Fantaspoa 2022 review: World premiere of Argentinian horror ‘LEGIONS’ is bound to delight Evil Dead fans.

LEGIONS


Antonio is a sorcerer from a powerful bloodline, trapped in an asylum against his will. After an omen informs him that his daughter will be sacrificed by an evil entity, he must use his magical skills to escape and save her.


Writer-director Fabián Forte brings the world premiere of his new film LEGIONS to Fantaspoa 2022. A family line of demon fighters is threatened by the one horror that got away. Institutionalized patriarch Antonio’s stories are written off as delusion. With the help of his fellow patients, he must escape, track down, and protect his estranged daughter, Elena, before it’s too late. 

The film’s structure creates its engrossing narrative with flashbacks. Folklore and mysticism pull you into the characters’ backgrounds. Performances are spectacular. Antonio’s hospital crew will make you grin from ear to ear. Their energy is enchanting. Bravo, to each of them. Lorena Vega as Elena is everything we need her to be. Dripping with trauma, it’s a brilliant turn. German De Silva plays present-day Antonio with ferocious tenacity and innocent charm. I will watch him in anything.

The thoughtful score from Pablo Fuu strikes a perfect balance between playful and dread. The SFX from Marcos Berta Studios and visual effects from Andres Borghi is super cool (voodoo doll, I’m looking at you, buddy.) The script has everything occult, from protection spells to full-blown possession. The dual device of a stage play makes everything more fun, adding levity to the more intense aspects of the story. The unapologetic bits of camp mixed with phenomenal practical FX is a damn delight. Legions will be pure entertainment for Fantaspoa 2022 audiences. 


LEGIONS screened as part of Fantaspoa 2022.

For more information on the festival, please visit www.fantaspoa.com.


Fantaspoa 2022 review: ‘SUBJECT’ is a uniquely mesmerizing fantasy.

SUBJECT

A famous novelist moves into a house near an isolated, strange village in an attempt to break his writers block. Soon, ideas emerge – as do strange sightings and mysterious pages, seemingly written by the former resident of the house


Attempting to ward off writer’s block, Max’s agent rents him a house in a small, isolated village. When Max finds his words in an old notebook inside the writing desk, it’s the beginning of pure chaos. Mystery compounds as the enigmatic yet cheerful townspeople come into contact with Max. Everyone in this town is slightly off-kilter. Writer-director Leo Falcão has done a splendid job keeping you on your toes, playing with language and magical realism. 

Is Max experiencing madness like Jack Torrance in The Shining? Something strange haunts this town, and Max is the only one out of the loop. Performances across the board are wonderful. I felt as if I were attending a ping pong match as I watched these fully fleshed-out characters coexist with Max. I needed to solve the complexities of the story. Falcão understands how to hold the viewer in the palm of his hand.

The costumes are like eye candy. With colors that pop, they have a strategic effect akin to Beetlejuice. The cinematic framing draws you into the already engaging narrative. The camera leads you to clues placing you inside the mystery like a passerby on the street. It’s immersive and ceaselessly intriguing. With an ending I did not see coming, Fantaspoa 2022 audiences will find themselves scratching their heads but unable to take their eyes off the screen. SUBJECT completely enchanted me. 


SUBJECT screened as part of Fantaspoa 2022.

For more information on the festival, please visit www.fantaspoa.com.


Fantaspoa 2022 review: ‘HOLY SHIT!’ is gag-worthy greatness.

HOLY SHIT!

A bloodied architect regains consciousness inside a locked portable toilet and soon realizes that he needs to find a way out of there or he’ll be blown up within the hour.


Ingenuity and one hell of a plot make Fantaspoa 2022 selection Holy Shit! one of the most fun films this year. Frank is locked in an overturned porta-potty, his forearm pierced by a thin piece of rebar. With only his wits about him, Frank must escape within 30 minutes to escape certain death by explosives outside of the four small, grotesque walls he finds himself trapped inside. Grasping anything at his disposal, Frank must MacGyver his way to safety, all while recollecting how he got in this predicament in the first place. 

The visceral tension created by writer-director Lukas Rinker is exacerbated by the superb performance of our leading man, Thomas Niehaus. He is nothing short of captivating. Together, they’ve made Holy Shit! a truly riveting story. You’ll yell at the screen in frustration, sweat as the minutes tick off, and cheer for the small victories along the way. Who would have thought a film about a man trapped inside a porta-potty would ignite that much emotion? It’s bizarrely brilliant.


HOLY SHIT! screened as part of Fantaspoa 2022.

For more information on the festival, please visit www.fantaspoa.com.


Fantaspoa 2022 review: ‘FOLLOW HER’ is a clever social media revenge thriller.

Director Sylvia Caminer brings her new film Follow Her to Fantaspoa 2022. It features Dani Barker as social media up-and-comer Jess as she grinds away, posting live videos about her various paid gigs. When a glitch in her facial blur app causes an online frenzy, Jess must navigate not only a barrage of new followers and mixed comments but a new job offer. A meta revenge thriller, Follow Her, will have your heart in your throat.

Luke Cook plays Tom, the man who hires Jess to assist him in writing an erotic thriller. He’s effortless suave and ceaselessly witty. It is tricky to distinguish between written dialogue and what might be improved. The script allows him to play up the maniacal angle. You’re still rooting for him as a genre fan. Cook is exceptionally enigmatic, and Dani Barker keeps up with his energy. 

Barker plays double duty as Jess and screenwriter. She bears a striking resemblance to Kate Hudson and Chloe Fineman and possesses the charm of both combined. Barker understands the complexities of social media and the myriad of baggage that can accompany the lifestyle. She’s given audiences a slick screenplay.

Follow Her would make a great triple feature evening with CAM and Spree. Overall, the meta aspect of the screenplay comes into focus at around the 38-minute mark. The innate anxiety of being a woman alone with a man is front and center. Follow Her had me in full panic mode at 45 minutes. Each consecutive beat skillfully ups the ante. It speaks to the dark side of the internet age, gigging, vulnerability, sexual control, greed, and the consequence-free world we see more and more. Barker cleverly utilizes horror tropes and acknowledges them directly. Fantaspoa 2022 audiences are in for a treat. Genre fans will go nuts for this killer film. I’d “like & subscribe” for franchise development.


FOLLOW HER screens as part of Fantaspoa 2022. For more information on the festival, please visit www.fantaspoa.com.


Fantaspoa 2022 review: ‘OX-HEAD VILLAGE’ is a frightful folktale.

OX-HEAD VILLAGE

PLOT: Having launched a social media prank about a haunted building, three girls suddenly vanish. Rumors circulate that they were victims of The Ox-Head Village curse, triggering an investigation by two of their friends, desperate to find the truth about what has happened


Sick cinematography and a killer opening bring Fantaspoa 2022 audiences into the intensely scary world of Ox-Head Village. Finding out that this is director Takashi Shimizu‘s final film in his “Village Trilogy” makes me want to seek out Howling Village and Suicide Forest Village immediately. Japanese folklore surrounding a family curse brings this horror mystery to life. Kanon seeks answers as to why she resembles a missing girl from a failed prank video. As clues slowly come to light, Kanon must confront her family’s past mistakes to make way for her future. Loaded with haunting imagery, flashbacks, and macabre superstition, Ox-Head Village becomes the consequence of trying to outwit the curse. Performances across the board are solid. The colors are lush and the kills are brutal and disturbing. Elements akin to Ringu are unmissable. But, Ox-Head Village is undoubtedly unique. Make sure you don’t move once the credits begin to roll.


 OX-HEAD VILLAGE screened as part of Fantaspoa 2022.

For more information on the festival, please visit www.fantaspoa.com.

CAST: Kôki, Riku Hagiwara, Keiko Horiuchi, Haruka Imô, Akaji Maro, Satoru Matsuo, Riko, Fumiya Takahashi, Naoki Tanaka, Rinka Ôtani

DIRECTOR: Takashi Shimizu


Double Bill Review: Gonzalo Calzada’s ‘Nocturna: Side A – The Great Old Man’s Night’ & ‘Nocturna: Side B – Where the Elephants Go to Die’ are where the theatrical and experimental meet.

Nocturna: Side A – The Great Old Man’s Night

&

Nocturna: Side B – Where the Elephants Go to Die

“Nocturna: Side A – The Great Old Man’s Night” follows a nearly 100-year-old man who, on his final night on earth, fights for redemption from his life’s misdeeds. In “Nocturna: Side B – Where Elephants Go to Die,” Calzada embarks on an aesthetically opposite experimental twist of the same story.


Nocturna: Side A – The Great Old Man’s Night

 

Visual representations of grief, love, and regret make for a unique movie experience in the first of these two films. An extraordinarily haunting score adds to the emotional pull of the film. It’s a genre-defying film. There are brilliant clues along the way, but you have to stay sharp-eyed to notice them from the beginning. The added device of Alzheimer’s creates a perfect dance of deception and mystery. The cast is outstanding. Not a performance is out of place. Nocturna: Side A will break your heart as it inspires you to make peace with your shortcomings. Somewhere between memory and longing lies an enchanting storyline.


Nocturna: Side B – Where the Elephants Go to Die

 

This film has an entirely different approach and aesthetic. Audio and narration give it an almost accosting opening that prepares you for a drastically stylistic approach to more in-depth stories of the souls in the building. Nocturna: Side B is perhaps questionable as a stand-alone film. But it is undoubtedly a rich, nightmarish addition to the Nocturna: Side A.


Nocturna: Side A – The Great Old Man’s Night and Nocturna: Side B – Where the Elephants Go to Die will be released January 18 on iTunes/Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu, Vimeo, DirecTv, local cable & satellite providers, and on DVD.


 

Fantaspoa 2021 review: ‘Röckët Stähr’s Death of a Rockstar’ vibrates with great music and message.

Fantaspoa 2021

Röckët Stähr’s Death of a Rockstar

In the year 2164, when rock n roll is banned, a group of underground rebels, lead by a mad scientist, attempt to start a non-violent revolution by waking up the docile masses via a cloned rockstar sent on a guerrilla tour to “rock n roll them free from the tyranny”. But they soon find out, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Fantaspoa 2021 featured a massive lineup of great genre films. Röckët Stähr’s Death of a Rockstar is probably my favorite. Goosebumps immediately exploded up and down my arms as the soundtrack rocked me to my core. The colorful, throwback animation (reminiscent of The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine”) and subtitled lyrics scrawling across the screen in real-time, make your heart skip a beat. I had forgotten what it was like to experience the joy of a live concert. And even though this is a film, the energy feels alive. This is a rock opera for the ages.

It’s unafraid to “stick it to the man” as it overflows with social commentary. Set in a world where freedom of expression has been stifled by the marriage of religion and government. Sound familiar? Its messaging includes, “Art will save the world”, and “History is doomed to repeat itself.” But it’s also a love story, a commentary on mental health, violence, and the media. This film is a little bit of everything and it’s brilliant. I want to see this on Broadway. I want to see shadow casts perform this at midnight screenings. The music is eclectic. It’s got John Cameron Mitchell vibes, Rocky Horror sexiness, and even a touch of Monty Python humor. It deserves to be watched with an audience. It’s an epic animated rock concert bursting with pop culture references. This film kicks so much ass I need everyone to experience it so we can party together.  It will have you on your feet, dancing and grinning like a fool. Röckët Stähr’s Death of a Rockstar is destined for cult status.


Brazil’s long-running Fantaspoa Fantastic Film Festival celebrated its seventeenth edition online and completely free of charge. The 2021 edition of the beloved South American genre festival was supported by a special grant from the Brazilian government, which is offered to relevant cultural events amidst the pandemic. Running through April 18th, the seventeenth edition of Fantaspoa featured more than 100 shorts and 50 feature films from more than 35 countries. All festival screenings had a cap of 3,000 views, and all were geo-blocked to Brazilian viewers.

The film was part of Fantaspoa 2021, which ran for free on the streaming platform Darkflix, from April 9th through the 18th. All film screenings were geo-blocked to Brazil.

Additional details are available at www.fantaspoa.com.

Fantaspoa 2021 reviews: Two neon-soaked films about unresolved trauma in ‘Bloodshot Heart’ & ‘Playdurizm’

Fantaspoa 2021

BLOODSHOT HEART

At 44, Hans still lives with his mother. When Matilda, a tenant half his age, moves in, Hans relives old memories and is infatuated. To win her love, Hans comes up with a dangerous plan.

Writer-Director Parish Malfitano has given Fantaspoa audiences a hallucinatory, Giallo-inspired mindfuck with Bloodshot Heart. As if our leading man Hans (Richard James Allen) weren’t quirky enough, we learn that his mysterious ex and his domineering mother have the ultimate power over his perceived reality. When Matilda enters the picture, Hans hatches a plan to win her over that has dire and violent consequences for everyone involved. We’re never completely sure what we’re seeing is real or not. The bait and switch of characters are abundant. Color, score, and costumes become all-consuming. Richard James Allen‘s portrayal of Hans is something you must experience. His lovesick puppy act masks all the mysterious and deeply troubling emotions inside his head. The nuance he brings to Hans is astounding. Bloodshot Heart will leave you in a dizzied state. It is wild.


PLAYDURIZM

When a teenager finds himself caught in a glitchy-glitzy reality with his onscreen male idol, he does all he can to be possessed by this man and ignore the violent clues of how he got there.

I’m not going to lie. Playdurizm is extremely difficult to watch. You have no clue what the hell is going on until the finale. But damn it’s cool to look at. Eccentric costumes, neon-soaked production design, bright green vomit, all make your head spin. This is the perfect entry for the festival circuit. Brave Fantaspoa audiences will either eat it up or turn away and gag. With all the WTF that occurs in this film, it pays off in the end. Trigger warning: The amount of sexual violence in this film is jarring. Director Gem Deger (who also stars as D) definitely takes a colorful approach to PTSD. Playdurizm is a striking, LGBTQA+ foray into the genre realm.


Brazil’s long-running Fantaspoa Fantastic Film Festival is currently celebrating its seventeenth edition online and completely free of charge. The 2021 edition of the beloved South American genre festival is supported by a special grant from the Brazilian government, which is offered to relevant cultural events amidst the pandemic. Running through April 18th, the seventeenth edition of Fantaspoa features more than 100 shorts and 50 feature films from more than 35 countries. All festival screenings will have a cap of 3,000 views, and all will be geo-blocked to Brazilian viewers.

These films are part of Fantaspoa 2021, which runs for free on the streaming platform Darkflix, from April 9th through the 18th. All film screenings are geo-blocked to Brazil, with additional details available at www.fantaspoa.com.