Fantasia in Montreal is always a smorgasbord of the great, the grisly, and the bizarre—making it one of my favorite fests to cover, albeit remotely (someday, Montreal, someday…). This year, the slate features a few known entities, from widely promoted films making their next stop on the festival circuit to beloved foreign directors with North American premieres, to the largely unknown, with documentaries, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, anime, and even a few dramas thrown in for good measure. After perusing the extensive slate that Fantasia 2019 has on offer, here are a few films to watch for as the festival gets going next week.
Fantasia’s opening night film is an exciting one: Sadako, the latest sequel to the original Ringu series (which Fantasia opened in North America twenty years ago). Sadako updates the videotaped curse of the original for the YouTube era, when things quite literally go viral. Ahem. While some of the Ringu sequels have been hit or miss, this one also promises the return of original director Hideo Nakata to the franchise.
Ready or Not
The trailers for Ready or Not have made it intriguing, no doubt. Samara Weaving is a bride joining her husband’s wealthy, games-playing family in a terrifying initiation rite of hide-and-seek. It looks bizarre and wild and potentially hilarious. If the concept pays off, it’s going to be loads of fun.
Blood on Her Name
The world premiere of Blood on Her Name is being advertised as a “Southern Gothic neo-noir,” which is really all I need to know.
The Father’s Shadow
I’m always intrigued by feature films that evolved from shorts. The Father’s Shadow is the second feature from Brazilian director Gabriela Amaral Almeida and purports to be a horror film about a zombie-obsessed girl whose clashes of the imagination and the real develop into a critique of contemporary Brazilian society.
Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson
Last year, one of my favorite films from Fantasia was the bizarre, punk-fueled documentary Boiled Angels. This year, Blood & Flesh is about another artist from the peripheries, with an equally bizarre history: Al Adamson, a no-budget exploitation filmmaker in the 1970s, who was murdered in 1995. The film details the intersection of counterculture filmmaking on the fringes with the Hollywood and American independents of the period, Adamson’s movies and influence, and his eventual murder. It’s also directed by David Gregory, who brought us Lost Soul, about Richard Stanley’s disastrous attempt to make The Island of Dr. Moreau. Just on the basis of that, I want to see this movie.
As always with Fantasia, there are tons films to keep an eye out for, including a new J-horror Stare, Imogen Poot and Jesse Eisenberg battling suburban weirdness in Vivarium, and the closing night anime Promare. I’ve covered this festival for several years now and I’ve never been disappointed.
Fantasia 2019 runs from July 11 to August 1.
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