FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES THIRD WAVE OF FILMS, SPECIAL EVENTS, & MORE!

FANTASIA 2020 TO PRESENT A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD TO FILMMAKER JOHN CARPENTER, CLOSE WITH KIWI ACTION COMEDY THE LEGEND OF BARON TO’A

The Fantasia Film Festival announces today a massive new assortment of feature films for its 24th edition, along with details on scheduled panels, talks, tributes, and special events.

JOHN CARPENTER LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD AND MASTERCLASS

Fantasia attendees lovingly recall that the Kentucky-raised writer/director/musician was one of the first major international guests to attend Fantasia for the fest’s third edition in 1998, when it launched the International Premiere of VAMPIRES. In conjunction with awarding him a Fantasia Lifetime Achievement Award, the festival will also present a masterclass from Carpenter, where he’ll discuss everything from his own festival origin story to his awe-inspiring career, touching on HALLOWEEN, THE FOG, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, THE THING, STARMAN, THEY LIVE, and many more. In addition, the fest will explore his recent resurgence as a touring musician and play you his latest spine-tingling single!

A TRIBUTE TO JOSÉ MOJICA MARINS

On February 19th of this year, South American cinema lost its boldest visionary with the passing of José Mojica Marins, one of the most original and inspired voices in the history of genre film. A master of confrontational filmmaking who conquered numerous obstacles, Marins’ creations are radical lightning bolts of transgression made in defiance of Brazil’s then-dictatorship, whose collective glow will continue to influence and astonish generations to come. Fantasia had the honor of bringing Marins to the fest twice and of bestowing him with a Lifetime Achievement award. He will be greatly missed.

In recognition of Marins’ passing, Fantasia will be presenting three of his works –

AT MIDNIGHT I’LL TAKE YOUR SOUL (1964), THE STRANGE WORLD OF COFFIN JOE (1968), and THE END OF MAN (1971).

In addition, the festival will also present a live talk with Brazilian filmmaker Dennison Ramalho (THE NIGHTSHIFTER), co-screenwriter of Mojica’s acclaimed 2008 Coffin Joe comeback film, EMBODIMENT OF EVIL. He will reminisce on his own history growing up inspired by the man, as well as his relationship with his friend and collaborator. 

AN INDIGENOUS KIWI MARTIAL ARTS ACTION COMEDY CLOSES FANTASIA 2020

Fantasia’s 24th edition will slam into crescendo with the North American Premiere of NZ filmmaker Kiel McNaughton’s THE LEGEND OF BARON TO’A. Uli Latukefu (of Taika Waititi’s upcoming NEXT GOAL WINS) gives a charismatic turn in the leading role, supported by a talented Polynesian cast including THE MATRIX RELOADED’s Nathaniel Lees and ATTACK OF THE CLONES’ Jay Laga’aia. The film delivers comedy and pathos in a seamless blend of English and Tongan. While the hard-hitting fight choreography draws inspiration from pro wrestling and martial arts movies, it’s firmly grounded in its suburban setting, resulting in setpieces that celebrate the Pacific Island experience just as much as the script does. North American Premiere.

HUNTED TAKES SURVIVAL ACTION TO ITS MOST HUMAN PLACE 

Once upon a frenzied time, man meets woman. Man kisses woman. Woman escapes man. Man chases woman. This oft-recycled revenge plot takes an unexpected turn in HUNTED – a bold story where codes are bent and reborn. The psychotic Big Bad Wolf, embodiment of patriarchy, and his dummy sidekick engage in a wild hunt within mother nature’s protective maze of trees; meanwhile, our tale’s Red Riding Hood’s awaits with killer moves – and won’t surrender so easily. Vincent Paronnaud (acclaimed comic book creator and co-director of the Academy Award-nominated PERSEPOLIS) brings us a thrilling, humanist tale that’s as animalistic as it is mystifying. World Premiere.

THE INCREDIBLE JOHNNIE TO MAKE OUR DREAM COME TRUE

When Tiger (Jacky Heung, of PUSH and FEARLESS) and Cuckoo (Keru Wang, YOUTH) meet, it’s a match made in heaven. Both involved with moneylenders, one is an over-enthusiastic rising star in the MMA world; the other a resourceful, aspiring singer on-the-run who will stop at nothing for a spot on ‘Perfect Diva’! Following THREE (Fantasia 2016), master filmmaker Johnnie To is back with CHASING DREAM: an unexpected blend of mixed-martial-arts drama and high-stakes musical comedy, taking the viewers back to the madcap energy of his mid-2000s collaborations with Wai Ka-Fai and the themes of his sports-and-destiny masterpiece THROW DOWN. Canadian Premiere.

JORGE MICHEL GRAU RETURNS WITH THE BREATHLESS, STYLISH PERDIDA

A decade after his cannibalistic modern classic WE ARE WHAT WE ARE, Mexican filmmaker Jorge Michel Grau returns to Fantasia with PERDIDA. Starring José María de Tavira, Paulina Dávila, and Cristina Rodlo, Grau enters into the realm of Hitchcock and De Palma to deliver one of the best, most sustained thrillers of recent times. A remake of Andrés Baiz’s acclaimed 2011 feature THE HIDDEN FACE, Grau superbly creates suspense through contemporary architecture and a love triangle that consistently surprises. International Premiere.

PLACE YOUR BETS ON ROM

Fourteen-year-old Rom (Tran Anh Khoa) is a runner. That is, he runs lottery numbers for the indebted inhabitants of a dilapidated tenement – a network of interconnected homes soon to be demolished by greedy developers. The bookie climbs and zips through its many alleys; down streets, up balconies, staircases, and across other unstable contraptions – in order to be the first to give his clients’ numbers to the teller. Tran Thanh Huy’s ROM, winner of the New Currents Award at the 2020 Busan Film Festival, is an electrifying debut: a jolt of a film, shot with great, street-savvy energy and constant forward momentum. North American Premiere.

LIFE TAKES YOU FOR A RIDE WITH MARYGOROUND

Nearly fifty and hitting menopause, Mary (Grazyna Misiorowska) makes the decision to begin hormone therapy to ease the transition. Meanwhile, the sudden arrival of her niece coincides with an awakening – one of burgeoning sexuality, bravery, and curiosity. Maybe it’s the hormones… or maybe it’s something far more mystical and powerful. Prepare for MARYGOROUND, a beautiful, unsettling, and touching dark comedy about the importance of finding yourself at any age, brought to life through Polish director Daria Woszek’s sensitive and original worldview, and originally slated to world premiere at SXSW. International Premiere.

BEING A GEEK IS NOTHING TO HIDE, EVEN THOUGH LOVE IS HARD FOR OTAKU 

Narumi is starting a new job and doing everything she can to hide the fact she is an otaku, but one of her new colleagues is a childhood friend who knows all about her passion for manga and anime. Thanks to the superb chemistry between Mitsuki Takahata (ALMOST A MIRACLE) and Kento Yamazaki (KINGDOM), the unique creativity of writer/director Yuichi Fukuda (HK: FORBIDDEN SUPERHERO), and musical numbers going from J-pop to jazz, WOTAKOI: LOVE IS HARD FOR OTAKU is the perfect immersion into the fascinating world of otaku culture. North American Premiere.

PREPARE FOR A FISHY KAIJU ATTACK WITH MONSTER SEAFOOD WARS

When a disgraced scientist who now works at his dad’s sushi shop gets into a minor bicycle accident, he ends up creating a huge-but-delicious problem that can only be described as MONSTER SEAFOOD WARS! Before you can say “colossal calamari”, a squid, an octopus, and a crab – each as big as buildings – are wreaking massive kaiju havoc all over Tokyo! Beloved director Minoru Kawasaki (THE CALAMARI WRESTLER, EXECUTIVE KOALA) employs incredible oldschool techniques in this hilarious and heartfelt monster film, and brings back a disappearing genre in Japanese cinema known as “kigurumi tokusatsu”, or, as we know them, sci-fi movies featuring actors in rubber giant monster costumes! International Premiere.

WILDLAND ASKS WHAT YOU’RE WILLING TO SACRIFICE FOR FLESH AND BLOOD

After her mother’s abrupt death, Ida is taken in by an estranged aunt and her three sons. She soon discovers that her new family are local mafioso and things suddenly go south when a violent murder challenges the family’s loyalty to each other. WILDLAND, Danish director Jeanette Nordahl’s stunning debut feature – which was an official selection at this year’s Berlinale – is a rite of passage tale, delicate and highly adroit, from the perspective of a lost girl facing arduous and fundamental questions. North American Premiere.

IT’LL TAKE MUSCLES TO FOLD THESE PAPER TIGERS!

Three childhood Kung Fu prodigies have grown into washed-up, middle-aged men one kick away from pulling their hamstrings. But when their master is murdered, they must juggle their dead-end jobs and dad duties to overcome old grudges and avenge his death.

Writer/director Bao Tran has made not just another martial arts movie, but a film that’s about martial arts: its philosophies and the lessons it continues to teach you into old age. Anchored by immensely likeable performances from its cast, THE PAPER TIGERS delivers all the quality ass-kicking you want out of a good martial arts film, while also impacting much more: a story about the importance of friendship and staying true to your heart, which is what makes THE PAPER TIGERS so special. World Premiere.

CONSEQUENCES ARE HIGH WHEN A MAN’S SON IS LEGALLY DECLARED DEAD

An insurance agent suspects his client (Anthony Wong, of UNTOLD STORY and INFERNAL AFFAIRS) may have murdered his own son to collect the insurance money. As he investigates the suspicious death, he begins to be met with threats on all sides. Director Yuen Kim-Wai elevates a thrilling story by expertly balancing a touchy subject with suspense and nuanced characters. Based on the famous Japanese novel BLACK HOUSE, the striking, exciting LEGALLY DECLARED DEAD recently launched in Hong Kong and Taiwan. North American Premiere.

ELDERLY SATANISTS WILL DO PRACTICALLY ANYTHING FOR JACKSON

Canadian genre royalty Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings star in Ontario filmmaker Justin G. Dyck’s ANYTHING FOR JACKSON, a clever, funny, and delightfully mean-spirited horror tale of elderly Satanists carried way over their heads in the name of love. Keith Cooper’s screenplay constantly surprises, by turning funny, nasty, and progressively more intense as it moves along, but it’s the pairing of McCarthy and Richings that makes JACKSON so special. World Premiere.

THIS MOM-TO-BE DEFINITELY HAS NO IDEA WHAT’S IN STORE FOR HER!

Award-winning Hong Kong screenwriter and director Luk Yee-Sum returns to Fantasia with the expectant comedy, BABY: THE SECRET DIARY OF A MOM TO BE, the perfect follow-up to her coming of age debut LAZY HAZY CRAZY (Fantasia 2016). As far as Carmen (Dada Chan, VULGARIA) is concerned, she has it all: a handsome basketball-star husband, a great job with an exciting promotion in reach, and a group of lifelong friends that are closer than family. But she’s about to get one thing she didn’t plan for – a baby on the way. Having previously screened at Tokyo International Film Festival and Hong Kong Asian Film Festival, this charming dramedy draws back the curtain on the ups and downs of when you’re unexpectedly expecting. Canadian Premiere.

WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN TO LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY?

Two years after the German reunification, a pair of out-of-town detectives begin to uncover the dark secrets of a lawless backwoods area. ANTIBODIES director Christian Alvart’s tense remake of Alberto Rodriguez’s Goya-sweeping Spanish thriller MARSHLAND (winner of a 2015 Fantasia Audience Award), FREE COUNTRY is as exciting and socially conscious as its predecessor, both films showcasing this crime story as a fascinating backdrop of post-fascist societies. Canadian Premiere.

IN THESE PHOTOGRAPHS, BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Solitary photographer Kai (Hideki Nagai) is afraid of women, but it doesn’t keep him from shamelessly retouching their photographs when asked. On a trek through the forest, he encounters a model, Kyoko (Itsuki Otaki), who soon asks him to retouch hers. As their relationship grows, Kai feels a rare pang of responsibility, motivated for the first time to challenge his vindictive perception of women. Takeshi Kushida’s WOMAN OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS is a mysterious and captivating debut, throwing the viewer into an uncertain world of obsession and forgery; a potent examination of image-making and alienation in our contemporary age. Quebec Premiere.

POLICE TRAINING GOES AWRY IN SUBVERSIVE 80S HOMAGE SURVIVAL SKILLS

Writer/director Quinn Armstrong’s feature debut SURVIVAL SKILLS, expanded from his 2017 short, is simultaneously a throwback to a bygone age and very much a film for the current moment. Designed like an 80s police-training video, Armstrong builds up a wholesome and comedic world replete with bubbling Americana and educational-film naivete before shattering it with the grim reality of domestic violence. Starring Vayu O’Donnell and Stacy Keach, the film casts a bleakly satirical light on the disasters that can occur when simplistic training, complex ethics, and the dark side of human nature collide. International Premiere.

IT’S EXTREMELY DANGEROUS FOR A SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD

When Lee’s teenage daughter accidentally kills a classmate who is blackmailing her, she, unfortunately, discovers that the deceased’s mother happens to be a merciless cop (legendary actress Joan Chen of Twin Peaks and THE LAST EMPEROR). Lee, armed with an arsenal of film knowledge and wits, devises the ultimate alibi, ready for every counter-move that awaits his family. SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD is a relentless cat-and-mouse thriller with just the right dose of dark humor, emotional nuance, and tension from first-time director Sam Quah. Released to such an avalanche of positive press, the film overtook STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER in China’s box office! Quebec Premiere.

A CRIMINAL, A DETECTIVE, AND A TALKING PARROT ARE NEEDED TO SOLVE A THRILLING CRIME PUZZLE IN A WITNESS OUT OF THE BLUE!

Three months after a botched robbery, Wong, the mastermind behind it, is now a prime suspect for the murder of one of his teammates. Trying to clear his name, Wong instead falls into a complex web of betrayal and collateral damage, while a detective scrambles to piece together the puzzle with the help of a talking parrot. A WITNESS OUT OF THE BLUE is a riveting thriller from director Fung Chih-Chiang, who previously collaborated with Stephen Chow (SHAOLIN SOCCER) and Johnny To (SPARROW), and has screened at Bucheon Film Festival and Rotterdam Film Festival. Canadian PremiereDOCUMENTARIES FROM THE EDGE UNVEILS SEVEN NEW TITLES

Fantasia’s section dedicated to unconventional non-fiction storytelling just keeps expanding, with seven amazing new documentaries that are sure to impress.

A “LYNCHIAN PRE-APOCALYPTIC URBEX DOCUMENTARY”, FROM HAUNTED DRIVE-INS TO UNDERGROUND MUSIC

Conceived by their parents in the back seat of a Chevy at the local drive-in, bottle-fed with images of exploitation cinema, monsters, and fears, they are now fighting against social norms and a “life of feudalistic servitude”. TEXAS TRIP – A CARNIVAL OF GHOSTS, directorial duo Maxime Lachaud and Steve Balestreri’s beguiling debut feature documentary, is a portrait of Attic Ted, Virginia Black, Mother Fakhir, and more – artists making strange sounds, experimenting to the extreme with abstract ideas through the materiality of their own flesh. World Premiere.

YOU CANNOT KILL DAVID ARQUETTE – ONLY HE CAN DO THAT

Branded as the most hated man in wrestling after winning a highly controversial WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 2000, actor David Arquette attempts a rocky return to the sport that stalled his promising Hollywood career in YOU CANNOT KILL DAVID ARQUETTE. An unexpectedly emotional and heartfelt documentary directed by David Darg and Price James, this is a truly outrageous portrait of a dangerously determined former A-lister. Canadian Premiere.

EVIL DEAD FANS GET GROOVY IN HAIL TO THE DEADITES

Few horror franchises have inspired as devoted a cult following as the 1981 classic THE EVIL DEAD, and HAIL TO THE DEADITES offers a deep-dive into the fan culture that has spawned around it. Through interviews with the cast, crew, collectors, fans, freaks, and geeks, this special doc illuminates the darkest reaches of the EVIL DEAD franchise’s undying and still-growing popularity. A pop culture icon that has given birth to a TV series, comic books, figurines, and surpassed even its creator’s wildest dreams, EVIL DEAD now inspires this stellar new doc from Steve Villeneuve, director of UNDER THE SCARS and founder of the Requiem Fear Fest. World Premiere.

MORGANA I’D LOVE TO FILM – [MILF – ACRONYM. /mɪlf/]

After twenty years locked in a sexless existence, housewife Morgana frees herself and learns to spread her… wings. Following the ups and downs (and upside-downs) of homemaker-turned-porn filmmaker Morgana Muses, directorial duo Isabel Peppard and Josie Hess take us on the ride of a lifetime. MORGANA is a license to live judgment-free, an open letter to all invisible and emotionally-secluded women who have been forced into a miserable life of heteronormative submission. Get ready for an inspiring, sex-positive documentary for anyone in need of an orgasmic awakening. North American Premiere. 

BEHOLD THE AMAZING, INSPIRING ART OF IVAN, THE TERRIRBLE

Relatively unknown outside Brazil, Ivan Cardoso (NOSFERATU IN BRAZIL, THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY) is one of the country’s most significant genre filmmakers. Throughout his decades-spanning career, Cardoso has blended radical aesthetics with lowbrow ambitions and pioneered a style of filmmaking called Terrir (a play on the word terror, and the Portuguese word for “to laugh”). Intercut with animation, interviews, and clips, Mario Abbade’s IVAN, THE TERRIRBLE is a crash course on Brazil’s best-kept genre secret and a fun homage for his biggest fans. While the country’s cinematic past and present are under threat with President Bolsonaro in power, this film emerges during a moment of national reflection on the importance of art and liberty under political oppression. World Premiere.

FEELS GOOD, MAN FEELS PRETTY POWERFUL, MAN

A Sundance 2020 Special Jury Award Winner and standout of this year’s Berlinale, Arthur Jones’ FEELS GOOD, MAN is a playful and poignant documentary about illustrator Matt Furie’s infamous-but-once-innocent Pepe the Frog character. In Jones’ hands, the story of a frog takes us on a journey through the birth of meme culture, from the MySpace and 4chan era, to Trump’s explosive election year, where Pepe has found his present fate as a reluctant rallying symbol of the alt-right. Quebec Premiere.

THAT’S A WRAP ON CLAPBOARD JUNGLE

CLAPBOARD JUNGLE is an emotional and introspective journey following five years in the life of Canadian independent filmmaker Justin McConnell (LIFECHANGER), which poses one central question: How does an indie filmmaker survive in the current industry? Featuring interviews with Guillermo del Toro, Richard Stanley, Barbara Crampton, Paul Schrader, Tom Savini, George A. Romero, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Michael Biehn, Frank Henenlotter, and many more. An official selection at festivals such as FrightFest, and Night Visions. Quebec Premiere.

 ADDITIONAL THIRD WAVE TITLES

JUMBO

BRING ME HOME

South Korea – Dir: Kim Seung-woo

Six years after her son’s disappearance, Jung-yeon goes to a small fishing village to track him down. But nothing could have prepared for what she discovers upon arrival. Actress Lee Young-ae (LADY VENGEANCE) shines in writer-director Kim Seung-woo’s feature debut. Quebec Premiere.

COSMIC CANDY

Greece – Dir: Rinio Dragasaki

Anna is an eccentric supermarket cashier living alone in her parent’s roomy apartment in Athens. When the father of the 10-year-old girl next door suddenly goes missing she finds herself forced to take responsibility for the child, and take her in herself. Exploring the frivolities of youth and the difficulties of mental illness, COSMIC CANDY is a sparkling burst of optimism in the face of profound gloom. Canadian Premiere.

DINNER IN AMERICA

USA – Dir: Adam Rehmeier

This riotously hilarious, punk-as-f*ck anti-romantic comedy – that just so happens to be genuinely romantic – exists in the same universe as classics like WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE and REPO MAN. Starring Emily Skeggs, Kyle Gallner, Lea Thompson, and Pat Healy and winner of the Audience Award at the 2020 Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival. Quebec Premiere.

JUMBO

France – Dir: Zoé Wittock

Socially awkward Jeanne (PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE’s Noémie Merlant) is in love… with an amusement park ride. This beautifully strange romance is a coming-of-age “coming out” story unlike any you’ve ever seen. JUMBO questions gender and sexual identity in a truly novel way, and does it with humor, heart, and breathtaking visual flair. A compelling and wondrous instant classic of eccentric cinema. Quebec Premiere.

KAKEGURUI

Japan – Dir: Tsutomu Hanabusa

Welcome to Hyakkaoh Private Academy, where gambling determines the school’s hierarchy. But the status quo is about to be shaken up by the arrival of a new student who is ready to take on the head of the powerful student council. Based on the popular manga by Homura Kawamoto and Toru Naomura, Tsutomu Hanabusa’s KAKEGURUI (PROJECT DREAMS) is a hilarious and riveting school drama with biting social critique. Canadian Premiere.

THE MORTUARY COLLECTION

USA – Dir: Ryan Spindell

A stylish, colourful and ghoulishly fun horror anthology in the vein of ‘70s Amicus Productions, THE MORTUARY COLLECTION stars the great Clancy Brown as a sinister mortician, chronicling the strange history of his town through a series of morbid tales. Born at the 2013 Frontières market and completed last year, THE MORTUARY COLLECTION has been tearing up the festival circuit, playing everywhere from FrightFest and Fantastic Fest to Maskoon, Haapsalu, and Lund. Quebec Premiere.

NO LONGER HUMAN

Japan – Dir. Mika Ninagawa

Genius writer Osamu Dazai has become a star, despite rumors of affairs, multiple suicide attempts, and an eccentric, anti-Establishment way of life. Mika Ninagawa (HELTER SKELTER, SAKURAN) tackles the life of one of Japan’s foremost literary figures in this bold, colourful, and stylish film. Quebec Premiere.

PATRICK

Belgium – Dir: Tim Mielants

Making his feature film debut after a television career spanning the likes of PEAKY BLINDERS, THE TERROR, and LEGION, director Tim Mielants paints a down-to-earth portrait of a man struggling to deal with his feelings – and of a micro-society struggling to deal with him. Co-starring Kevin Janssens (REVENGE) and Jemaine Clement (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS) and winner of six awards on the international festival circuit, including Best Director at Karlovy Vary and Best Film at Fantastic Fest. Canadian Premiere.FANTASIA RETRO UNVEILS A TRIO OF RESTORATION PREMIERES

BUDDY GIOVINAZZO’S NO WAY HOME BREAKS HEARTS AND BONES

Fans of hard-hitting genre cinema will know Buddy Giovinazzo from his blistering backyard debut COMBAT SHOCK, released in the late 80s. His hotly anticipated but still-underground follow-up, NO WAY HOME, boasted a trio of amazing emerging talent of the era: Tim Roth, James Russo, and Deborah Kara Unger. For the first time since its criminally brief run in cinemas, it will soon be possible to see NO WAY HOME as intended, in all its ruthless glory, thanks to Severin Films and their new 4K restoration from original negatives. Restoration World Premiere.

HALF MAN, HALF JELLYFISH, ONE SERIOUSLY BONKERS STING OF DEATH

A mad marine biologist sneaks off to an underwater lab, transforms himself into a mutant half-man-half-jellyfish, and attacks college kids with his Sting of Death! Why? Because he’s in love! Maverick filmmaker Bill Grefé’s kitsch classic STING OF DEATH (1966) – a poverty row take on THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON shot deep in the Florida everglades – emerges from the watery depths of cinema history in a stunning new 2K restoration from the original 35mm negative, courtesy of the aquatic horror connoisseurs at Arrow Video. Restoration World Premiere.

ÁLEX DE LA IGLESIA’S BELOVED BEAST REBORN IN A STUNNING NEW RESTORATION

In between his cult hit debut ACCIÓN MUTANTE and proudly transgressive PERIDITA DURANGO, writer/director Álex de la Iglesia delivered DAY OF THE BEAST, which remains one of the best horror comedies of our time and turned Santiago Segura into a domestic megastar. Winner of 6 Goya Awards including Best Director – and a Fantasia audience award back in the day – now restored in 4K from the original negative by Severin Films. Restoration World Premiere.

THE WORLD OF LAURIN IS RICH WITH BEAUTIFUL TERRORS IN THIS RARE RETRO 

Robert Sigl’s 1989 feature debut horror fable LAURIN largely remained a curio outside of its native West Germany, with North American audiences having to wait until recently to experience its twisted, dreamy pleasures. The quasi-giallo won Sigl (SCHOOL’S OUT, LEXX) numerous accolades at European festivals, and offers up an entrancing mix of pre-Guillermo del Toro childhood innocence and adult horror, breathtakingly lensed by Nyika Jancsó. Fantasia is proud to present the long-overdue Canadian Premiere of this gorgeous 4K restoration. Restoration Canadian Premiere.

REDISCOVER FANTASIA CLASSICS AT HOME!

Unavailable in North America, or previously hard to find, Fantasia’s digital 2020 edition brings back a selection of beloved favorites from its past editions, under its new label, Fantasia Classics. This year’s titles featured under this moniker include Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Air Doll (2009), Yosuke Fujita’s Fukuchan of Fukufuku Flats (2014), Johnnie To’s A Hero Never Dies (1998), Hideki Takeuchi’s Fly Me to the Saitama (2019), Yuichi Fukuda’s HK: Forbidden Superhero (2014) and HK2: The Abnormal Crisis (2016), Yoshimasa Ishibashi’s Milocrorze: A Love Story (2011), and Koichiro Miki’s The Travelling Cat Chronicles (2018). Also included will be a special 15-year-anniversary screening of Wilson Yip’s SPL: Kill Zone (2005).JURIES AND COMPETITIONS

Fantasia is pleased to announce the 2020 Cheval Noir competition titles:

12 HOUR SHIFT – USA, Dir: Brea Grant

CHASING DREAM – Hong Kong, Dir: Johnnie To

COME TRUE – Canada, Dir: Anthony Scott Burns

THE CURSE OF AUDREY EARNSHAW – Canada, Dir: Thomas Lee

THE DARK AND THE WICKED – USA, Dir: Bryan Bertino

I WEIRDO – Taiwan, Dir: Liao Ming-Yi

KRIYA – India-UK, Dir: Sidharth Srinivasan

LEGALLY DECLARED DEAD – Hong Kong, Dir: Yuen Kim-Wai

MARYGOROUND – Poland, Dir: Daria Woszek

ME AND ME – South Korea, Dir: Jung Jin-young 

PROJECT DREAMS: HOW TO BUILD MAZINGER Z’S HANGAR – Japan, Dir: Tsutomu Hanabusa

SPECIAL ACTORS – Japan, Dir: Shinichiro Ueda

UNDERGODS – UK-Belgium-Estonia-Serbia-Sweden, Dir: Chino Moya

WOTAKOI: LOVE IS HARD FOR OTAKU – Japan, Dir: Yuichi Fukuda

The following talented industry professionals make up the Fantasia 2020 juries:

CHEVAL NOIR COMPETITION

Jennifer Lynch (Jury President) – USA – Director, Writer

Joko Anwar – Indonesia – Director, Writer, Producer

Mattie Do – Laos – Director, Producer

Steve Moore – USA – Composer and Musician

Jongsuk Thomas Nam – South Korea – Festival Programmer (Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival), Managing Director of the Network of Asian Fantastic Films

Karen Walton – Canada – Writer, Producer

NEW FLESH COMPETITION FOR BEST FIRST FEATURE

Darin Scott (Jury President) – USA – Director, Writer, Producer

Mette-Marie Kongsved – Denmark – Producer, Co-Founder of Nowhere

Miguel Llansó – Spain – Director, Writer, Producer

Shinji Sakoda – Japan – International Sales and Film Festival Representative

April Wolfe – USA – Director, Writer, Critic, Podcaster

INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM COMPETITION

Nosipho Dumisa (Jury President) – South Africa – Director, Writer, Co-Founder of Gambit Films

Simon Barrett – USA – Director, Writer, Actor

Pierce Conran – Ireland – Critic, Producer, Acquisitions Executive at XYZ Films

Natalie Erika James – Australia – Director, Writer

Jennifer Reeder – USA – Director, Writer

AQCC CAMERA LUCIDA COMPETITION

– Association québécoise des critiques de cinéma (Québec Critic’s Association)

Martin Gignac – Canada – Critic and Author

Marc-Antoine Lévesque – Canada – Critic

Benjamin Pelletier – Canada – Critic

AXIS: SATOSHI KON AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN ANIMATION

Marina Antunes (Jury President) – Canada – Festival Director, Film Critic, Podcaster

Han Han Li – Canada – Animator, Animation Teacher

Emily Paige – Canada – Co-founder, Creative Producer, ED Films

Chad VanGaalen – Canada – Animator, Artist, Musician

PANELS AND SPECIAL EVENTSFeaturing an artist talk with famed filmmaker Mike Flanagan, an all-star tribute to Stuart Gordon, (bad) career advice from Simon Barrett, Gary Sherman’s virtual b-day bash, and much more!

While Fantasia 2020’s films are geo-blocked to Canadian audiences, all of the festival’s panels and special events are free and accessible worldwide, allowing these unique experiences to be enjoyed by fans on every corner of the Earth!

AFROFUTURISM: VISIONS OF THE FUTURE FROM “THE OTHER” SIDE

Friday, August 21 – 5PM EDT

Presentation by Carolyn Mauricette

In this lecture, Canadian film critic Carolyn Mauricette will explore how the lack of representation of BIPOC people in science fiction changed with Afrofuturism pioneers of music, film, and literature, break down the definitions of Afrofuturism, and see how the movement has influenced today’s creators towards making a whitewashed future a thing of the past.        

RUE MORGUE MAGAZINE: PRINT’S NOT DEAD – GENRE JOURNALISM IN 2020

Sunday, Aug 23 – 4PM EDT

Join the staff of Rue Morgue, Canada’s premiere horror and culture in entertainment periodical, for a discussion on the challenges, merits, and overall state of print journalism in an increasingly digital age.

SIMON GIVES BAD CAREER ADVICE: A TALK WITH SIMON BARRETT

Monday, Aug 24 – 5PM EDT

Simon Barrett, screenwriter of THE GUEST and YOU’RE NEXT (and director of the upcoming SEANCE), unsuccessfully attempts to answer the questions he is most commonly asked about the increasingly inexplicable business of filmmaking.

Severin Film presents

NARRATIVES OF RESISTANCE IN FOLK HORROR 

Tuesday, August 25 – 3PM EDT

With panelists Kinitra Brooks (author, Searching for Sycorax: Black Women’s Hauntings of Contemporary Horror), Bernice M. Murphy (author, The Rural Gothic in American Popular Culture), Michelle Latimer (director: The Inconvenient Indian), and Mikel Koven (author, Film, Folklore, and Urban Legends); Moderated by Kier-La Janisse (director/producer, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror)

In anticipation of Severin Films’ upcoming documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror, this panel looks at folk horror from different perspectives rather than as a specifically British phenomenon. From Dybbuks to Conjure Women and Ozark Witches, join us as we investigate folk traditions as a source of empowerment for marginalized communities that have endured cultural erasure.

THE UNITED BEAT OF SEX AND ART – Reshaping Cinematic Ecstasy through the Modern Female Gaze on Sexuality

Tuesday, August 25 – 5PM EDT

With panelists Nicole Bazuin (MODERN WHORE), Josie Hess (MORGANA), Isa Mazzei (CAM), Morgana Muses (MORGANA), and Isabel Peppard (MORGANA); Moderated by pornographer/writer Stoya, co-creator of ZeroSpaces

Join us for a sex-positive conversation with women who are bringing new meaning to sex on screen, in pleasure, in work, in the mainstream, in porn, alone, with a man, with a woman, or… a ferris wheel.

SCORE SALVATIONS: THE ART OF SAVING SOUNDTRACKS

Wednesday, Aug 26 – 5PM EDT

A talk with the sonic archeologists at La-La Land Records, featuring panelists Matt Verboys, author Jeff Bond, Neil S. Bulk, Dan Goldwasser, composer Joe Kraemer, and legendary producer/mixer Mike Matessino; Moderated by Concordia Film professor Randolph Jordan

At the forefront of the movement to bring new life to lost and out-of-print soundtracks is La-La Land Records, a California-based label specializing in musical resurrection. In recent years, this label and its team of producers-cum-sonic-archeologists have obtained access to archives previously all but inaccessible. They are responsible for restoring and releasing a number of definitive and key genre scores from across the decades, from composers such as Ennio Morricone, Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman, Elmer Bernstein, Danny Elfman, Hideakira Sakurai, David Shire, Leonard Rosenman, Dimitri Tiomkin, Basil Poledouris, Jerry Goldsmith, John Carpenter, and John Williams, among many others.

Join us for a talk with some of La-La Land’s key team of holy grail rescuers to discuss the agonies and ecstasies of soundtrack preservation work. 

A MISKATONIC TRIBUTE TO STUART GORDON

Tuesday, August 27 – 5PM EDT

With panelists Bruce Abbott, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Dennis Paoli, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, and Brian Yuzna; Moderated by Graham Skipper

Stuart Gordon, who we lost earlier this year, is inextricably tied to Miskatonic. Not only by continuing the legacy of the fictional Miskatonic University in his iconoclastic Lovecraft adaptations, but by christening the very first branch of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies with a masterclass on the challenges of adapting “the unfilmable” H.P. Lovecraft for the screen. Two years later, Stuart’s Frontières project Purgatory was the very first project submission of the initiative, making him integral to the founding of not only Miskatonic, but Frontières as well. Here we bring together his closest collaborators from stage and screen to celebrate the life of this pioneering director who invigorated his community and never ceased to surprise and inspire.

GARY SHERMAN’S VIRTUAL BIRTHDAY BASH

Friday, Aug 28 – 5PM EDT

We love Gary Sherman. You surely do too. A trailblazing US filmmaker and longtime member of the Fantasia family, we can’t imagine what the genre would look like without the inspiration he’s brought to it through such singular classics as DEATH LINE, VICE SQUAD and DEAD & BURIED, to name a few, not to mention the influence he’s had on so many careers. On Friday, August 28, Gary’s turning 75 and we’re going to toast with him, alongside an assortment of special guests that will include John McNaughton, Jeremy Dyson, C. Robert Cargill, William Lustig, Kier-la Janisse, Steven Poster, Jovanka Vuckovic, Joe Renzetti, and others to celebrate his life and career. You’ll be able to ask questions and give him birthday wishes as well. Join us… and mind the doors!

THE NEW YORK STATE OF HORROR

Saturday, August 29 – 3PM EDT

Presentation by author/filmmaker Michael Gingold

New York City has long been a stalking ground for cinematic creatures big and small, slashers and spectres, devils, and deviants. Author/filmmaker Michael Gingold (AD NAUSEAM) takes you on a tour through the city’s history in horror films, from expensive studio fare to down-and-dirty independents, spotlighting resident auteurs such as Larry Fessenden, William Lustig, Abel Ferrara, Larry Cohen, and Frank Henenlotter, and how the many sides of the city were explored and exploited by filmmakers.

TORN FROM THE PAGE, BLED INTO LIGHT: Mike Flanagan on Literary Adaptations and Personal Horror Creation – A Live Post Mortem Event

Sunday, August 30 – 3PM EDT

A conversation between filmmakers Mike Flanagan and Mick Garris

Writer/Director Mike Flanagan ranks among today’s most exciting genre talents, with directorial credits that include DOCTOR SLEEP, GERALD’S GAME, BEFORE I WAKE, OCULUS, HUSH, ABSENTIA, and Netflix’s The House on Haunted Hill all in less than a decade.

He’s also one of the rare filmmakers able to effectively tackle complex literary works and adapt them to the screen in ways that not only do justice to the original material, but bring heartfelt new dimensions into play. How many filmmakers can say that they’ve successfully adapted works from both Stephen King and Shirley Jackson? The answer, of course, is one.

Join Fantasia for a special artist talk that will see Mike Flanagan in conversation with filmmaker and Post Mortem founder Mick Garris, himself no stranger to adapting Maine’s favourite son, having directed THE STAND, BAG OF BONES, RIDING THE BULLET, DESPERATION, SLEEPWALKERS and the 1997 TV mini-series version of THE SHINING. Both filmmakers have been to Fantasia multiple times, but the festival has never had the ability to feature them together. Until now.

Film Fatales presents

GENRE FILM AS POLITICAL AND SOCIAL COMMENTARY

Sunday, August 30, 5PM EDT

Featuring panelists Gigi Saul Guerrero, Elza Kephart, Natasha Kermani, Amelia Moses, and more

As the voices behind the camera become increasingly diverse, genre cinema continues to grow, evolve, and reinvent itself to better serve these stories, Film Fatales invites a distinguished group of women directors to discuss the power of genre cinema as a tool for social and political commentary.

BOUTIQUE VIDEO LABELS AND FILM FESTIVAL COMMUNITIES IN PANDEMIC TIMES

Monday, August 31, 5PM EDT

With panelists Donato Totaro, Peter Rist and Randolph Jordan (Concordia Film Faculty), Lee Paula Springer and Chris Bavota (directors, Dead Dicks), and Louise Buckler and Mike Hewitt (Arrow Video)

Concordia film faculty converse with Fantasia-favourite filmmakers and video label representatives about maintaining cinephile communities during pandemic times

APPRENTICESHIP OF EVIL: DENNISON RAMALHO ON JOSÉ MOJICA MARINS

Wednesday, Sept 2, 5PM EDT

Presentation by Dennison Ramalho

This year South American cinema lost one of its boldest visionaries with the passing of José Mojica Marins. As part of our tribute to the departed artist, award-winning Brazilian filmmaker Dennison Ramalho, long-time friend and protégé of Marins, will give a profound live talk. He will reminisce on his own history, of growing up inspired by the great man’s work, and the evolution that came with the two meeting and developing both a friendship and creative relationship with the legendary director that endured through the years. The talk will close with a question period open to the virtual audience.

As the history and future of Brazil’s cinema is currently under threat in unconscionable ways, we feel it especially urgent to present a talk of this nature, both out of love for Mojica and in solidarity with Brazilian artists and the hardships they currently face.

Fantasia is also proud to be screening over 200 shorts in its 2020 line-up, including the directorial debut of Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things, IT).
For more information, visit www.fantasiafestival.com

‘KRIYA’ heads Fantasia Festival 2020- See the poster and watch the Trailer here now!

Courtesy of Fantasia

From writer/director Sidharth Srinivasan of Reel Illusion Films (Soul of Sand)– KRIYA is a genre-driven arthouse film, which sets out to subvert Hindu ritual tradition, exposing its debasement of women. It is the nightmare odyssey of a young DJ named Neel (Nobel Luke) who is picked up one fateful night by the beautiful, free-spirited Sitara (Navjot Randhawa), only to be thrust into a hallucinatory world of magic and transgression surrounding the imminent death of her father.

In India, patriarchal custom dictates that a male offspring perform a parent’s last rites. However, in the absence of any male relative, Sitara desperately seduces Neel to step in and do the needful, when her father eventually passes away during the course of the night. Neel’s initial reluctance to officiate the ritual relents, giving way to an urgent desire to save Sitara and her kid sister Sara from the ancestral curse that afflicts their family. But there seem to be darker forces at work, conspiring to implicate Neel in the ultimate downfall of Sitara’s clan…

New Delhi filmmaker Sidharth Srinivasan’s first horror work (and first narrative feature in a decade, following SOUL OF SAND, an acclaimed selection at TIFF and Rotterdam), KRIYA comes at the viewer with seductive allure and a uniquely venomous bite. It’s an aesthetically beautiful film, mystically atmospheric and imbued with a creeping unease that casts an uncommon spell.

“As an independent filmmaker who directs from his own original material, I have always felt more comfortable being an outlier. My rather irrational desire for originality, to make films that are atypical and uncategorizable, inevitably steers me towards genre. For it is the fantastique that enables one to fearlessly open closed doors and peer behind forbidden facades, thereby revealing one’s deepest fears and anxieties” says Srinivasan on filmmaking and inspirations for KRIYA. Watch the trailer now below!

Director: Sidharth Srinivasan
Story & Screenplay: Sidharth Srinivasan
Producers: Sidharth Srinivasan, B. S. Narayanaswamy (COURT, WART, SIDDHESHWARI,
FIRAAQ etc.), Tejash Shah (HEADHUNTER etc.)

Indonesia’s new top tier Shudder Original has serious skin in the horror game: A review of ‘Impetigore’ (Spoiler Free!)

IMDB

Impetigore is a visual suspenseful, supernatural feast combining old-world lore and high quality body horror. The film by Indonesian horror icon Joko Anwar (Satan’s Slaves), follows Maya (Tara Basro ) as she travels back to her small village with her best friend Dini (Marissa Anita) in the hopes of acquiring family property to help with the financial struggle of living a big city lifestyle. What she doesn’t know, is what darkness lies in the shadows of a village shrouded in a curse of loss, revenge, and desperation.

Anwar’s films have themes of fertility and pregnancy, and Impetigore is no exception! There is a certain type of wild joy, mystery, and fear a Mother feels during pregnancy- and a protective instinct to sacrifice anything for the safety of her child. This film captures all of these complex emotions and personifies them in clean white linens spiked with drops of blood, the sound of children laughing in the deepest parts of a dark forest, and a house with cracks in its walls that carry secrets and betrayal. Are ghosts formed from us? Is a curse something ancient that’s always been there or is it created from the sinister parts of humankind? You know how humans shed layers of dead skin cells? What if the cost of growing YOUR skin, meant the death of someone else…? ANYWAY- what I’m saying is Impetigore is a well oiled philosophical machine of nightmare fuel!

IMDB

To sum things up, this Indonesian treat is a masterclass in grisly suspense- relying on visceral tension and genuinely unsettling imagery instead of jump scares or CGI. Do not sleep on this film- there is a reason why Anwar is considered a genre legend. Impetigore drops July 23rd on Shudder. Hang around and check out the trailer below!

IMDB

The Beach House: An Atmospheric Anxiety-inducing AirBNB! (Spoiler Free)

www.exilepr.com

In the time of COVID-19, admit it- you have spent copious hours planning your vacation for when it’s safe to travel again. At 2:36AM Airbnb is my pornography of choice. I find myself lustfully lost looking at quaint cabins in cool, dark, forests fit for a cottage-core queen… or perhaps a penthouse downtown in a bustling city where I have to pay $38 for one watered down drink (It’s probably called The Rona, and it is a warm beer with a splash of Fireball in it- but quarantine is over, who cares!!!). My favorite dream vacation lands me by the ocean. Typically in these dreams (manifestations) I am with a Timothée Chalamet look-a-like, warm sand between my toes, and sea breeze salts the air of the sleepy town where I booked my vacation. I got this cute little beach bungalow that’s been decorated perfectly by Bobby Berk, and suddenly I also know how to cook and how to drink the correct amount of White Claw and Vodka as to not violently vomit the next day. A perfect Beach House fantasy. The Beach House directed by Jeffrey A. Brown is nothing like my fantasy, but it IS a perfect atmospheric, anxiety inducing, perfect for the summer film.

The Beach House begins like every sweet romantic-getaway flick, collegiate sweethearts Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) are off to their parents beach house for the summer. Liberato and Gros carry this film exquisitely, they have chemistry and a sincerity that heightens throughout the film. Upon reaching their summer destination they meet their parents’ family friends Mitch (Jake Weber) and Jane (Maryann Nagel)- and the four settle in for some wine, good food, and an edible?? What follows is a slow but beautiful descent into confusion and chaos, with scientific and geological undertones thrown in for good measure!

http://www.exilepr.com

It is relevant to note that The Beach House is helmed by the same team as Take Shelter and The Signal. If you are like me- the paranormal and science are very much interchangeable. When you tell me there are hundreds of bio-luminescent creatures in the ocean or that a bacteria infection can cause the brain to hallucinate giant spiders in the grocery store- these concepts VS being haunted by a deadly VHS tape feel EQUALLY terrifying. The Beach House expertly utilizes the unknown aspects of biology along with psychedelic interference to create an atmosphere where the viewer is truly unsure what is reality and what is a fever dream. The film has a small cast, just two main and two supporting characters- which is a testament to the powerhouse talent of the actors. You won’t get CGI monsters, this isn’t a found footage flick, and there is no hardcore gore or torture in The Beach House. What you will get watching, is a very real visceral and unnerving response that will sit with you after the credits roll. My recommendation? Don’t watch the trailer. When The Beach House drops on Shudder on July 9th, wait till sunset, pour yourself a beach cocktail, sit outside and feel the summer sticky air while nature goes dark around you- hold tight, and press play.

Official Shudder Trailer

Director/writer: Jeffrey A. Brown

Producers: Andrew Corkin, Tyler Davidson and Sophia Lin

Music by: Roly Porter

Starring: Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, Jake Weber and Maryann Nagel

Available on Shudder beginning July 9th, 2020.

A romantic getaway turns into a struggle for survival when unexpected guests – and eventually the environment – exhibit signs of a mysterious infection

Oh, Baby: A Review of The Perished

The Horror Collective

A lot of people are scared of monsters that go bump in the blackest of night. Ask a woman what she is most afraid of , and you will probably get an answer that is less supernatural- and more day-to-day threats of violence or control. Around the world in 2020, a woman’s reproductive right to choose is still heavily contested. The word abortion is spoken in whispers, and fiercely debated by politicians. When does life begin? Who chooses? Grief, guilt, and internal conflict are the themes in Paddy Murphy’s brilliant horror commentary The Perished.

Sarah Dekker (played by the talented Courtney McKeon) is a beautiful young college student in the middle of taking classes and dealing with a breakup. After a night of partying she realizes she is pregnant and has to make one of the hardest decisions a person can make. She needs to decide if she is ready for a child- she has less than supportive parents, no place of her own, and probably a bundle of debt. She decided to have an abortion and is almost immediately shunned by her mother and thrown out of her house. Luckily she has an extremely kind and supportive friend in Davet (portrayed by powerhouse Paul Fitzgerald) who agrees to take a road trip to a parochial house turned B&B to recover and get some clarity. Unbenounced to either, the house is the site of a mass grave dedicated to deceased infants.

The Perished is filmed and set in Ireland. It wasn’t until 2018 that the country overturned its ban on abortion. Ireland is a city seeped in both traditional Catholicism and a growing progressive movement of young people. Tumultuous arguments over political policy helped to bring women’s struggles to have full bodily autonomy to the forefront of the Irish landscape. Before the ban, women were forced to travel across the border, usually to the UK, if they needed an abortion procedure or they would face criminal consequences. This meant for low income women, or women without a strong support system would often be forced to give birth. This is traumatizing for everyone involved and sometimes women would feel like they were trapped and would make terrible choices to try and regain their lives back, such as abandoning their child or worse. The most innocent beings on earth are children, however there is a valid need to discuss the trauma on a woman forced to give birth as well. While Ireland has now removed criminal consequences, societal consequences remain worldwide.

The Perished is a horror movie in every sense of the word, it has terrifying paranormal elements, intense SFX with bloody body horror, all on top of the horror that exists when someone is filled with grief and guilt. What starts off as a slow burn turns into a nightmare that works as both a high quality horror film and a necessary societal commentary. You should leave this move feeling uncomfortable. Murphy has done an excellent job of creating the perfect blend of waking and sleeping terror while asking important questions about women’s rights. This film will have audiences re-examining what it means to have bodily autonomy and the consequences of suppressing it in 2020.

THC

The Perished is produced by The Horror Collective. Watch the Trailer here:

ARE THE KIDS OK?- A Review of ‘The Lodge’

“A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.”IMBD

How sure are you, in this exact moment- that you know what is real and what is not? Now sit and examine why. What is your tether to reality? The Lodge takes its viewer on a claustrophobic, atmospheric, mind-bending, and brutally isolating ride. The Lodge is cold in every sense of the word and it is as relentless as the harsh, icy climate it’s set in.

The Lodge, directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz (Goodnight Mommy, Field Guide to Evil), centers around new fiancé Grace, played by the incredible Riley Keough, and her soon to be step-children Aiden (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHu) as they try to spend a warm Christmas together in the family cabin. Before we get too far into the film- the dedication and talent of these three actors is unparalleled. With a runtime of 108 minutes, we are with these three characters on their dark and devastatingly harrowing journeys that never let up, EVER. Riley Keough carries multiple plotlines at every given time, and the whiplash the viewer gets from one minute to the next is extremely uncomfortable- which is a testament to her absolute powerhouse of a talent. Jaeden (IT, Knives Out) and Lia (Enternals) not only hold their own, but deliver performances worthy and deserving of any award. Listen. Just give them all the awards. ALL OF THEM. I was so impressed with every actor in this film- to the point where I found myself hoping they received a solid 4 weeks of me-time and candy and happy things after filming because the way these characters handle trauma were UNPLEASANT to put it lightly.

In the first ten minutes this film tells you what it’s going to be. It warns you. There is no legevity, there is no breaks. It is a slow burn that eats away any good faith or hope that things will get better until it’s teeth gnawing on bone. The inside of this film is cold and that’s how viewers will feel. It’s disorienting the same way getting lost in a blizzard is. I’ve heard that in a heavy snowstorm it’s possible to get ice blindness- you lose all sense of direction. Because I like to scare myself with nature as well as cinema, I’ve read any account of Everest climbers I can get my hands on. There are many accounts of hikers slowly losing oxygen the higher they climb. I’ve read accounts of people calmly walking directly off cliffs, undressing due to hypothermia induced psychosis. The cold is unforgiving. The Lodge is Everest, for its characters and for its viewers.

The underlying theme that is always present right under the soft snow banks that pile on to the porch of the log cabin is trauma. Pick a trauma, it’s there. Much like Hereditary, another dizzying psychological beast- The Lodge brings in insentient objects and treats them as fully fleshed, living characters themselves. A dollhouse. A doll. The snow. The ice. The cabin itself. The other character that’s ever present is time. The Lodge is set like a linear film but behaves in a world where time doesn’t mean anything and is often misleading. When you cannot heal from trauma or you push it down, you become stuck in time. You are always sucked back into a dark place- like being trapped in a cold cabin in the middle of tundra with no heat and rising anxiety. The Lodge examines the human reaction to trauma, repressed emotion, events, and fears. Like ice in spring heading into summer, once you open a deep, emotional wound it’s hard to harden it away and once you do those feelings will overflow and melt eventually.

The Lodge is not for the faint of heart. I would say it’s the type of movie I loved, but probably won’t see again anytime soon, it’s that heavy. (And that is saying something from me, the queen of not being rattled by horror.) I would classify this movie as a psychological thriller, with slow burn raw horror aspects. Overall it’s a gorgeous, cruel, and isolating film, with one of the most talented casts and writers I’ve ever seen.

IMBD

The Lodge from Hammer Film Productions is currently in theaters. The film also stars the incredible performances of Richard Armitage and Alicia Silverstone. Watch the trailer here:

A Complicated Marriage of Comedy & Horror: A Review of ‘Fantasy Island’ (NO SPOILERS)

Sony Pictures

Going into Fantasy Island, I had zero idea what to expect, and that made the viewing experience simultaneously better and confusing! Directed by Jeff Wadlow and written by Christopher Roach and Jillian Jacobs Fantasy Island was loosely marketed as a horror version reboot of the classic 70’s Fantasy Island Show. It is not exactly what I consider horror. Like many of the most iconic Blumhouse features, Fantasy Island is a genre bending, fun, surprisingly touching, and action packed ride that is self aware and does not take itself too seriously.

Sony Pictures

On Fantasy Island, you can have your ultimate fantasy come to fruition- but as with any wish, often we imagine we want something so badly we cannot consider the possible consequences of getting what we want. In a nutshell this is the theme of the movie. Be careful what you wish for. What isn’t in any of the previews, is the intricate relationships that develop between our characters throughout the two hour adventure- nor those that become realized through what can only be described as ‘highly unlikely but specific situations’ or… fate.

Every single character in this film has a backstory and lineage as complex as that one 900,000 piece cat puzzle you decided to buy because ‘you were going to be really into puzzles in 2008.’ (Too Specific? Just me? Ok. Just me.) But really, the biggest game play in Fantasy Island is trying to guess ahead of the movie, who is related to who- and why. Often there so many major plot-twists in a matter of minutes, the viewer will absolutely get whiplash. It’s high-comedy masked with classic jump scares.

What isn’t laughable, is the sincere themes of regret and grief. Of course Fantasy Island is a game, but underlying is the relatable way each pawn will always fight an internal battle of doing what is right and doing what is desired. If you had one wish, and knew it could change the course of history of everyone around you- would you still make it? Would you bring back a loved one from the grave if it meant sealing the coffin of another? Would you make your wish frivolous? I believe any film can have a deeper take-away if you let it, and Fantasy Island is no exception. If you are looking for something serious, or something disturbingly scary- maybe this isn’t the film for you. But if you enjoy a fast paced, comedic meld of supernatural doings and a moderate dose of existential questioning all equipped with a talented and enthusiastic cast- take the 1 hour and 49 minute journey to Fantasy Island.

Sony pictures

Fantasy Island is currently in theaters and stars Lucy Hale, Ryan Hanse, Jimmy O. Yang, Maggie Q, Charlotte McKinney, Evan Evagora, Kim Coates, Michael Peña, Austin Stowell, Michael Rooker, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Portia Doubleday, and Robbie Jones.

Check out the trailer from Sony Pictures!

Bad Romance? Here’s (My) 13 Quintessential (Highly Questionable) Romantic (umm) Horror Films for Valentine’s Day!

[First off- a disclaimer! My tastes in horror almost always include gore, torture, disturbing themes that probably would upset 99% of people, and dark comedy. Every film on this list comes with parental advisory, and probably check more trigger warnings than exactly exist. If that is not your thing, that is absolutely cool- but as an ultimate FanGhoul I didn’t want anyone to jump into this list without a warning.]

Happy Valentine’s Day! If you have a sweetie to snuggle up with, or just have a quiet night in planned with your cat and a large pizza (me)- here a few recommendations for what to watch! While some of these are genuine, many are tongue and cheek- but I do own every single film on this list, and would watch them on any holiday, but these all feature some aspect of love.

Life After Beth

IMBD

Let’s start this list off with the vastly underrated dark comedy Life After Beth. Have you ever had your significant other die tragically? Have you ever tried to get over them but the guilt makes that seem impossible? Have you just wished “I wish they were here again” and then suddenly they rise out of their graves- literally- like the undead- and they want to get back together??? Haven’t we all. Starring Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, Anna Kendrick, John C. Reilley, and Molly Shannon this movie is packed with the kings and queens of comedy. Life After Beth is directed by Jeff Baena -(unrelated if you have Netflix, you’ll want to check you Horse Girl, also by Baena.)- Check our the trailer here:

The Loved Ones

IMBD

Who doesn’t love a fun, nostalgic look back at Prom? It’s a night of romance, flirting, dresses, torture, kidnapping, and a disco ball! Wait, maybe that wasn’t your experience, that’s ok- no judging here. The Loved Ones is an Australian film directed by Sean Byrne that centers around Lola (Robin McLeavy) and her crush Brent (Xavier Samuel). If you love fucked-up extreme horror involving love struck teenagers, drilling holes into peoples heads, & a very codependent Dad- this is the film for you. Grab your Valentine, dress up for the prom, and traumatize them by showing them this movie. Watch the trailer from Paramount Pictures here:

The Voices

IMBD

Listen. Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick, Gemma Arterton, Jacki Weaver– plus a talking cat and dog, and a refrigerator with happy severed heads. The severed heads talk too, obviously. This is a MANDATORY watch for horror fans, and Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to watch Ryan Reynolds fall in love. Watch the trailer here, and be aware there so much going on in this film it would be impossible to describe it without major spoilers:

Melancholia

IMBD

A wedding. A bride. Family dysfunction. The end of the earth. Melancholia is a beautifully dark film that asks the question, what would you do at the end of the world, and have you mended the relationships you care about? This is probably the one film I recommend for someone who wants an introduction to Lars Von Trier. Valentine’s Day seems like a good holiday to dive into an ultimate bittersweet, and upsetting film, right? Maybe not, but eventually you should give this a try. It’s exquisite, and it features on of Kirsten Dunst’s strongest performances of her career. Trailer:

The Human Centipede II

IMBD

The second installment in Tom Six’s iconic masterpiece series is all about being a super fan of something you LOVE- and taking it way way way too far. . Brings a whole new meaning to ‘dancing cheek to cheek!’ If you know, you know. If you don’t. Skip this one. Aren’t sure? Check out the trailer:

Bliss

IMBD

Bliss is the ultimate psychedelic trip into an artist’s passion for her work. Directed by the iconic visionary Joe Begos and helmed by superstar Dora Madison, Bliss will take you on a wild ride- it’s literally 150mph the entire time and never lets up, which is part of why it’s so relentlessly engaging. Love doesn’t always have to be between to people, at its core this film centers around an artist’s love for her work and the lengths she will go to combat artist’s block and create some thing up to her vision of perfection. Check out the trailer:

A Serbian Film

IMBD

Some people will do anything for the love and stability of their family. When a porn-star ages out and wants to quit the industry, he finds himself on one last job in order to make enough money to provide for his family and quit the business altogether. What follows is probably the most depraved sequence of events to make it one screen without FBI interference. Remember those warnings I mentioned at the beginning of this article? If you can think of a trigger- it is in the movie. Directed by the legendary Srdjan Spasojevic, this film is the only one on the list to boast a NC-17, and the only one to have had its unedited directors cut banned from several countries. For me it’s a fun date night movie, for you? Tread cautiously. Head the warnings and check out the Trailer below:

After Midnight

IMBD

Sometimes you break up, you have this perfect relationship, it ends and the you get stalked by a really creepy-ass monster that wants to eat you- and then your ex, your family, friends, and entire town think you’ve probably gone insane. It just be like that sometimes. That’s the case in After Midnight. Directed by Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella, this film explores the complexity of human emotion and relationships, plus you know- Cryptids! Besides just being a fantastic genre bending film- After Midnight was released today! So check it out now! Here is the trailer:

Honeymoon

IMBD

Ah. First comes love, then comes marriage, then come the honeymoon in a romantic cabin in the woods, and then finding you wife wandering around the woods in the middle of the night leading to a bizarre and terrifying possible body snatches scenario. Also… aliens? Directed by the incredible Leigh Janiak, Honeymoon is guaranteed to make you second guess your partner and probably everyone around you, also yourself. Here is the trailer:

My Bloody Valentine 3D

IMBD

Yes… this is a reboot. Based on the 1981 classic, My Bloody Valentine follows the similar plot- it’s pretty simple, a tragic coal mining accident kills six people and lands one in a coma. Legend has it when the miner in the coma wakes up on Valentine’s Day, he immediatly murders 22 people. Now it’s years later, and his angry murderous ghost is back, and killing again. So why put this on the list? Hear me out. Jensen Ackles. J e n s e n A c k l e s. Not convinced? Check out the trailer:

Revenge

IMBD

A romantic getaway turns into a women’s worst nightmare when she is brutally assaulted and must fight for her life. In doing so she decides to take back her body and her autonomy- becoming the ultimate assassin. This is not a romantic movie. Not at all. I added it to the list because Coralie Fargeat has created this gorgeous revenge film that is unlike any others I’ve seen before. Starring an absolute superwoman, Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, this movie is all about empowerment and not letting anyone define you by what happens to you. It’s self-love. Extreme self-love. But absolutely worth watching with someone you care about. Trailer:

CLIMAX

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To round out this list of recommendations, let me introduce you to Gaspar Noé. To put it very simply, Climax, is less about love and all about carnal, feral attraction and lust. Remember in the 80’s broadway show A Chorus Line when one of the dancers asks, “if you couldn’t dance anymore, what would you do?” Well in Climax we meet a modern ballroom/vogue company in France at the end of a rehearsal. Next add in psychedelic fruit punch and what we get is 2 hours of increasingly disturbing, confusing, gorgeous, neon, sexual, and dark content. This is my recommendation for you if your Valentine’s night includes edibles. Here is the trailer:

Parasite

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This is the ultimate film about family loyalty and love. When I first saw this South Korean masterpiece in the theater I went into it completely blank, I hadn’t read the synopsis. I recommend you do the same. There is a reason Parasite has earned historic and prestigious acclaim, including an Oscar for Best Picture and Best Direction by Bong Joon-Ho. I will link the trailer but I challenge you to just take the dive and see the film without watching:

If you have made it through this list of films and I haven’t totally scared you off, I applaud you, now we are best friends. Let me know if YOUR favorite ‘romantic’ horror movies. Tweet Me!

Childhood Trauma ruins the day again! A Review of ‘The Dare’ (No Spoilers)

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Move over Pennywise! When it comes to Millennium FilmsThe Dare, directed by Giles Alderson and written by Jonny Grant– it becomes evident fairly quickly that kids are the absolute worst and bring terror to anything the touch. (Okay, not ALL kids. But definitely THESE kids.) The Dare follows Jay (Bart Edwards) as he wakes up a-la SAW chained and beaten in a basement with three strangers.

What follows next is the unique origin story of Dominic (Robert Maaser) and his brutal rise to sociopathy. The Dare is a fantastic horror film, full of anxiety and gore- but it also serves as a commentary about intense childhood trauma and the cruelty of middle school kids. No spoilers here, but trauma is complex and The Dare might be one of the only films where morality is absolutely questioned in every scene and every plot development.

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Horror films are often reflective of the world we live in, but gives the viewers a way to access complex emotions and actions in a heightened environment that becomes less personal and easier to engage in. Themes of childhood abuse by a parental figure are very difficult to present in a way that doesn’t cheapen the reality of trauma. Alderson and Grant have beautifully executed putting these jarring themes into The Dare without glorifying it or making trauma an excuse for violence. Adolescence is frightening, and this film has done an excellent job at using the genre as a parallel to growing up while making the viewer (re)consider the concept of ‘nature vs nurture.’

The incredible cast of The Dare includes horror powerhouse Richard Brake, alongside the brilliant Kat Evans Richard Short, and Harry Jarvis as young Dominic. If you are looking for a film that combines psychological torture, bugs, physical torture, bugs, terrifying adults, terrifying children, and bugs- THIS IS THE FILM FOR YOU!

The Dare is set for release and VOD on March 3rd, 2020.

When a childhood prank goes wrong, four strangers are forced to relive a cruel game at the hands of a masked psychopath.

The Scariest Stories, are the ones we tell ourselves: A Review of ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’

‘Stories heal, stories hurt.’ To put it simply- melding the bridge between truth and fiction is the overarching theme of Guillermo Del Toro’s newest masterpiece, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Based on the iconic horror classics by Alvin Schwartz, Del Toro (Pan’s Labrynth, The Shape of Water, Crimson Peak) along with André Øvredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Trollhunter) at the helm as director have brought Scary Stories and all of our childhood nightmares onto the big screen in a mix of terrifying realism and good old fashioned nostalgia.

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The film opens in the small town of Mill Valley on (fittingly) Halloween, during the year of Nixon’s election. We follow Stella (Zoe Colletti), an aspiring teen writer and her high school friends Auggie (Gabriel Rush), Chuck (Austin Zajur), and Ramón (Michael Garza)- a mysterious just-rode-into-town stranger- as they navigate away from high school bully Tommy (Austin Abrams) and into to the dark hallways of Mill Valley’s resident haunted house. Legend has it the house sits absorbed after the Bellow’s family left town after the tragic death of youngest daughter Sarah Bellows whose ghost still lingers waiting in the basement. No major spoilers- but the tension filled atmosphere created by Øvredal paired with the genuine performances by the cast, will transport you into a world that feels exciting, familiar, and terrifying all at once. After a little hide and seek- Stella comes across a book written by Sarah Bellows herself filled with- yes, scary stories. The viewer is transported quickly into a cat and mouse game of escaping each scary story, or becoming that story. 

Here is where we start to get into the (toe)meat of the film, and what everyone who grew up going to Scholastic Book Fairs and devouring classic Nickelodeon shows like All That is waiting to hear about: THE MONSTERS. From the Jangly Man to the Pale Lady- Stephen Gammell’s monsters have come to life and are unnervingly lifelike. The undeniably horrifying creatures that haunted us from Schwartz’s books do not disappoint. In an age where CGI and horror often go hand in claw- Scary Stories instead utilizes incredibly crafted prothstetics on world class actors with unique talents like contortion in lieu of animation to bring breath into the deadly.

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If you are only looking for a bunch of jump scares or lots of gore- this is definitely not the film for you. Scary Stories is an atmospheric mind meld with a deserved PG-13 rating, but keep in mind the 147 minutes is in no way a light children’s movie- despite being entirely adapted off of books we (probably shouldn’t have?) read as nine year olds. Scary Stories is a fantastic gateway film for viewers wanting to experience a strong, linear horror flick- but might not be up for two hours of Ari Aster or into the the endlessly disturbing visuals of Lars Von Trier. One other thing to note about Scary Stories is the beautifully subtle, but well done commentary on today’s American society, and how some things haven’t changed all that much from 1968.

Overall, Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark is a solid and easily rewatchable, dark, nostalgic, and gorgeous dive into what scares us and why. Part of what makes this film so powerful is the lesson that lingers when you leave the theatre. ”You don’t read the book. The book reads you,” is an epiphany Stella has while trying to figure out how to survive the stories that are written to kill her. As humans we are capable of creating narratives that either do good, or do evil. Does there come a time when we no longer control our own narratives? Are we destined to follow only one path, or can we start over? Is there a way to make reparations for our past, without erasing it? Who will tell the truthful tales of what happened to us once we are gone? All of these questions are asked of the viewer throughout the film, and that- is what is most effective and haunting about both Del Toro and Øvredal’s work. Phone a middle school pal, get a slushee, put on your favorite 90’s band t-shirt, and g watch Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Go for the monsters, leave with introspection. (Well… and monsters. You’ll probably leave with those as well, they are all really, really cool.)

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