Anyone who has read this site for a while knows that the Fantasia Film Festival is one of the highlights of my year. This year the Montreal-based festival runs from July 12 – August 2, 2018 and, as always, boasts a wide selection of horror, science-fiction, and animated films from around the globe.
Let’s bitch it out…
Now in its 22nd year, Fantasia is going stronger than ever. The 2018 iteration is comprised of more than 125 features and 220 shorts, and includes more than 100 premieres. The full Fantasia schedule was recently released online and festival tickets are now available for purchase.
I’ll be attending the festival in person July 19-22 and providing additional remote coverage throughout the festival. Looking over this year’s program, there are so many great looking films, but I’ve narrowed down a list of films that I’m really excited about. Cue the cat meows.
La Nuit a dévoré le monde (Friday, July 13)
We’re either nearing (or past) the point of saturation with zombie films, so it’s rare to get excited for a new film featuring reanimated corpses (the last time was 2016’s South Korean Train To Busan). Enter La Nuit a dévoré le monde, which looks like a more cerebral French-language version of 28 Days Later. This debut feature from Dominique Rocher isn’t equivalent to the white-knuckle experiences of Busan or Days, but considering the allegorical potential of zombie films, a film that explores loneliness and humanity sounds welcome.
Summer of ’84 (Saturday, July 14)
Montreal-based RKSS directing trio Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell return to Fantasia following their break-out hit Turbo Kid with this period piece about a teenager who suspects his neighbour of being a serial killer. Mixing Fright Night, Stand By Me and Stranger Things sounds like a good combination to me and the film is getting a big promotional push, which suggests that the studio believes in the film. I’m excited to check out if the buzz is real.
Satan’s Slaves (Tuesday, July 17)
Speaking of buzz: the latest film from Joko Anwar is riding a ridiculous amount of it. Word has been building around this Indonesian horror film for months as it tours the festival circuit, and after missing out on it several times before, I’m making it a priority to check out at Fantasia.
In the film, famous singer Mawarni Suwono (Ayu Laksmi) falls ill and, after three prolonged years, dies. Her sickness eradicates the family finances, prompting the unnamed patriarch to head to the city and leave 22 year old Rini in charge of the household and her three younger brothers. Then Mawarni – and her sinister bell – return to haunt the house.
Satan’s Slaves was a huge hit in Indonesia, breaking all kinds of box office records (so much so that it quickly expanded to play most of Asia). The rave reviews from well-respected horror critics – several of whom have made comparisons to Hereditary (see the Anatomy of a Scream Squad Talk for my thoughts) – has only served to further whet my appetite. This one is a must see.
Cam (Wednesday, July 18 / Friday, July 20)
My writing partner Valeska from Anatomy of a Scream are I are both incredibly excited about Daniel Goldhaber’s Cam. The film has a mind-bending logline: one day a webcam girl finds herself replaced by a doppelganger who is more daring and less-privacy oriented. This sounds like it follows in the grand tradition of twisty female-dominated psychological films and the vibrant neon aesthetic from the stills (I can’t find a trailer) are striking. The fact that the lead protagonist is played by Madeline Brewer, who has brought so much humanity to the role of Janine in The Handmaid’s Tale, is a major bonus.
Lifechanger (Friday, July 20)
It is the premise of Lifechanger that has me most intrigued: “A murderous shapeshifter sets out on a blood-soaked mission to make things right with the woman he loves.” There’s a storied tradition of films that utilize the ability of a malevolent force to body hop, but this film from Canadian genre vet Justin McConnell includes a romantic angle that should help to set it apart. I’m hopeful for a cross between the uniquely Canadian melancholy tragedy of The Unseen and the gritty criminal nihilism of recent festival favourite Lowlife.
Other films of note:
- I’ve read mixed reviews of Cold Skin, about a weather surveyor who discovers the Antarctic island he’s staying on has a secret history, but I’m intrigued enough by shock director Xavier Gens’ involvement to check it out (Sunday, July 15)
- Knuckleball, a Canadian thriller about a boy whose stay at his grandfather’s isolated farm is interrupted by a psychotic neighbour, looks fun, particularly thanks to the inclusion of genre vet Michael Ironside (Saturday, July 21)
- I haven’t seen any of the other entries in the franchise, but the presence of the amazing Barbara Crampton, the surprisingly enthusiastic reviews from other fests and the promise of a wildly enthusiastic late night screening crowd merits checking out Puppet Masters: The Little Reicht (Saturday, July 21)
- Writer/director Nicolas Pesce, who made the controversial The Eyes of my Mother, returns with a Piercing – “cat and mouse” twist about Reed (Christopher Abbott), a murderous man who attempts to murder a sex worker (Mia Wasikowska) don’t go quite according to plan (Sunday, July 29 / Thursday, Aug 2)
- I caught Issa Lopez’s Tigers Are Not Afraid at the Boston Underground Film Festival and the fairytale-infused depiction of cartel violence in Mexico narrated through the eyes of the child is powerful and compelling (Monday, July 30)
What are some of your most anticipated Fantasia Film Festival picks for 2018? Sound off below and keep an eye on this space for reviews and other updates throughout the festival.