The 20th Fantasia International Film Festival is currently heading into its second week and there’s still another week and half to go, until it closes the curtains on August 3. Fantasia’s the longest festival in the world – it feels like a marathon every year trying to cover every awesome selection that screens up there in Montreal. We’ve already delivered several reviews of the fest’s horror fare, but there’s still SO much to come.
Now’s a good a time as any to take a look at Fantasia’s choice horror selections so far and peer into the future at what Mitch Davis and his crew of mad programmers have in store for the rest of the fest.
The Master Cleanse
I adored this honest body horror comedy from Bobby Miller. Starring Johnny Galecki as a broken man trying to take his life back through an unconventional process of spiritual purification, The Master Cleanse delivers great emotional punches, humor, and some of the cutest animatronic creatures put to film since Gizmo did his Rambo impression. What begins as a fairly light comedy gets seriously deep and dark as it looks at personal demons and what (literally) carrying them around can do to the soul. (read our review)
This Indian serial killer thriller from co-writer/director Anurag Kashyap packs a helluva visceral whallop. It attacks the senses with its pounding music, kinetic photography, and deeply evil lead performance from Nawazuddin Siddiqui. This dude seriously gives one of the most insidious performances I’ve seen in a dog’s year. Siddiqui plays the titular psycho, who finds his “soul mate” in the crooked ass cop who’s hunting him down. Alongside the sensory tornado of suspense and violence is a smart look at Indian social structure and the animals it creates. (read our review)
The Love Witch
This one is really something special. Cult director/writer/production designer/editor/costume designer/composer/etc. Anna Biller crafts a gorgeous ode to the erotic horror films of the ‘60s and ‘70s, driven by the hypnotic lead performance of Samantha Robinson, who just melts every frame. The story of a love-hungry witch wreaking unintentional havoc on the men of a small town, The Love Witch is a hilarious, stunningly fashioned Technicolor satire/homage that simultaneously pangs the funny bone and the nether-regions in equal doses. (read our review)
I knew nothing about this one going in and holy smokes it was like a curve ball to the gut. The debut feature of special effects maestro Geoff Redknap, The Unseen is an unconventional Invisible Man story about a father trying to do one last good thing before he disappears completely. Rectify’s Aden Young gives an perfectly understated lead performance through the physical agony of vanishing both literally and hypothetically as a father. Turning invisible is a concept of pure fantasy, but Redknap grounds the story in such rural reality that Young’s plight is entirely believable. It’s a really powerful, special film. (read our review)
Bed of the Dead
A movie about a bed that kills people. Surprisingly, it’s been done before (1977’s Death Bed: The Bed That Eats), but Jeff Maher’s film takes an entirely different route. And I mean, c’mon, it’s about a bed that kills if you try to get off of it. How wicked is that? Maher delivers on the concept up to a point, but also cuts away from the sentient mattress horror for a police procedural – jumping back and forth through time. I say Bravo to him and the Black Fawn Productions team (Bite, Antisocial) for thinking up a rad concept, then expanding it. This one’s sure to be a midnight movie cult hit. Also, it features a monster that’s so scary in its simplicity. (read our review)
Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex
An engaging documentary about the special makeup artists who created the things that go bump in the night. Featuring a roll call of legends the likes of Steve Johnson, Phil Tippett, Rick Baker, Alec Gillis, and more, Creature Designers tracks the history of the art form – from Harryhausen’s groundbreaking stop motion animation to the CGI revolution – all from the mouths of the men who made it happen. While it doesn’t cover any new ground, this doc is an absolute treat for horror fans. (read our review)
This is a tall order, to pick the horror films Fantasia has coming up the next 14 or so days that I’m most excited about. Every year, it’s the international/Canadian ones that jazz me up the most, but there are so many juicy ones they’re screening from the States. Anyways, here goes and expect lots more reviews coming out of Fantasia!
Australia has been crushing it lately in the horror department. This year, Red Christmas is making its international premiere at Fantasia. This Aussie slasher stars genre legend Dee Wallace (man, just look her up) and has a concept so ridiculous it hooks from the get-go: on Christmas morning, an aborted, half-dead fetus returns to find his mother after being raised by religious zealots for 20 years. Swallow that for a minute. Red Christmas is the only Australian feature playing at this year’s fest, but there’s a slew of horror shorts in the mix, including The Man Who Caught a Mermaid and Overtime.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s films are creepy as hell – see: Loft, Pulse, Cure. For his new film, Kurosawa just straight up titled it Creepy. It’s about a retired detective turned criminal psychologist who believes his new neighbor is a serial killer. Is he just a paranoid obsessive or on to something much more dangerous?
Polish film The Lure garnered a ton of buzz out of Sundance and makes its Quebec premiere at Fantasia. It’s described as an erotic horror comedy romance disco musical about sister mermaids staying in their bi-pedal form long enough to get the “human experience.” I’m truly bummed I won’t be able to see this one on the big screen!
Let Me Make You a Martyr may not be a horror film straight down the line, but it is DARK as all hell. It’s a poetic, unusual revenge film starring Sons of Anarchy alumni, Marilyn Manson, and Boston rapper/actor Slaine. We’ve got some great coverage of this one coming soon.
Another one from India to get excited about is Miruthan, the “very first” horror film in the Tamil language. It’s a zombie film about a cop trying to survive his way through the hordes to find his sister and a cure, but being from India, expect plenty of originality and social commentary.
From the producers of When Animals Dream and Only God Forgives, Shelley is a horror film out of Denmark/Sweden about a single mother, Elena, who agrees to be a surrogate for bizarre couple who enjoys their isolation. After conception, Elena begins to realize that what she’s carrying may not be human.
French writer/director Nathan Ambrosiani’s debut film Hostile garnered great praise on the festival circuit in 2014. His follow-up, Therapy, makes its world premiere at Fantasia and it sounds like an absolute blast. It follows two detectives following five campers into a hellish nightmare in an abandoned building. This sounds like a familiar premise, but from what I’ve heard, Ambrosiani usurps expectations at every turn.
Christ, this piece could go on for a while. Check out the entire horror selection at Fantasia HERE and keep your eyes peeled for more coverage here at Bloody!