You know that it’s summer when you start getting emails about Fantasia Film Festival. The largest genre film festival in North America is celebrating its 23rd year in Montreal, QB this summer. 130 features from the globe will be playing the fest, which runs from July 11 – Aug 1, 2019.
With such a deep bench of titles, it can be overwhelming to wade through the program. Here is a brief preview of five notable titles that I’m excited to check out (look for my coverage of the festival here on QueerHorrorMovies, as well as Bloody Disgusting and The Spool).
Sadako (Nakata, 2019)
Logline: A young girl with amnesia is admitted to a Tokyo hospital’s psychiatric wing. Raised in secrecy, she barely managed to survive a fire started by her mother who, because of the former’s telekinetic powers, believed her to be the reincarnated Sadako. Psychologist Mayu Akikawa quickly grows fond of her, seeing herself reflected in her solitary past, a lifetime of loneliness. Meanwhile, Mayu’s brother Kazuma, a producer of absurd online videos, attempts to boost his viewership by broadcasting an excursion into the burned ruins of the girl’s house, when he suddenly disappears. Alarmed by the last-seen images of her only family and by several supernatural events linking her new patient to Sadako’s curse, Mayu sets off in search of Kazuma.
Why you should get excited: Any opportunity to return to the Ringu world is welcome, but if that’s not enough of a selling feature, there are TWO Sadakos in the mix in this film!
When does it play? Thurs, July 11 & Thurs, July 18
Vivarium (Finnegan, 2019)
Logline: Schoolteacher Gemma (Imogen Poots) and her boyfriend Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) are madly in love and looking to buy a home. They meet with a rather unusual real estate agent (Jonathan Aris), who pitches them on a new suburban development by the name of Yonder (located, he says, “near enough, and far enough”). They follow him out there, driving behind as they watch the streets gradually evolve into labyrinthian rows of identical houses. They’re being shown Number 9. It’s not a starter home, they’re told. They soon realize that the agent appears to have left them there. He’s gone, as is his car. Fed up with the whole experience, Gemma and Tom get in their car and drive off. And off. And off even further. Somehow, with all the cookie cutter homes, they can’t figure out how to find their way out of the area. Worse, after all the driving, no matter which turns are tried, they keep finding themselves back at Number 9. Situations proceed to get especially strange. And deeply, deeply frightening.
Why you should get excited: Irish films don’t often cross the pond and the inclusion of “kafkaesque”, “paranoid thriller” and The Twilight Zone in the description is plenty intriguing.
When does it play? Friday, July 12
Dreadout (Stamboel, 2019)
Logline: In an attempt to boost their online popularity, a group of friends obsessed with their social media exposure decides to broadcast their clandestine visit into an abandoned building that was last used by a cult, before they were taken down violently by the police during one of their ceremonies. Thanks to Linda, the gang’s youngest member, the students charm the security guard into letting them in, on one condition — never set foot on the 6th floor. Which, of course, is where their quest for likes undoubtedly leads. They discover old pages upon which are inscribed mystical writings that only Linda can see. Faster than you can say “Klaatu barada nikto”, she opens up a portal into an alternate dimension filled with wraiths and zombies that is home to a horrifying woman in red.
Why you should get excited: Video game adaptations are few and far between and they’re often not great, but name-dropping Fatal Frame (which I covered for the Horror Queers podcast) is a promising start. Also, it’s always exciting to check out films from different nationalities, so this Indonesia horror jumps to the top of the queue.
When does it play? Wed, July 17
A Good Woman Is Hard To Find (Pastoll, 2019)
Logline: Raising a child alone is never easy. Recently widowed young mother Sarah (Sarah Bolger) is struggling to cope through uniquely harrowing circumstances, living in a rough neighbourhood that’s largely under the control of a cruel drug baron (Edward Hogg). Her son, Ben (Rudy Doherty), hasn’t spoken a word since the day he watched his father get knifed to death on their very estate. Dismissing the crime as thugs killing each other, Police haven’t done a thing to help, and Sarah’s very much on edge. One day, a local dealer (Andrew Simpson) breaks into her home. He’s ripped off the neighbourhood kingpin and insists on stashing his take in her place. Fearful for the wellbeing of her son and having zero confidence in the police helping them, she allows him to. He keeps coming back. She doesn’t know what to do. But she’s got to do something.
Why you should get excited: One aspect of Fantasia that is so appealing is the programmer’s openness to scheduling a wide variety of films, including crime films. A Good Woman Is Hard To Find looks like it fits the bill, albeit with a gender flipped script, which is exceedingly welcome in a S. Craig Zahler world.
When does it play? Sun, July 21 & Tues, July 23
Homewrecker (Gayne, 2019)
Logline: Michelle (Alex Essoe) meets Linda (Precious Chong) at a yoga class. Linda’s wide-eyed enthusiasm is clearly off-putting, but Michelle’s aversion to conflict makes it difficult for her to brush off the increasingly pushy woman. Things escalate once Linda asks Michelle to redecorate her home and refuses to let her leave.
Why you should get excited: Aside from the fact that it’s my patriotic duty to celebrate Canadian films whenever possible, the inclusion of Starry Eyes’ Essoe and the focus on 80s pop music is more than enough to guarantee that I check this out.
When does it play? Friday, July 26 & Monday, July 29
So that’s five (of around ~30) films that I hope to check out. What’s on your schedule?
The full schedule and all of the other pertinent information can be found here.