By Sean Boelman
Every summer in Montreal, Canada, cinephiles descend on the city for the Fantasia Film Festival — one of the most prestigious genre film festivals in the world. Every year, the festival has a lineup combining exciting world premieres with some of the greatest horror and genre film festivals that have been touring the festival circuit.
We at disappointment media are excited to again be covering Fantasia remotely, and of course, we had to give you some recommendations of films we think you should see:
Laura Moss’s Birth/Rebirth has been touring the festival circuit since its Sundance debut, and we haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The feminist Frankenstein riff is making a quick stop at Fantasia before its release in the United States next month, and while it might not be particularly “scary,” it’s certainly unsettling and thought-provoking. The main thing working in the film’s favor is two extraordinary leading performances from Marin Ireland and Judy Reyes, who sell every bit of the film’s emotion.
It Lives Inside
For those looking for a straight horror movie at Fantasia that will leave them feeling scared, there’s not a better choice at Fantasia than Bishal Dutta’s It Lives Inside. At the film’s SXSW debut, it picked up the Audience Award in the Midnighters section, and it’s understandable why — this story of an Indian-American teenager dealing with a demonic entity that she unknowingly releases is absolutely terrifying at points, containing what might be the single best film of the year. It’s a movie that *will* be talked about when it is released this fall, and you don’t want to miss the chance to see it now.
Mami Wata is one of the less genre-oriented films in this year’s Fantasia lineup, although it does have a bit of a genre-esque spin with its folkloric fantasy elements. Set in a West African community, the film follows two sisters who fight to protect their community from outsiders by turning to the water deity they once worshiped. Festival-goers would be hard-pressed to find a film more visually transfixing than this at this year’s festival, as the directing by C.J. “Fiery” Obasi and cinematography by Lílis Soares are simply stellar.
Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls
Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls is one of the best midnight movies to debut on the festival circuit this year. Written, directed by, and starring Andrew Bowser in an expansion of his eponymous viral character, this is a pitch-perfect send-up of ‘80s horror (among other things) whose charm is hard to deny. Given that the Fantasia crowd is full of genre cinephiles, it’s certain that they’ll eat up all the easter eggs — but it’s also just an all around great horror-comedy.
Vincent Must Die
For those of you who enjoyed seeing The Sadness when it played at the festival back in 2021, Vincent Must Die is a must-see at this year’s festival. Stephán Castang’s horror-comedy following a man who finds himself suddenly being attacked by everyone around him for no apparent reason debuted at the Cannes Semaine du Critique a couple months ago where it understandably divided audiences. The Fantasia crowd will likely give it a much warmer reception, as it’s a wicked little treat — with some genuine scares, gnarly action, lots of humor, and a surprising amount of emotional warmth.
The 2023 Fantasia Film Festival runs from July 20 to August 9.
The Snake Hole
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