The Week In Horror: Fantasia 25, ‘Goodnight Mommy’, ‘The Djinn’, + more!

Film festival season isn’t typically until the second half of the year, but this week’s edition of The Week In Horror has the first details about one of my favourite festivals of the year, as well as a debuting one that’s destined to become one of my new favourites. I’ve also got some sweet deets about A24’s new secret project as well as some other upcoming releases, so get your all-access lanyards laminated and let’s get down to it.

This year’s Fantasia International Film Festival will be the horror/sci-fi/fantasy exhibition’s 25th anniversary. For a quarter of a century, the Montreal-based showcase of the most boundary-pushing cinema from around the world has been a renowned platform for the launch of new talent from in front of, and behind, the camera. I’ve been privileged to cover this festival for the last couple of years, and this year’s edition is already shaping up to be one of the biggest and best.

Fantasia 2021 Poster by Donald Caron

Fantasia 2021 will open with the world premiere of Julien Knafo’s Brain Freeze. This “smart and stylish zombie comedy” began as a pitch at Fantasia’s well-respected incubator and production market, Frontieres, and immediately went into production before being shut down only four days from completion due to Quebec’s lockdown. Brain Freeze was completed the next summer and is described as “the tale of an environmental disaster that leads to a fast-spreading virus ravaging a wealthy gated community off the island of Montreal.” The film stars a number of well-known film and TV stars from Quebec, including Roy Dupuis (LA FEMME NIKITA, THE ROCKET), Iani Bédard (MON AMI WALID), Marianne Fortier (AURORE), Anne-Élisabeth Bossé (LAURENCE ANYWAYS), Mylène Mackay (NELLY), Simon-Oliver Fecteau (BLUFF), Stéphane Crête (DANS UNE GALAXIE PRÈS DE CHEZ VOUS), Mahée Paiment (LES BOYS), Louis-Georges Girard (MAFIA INC), Claudia Ferri (BAD BLOOD), and Jean-Pierre Bergeron (SUR LE SEUIL). If you can’t catch this “clever take on corporate greed…a charming horror comedy, coming-of-age tale, and a story of unexpected friendship in hazardous times” at Fantasia, Brain Freeze is set for a theatrical release on August 13.

Variety reported this week that Naomi Watts has been tapped to lead a reimagining of one of my favourite horrors, Goodnight Mommy, for Amazon. Now I know what you’re going to say – who needs a remake, right? Well I’d be inclined to agree if Amazon wasn’t behind the Suspiria reimagining that I love, and if Naomi Watts hadn’t been in not one but two of the best horror remakes ever in The Ring and Funny Games. I can’t say for sure that this new Goodnight Mommy will be a success, but I’m not ready to write it off just yet. 

Speaking of remakes, it’s been eight years since Fede Alvarez presented his new take on Evil Dead, and to celebrate, he revealed some never-before-seen photos from the 2013 film on his Twitter, as he always does on the film’s anniversary. You can check them out right here:

Production giant A24 can basically do no wrong, especially when it comes to horror, so it was big news that they’ve been secretly developing a slasher film starring the Oscar-nominated breakout star of Borat 2, Maria Bakalova, according to Deadline. The film is titled Bodies, Bodies, Bodies and SNL’s Pete Davidson and Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give) are in talks to star alongside Bakalova and Myha’la Herrold (The Book of Mormon), with Halina Reijn (Instinct) directing. It’s early days yet so we don’t have too many details, but watch this space as we find out more about the film. 

A real-time horror game that you can only play at 10 pm every night sounds like a trip but Trevor Henderson, director of the Zoom-based pandemic surprise hit Host is behind the development of just that. Ghosts will be presented in full-motion-video (shout out to that dusty Sega CD you have in your basement) and will follow you as a TV producer that’s watching a live ghost hunters series as it unfolds. According to the creators:

“You play a TV producer, operating the outside broadcast van for a failing cable channel called FrighTV. Their flagship show is GHOSTS. It’s the only thing people want to watch on the channel anymore. A show that in its heyday captured millions of viewers on a major channel. Viewers were glued to their screens as the presenter with a team of eager ghost hunters explored haunted locations around the country.”

The cast of Host is on board for the project, with stars Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, and Caroline Ward returning for Ghosts. Shepherd released a short teaser for the project here:

IFC Midnight has picked up The Djinn, a new horror from David Charbonier and Justin Powell (The Boy Behind the Door), who wrote and directed the film. The film synopsis:

“The story follows a mute twelve-year-old, Dylan Jacobs, as he discovers a mysterious book of spells inside his new apartment. Grieving the loss of his mother, and feeling isolated from everyone except for his father, Dylan performs a ritual that promises to deliver his heart’s desire: to have a voice. But he soon discovers that every gift has a toll when a sinister djinn arrives to collect his soul. Now trapped in his new home with nowhere to hide, Dylan must find a way to survive until the stroke of midnight or pay the ultimate price.”

The Djinn will release in theatres, on-demand, and digital on May 14. This one is looking really good, and you can check out the trailer for The Djinn here:

Lionsgate will be releasing a new survival horror called Endangered Species on May 28, which stars Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romjin. MJ Bassett (Solomon Kane, Rogue) will direct. The film is set in Africa, where a family is trapped in a safari vehicle and are forced to survive attacks from vicious hyenas and leopards. The film will also have a theatrical and VOD release on the 28th with a Blu Ray release on June 1.

Spiral: The Book of Saw hasn’t even dropped in theatres yet, but industry publication Production Weekly lists a tenth film in the franchise, called Saw X at this point, as being in development. Of course, this could be affected for better or worse by Spiral‘s box office take when that film comes out on May 14, but we’ll be keeping an eye on this!

Joe Wright’s The Woman In The Window, starring Amy Adams, was scheduled to release in May of 2020 before it was delayed. The film has some serious Rear Window vibes and is described as “an agoraphobic child psychologist befriends a neighbor across the street from her New York City brownstone, only to see her own life turned upside down when the woman disappears and she suspects foul play.” The Woman In The Window has an insanely talented ensemble cast which includes Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Julianne Moore, and will now release on Netflix on May 14, and we’ve got maybe my favourite trailer of the week for you to check out!

I was very intrigued to find out that Canadian production company Barker Street Cinema will be presenting a free virtual Stephen King Festival from April 23 to 25. The festival will collect 25 short films from around the world, each based on one of King’s numerous short stories. King’s “Dollar Baby” initiative allows these short works to be adapted by up-and-coming filmmakers, and most of these films have never been exhibited publicly. The festival will play on both Barker Street’s Vimeo and YouTube channels. 

“Barker Street Cinema partners James Douglas and Norm Coyne will lead the festival three years after making their own Dollar Baby adaptation of King’s Sherlock Holmes mystery THE DOCTOR’S CASE, which will also screen at the festival. Douglas points to the film as the launch pad for his film career and the remarkable effect the program has had for so many.” There will also be interviews and panel discussions from the filmmakers as part of the programme. You can get updates on the festival’s Twitter, and see the full schedule here:

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