Fantasia 2022 review: ‘The Breach’ is gooey and gruesome.

The Breach

Just before he leaves for the big city, Chief of Police John Hawkins (Allan Hawco) is asked to consult on a strange case. A body is found in a boat on the Porcupine River with unsettling wounds.


Director Rodrigo Gudiño brings the gross and engrossing to Fantasia 2022 with The Breach. A genre mash-up of sorts that’s as gooey as it is mindboggling. When a body washes up on shore, the small-town Chief of Police follows the clues that lead him to an isolated house in the woods. With his pseudo-girlfriend and her ex in tow, the mystery grows deeper (and weirder) with strange writings, the home in shambles, mutilated bodies, and supernatural happenings. 

The film begins with a bang. Sweeping shots of a seemingly abandoned canoe quietly floating down the river. The title is reminiscent of classic horror films like The Blob. We become familiar with the townspeople pulled into this bizarre case. Suddenly the pace feels like it goes off a cliff. 

Here is where I struggled. In the film’s final third, the screenplay takes three very different concepts and tries to mash them together. It was a real head-scratcher for me, as I was all in with the body horror ala The Fly idea. Everything sort of implodes from there. Ian Weir and Craig Davidson‘s screenplay is based on an audible original of the same name by Nick Cutter. (Cutter is Davidson, Davidson is Cutter) It makes me want to go back to the source material to compare the work. 

The best performance comes from Natalie Brown as Laura. She is a mother mired in grief and desperate for answers from her physicist ex-husband. Her vulnerability, anguish, and badassery should be applauded.

Yes, that kickass music you hear is by executive producer and rick legend, Slash. It’s nothing short of epic. Arguably the best aspect of The Breach is the design team. The main set is a spectacularly dressed mess with peeling wallpaper and inches of dust. Practical FX and makeup are literally gag-worthy. These are the things Fantasia audiences eat for breakfast.


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Fantasia 2022 review: ‘Moloch’ brings unique folklore horror to viewers.

MOLOCH

A sinister score from Ella Van Der Woude and sweeping cinematography by Emo Weemhoff immediately let us know we’re in for something truly frightening. Perhaps cyclical in nature, unresolved trauma rears its ugly head in the form of a supernatural creature and a celebrated legend. Moloch is a keenly written and beautifully performed horror.

Sallie Harmsen plays Betriek with an unbridled nuance. Existing in a caretaker role for her mother and young daughter, we are privy to childhood trauma that everyone in town seems to know more about than Betriek. Harmsen is raw and determined. She encapsulates a woman mired in distress.

It’s not an exaggeration to say my mouth was agape at the final reveal. So many seemingly minute details in the script came rushing into my brain. Writer-director Nico Van Den Brink and writer Daan Bakker have given Fantasia 2022 audiences a moody, atmospheric folklore horror. Lucky for Shudder fans, Moloch is now available to stream.


38-year-old Betriek lives at the edge of a peat bog in the North of the Netherlands. When she and her family are attacked by a random stranger one night, Betriek sets out to find an explanation. The more she digs, the more she becomes convinced that she is being hunted by something ancient.

Premieres July 21 on Shudder


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Fantasia 2022 short film reviews: ‘Deiji Meets Girl’ and ‘Summer Ghost’ are whimsical and complex

Deiji Meets Girl

Deiji meets girl

Sixteen-year-old Maisie Higa works at the front desk of her family’s hotel, and she’s bored out of her mind. Then a familiar-looking teenage boy from Tokyo checks in, and Maisie’s summer break gets weird. She is scrappy, emotional, enthusiastic, and dramatic, and I could not get enough of her. Maisie has the perfect foil in the character of Ichiro Suzuki, who is overly nonchalant and annoyed about their whimsical predicaments. The two offer nonstop laughs and smiles as they experience their ever-evolving surroundings. I would eat this up as a feature. It has a lot of similar qualities as the Prime Video series Upload. In its current micro-series form, Deiji Meets Girl is the perfect lighthearted and creative entry for Fantasia 2022 audiences to enjoy. 


Summer Ghost

This stunning 40 minutes film about mental health comes to us in a gorgeously told mystery. When three young people meet in hopes of catching a glimpse of a local legend of a ghost girl, emotions run high as each carries the weight of sadness only known to them. With an ethereal score from Akira Kosemura and nuanced storytelling, Summer Ghost took my breath away, quite literally. It’s one of those films that run away with your attention before you have a moment to notice the runtime. With thoughtful writing from Otsuichi and a gasp-worthy ending, this one will be with me for a long time.


Both films screen as part of the Anime no Bento 2022 program


 

Fantasia 2022 review: Zombies, comedy, remakes, Oh My! ‘Coupez!’ brings bloodbath and laughs.

COUPEZ!

*Full disclosure, I have not seen Shinichiro Ueda‘s One Cut of The Dead (Fantasia 2018). This review is solely my take on COUPEZ!*

An eccentric director who activated a curse in order to get the best film possible? Sounds more like an industry documentary than a horror comedy to me. Coupez! turns filmmaking on its head with a structure that keeps on giving. Do not get comfortable because you’re about to enter the world of money, fame, indulgence, and the ridiculous in three distinct acts. 

Coupez! is unafraid to make fun of the collective zombie/ horror genre. At times, it’s like watching Film Twitter arguing with itself. This meta take on the industry will delight to no end. The handheld camera puts the audience into the action in a one-take, real-time unfolding of hilarious chaos. One can only imagine the amount of rehearsal it required to coordinate. The practical FX are cleverly achieved just out of sight. 

These actors give 200% in this splatterfest. The cast’s unwavering commitment sells this film. Romain Duris as Remi is just trying his best to make the movie he created on the page. But, like Hollywood, everyone has their hand/opinion in the proverbial pot. Duris has an upbeat energy that pulls you into his story. In truth, Coupez! is a masterful ensemble film. The double entendre dialogue never misses. It’s kind of like an amped-up version of Shawn of the Dead meets Noises Off. It was a risky move for writer-director Michel Hazanavicius to bring Coupez! to Fantasia 2022, but a massively successful one.


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Fantasia 2022 review: ‘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 precedent 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. 


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

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Fantasia 2022 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. Fantasia 2022 audiences, get ready to squirm.


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Fantasia 2022 review: ‘All Jacked Up and Full Of Worms’ is gagworthy arthouse horror.

ALL JACKED UP AND FULL OF WORMS

Writer-director Alex Phillips brings a special kind of WTF to Fantasia 2022 with micro-budget arthouse horror, All Jacked Up and Full of Worms. In a wicked multiple narrative of some seriously messed up people, we are party to some of the sickest storylines we never signed up for. Roscoe, a motel maintenance man in a creepy, sexually adventurous throuple, a mentally ill man named Benny looking to be a father, a violent addict couple, the former pagan member giving an endless interview, and his sex worker daughter all collide. The throughline of these stories is that the characters ingest worms like drugs. The consequences will make you as queasy as you think. If David Cronenberg and Requiem for a Dream had a baby, you might get All Jacked Up and Full of Worms in the bassinet. The likelihood that you’ll be looking around the theatre to check if everyone else is just as horrified as you are incredibly high. Would I recommend you watch high? I’m not not saying it’s a good idea. Films like this bring audiences to Fantasia in the first place. Am I jacked up to see what Alex Phillips does next? Yup.

All Jacked Up and Full of Worms also stars Eva Fellows, Mike Lopez, Carol Rhyu, and Sammy Arechar. The film was produced by Phillips, Georgia Bernstein, and Ben Gojer.


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Fantasia International Film Festival is back with its 26th edition to rescue us from reality. Here’s what we’re excited to see! #Fantasia2022

It’s no secret that all the best genre films come through Fantasia Film Festival. 2022’s fest comes just in time to distract us from all the actual horrible things happening in the world.

Welcome to a list of things we’re excited about playing this year. Some are already on our best of the year lists and some we anticipate adding. Check out our picks below.

For all things Fantasia Film Festival 2022 stay tuned to Reel News Daily with some special posts from our friends at Unseen Films


Six films we’ve seen at previous festivals and their reviews can be found below. Highly recommend each of them for a myriad of reasons.

Next Exit
Legions
Sissy


Honeycomb
Hypochondriac
Speak No Evil (One of the year’s most brutal films)



FREAKS OUT (Italy)

– Dir: Gabriele Mainetti

Rome, 1943. A pack of sideshow performers with supernatural powers face off against occupying Nazis in the most unusual superhero film you will ever see. This fantastical and gutsy celebration of the different that walks an electrifying tightrope between blockbuster filmmaking and edgier, more subversive genre work. From the director of THEY CALL ME JEEG. Winner of the Leoncino d’Oro at last fall’s Venice Film Festival. Canadian Premiere. 

Sounding like a genre fan’s wet dream, FreaksOut is a priority watch this year.



Princesse Dragon

Bristle is a little girl raised by dragons. But when her father, Dragon, has to pay the Sorcerog using his second most valuable asset, he offers her Bristle – Throwing her into an infinite sadness and forcing her to flee the family cave. Bristle then embarks on a journey to discover the world of men.

Feminist anime? Give it to me all day, every day.


Polaris

Set in 2144 against the harsh backdrop of a frozen wasteland, Sumi, a human child raised by Mama Polar Bear, narrowly escapes capture from a brutal Morad hunting party and sets out across the vast winter landscape. When Sumi stumbles across Frozen Girl, an unlikely friendship is forged and together they race ahead of the vindictive hunters towards the only guiding light Sumi knows, the Polaris star.

All female-led opening film. Sold.


One Cut of the Dead

(French remake of the cult classic)

After opening this year’s Cannes, FINAL CUT (Coupez!), Michel Hazanavicius’s riotous remake of Shinichirou Ueda’s ONE CUT OF THE DEAD, is coming to North America. Starring Romain Duris, Bérénice Bejo, Grégory Gadebois, Finnegan Oldfield, Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, and Yoshiko Takehara reprising her beloved role from the original film as a producer, this hilarious ode to the do-or-die spirit of filmmaking is a joy to behold. It is especially noteworthy for the film’s North American journey to be starting at Fantasia, as the festival was among the first to popularize the original Audience Award-winning ONE CUT OF THE DEAD in the West. Poetically, Ueda’s latest, POPRAN, will also be having its North American Premiere at the festival this year. Bet your viewfinder that FINAL CUT is going to bring the house down in cheers. North American Premiere.

Without knowing the original, the buzz around this remake is out of this world. Will it live up to its predecessor? I guess we’ll all find out together.

Huesera

Pregnant with her first child and consumed by terrifying visions, Valeria (Natalia Solián) believes that she may be cursed by a supernatural entity. A brilliant and frightening breakout debut as important as Jennifer Kent’s THE BABADOOK, HUESERA firmly announces Mexico’s Michelle Garza Cervera as one of the leading new voices of the genre. A scorching personal vision that asks complex questions with ferocious honesty, this profound, nightmarish blessing comes to Fantasia hot off its award-winning Tribeca launch and is already one of the most talked-about genre works of the year.  Canadian Premiere. 

A big winner out of Tribeca 22, this is a slick film tackling identity and motherhood in a surprising way. If you’ve ever been pregnant and didn’t love every single second of it, this one will cut extra deep.



Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

Also screening as part of Fantasia’s closing night events will be Halina Reijn’s wildly entertaining and gloriously twisted BODIES BODIES BODIES. A party game leads to murder when young and wealthy friends gather at a remote family mansion in this instant classic comedy horror joyride that maintains a taut balance of uneasy tension and wicked humor. Starring Amandla Stenberg (THE HATE U GIVE), Maria Bakalova (BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM), Myha’la Herrold (INDUSTRY), Rachel Sennott (SHIVA BABY) and comedy superstar Pete Davidson. Special Screening.

When people cannot stop talking about a film, you know you have to see it. Coming to theaters August 5th.

 DIRECTOR: Halina Reijn CAST: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, with Lee Pace and Pete Davidson


Piggy

Laura Galán appears in PIGGY by Carlota Pereda

During the sweltering summertime of rural Spain, Sara carries an extra load of teenage agony due to the perpetual bullying from her peers. She’s also an outsider at home—her parents and little brother just don’t understand her—so, feelings internalized, she’s often found buried in her headphones, drowning out her surroundings. One day, Sara’s usual solo dip at the local pool is disrupted by the presence of a mysterious stranger in the water and an exceptionally grueling bout of abuse at the hands of three girls. But, in a strange twist of fate, along the way home Sara witnesses her bloodied tormentors being kidnapped in the back of the stranger’s van.

Another buzzy title, this one focusing on mean girls and morality is a star vehicle for actress Laura Galán.


The Pez Outlaw

Steve Glew spent the 1990s smuggling rare pez dispensers into the USA from Eastern Europe, making millions of dollars. It was all magical until his arch-nemesis, The Pezident decided to destroy him.

Who wouldn’t want to watch a film about rival pez dispenser smugglers is really the question.


Everybody Goes To The Hosptial (short film)


Based on a true story, EVERYBODY GOES TO THE HOSPITAL is a stop motion animated exploration of physical, psychological, and familial trauma, telling the tale of 4-year-old Little Mata (writer/director Tiffany Kimmel’s mother) as she’s taken to the hospital in late 1963 with appendicitis.

This is s personal pick for me, as someone traumatized by hospitals more than once in my life. The first time was when I was diagnosed with appendicitis. Check out a teaser here.


For all things Fantasia 2022 stay tuned to Reel News Daily with some special posts from our friends at Unseen Films.