We cover a lot of festivals here at Biff Bam Pop!, but from our internal polling data that is definitely not influenced by Russian troll farms, there’s not one we like more than the annual Fantasia International Film Festival, which emanates from Montreal every summer. This year, Fantasia’s 23rd installment will bring the scariest, weirdest, fringe and genre cinema to La Belle Province from July 11 to August 1. Jeff and Sachin have scoured the expansive schedule to bring you just a few of their top picks from this year’s lineup.
Sachin: One of the first things that stuck out to me, especially after seeing Lupita Nyong’o’s riveting performance in Jordan Peele’s Us earlier this year, was Little Monsters. Abe Forsythe’s film is a hell of a lot more lighthearted than Peele’s, though, with Nyong’o and Josh Gad fighting off zombies with the help of some plucky schoolchildren. This looks like a blast.
Jeff: With a title like Aquaslash, why would I not want to see this? Murders in a water park sound like they could be hilariously cool.
Sachin: Boasting a great cast that includes Andie McDowell, Samara Weaving, and Adam Brody, this story of a post-wedding family hunting ritual sounds like a second helping of what Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett offered in You’re Next, which is a personal favourite. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett worked on both V/H/S and Devil’s Due, so this will be one to hunt down.
Jeff: Hideo Nakata, director of the original Ringu, returns to that franchise with Sadako. Hopefully, this indicates a move back to scary movies within the Ringu series. Sadako v Kyako was more funny than anything else. I am curious to see where else they can go with this story.
Sachin: If you know me, you know I love me some moody arthouse horror, and Swallow looks like it’s right up my alley. Pastel colours, grim isolation, and a deeply unsettling subtext about control and agency are all on the menu here. This sounds like a career performance for Haley Bennett, and a remarkable piece of work from writer/director Carlo Mirabella-Davis.
Jeff: I want to see The Lodge. What horror fan doesn’t want to see The Lodge? The buzz around this movie is loud and hot. I’m a huge fan of snowbound horror, so The Lodge sounds like it is right up my frozen wheelhouse.
Sachin: Filmmakers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala gifted me with one of the most distressing and terrifying horrors I’ve seen in the last few years with Goodnight Mommy (which played Fantasia back in 2015). It looks like The Lodge, with it’s frosty aesthetic and great cast, will seek to top their previous work.
Sachin: I’m writing this on Canada Day, so I’ve got to throw it up for one of the most interesting Canadian selections in the lineup, Zach Gayne’s Homewrecker. It sounds like this film captures the uniquely Canadian passive-aggressive but polite-to-a-fault Canadianness that we all know while wringing real horror from it. Drawing on a late-80’s aesthetic and a soundtrack that pops on multiple levels, Homewrecker sounds like one of the most distinctive visions at Fantasia.
Jeff: I’ve been a fan of devil movies since I was a kid. A movie about virgin sacrifice could be just what I need to brighten my day.
Sachin: Witches, thanks in large part to Robert Eggers and Sabrina, of the Teenage variety, are experiencing a bit of a moment. Brett and Drew Pierce present, with The Wretched, a distinct, serious-face witch-next-door story that looks incredibly scary while visually referencing Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. To me, that’s a recipe for a hell of a good time.
By no means does this even scratch the surface of what’s in store for Fantasia attendees this year. With loads more films, special events, concerts, panel talks, and much more, Fantasia envelops the city of Montreal with its dark magic throughout July. If you can’t make it to Montreal, though, watch this space as Biff Bam Pop! brings you our highlights.
The Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 11 to August 1. You can get programming details, ticket information, and schedules on their official website.