Although last year was the first year I had the pleasure of attending the Fantasia Film Festival, it is quickly becoming my favorite time of year in Montreal. There’s just something about the warm summer air and horror movies that gets my blood running.
This year the Fantasia lineup boasts to be the best in its history, welcoming films from all over the globe. Fantasia has always been a hub for horror where new directors get a chance to enter the scene. After all it’s one of the only festivals that not only accepts controversial horror films, but thrives off of them.
At a youthful fifteen years-of-age, Fantasia is just kicking off and showing us some of the best, strangest, and latest horror films we might otherwise not get a chance to see on the big screen. Although I’d love to see every movie this year, that’s just not possible, so here is a list of flicks I’m most excited for at Fantasia 2011. Read on for the skinny…
It’s becoming increasingly rare to see a trailer for a new horror film that’s legitimately scary. This is not to say that new horror movies aren’t frightening, but that it’s difficult to terrify an audience that lives for horror movies like the Fantasia crowd. However, when viewing the trailer for Abesentia, let’s just say my heart was racing and my pants were slightly moist. What’s most terrifying about the trailer is that there is nothing definitive to be afraid of. This is one of the most highly anticipated, highly praised films of the year, and it’s quickly becoming the buzz of Fantasia.
With a title like Absentia, being Latin for “in the absence”, one can chance a guess that the plot of this film will deal with missing persons. However, the question it begs is, “where do these people, who are seemingly missing for years, disappear to?” Are they lost forever, or in some supernatural realm of the unknown? If this film is nearly as good as the trailer, it could be one of the year’s best.
I’m a sucker for handheld camcorder films, and I have been ever since the Blair Witch Project. When the Spanish (well at least Spanish language in this case) started making these films, they brought it to a new level. The extra long continuous takes, the real-life feel of the camera, and watching it in a foreign language, makes for a extra-horrific experience. Since [REC.] was released a few years back I haven’t been able to get enough of this rapidly rising sub genre.
The plot follows a group of friends who decide to make a handheld video while exploring an apparently haunted sanatorium. You guessed it! Things go horribly awry when they voyage deeper into the hospital. El Sanatorio is not your standard mock-dock-horror, it’s also a comedy. Handheld horror comedies are not a common sight…yet. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more after El Sanatorio.
Though this movie has actually been out for a while outside of North America, I’ve waited for a long time to see TrollHunter on the big screen. Is there any other way to watch giant trolls smash the crap out of cars, trees and people? TrollHunter is another one of the documentary style films featured at Fantasia this year that has a lot of hype surrounding it. This Norwegian horror flick has nabbed the attention of film fans all over the world and I’m honored to see it in such a great environment.
The film follows a crew of documentary makers who go into a small town where they have heard legends of trolls lurking in the forest. As they soon discover, the legend holds true. The mockumentary horror subgenre has had its handful of greats in the past, and this film could rank up there with best of the best. Although the mock-dock, handheld subgenre is quickly becoming a widespread phenomenon, TrollHunter has an exceptionally original plot which makes it so appealing.
Vampires are becoming a tired cliché in every possible mainstream art form out there. Their popularity has grown so much because of the Twilight crap that its going to take a lot to save any semblance of hope for vamps. I remember when good old-fashioned vampire lore brought chills down my spine, as opposed to the bitter taste the sparkling vampires leave in my mouth now. But perhaps it’s time to put the bitterness aside. Midnight Son is looking to revitalize vampire movies by offering a smart and intense film about life as a blood-sucker. With his debut film, director Scott Leberecht is hoping to stand out from the hackneyed world that has become of vampire movies.
Although there has been a few decent vampire flicks in recent years (Let Me In), nothing seems to compare to the “old school” movies that stay true to the lore of the most infamous creatures in horror. Midnight Son looks to cast off the shadow of current vamp-trends and begin to shed a new light on vampirism. This film takes an existential approach to the creatures by exploring what would it be like to actually exist as a vampire.
Retreat is another directorial debut at Fantasia from U.K. born Carl Tibbets. Although this is his first feature length film, it says a lot about it given that Cillian Murphy and Jamie Bell signed on board from having just read Tibbets’ script. The film is inspired by Roman Polanski, master of the thriller genre, and if that’s not enough to grab your attention I don’t know what is.
The film is not action heavy, nor is it meant to scare you out of your seat. Gathering from the trailer it’s an intense psychological thriller that leaves you questioning the truth until the final credits. The cinematography looks to be cramped, and claustrophobic as the couple struggles to stay alive when they discover a stranger on their private Island. Cillian Murphy is always astounding to watch, and although he may not wear women’s clothing in this one, it’s hard to believe he would star in a film that bombs. Retreat is looking to be the highlight of the suspense films this year and the launch of Tibbets’ promising career.
For those of you who love splatter comedies, get ready for this one, because Italian special effects master Sergio Stivaletti (Opera, Demons, Dellamorte Dellamore) returns for this zombie flick! Fans of the hit TV show Spartacus should also get ready for this one because it’s not your standard zombies rising from the grave…it’s Roman gladiator zombies.
The plot of this film is absurd to say the least, but the real question why haven’t gladiators been in more zombie movies? The new wave of horror legends are spreading out of Italy, and Raffaele Picchio is one of the leading members of the pack. Morituris possesses the talents to be a hilariously terrifying combination of gory goodness and survival terror, making for one of the most eccentric films at Fantasia.
Whisper in the Darkness
If you have a love for black and white film, or a slight obsession with anything Lovecraft related, this film could just be your wet dream. Campy, terrifying, and a throwback to monster movies of old, it’s hard to ask for more. Unlike most Lovecraft adaptations, Whisper in the darkness claims to be one of the only of its kind to hold true to Lovecraft’s vision. The black and white admittedly helps to capture the mood of a Lovecraft story.
However, what is most intriguing about this adaptation is the extremely low budget, showing that you don’t need loads of cash to bring a horror legend’s work to life. With Guillermo del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness adaptation in production, this indie flick is showing audiences a completely different side of Lovecraft they aren’t likely to get on the big screen. The combination of the 40s film era with a legend of horror literature, Whisper in the darkness is definitely one of the most eye-catching movies at Fantasia.