary star Ao Omae and directed by up-and-comer Yurina Kaneko (Fantasia 2019 selection 21ST CENTURY GIRL), PEOPLE WHO TALK TO PLUSHIES ARE KIND enchants with a gently provocative exploration of sexuality, gender, kindness and tolerance in Japanese society. A thought-provoking update on the youth film, for when the world feels like entirely too much. North American Premiere. Camera Lucida section.

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LYCANTHROPIAN CHILLS FROM FROM LARRY FESSENDEN: BLACKOUT

At last, acclaimed horror auteur Larry Fessenden has fulfilled his long-held desire to make a werewolf film, rounding out the triptych begun with his vampire drama HABIT (1997) and FRANKENSTEIN variation DEPRAVED (2019). Fessenden, as always, makes BLACKOUT a very human story as well as a gripping horror show while weaving in his traditional focus on socio-political themes, from his long-held ecological concerns to very modern issues of suspicion and paranoia. Starring Alex Hurt, Addison Timlin, Marshall Bell, James LeGros, Barbara Crampton and Joe Swanberg. World Premiere. 

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FROM SOUTH KOREA, COMES MOTHER LAND AN ARCTIC STOP-MOTION ADVENTURE

When the health of Krisha’s mother takes a turn for the worse, the village shaman offers her wisdom: follow the North Star to the Ancient Forest and find its guardian and master, the great red bear of legend. The first South Korean stop-motion feature film in almost half a century, director Park Jae-beom’s animated adventure MOTHER LAND is an exquisitely crafted snowbound fantasy with a potent emotional warmth at its core. It explores the lives and lore of the nomadic, indigenous reindeer herders of the sparse and unforgiving Siberian tundra. North American Premiere. Axis Section

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FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS AND BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

A chef with gambling problems (Nick Stahl) flees to the Latin American villa of an old friend who appears to be living an extraordinary life. Envy soon turns to greed and then to something more unsettling for the chef when he assumes his friend’s life. A Hitchockian, edge-of-your-seat descent into moral compromise with generous servings of dark humour, shock and surprise, WHAT YOU WISH FOR is the gripping sophomore feature of writer/director Nicholas Tomnay (THE PERFECT HOST). Grounded by a career best performance from Stahl, the film co-stars Tamsin Topolski, Randy Vasquez and Penelope Mitchell. From the producers of THE FLORIDA PROJECT. World Premiere. 

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A GUT-WRENCHING REFLECTION ON MODERN SLAVERY TAKES PLACE IN RICHELIEU

When Stéphane (Marc-André Grondin, RAVENOUS, C.R.A.Z.Y.) hires Ariane (Ariane Castellanos) to act as an interpreter for his Guatemalan workers, he expects nothing more than a messenger. But after witnessing the horrifying abuse the men are subjected to, Ariane will be pushed to choose between their lives and her own. A stunning debut feature from Québécois director Pier-Philippe Chevigny, RICHELIEU delivers a raw and emotional portrait of a system in which we are all  complicit unless we are willing to bear the cost of standing up for justice. Canadian Premiere. 

SUPERNATURAL POWERS AND SCHOOL GIRLS WITH SECRETS KICK OFF THE 2023 SEPTENTRION SHADOWS SECTION LINEUP! 

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A NOSTALGIC, SUPERNATURAL ROAD TRIP LEADS TO DAUGHTER OF THE SUN

Take a supernatural journey with Sonny, a man with Tourette Syndrome, and his daughter Hildie as they forge their path across the country. They hide a powerful secret but join a community of friendly nomadic strangers whose kindness conceals a darker intention. The World Premiere of DAUGHTER OF THE SUN is Sonny’s next chapter and a continuation of director/actor Ryan Ward’s award-winning SON OF THE SUNSHINE. This deeply personal journey reflects aspects of Ward’s life with cosmic imagery, stunning cinematography shot in Ward’s home province of Manitoba, and stellar performances from teens Nyah Perkin and Lennox Leacock. World Premiere

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JENN WEXLER DARES YOU TO BLEED FOR THE SACRIFICE GAME!

Jenn Wexler’s THE RANGER, a high-octane punk rock banger, exploded onto the genre landscape in 2018, and now she’s back with her sophomore feature THE SACRIFICE GAME. Filled with gore and lore, indie filmmaker Wexler penned this gripping and stylish ‘70s-set chiller involving school girls, power-mad killers and occult prophecy with partner Sean Redlitz. Shot in Quebec, this breakneck horror film stars Mena Massoud (EVOLVING VEGAN and ALADDIN), Olivia Scott Welch (LUCKY HANK, FEAR STREET Trilogy), Gus Kenworthy (AMERICAN HORROR STORY), Georgia Acken, Madison Baines and features the return of THE RANGERS’ Chloë Levine. You won’t want to miss a second of THE SACRIFICE GAME! World Premiere co-presented with Les Fantastique Week-ends.

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A CANADIAN TRAILBLAZER AWARD FOR LARRY KENT

Fantasia is proud to be giving our 2023 Canadian Trailblazer Award to our country’s legendary first underground filmmaker, Larry Kent, with World Premieres of Canadian International Pictures’’s new 4K restorations of his landmark Vancouver Trilogy and additional screenings and events. 

Cited by David Cronenberg as “a heroic figure,” Larry Kent made films “so ahead of their time” (to quote Atom Egoyan) that they eventually fell out of official circulation. 

Situated somewhere between the vivid indie dramas of John Cassavetes and the lurid melodramas of Doris Wishman, Kent’s films brought new vitality to Canadian cinema — and time has only added to their potency. 

Even as his 90th birthday approaches, he continues to make singular and gutsy independent features: his most recent works, EXLEY (2011) and SHE WHO MUST BURN (2015)  both World-Premiered at Fantasia, the latter winning Spectacular Optical’s 2015 Barry Convex Award for Best Canadian Feature at the festival. 

Whether audiences have caught up with Kent’s boldly uncompromising vision or not, CIP  is working on an ambitious restoration initiative that aims to resurrect his most seminal films, starting with The Vancouver Trilogy: THE BITTER ASH (1963), SWEET SUBSTITUTE (1964), and WHEN TOMORROW DIES (1965), each of which will be unveiled at Fantasia this summer.

The original camera negatives for all three films have been newly scanned in 4K and restored by CIP, giving these enduring works of underground Canadian cinema a chance to be discovered (and re-discovered) by adventurous cinephiles. 

In addition, Fantasia will also be presenting a rare 35mm print of YESTERDAY (1981) and a special screening of SHE WHO MUST BURN (2015). 

Join us in celebrating the career of one of Canadian Film’s most courageous originals!

Presented in association with Canadian International Pictures and the Cinémathèque québécoise.


Review: ‘Swallowed’ is any LGBTQ person’s nightmare… and then some.

SWALLOWED

Cooper Koch and Jose Colon play best friends, Benjamin and Dom. In order to send Benjamin off to L.A. with some extra cash, Dom coordinates a drug mule operation that complicates everything. When the packages turn out to be something far more sinister, things get much darker than anyone imagined.

Swallowed is a genre-obliterating film with fantastic performances. Jena Malone adds gritty believability. To no one’s surprise, she manages to bring charm and intensity. Koch and Colon have spectacular chemistry, and you 100 percent buy their relationship. Koch possesses an accessible vulnerability. Colon’s honesty feels grounded. Bravo for their openness to go full frontal nude. We all know how rare that is, and it makes complete sense given the plot. The film also features a solid villainous turn from Mark Patton, a genre legend from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. One line, in particular, is slyly redemptive given his status in the horror canon.

The camera work has visceral intimacy. Writer-director Carter Smith (The Ruins) gives audiences a unique genre entry, with the leads being LGBTQ male characters in scenarios we usually see female characters tackle. Swallowed is part crime thriller, part coming-of-age, and body horror. This film is an LGBTQ scenario of nightmares. Get ready to squirm.

 
The horror / thriller / LGTBQIA+ film, SWALLLOWED, will be released on digital and on demand February 14, 2023.

It stars Jena Malone (The Hunger Games Film Series, Cold Mountain, Stepmom), Mark Patton (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddys Revenge, Freddy vs. Jason), Cooper Koch  (Fracture) and Jose Colon (Feature Acting Debut)
 
It was written and directed by Carter Smith (The Ruins).


In theaters and on VOD today, Andy Mitton’s ‘The Harbinger’ is a waking nightmare.

THE HARBINGER

Mo is taking every precaution possible in lockdown with her father and brother. When summoned to the city by an old friend, Mo’s loyalty takes precedence over her protesting family. She arrives to find a strung-out Mavis claiming something is controlling her dreams. When Mo then begins to have her dreams invaded by a hooded figure in a plague mask, things go from bad to downright terrifying. Writer-director Andy Mitton, who brought The Witch In The Window to Fantasia in 2018, dives headfirst into his new supernatural horror and extra creepy Fantasia 2022 entry, The Harbinger

The script slickly combines historic iconography from the plague to mirror current events and builds upon the concept of mass hysteria and mental health. Mitton introduces demonology and then mixes in the idea of viral internet posts, an issue directly addressed in Jane Schoenbrun‘s brilliant film, We’re All Going To The World’s Fair. Combined with the rapid spread of misinformation, internet challenges like Momo, and urban legends like Slenderman, the spread of evil becomes exponential. But this is really simplifying the fear in The Harbinger

Gabby Beans gives us every ounce of herself as Mo. She is the heartbeat of this plot. Beans brings a grounded vulnerability, and I cannot imagine any other performer in this role. The film has everything and then some. Jarring imagery, thoughtful camera work, cool-as-hell production design, and meticulously placed jump scares keep your pulse pounding as this story unfolds. On top of the authentic terror we all experienced at the beginning of the covid lockdown, The Harbinger is a masterfully crafted, waking nightmare. 


Andy Mitton’s THE HARBINGER opens in cinemas and on VOD today from XYZ Films


DIRECTOR

Andy Mitton

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Cassidy Freeman, Clark Freeman

PRODUCER

Jay Dunn, Richard W. King

WRITER

Andy Mitton

CAST

Gabby Beans, Cody Braverman, Emily Davis, Ray Anthony Thomas, Myles Walker

CINEMATOGRAPHER

Ludovica Isidori

COMPOSER

Andy Mitton

EDITOR

Andy Mitton

Review: ‘Something In The Dirt’ is the latest mindf*ck from the filmmaking team Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson.

SOMETHING IN THE DIRT

I’ve been waving my arms and shouting their names from the rooftops for years, pushing their films on fellow indie genre fans. Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson are unquestionably one of the most intriguing filmmaking teams. It is impossible to predict their endgame. They thrive on the unexpected. Their latest film killing it on the festival circuit, SOMETHING IN THE DIRT, is no exception. Welcome to one of the weirdest head trips in cinematic history.

Levi and John form a fast friendship when a strange occurrence in their LA apartment building inspires them to make a documentary. Walking a fine line of admiration and distrust, the two get deeper into the mystery and the lies they tell one another.

Benson and Moorhead’s use of science is a running theme in their films. It is always clever. In SOMETHING IN THE DIRT, history and math (specifically the Pythagorean theory) are quite literally written on the walls. The quick-take editing holds your attention like a vice with a mix of home videos, documentary-style sit-down interviews, visuals of whatever topic Levi and John reference, and handheld cinematography allow the audience to teeter on the edge of doc and sci-fi narrative. This is what Benson and Moorhead do; keep you on your toes from start to finish.

The sound editing is a character. Audiences might suddenly find themselves imitating Levi’s stillness and neck craning to get the full effect. Justin Benson wrote the script, while Moorhead tackles the eclectic cinematography. Directing side by side, Benson and Moorhead share a chemistry that is something of the gods. They cannot escape likeability. The dialogue sounds so natural it could be improvised around the main outline. I constantly smirked as they effortlessly bounced between science, humor, casual conspiracy theories, and the idea that nothing is a coincidence. A meta film within a film, SOMETHING IN THE DIRT is here to mess you up and keep you guessing. I need to watch it again. I need to.


SOMETHING IN THE DIRT
The Fifth Mind-Melting Feature from Filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (THE ENDLESS, “Moon Knight”) 
Opens in Theaters November 4 via XYZ