Plus several titles we already know are worth your time.
This year’s Fantasia International Film Festival starts today in the beautiful city of Montreal, and we couldn’t be more excited. (Well, I could be if I was there, but I don’t arrive until Saturday night so my peak joy will have to wait until then.) We’ve already revealed the three-part lineup announcement here, here, and here, but as the fest begins we wanted to go ahead and share the films we’re most anticipating as well as recommend some movies that we’ve already seen and loved.
As of this moment I’ve seen twenty-five of the fest’s titles, but that’s still less than one-fifth of films playing this year. Here are some of my favorites.
The director of The Chaser delivers a terrific horror/thriller hybrid from South Korea, The Wailing (full review), which pits a hapless cop against the evil of men and beyond. Also excellent, and highly recommended for horror fans, is Under the Shadow (full review) which follows an Iranian woman’s efforts to make a better, terror-free life for her daughter. The Loved Ones director, Sean Byrne, finally follows up that brilliant debut with another grisly gem, The Devil’s Candy. The sexy and sad monsters you always expected mermaids to be find life in the gorgeous and darkly funny The Lure (full review).
The occasionally hard to watch but engrossing, funny, and ultimately touching Kiyamachi Daruma, about a quadruple amputee enforcer for the yakuza, should also be high on the list for fans of Takeshi Kitano-style gangster films. Action fans meanwhile should go straight to Kill Zone 2 (full review) as it delivers plenty of blistering ass-kickery. Other titles worth a look include Teenage Cocktail (full review), Another Evil (full review), If There’s a Hell Below, Operation Avalanche, Bed of the Dead, As the Gods Will, and of course, the ridiculously sweet and lovely Hunt for the Wilderpeople (full review).
There are plenty of films I’m incredibly excited to see for the first time at the fest too including some from directors I already love and some that are debuts.
Takashi Miike will be on-hand to accept a Lifetime Achievement award as well as screen two of his latest films. (I say “latest” knowing full well that he’s directed three more in the time it took me to write this sentence.) Sticking with Japan, I’m psyched to catch Assassination Classroom: Graduation, the sequel to one of my surprise favorites from last year. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s much-lauded return to horror, Creepy, is also high on my list, as is Yoshihiro Nakamura’s (Fish Story, Golden Slumber) The Inerasable. I know nothing about If Cats Disappeared from the World aside from its intriguing premise, but that’s also become a must-see for me.
There are some fun horror titles promising a bloody good time including the Australian-set, Dee Wallace-starring Red Christmas (pictured below), a creature feature from Atlanta called Bad Blood, and the French thriller Therapy. One of my most-anticipated is the South Korean zombies-on-the-rails thriller, Train to Busan.
Mike Flanagan’s Hush is a terrific home invasion flick from earlier this year, but he’s kept busy and will also represent at the fest with his new film, Before I Wake, starring Thomas Jane, Kate Bosworth, and Jacob Tremblay. That cast and his proven talent bode well (and he even has a third film due later this year with the Ouija prequel). Fede Alvarez returns too with Don’t Breathe, and as a fan of his Evil Dead reboot (and a fan of Jane Levy) it has me excited.
One of the best thing about film fests is the ability to take a chance on smaller films or foreign titles with no American presence, and there are numerous films playing this year that have caught my attention with their brief plot synopsis, title, or advance praise. I’ve heard nothing but great things so far for The Love Witch and Little Sister, while the image below is enough to sell me on Collective Invention.
Lastly, one of the titles I’ll be missing (as I’m only there for a week out of the two and a half week fest) but one that I’m hoping to see sooner rather than later is Mel Gibson’s Blood Father. He plays an angry, violent guy searching for his daughter. I’m in.
Fantasia runs today through August 3rd, and we hope to see you there.