We’re less than a month out from my favourite film festival of the year, the annual Fantasia International Film Festival, which returns to an in-person event in 2022 after a couple years off for ~reasons~. This year’s 26th edition includes some of the hottest genre films on the market today, and some underground selections that are sure to be making waves into 2023.
Hideaki Anno is one of the most important voices in anime, having created Neon Genesis Evangelion and the live-action Attack on Titan film. He also brought Godzilla back in the incredible Shin Godzilla in 2016, and this year he’s doing the same with the seminal superhero Ultraman in Shin Ultraman. First appearing in 1966, Ultraman is as iconic in Japanese popular culture as any Marvel or DC hero is in North America. Fantasia brings this one across the Pacific for the first time.
In Shin Ultraman, “Giant, unearthly monsters are appearing in Japan, and the government has created the S-Class Species Suppression Protocol, an elite agency dedicated to confronting and defeating this invasion by extraterrestrial lifeforms. But when an invisible electrical monster attacks the countryside, a giant, silvery alien being lands on Earth. The titanic superhero, soon to be codenamed Ultraman, destroys the deadly beast quickly enough—but accidentally kills SSSP officer Shinji Kaminaga during the battle. Secretly assuming Kaminaga’s appearance, Ultraman joins the SSSP to help defend humanity, but as more menacing monsters from space arrive, the cosmic conflict can only become more confounding!”
Rebekah McKendry’s Glorious, a vampire comedy starring Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) and JK Simmons (Spider Man, Whiplash) is one of the world premieres on display at Fantasia this year. In a mashup of horror, comedy, and science fiction, Glorious tells the tale of Wes (Kwanten), who “ends up at a remote rest stop and finds himself locked inside the bathroom with a mysterious figure speaking from an adjacent stall. Soon Wes realizes he has found himself in a nightmare scenario more terrible than he could ever imagine.”
Takeshi Miike’s prolific output continues with the North American premiere of his new film and the conclusion of his Mole Song trilogy with The Mole Song: Final. Based on Noboru Takahashi’s manga, this film’s got it all: puppetry, filthy humour, and lots and lots of drugs. If the promise of a film about “the adventures of the ostentatious mole Reiji [and] the Machiavellian yakuza clan he infiltrated [who] tries to import pasta made entirely of methamphetamines: speed-a-ronis” doesn’t entice you, I’m not sure what will.
Amanda Kramer brings a saucy double feature to Fantasia’s Camera Lucida section, which highlights the arthouse corner of horror. Kramer’s Primetime Double Feature Spectacular zeroes in on beatnik culture, all in one go.
Kramer’s Please Baby Please examines bohemian “newlyweds Suze (Andrea Riseborough, Mandy) and Arthur (Harry Melling, The Queen’s Gambit) [who] go through life with the certainty of their convictions until they encounter the Young Gents – a leather-clad gang of greasers that terrorizes their neighborhood with pocket knives and genderbending ways. Soon, our central couple begins questioning their sexuality, and ultimately their relationship.” With a cast that also includes Karl Glusman (LOVE) and Demi Moore (Ghost), this one is sure to be full of surprises.
The other half of Kramer’s double feature is Give Me Pity! which skewers American television culture with the tale of Sissy St Claire (Sophie Von Haselberg), the host of a variety show with a dark secret. Expect to cringe and squirm with discomfort, even as you drink in what’s sure to be one of the most exhilarating performances of the festival this year.
One of my favourite filmmakers, the offbeat and one-of-a-kind Quentin Dupieux (Wrong, Rubber, Deerskin) returns with the North American premiere of Incredible But True, in which a married couple discovers a mysterious tunnel in their basement. Starring Alain Chabat, Léa Drucker, Benoît Magimel and Anaïs Demoustier, this is one of my most-anticipated selections of the festival this year.
There’s so much scary stuff on display at Fantasia, but I don’t think anything in the lineup can compete with Andrew Semans’ Resurrection, the buzzy exploration of psychological horror and trauma that made waves out of Sundance this year. Starring Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth, and Grace Kaufman, nothing will prepare you for this one.
Speaking of buzzy horrors, Christian Tafdrup’s Speak No Evil from Denmark terrified audiences at Sundance as well, and the programmers hype this up by saying little more than it’s “a masterclass of dread-building” and that “this singularly squirm-inducing nightmare is going to stay with you for years.” Sign me up.
It’s not just new films on display at Fantasia. The crew behind the festival are all about honouring their roots, and this year’s no different as Fantasia presents a retrospective of action film master John Woo. The auteur of classics like Hard Boiled (1992), The Killer (1989), Hand of Death (1976), and Hollywood productions like Face/Off (1997), Mission Impossible 2 (2000), and Hard Target (1993) has more than earned his place in the Mount Rushmore of action films, and will accept Fantasia’s Career Achievement Award at the this year’s 26th edition of the Festival.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of the many, many amazing selections at the Fantasia Festival this year, but if you’re in the Montreal area, I implore you to check out the lineup because I’m sure you’ll find something that captures your imagination. If you can’t make it to Quebec, though, keep an eye on Biff Bam Pop! for all the coverage you can handle. You’ll definitely be talking and thinking about some of these selections in the months and years to come. See you in Montreal!
The Fantasia Film Festival’s 26th Edition takes place from July 14 to August 3, 2022 exclusively in person around Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Ticket and venue information can be found on the Festival website here.