By Sean Boelman
After having been one of the festivals to set the standard for virtual presentations, the Fantasia Film Festival returns in 2021 with a hybrid edition. Featuring many selections with virtual-only or both virtual and in-person screenings, and a few with only theatrical screenings, the lineup this year is as exciting as ever, even kicking off with a special screening of The Suicide Squad on August 4. We at disappointment media are excited to be covering the festival remotely this year, and below, you can find some of the film’s we’ve seen that we hope you’ll check out!
Coming Home in the Dark
Coming Home in the Dark is likely the least fun to watch of these recommendations, but that doesn’t mean that people attending Fantasia shouldn’t check it out. It’s often hard to stomach in all of its brutality, but this revenge tale isn’t one that viewers will soon forget. Admittedly, the story is pretty straightforward, but James Ashcroft’s lean direction allows it to be impactful nevertheless. Those who already have a taste for New Zealander genre cinema will definitely be impressed.
Richard Bates Jr. has gained quite a cult following since Excision, making it almost ironic that his newest film is literally about a cult. However, the film shares more in common with Suburban Gothic than it does with his debut feature, as Bates Jr. leans more heavily into his comedic tendencies here than the dark and cynical ones. Combined with an excellent performance from Matthew Gray Gubler, this results in what is probably the filmmaker’s most agreeable film yet — an all-around wholesome and enjoyable watch.
In what is sure to hold the title for the most disgusting film at this year’s Fantasia, Harpo and Lenny Guit’s Mother Schmuckers is nonetheless a must-see film for any genre aficionado. A charming exercise in excess, the film follows two brothers who set out on a journey to find their mother’s lost dog, getting into all sorts of ridiculous antics along the way. Its over-the-top nature is sure to appall some, but the shock value is absolutely what makes it so memorable.
Prisoners of the Ghostland
In recent years, Nicolas Cage has given plenty of memorable unhinged performances, and Prisoners of the Ghostland sees him at the top of his game. Directed by Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono, it’s nice to see Cage working again with an auteur behind the camera, this film giving off heavy shades of Face/Off. It’s a blend of Eastern and Western tropes that is undeniably a hell of a lot of fun to watch, but packs a surprising political punch under the surface. Hi-fucking-ya.
We're All Going to the World's Fair
Jane Schoenbrun’s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair debuted quietly at Sundance this year but has had a steadily growing cult following singing its praises, and hopefully Fantasia will be the place where it makes its big breakout. On its surface an exploration of online culture, but beneath that, a deeper exploration of identity, this is probably one of the most complex and nuanced horror films to have debuted in recent years. Festival-goers won’t want to miss their chance to say they experienced this film early on.
The 2021 Fantasia Film Festival runs from August 5-25.
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Retrospectives, opinion pieces, awards commentary, personal essays, and any other type of article that isn't a traditional review or interview.