5 Fantasia Films We’re Excited to Check Out

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The 25th Fantasia International Film Festival will take place both in-person and across the digital realm from August 5through August 25. A groundbreaking genre festival, Fantasia has long provided a platform for emerging auteurs, international genre features, and some of the best of both Canadian and world cinema writ large. Quentin Tarantino himself has remarked that Fantasia is “the most important and prestigious genre film festival on this continent.” Tickets officially go on sale July 23, with screenings scheduled for some of Dread’s own favorites from this year, including Agnes and Coming Home in the Dark.

Guillermo Del Toro called Fantasia a “shrine,” and what a shrine it is this year. With dozens of genre features premiering from across the globe, this year’s slate looks to be its best yet, with Fantasia additionally returning to a hybrid format with both on-demand and in-person screenings available. It’s going to be a grand three weeks of the best of what genre cinema has to offer, and here are five Fantasia features I personally cannot wait to check out.

Midnight, Kwon Oh-seung- Canadian Premiere

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A deaf woman is the latest target of a killer in Kwon Oh-seung’s debut feature. South Korean genre cinema has long been a favorite of mine, with The Chaser, I Saw the Devil, and #Alive being some of my favorite genre hybrids to release in recent years. Midnight is said to have hallucinatory sound design that accentuates a breathtaking cat-and-mouse thriller with shades of Don’t Breathe and A Quiet Place. Serial killer thrills are undoubtedly my jam, and I am ecstatic to see what new wrinkles Midnight adds to an ever-expanding subgenre.

What Josiah Saw, Vincent Grashaw – World Premiere

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Early pressed has called What Josiah Saw this year’s The Dark and the Wicked, a breakout from last year’s Fantasia festival. Described as a “Southern Gothic nightmare,” What Josiah Saw follows an estranged family forced to confront their past sins at an old farmhouse. It stars Robert Patrick, Nick Stahl, Kelli Garner, Tony Hale, Scott Haze and Jake Weber. Divided into four parts, this one looks to be a vintage vignette of pure terror and unbridled, familial tragedy. Count me in.

Don’t Say Its Name, Rueben Martell – World Premiere

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The Fantasia International Film Festival is committed to highlighting indigenous horror and genre without boundaries this year, including a panel on “Haunting the National Consciousness: The Rise of Indigenous Horror” from Dr. Kali Simmons scheduled for August 7. Transnational genre cinema is some of the most potent and breathtaking horror there is, and Don’t Say Its Name sounds no different. An environmental activist, killed in a suspicious accident, is brought back to life alongside an ancient spirit. With Indigenous talent both in front of and behind the camera, Rueben Martell’s debut is said to be a bone-chilling horror landmark with parallels to Stephen Graham Jones’ brutal masterpiece The Only Good Indians.

Bull, Paul Andrew Williams – World Premiere

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Bull is already being highlighted as a contemporary Kill List, a caustic and brutal revenge tale that adheres to the rhythms of horror. Starring Kill List’s own Neil Maskel, Bull is a gang enforcer who returns from a decade-long hiatus to track down his own mob, right past wrongs, and find his missing son. Revenge thrillers that occupy the horror periphery are a favorite of mine (see: Calibre), and Bull looks no different. Said to have an authentic world, great characters, and imaginative staging, Bull is poised to be one of the year’s high-octane, genre-hybrid breakouts.

Follow the Light, Yoichi Narita – World Premiere

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On the opposite end of the spectrum is Yoichi Narita genre-tinged, coming-of-age debut Follow the Light. Per the official synopsis, Akira (Tsubasa Nakagawa) arrives to a fading Japanese village from Tokyo and meets an isolated girl (Itsuki Nagasawa) obsessed with crop circles in her grandfather’s fields. Punctuated with rich cinematography and sparingly used music, Follow the Light looks to be a splendid, richly human foray into coming-of-age pathos with science fiction elements. I plan to Follow the Light all the way to its world premiere.

The accessibility and availability of hybrid festivals stands to open up a world of genre cinema previously inaccessible to most. Whether proximally or fiscally constrained, hybrid festivals are worthwhile opportunities for fans around to world to gather together to celebrate the best of what transnational cinema has to offer. The 25th Fantasia International Film Festival is stacked with transgressive, groundbreaking, and purely sensational genre cinema. It’s like Christmas and I’m not sure I’ve ever been so excited. The entire lineup is available on the festival’s site. Which Fantasia features are you most excited to check out this year? Let me know in the comments or carry the conversation over to Twitter at Twitter.com/ChadisCollins.

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