The Fantasia Film Festival hasn’t even started and I’m already burnt out.
The first announced wave of films nearly gave me an anxiety attack, while today’s announcement sent me into cardiac arrest.
Inside you’ll find all of the newly announced genre titles from the 130-feature array that’s going to blow up Montreal on July 14 (through August 7). You’re going to need three weeks to even attempt to see all of these! (Breathe, Brad, breathe.)
Fantasia’s 15th anniversary also marks the return of Sion Sono with the horror-thriller COLD FISH (Quebecois premiere), a dark film filled with even blacker humour where a reserved man is forced to assist an insane serial killer, and all this is taking place in the tropical fish industry!
Noboru Iguchi, another regular at the festival, presents the hilarious homage to the Japanese television series of yore KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR (Quebecois premiere) as well as the horror film TOMIE: UNLIMITED (International premiere), an all-new reinterpretation of the nightmarish universe of manga-writer Junji Ito, creator of “Uzumaki” and, obviously, “Tomie”.
The festival’s 15th edition would not be complete without the selection of a feature film by our friend Yoshihiro Nishimura who returns this year with HELLDRIVER (Quebecois premiere), a mutant-zombie film that is as entertaining as it is bloody. And since we are at the heart of the midnight projections, let us note the presence of the lusty horror comedy HORNY HOUSE OF HORROR (Canadian premiere) by Jun Tsugita, also the screenwriter of TOMIE: UNLIMITED.
This year, Fantasia’s Korean spotlight section welcomes five feature films by talented, promising first-time directors. From Kim Min-suk, scriptwriter of THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD, comes his directing debut HAUNTERS (Canadian premiere), a stylish paranormal thriller with star Kang Dong-won that did serious box office in Korea.
Oh Young-doo’s INVASION OF ALIEN BIKINI (Canadian premiere), Grand Prix winner at Yubari Fantastic Film Festival 2011, is a contemporary Korean genre hybrid blending science fiction, comedy and action, and a triumph of filmmaking on a shoestring.
The Korean section also includes an impressive pair of short films. NIGHT FISHING (Canadian premiere), by Park Chan-wook (OLDBOY) and Park Chan-kyung, won a Jury Prize and the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, and was entirely shot using an iPhone 4.
Straight from the competition of the latest edition of the Cannes Film Festival, GHOST (North-American premiere) by Dahci Ma presents the story of a starving man in an empty home whose wild imagination begins to wander.
MEDICATED MONSTERS: THE CINEMA OF ADAM WINGARD
In 2007, with our screening of HOME SICK, Fantasia was the first festival in the world to screen a film from a then-19 year old filmmaker named Adam Wingard. Since that time, he’s become a staple on the A-list fest circuit, from Tiff to AFI Fest, Stockholm and Rome, and with good reason. A true original, his dreamy, soulful approach to the genre can almost be described as Lynch by way of Van Sant. This year, we’re doing a spotlight on his work, with screenings of POP SKULL, A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE and the world premiere of his eccentric latest, WHAT FUN WE WERE HAVING: 4 STORIES ABOUT DATE RAPE, starring AJ Bowen, Hannah Hughes and mumblecore icon Joe Swanberg. Each feature will be preceded by a Wingard short, and all screenings will be hosted by the filmmaker, with regular writing partner Simon Barrett joining him for the latter two titles.
PLAYBACK IN BLACK: THE NEXT WAVE
Several years ago, Fantasia did a spotlight on subjectively-shot horror films that we called PLAYBACK IN BLACK. Among other highlights, it featured the first North American screening of [REC]. In the ensuing years, the POV aesthetic has evolved into a commonly accepted storytelling approach, with filmmakers using the style to tackle every kind of genre. To mark this evolution, we’re mounting this special ancestral spotlight, packed with unconventional first-person surprises that reinvent conventions in inspired ways.
Sweden’s 100 YEARS OF EVIL (North American Premiere), co-directed by Erik Eger and Magnus Oliv, is a mad dose of alternative history that follows an increasingly paranoid documentarian as he discovers that Adolf Hitler not only survived the war, but fled to America and ultimately invented fast food and soap operas, among other things!
The UK brings us David Bryant’s nerve-shredding VICTIMS (World premiere), a real-time, single-take thriller depicting a man abducted by vigilantes on his wedding day. They believe he once committed a terrible crime in his childhood and is now living under an assumed identity. The plan is to force an on- camera confession, then execute him and post the video online as a warning to predators. But do they have the right man?
Also from the UK, we have Michael Axelgaard’s creepy-beyond-words HOLLOW (World premiere), which purports to be evidence seized by the police, the home videos that a group of thrirty-somethings shot of their trip to the countryside of the Suffolk area of England – a region steeped in numerous legends of black magic in its past, and home to a mysterious tree whose branches have been host to numerous suicides over the decades.
Tearing out of Costa Rica, we’ve got Miguel Gómez’s EL SANATORIO (Canadian premiere), horror/comedy moc-doc about filmmakers regretting their decision to document a legendary haunted asylum. The movie won an audience award at the Morbido Film Festival.
Last but not least, there is Norway’s already-infamous and riotously entertaining TROLL HUNTER, directed by André Øvredal, making its long-awaited Canadian premiere after flooring audiences at Fantasticfest, Sundance and the Seattle International Film Festival.
COUNTRY BY COUNTRY, STATION TO STATION
Argentina represents with Nicolás Goldbart’s PHASE 7 (Canadian premiere), an unusual black comedy / horror film taking place among ragtag tenants in a quarantined apartment building.
Adrián García Bogliano’s COLD SWEAT (Canadian premiere) is an outlandish and extreme horror comedy about a pair of senior citizen former political revolutionaries wreaking havoc against hapless teens in an enormous old house they’ve rigged to be a chamber of horrors. It left audiences speechless at SXSW.
From Australia, we have Andrew Traucki’s THE REEF (Canadian premiere) is a tense-beyond-belief shark thriller that wrung audiences out at Sitges, Pi-Fan and Brussels.
Canada brings it home with Xavier Gens’s THE DIVIDE (Canadian premiere) sees the gifted helmer behind FRONTIER(S) and HITMAN tackling an even darker side of human nature in this tale of a group of American citizens forced into captivity with one another following a devastating nuclear attack on the country in the near future. It stars Michael Biehn, Laura German and Rosanna Arguette and it is very likely the most brutalizing film you will see this year. Dominic Laurence James’s visually-stunning DIE (North American premiere) stars Emily Hampshire, Elias Koteas and Stephen McHattie in a character- driven horror thriller involving forced games of chance, shot in a stylized Montreal that looks as if it were right out of a Chris Nolan film.
Reggie Bannister, Andrew Roth and Caroline Williams star in Mike Klassen’s theological horror drama ABOLITION (World premiere), about a man burdened with a single task that will ultimately decide the worlds’ fate.
Evan Kelly’s brilliant THE CORRIDOR (Quebec premiere) plays like a character-driven TWILIGHT ZONE episode by way of Larry Fessenden, a science-fiction nightmare that shrewdly explores the horrors of group dynamics and machismo taken to distorted extremes. Call it an hallucinatory THE BIG CHILL with mass murder.
Panos Cosmatos’s hypnotic fever dream BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW (Quebec premiere) blew more than a few lids at Tribeca and could be likened to CRIMES OF THE FUTURE-era Cronenberg.
Previously announced titles include the 7-filmmaker, 4-country anthology film THE THEATRE BIZARRE (World premiere), Jesse T. Cook’s MONSTER BRAWL (World premiere) and Shunji Iwai’s English language debut, VAMPIRE (Canadian premiere).
Germany bring us Baran bo Odar’s chilling THE SILENCE (Quebec premiere), a film about the killings of children whose chronology travels back and forth in time to dissect a police investigation, the struggle of a family that has lost a child and the events that led to a murder, to create an elegant mix of crime story, film noir and drama.
Previously announced titles include Andy Fetscher’s URBAN EXPLORER (North American premiere).
Italy carves the clock back with Raffaele Picchio’s MORITURIS (International premiere) which sees centuries-old Roman gladiators rising from the grave to bash the hell out of a pack of unfortunates. Features show-stopping splatter FX by Sergio Stivaletti (OPERA, DEMONS, DELLAMORTE DALLAMORE…)!
Spain brings gold Miguel Angel Vivas’s utterly terrifying KIDNAPPED (Canadian premiere) is a harrowing home invasion thriller captured in just a dozen prolonged shots, throwing the viewer face-first into the panic and hysteria of a horrific ordeal. It won for Best Horror Feature at Fantastic fest.
From the UK, we have the Canadian premiere of the psychosexual anthology film that shocked SXSW, LITTLE DEATHS, featuring segments directed by Simon Rumley (RED, WHITE & BLUE), Andrew Parkinson (DEAD CREATURES) and Sean Hogan (LIE STILL).
Jonathan English’s IRONCLAD (Canadian premiere) is a gritty , savage medieval action epic with a cast that includes Paul Giamatti, James Purefoy and the great Brian Cox.
Previously announced titles include Robin hardy’s THE WICKER TREE (World premiere), Carl Tibbetts’s RETREAT (World Premiere), Julian Gilbey’s A LONELY PLACE TO DIE (Canadian premiere), John Landis’s BURKE & HARE (Canadian premiere) and Joe Cornish’s ATTACK THE BLOCK (Quebec premiere).
The USA brings us ample loads of ingenuity and excitement: Jed Stahm’s paralyzing KNIFEPOINT (World premiere) is a ferocious home invasion nightmare about a remorseless pack of killers laying siege to the inhabitants of an upscale condo complex. Its levels of intensity may very well be too much for some.
Trent Haaga’s off-the-hook CHOP (Canadian premiere) sees the DEADGIRL screenwriter jumping into the director’s chair to deliver an outrageous comedy/horror film about a poor sap stalked by a mysterious figure out to punish him for an uncertain (to everyone!) crime. It was an audience favourite at the Boston Underground Film Festival.
Music video genius and TORGUE director Joseph Kahn’s charming mile-a-minute teen slasher/comedy/time travel blitzkrieg DETENTION (International premiere) lands someplace between John Carpenter and John Hughes on tons of speed and stars Shanley Caswell and Dane Cook.
Scott Leberecht’s haunting MIDNIGHT SON (Canadian premiere) is a beautifully scripted and staged existential take on vampirism that drained considerable blood when it launched at Cinequest a few months back. Taking a distinctly more physical and Grand Guignol approach to vampirism is Jim Mickle’s throttling STAKELAND (Quebec premiere), which sees the brilliant MULBERRY STREET director amped up with a full-on spectacle film that will please anyone with or without a pulse.
Lucky McKee’s THE WOMAN (Quebec premiere) reteams the award-winning outlaw filmmaker with his MAY star Angela Bettis in this startling Jack Ketchum-scripted exploration of misogyny and patriarchal corruption that shocked Sundance to its core.
Jack Perez’s John Landis-produced SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE (Canadian premiere) is a disarmingly touching comedy/horror film about an alienated man on a vengeful killing spree bonding with a nerdy teen daughter he never knew he had. Its phenomenal cast is headlined by Kevin Corrigan, Barry Bostwick, Karen Black, Lucy Davis and Leo Fitzpatrick. H
Previously announced titles include Chris Sivertson’s BRAWLER (World premiere), William Eubank’s LOVE (International premiere), Kevin Smith’s RED STATE (Canadian premiere), Mike Flanagan’s ABSENTIA (Canadian premiere), and Sean Branney’s THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS (Canadian premiere).
Other previously announced international titles include Israel’s RABIES (Canadian premiere), directed by Navot Papushado & Aharon KeshalesNew Zealand’s THE DEVIL’S ROCK (North American premiere), directed by Paul Campion, and, from the Netherlands, Dick Mass’s SAINT (Canadian premiere).