Later this week, the 22nd annual Fantasia International Film Festival is set to kick off in Montreal. Running from July 12th through August 2nd, Fantasia 2018 will play host to over 125 features and 220 short films, with numerous special guests and filmmaking talents on hand to celebrate the very best in genre cinema from all over the world.
As we here at Daily Dead get ready to bring you guys more coverage from one of the most expansive film festivals, this writer thought it would be fun to take a look at a handful of films that Fantasia 2018 attendees are going to want to make sure they check out during the festival, as well as five movies that look primed to knock audiences on their proverbial keisters over the next few weeks.
7 MOVIES AT FANTASIA 2018 TO KEEP ON YOUR RADAR:
Anna and the Apocalypse: I had the pleasure of watching many brilliant movies during Fantastic Fest 2017, but my favorite of the bunch was Anna and the Apocalypse, from director John McPhail. Perfectly blending holiday horrors, zombies, and movie musical tropes into one ambitiously conceived love letter to everything we love about independent cinema, Anna and the Apocalypse has a whole lot of heart, a scrappy can-do attitude, and an ability to find new storytelling terrain to traverse. No doubt about it, Anna and the Apocalypse is an absolute joy to watch, and I’m so excited for fans to get to experience it for themselves.
Festival Description: A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven - at Christmas - forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash, and sing their way to survival, facing hellish snowmen, an undead Santa, and bloodthirsty elves in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. Official Selection: Fantastic Fest 2017. Winner: Midnight X-Treme Best Feature, Sitges 2017. Canadian Premiere.
Satan’s Slaves: I must admit that one of the biggest viewing surprises I’ve had this year is Joko Anwar’s remake, Satan’s Slaves. Not that I doubted his abilities as a filmmaker—he has a strong sense of purpose whenever he’s in the director’s chair—but I’m always someone who isn’t the biggest fan of movies that revolve around ghost stories, so I wasn’t particularly amped for his latest. But Anwar proved me wrong with Satan’s Slaves, as it’s easily his best work to date. There’s a moment where the film takes a decidedly left turn, and that’s precisely when I fell in love with this story.
Festival Description: A record-breaking box-office hit upon release, Joko Anwar’s affectionate remake of 1980’s PENGABDI SETAN is one of horror cinema’s recent triumphs: an atmospheric, expertly-shot roller-coaster ride of a haunted house film, inspired as much by Indonesian folklore as by retro genre classics. Official Selection: Rotterdam Film Festival 2018. Winner: Feature Jury Prize, Overlook Film Festival 2018. Canadian Premiere.
Heavy Trip: Heavy Trip is a movie I just had the pleasure of watching for Cinepocalypse last month, and I fell head over heels for its redemptive tale of an aspiring heavy metal band from Finland who aren’t ready to let anything—not bullies, Viking cosplayers or even death—stand in the way of living out their dreams. Heavy Trip is hilarious and heartwarming, and proves that road trips gone awry are endlessly entertaining in any language.
Festival Description: Crack out the corpse paint and make an offering to Odin, because here comes the funny-as-hellfire Finnish rock ’n’ road saga that made its SXSW crowd shriek like damned souls! Rock video and TV veterans Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren’s debut feature is the feel-good, follow-that-dream, underdog rock comedy for the blast-beat bunch. Being Scandinavian, the humour in HEAVY TRIP is dry and sharp – and the black metal riffage absolutely shreds. Official Selection: Cinepocalypse 2018. Canadian Premiere.
Mandy: There’s been a lot said about Mandy ever since it blew audiences away at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival (which includes this writer, and I can confirm that it’s a movie that I have easily thought about on a daily basis since seeing it in Park City), but every single positive word, accolade, and piece of hype still doesn’t come close to how mind-blowingly great Mandy truly is. You may think you’re ready for Mandy, but the truth is, there’s no real way to prepare yourself for everything that director Panos Cosmatos throws at you throughout his psychedelic descent into madness, and it’s an experience that will linger in your DNA for years to come. The word "masterpiece" doesn’t even feel like it does Mandy justice, but that’s about as close as I can get.
Festival Description: Fantasia’s 22nd edition will close on a cinematic power chord with the Canadian Premiere of the thunderously-acclaimed MANDY (Official Closing Film), Panos Cosmatos’ long awaited sophomore feature following the stunning BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW. The film makes its first screening in the country after transfixing audiences at Sundance and Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight. Starring an especially strong Nicolas Cage in a performance that seethes with internalized rage, MANDY also features a shredding experimental electronic score from the late Jóhann Jóhannsson that works hypnotically with the film’s pacing and imagery to create a dreamy mood of near-death intoxication. MANDY is a pounding, bleeding act of cinema that’s as singular as it is sensational.
What Keeps You Alive: I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but Colin Minihan is a filmmaker who just gets better and better with every single project he takes on. His latest movie, What Keeps You Alive, is part tightly wound thriller/part character study about how much we’re willing to endure on behalf of those we love, and the results are blistering, brutal, and gut-wrenching. Both Hannah Emily Anderson and Brittany Allen are phenomenal.
Festival Description: An intensely smart, ferocity-fueled LGBT survival thriller that smashes conventions while dropping its audience off unexpected cliffs, WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE is built upon an eviscerating pair of performances from Brittany Allen and Hannah Emily Anderson. Writer/Director Colin Minihan (IT STAINS THE SANDS RED) has made one of the most gripping thrillers of the year, one that asks the unsettling question of what you would do if the person you trusted most unconditionally suddenly turned against you. Official Selection: Overlook Film Festival 2018, SXSW 2018, Sydney Film Festival 2018. Quebec Premiere.
The Ranger: A movie that has been killing it on the festival circuit over the last few months, Jenn Wexler’s punk rock tale of survival horror is the prime example of everything you would want out of a midnight movie, plus a whole lot more. An energetic directorial debut from Wexler anchored by a strong performance from Chloe Levine (who was equally great in The Transfiguration), The Ranger is raucous, rowdy, and ready to ravage your sensibilities.
Festival Description: The directorial debut of MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND producer Jenn Wexler (and a project born out of Frontieres, Fantasia’s co-production market), THE RANGER offers a modern take on survivalist horror that both celebrates and subverts slasher tropes – with equal parts humor, glitter, and gore – and a punk soundtrack to literally die for. Official Selection: SXSW 2018, Chattanooga Film Festival 2018, Fantaspoa 2018. Canadian Premiere.
Summer of 84: A few years ago, the filmmaking team known as RKSS introduced us to Turbo Kid, and now they’re back with Summer of 84, a devastating and haunting whodunit about a group of teens who set out in search of a serial killer targeting young boys, and end up getting way more than they bargained for. As someone who adores slasher-fueled mysteries, Summer of 84 hit all the right buttons for me, and I cherished the way that RKSS never holds back with the harsh realities of their story. If you’re looking for a movie that isn’t afraid to dig into some of the harsher realities of growing up, Summer of 84 might be exactly your kind of cinematic jam.
Festival Description: Summer, 1984: The perfect time to be 15 years old and care free. But when neighborhood conspiracy theorist Davey Armstrong begins to suspect his police officer neighbor might be the serial killer all over the local news, he and his three best friends begin an investigation that soon turns dangerous.
5 MOVIES AT FANTASIA 2018 WE CAN’T WAIT TO SEE:
Tales from the Hood 2: "Fantasia is proud to present the highly-anticipated world premiere of Universal 1440 Entertainment’s TALES FROM THE HOOD 2. The sequel to the groundbreaking original film TALES FROM THE HOOD reunites Executive Producer Spike Lee and writers/directors/producers Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott for an all-new gripping, horrifying, and oftentimes devilishly comical anthology. This next installment will keep viewers on the edge of their seats, as they course through several stories that explore socially relevant topics from the past and present."
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot: "Sam Elliott stars as a legendary World War II veteran who many years ago assassinated Adolf Hitler - an incredible secret that he’s frustratingly unable to share with the world. One day, just as he’s coming to terms with rounding out his life, Calvin gets a visit from the FBI and RCMP. They need him to take out Bigfoot. A wondrous feature debut from writer/director Robert D. Krzykowski, featuring visual effects by celebrated two-time Academy Award Winner Douglas Trumbull (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, BLADE RUNNER), who also co-produced alongside the great John Sayles and Lucky McKee. A fantastical discourse on the melancholia of old age and a singular blast of entertaining wit, THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT (World Premiere) also stars Aidan Turner, Caitlin FitzGerald, and Ron Livingston."
Bodied: "Directed by music video icon Joseph Kahn (TORQUE; the unforgettable DETENTION, seen at Fantasia 2011), BODIED is a triumphant satire of today’s social and political climate, in which nothing and everything can be perceived offensively if that’s what one is looking for. Deftly walking on such eggshells, Kahn has assembled an outrageously hilarious ideological rollercoaster that grapples with race, cultural appropriation, and academia, forcing its spectators to confront their own assumptions with the ferocity of a rapper slinging insults in an opponent’s face. Official Selection: TIFF 2017, Sundance 2018, Paris International Fantastic Film Festival 2018. Quebec Premiere."
Nightmare Cinema: "As part of Fantasia’s Opening Night events, the festival will unveil the World Premiere of Cinelou Films' hotly-anticipated anthology NIGHTMARE CINEMA, featuring segments by Joe Dante (GREMLINS), Mick Garris (THE STAND), Alejandro Brugués (JUAN OF THE DEAD), Ryûhei Kitamura (VERSUS), and David Slade (30 DAYS OF NIGHT) with a cast that includes Mickey Rourke, Richard Chamberlain, Adam Godley, Belinda Balaski, Elizabeth Reaser, and Annabeth Gish. It’s always cause for celebration when the acclaimed “Masters of Horror” brew new creations, and seeing their energies distilled into a single feature film will all but make the universe explode."
Tokyo Vampire Hotel: "Two vampire clans battle over mortal human livestock. Swerving from massive gun orgies to gaudy scenes of baroque excess, TOKYO VAMPIRE HOTEL is a confetti cannon full of blood squibs aimed at your face, courtesy of Fantasia fave Sion Sono. Imagine Sono in the style of Yoshihiro Nishimura, with massive bloodshed, wild colors, and sumptuous art direction. Are you in? Official Selection: Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival 2017, Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival 2017. Quebec Premiere."
Be sure to check back here to keep up to date on our coverage of the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival!