2019’s Fantasia Film Festival starts today (July 11th) in the beautiful city of Montreal, and I’ve convinced the lovably gruff Kieran Fisher to join me in covering some of the films playing this year. We’re both looking forward to a lot of the movies on tap for 2019 — there are over 125 films playing across three weeks — and we decided to highlight ten that we’re most excited about seeing.
We aimed a bit away from the high-profile titles for this list meaning many of these will probably be unknowns to most of you, but that’s all the more reason to take note as it still wasn’t easy narrowing this list down to just ten. I’ve already caught some films that are absolutely must-sees including The Lodge, Little Monsters, Why Don’t You Just Die!, Extra Ordinary, and more, but the films below are new to us and will hopefully become new favorites soon enough.
Keep reading for a look at ten movies we have high hopes for a this year’s Fantasia Film Festival.
Larry Fessenden is one of the most consistent directors working in horror as far as I’m concerned, so I’m always excited about his new features. Depraved is his take on the Frankenstein tale, which tells the story from the perspective of the monster in a contemporary New York City setting. There’s certainly no shortage of Frankenstein re-imaginings out there, but I have no doubt in my mind that Fessenden’s addition to the sub-genre will be one of the better ones. (Kieran Fisher)
2011’s Sleep Tight remains a wonderfully twisted and blackly comic thriller about a very bad man, and this remake from South Korea promises to turn the thrills up even higher with its tale of a young woman being menaced by an unknown “admirer.” While the original unfolded from the man’s point of view, this film pairs viewers with the woman being targeted. The switch suggests far less grim humor and far more suspense this time around, and that step out on its own is exactly what more remakes should aim for. Look, I’m already half in the bag for any Korean film, but one based on Jaume Balagueró’s underseen gem? I’m so excited I might not get to sleep tonight. (Rob Hunter)
As one half of the Mo Brothers, Kimo Stamboel co-helmed some enjoyable genre fair with his partner in crime, Timo Tjahjanto. Since their last effort Headshot, however, the pair have decided to pursue some solo projects. Tjahjanto got off to a flyer in 2018 with May the Devil Take You and the masterful The Night Comes For Us. Now, Stamboel will unleash his own effort on audiences with DreadOut, an adaptation of the same-titled indie horror game. While video game movies tend to be unspectacular for the most part, Stamboel’s past work is so strong that anything he makes is worthy of people’s attention. The director has proven action-horror pedigree, so expect this one to provide some entertaining thrills and chills. (Kieran Fisher)
There’s something automatically menacing and unsettling about being trapped out at sea. From the survival drama of All Is Lost (2013) to the killer suspense of Dead Calm (1989), it’s a locale guaranteed to immediately up the suspense and danger. The latest entry in the sub-genre sees a trio of friends head out to sea on a yacht and a bed of deception, and when the engine fails and the supplies run low inhumanity threatens to send everyone overboard. Add in some black humor, some gory bits, and a talented cast/crew and I’m ready to board right now. (Rob Hunter)
Korean revenge film. Are there three more exhilarating words? The latest comes from writer/director Lee Su-jin who previously devastated audiences with the heartbreaking Han Gong-ju back in 2013, but while that film found drama in injustice Idol promises justice. Class distinctions, immigration woes, and grief collide like a speeding car into human flesh, and the results may not be pretty but will almost certainly be fascinating, electrifying, and ultimately satisfying. (Rob Hunter)
Malik Bader’s movie is one of the more notable films at this year’s festival, but the quality of the cast coupled with the intriguing premise is a good sell. Starring Liam Hemsworth and Emory Cohen, the story follows a criminal who, after waking up with a bag of money, stolen drugs, and no memory, gets on the wrong side of some dirty cops and his law-breaking counterparts. With time running out and everyone out to get him, he sets out to overcome his predicament. An action-thriller about an amnesiac has shades of Bourne sprinkled all over it, but if the execution is strong, Killerman is bound to be tons of fun. (Kieran Fisher)
Surprise, Hunter picked another South Korean film! Whatever, I feel no shame in loving what I love, and this action film with a badass female lead is undeniably up my alley. Lee Si-young plays a former martial arts champion recently released from a prison stint only to discover some bad people have done bad things to her little sister. Big mistake. Huge! The premise is exactly as simple as it needs to be, and if the film manages to layer in some drama, social commentary, and strong performances alongside the cruelly effective action beats then I will be a happy film-goer. Just look at this poster! (Rob Hunter)
Look, I respect everyone’s personal beliefs when it comes to religion. Live your own truth. Personally, though, I enjoy entertainment that’s out to corrupt all that is holy and pure. Therefore, Porno is the kind of movie that speaks to my inner heathen. The story follows a group of devout Christians who work at a movie theater and unwittingly release a succubus after watching a skin flick. The basic plot — about a movie unleashing a monster into a multiplex — is reminiscent of Lamberto Bava’s Demons, which makes Porno even more appealing as far as I’m concerned. However, the added element of god-fearing folks potentially turning to the dark side adds a blasphemous aspect to proceedings which I fully endorse. (Kieran Fisher)
Jimmy Henderson‘s Jailbreak is one of 2017’s best action films, so it goes without saying that I’d be excited to see the writer/director’s follow-up. Keeping with the simple setups, the film offers up a riff on Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” which has reached the screen in one form or another many, many times. The action unfolds in the Cambodian jungle this time around, and Henderson is once again introducing us to a new fighting talent in Gu Shangwei. If he’s half as good as Jailbreak‘s Jean-Paul Ly then we’ll be in very good hands (and feet) indeed. (Rob Hunter)
With their recently relaunched Fangoria label, Cinestate will focus on producing low budget horror movies for the midnight crowd. Their last release, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, is far from perfect, but it boasts some tremendous kills, buckets of blood and gore, and such a complete disregard for political correctness that some people have questioned its motives. Sometimes, that’s all you need with an exploitation flick. That said, I have higher hopes for Satanic Panic since it’s based on a story by Grady Hendrix (We Sold Our Souls) and Ted Geoghegan (Mohawk), and features the directorial talents of rising star Chelsea Stardust. The story follows a pizza delivery driver encounters some devil-worshippers who want to use her as a human sacrifice. The film has already generated some positive buzz following its premiere at the Overlook Film Festival, so if splatter fare is your cup of tea then be sure to add this one to your radar. (Kieran Fisher)