In light of the current global health crisis, the Fantasia International Film Festival is going online this year—and we’ve got the details of the first wild wave of titles, which include some real horror highlights!
The 24th edition of the famed genre festival will run from August 20th through September 2nd and will feature a range of screenings, panels, and workshops accessible to movie lovers across Canada. Ticket sales will commence shortly after the full lineup is unveiled in early August.
To whet your appetite, here’s a breakdown of the first wave:
Neil Marshall’s The Reckoning (Opening Night): This year’s festival will kick off with a special screening of The Reckoning, the recently completed period thriller from horror maestro Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers). This is the second time that a Marshall-directed film has opened Fantasia, his film The Descent having opened the 2005 edition. Set in 1665 against the backdrop of the Great Plague and subsequent witch hunts in England, The Reckoning is described as a vivid, compelling, and confrontational film whose themes are frighteningly pertinent to today’s concerns. Charlotte Kirk (Ocean’s 8), Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers), Joe Anderson (Hannibal), Steve Waddington (Sleepy Hollow), and Emma Campbell-Jones (Doctor Who) star.
Chino Moya’s Undergods (World Premiere): Fantasia will host the world premiere of this aesthetically astonishing and darkly humorous collection of fantasy tales about a series of men whose worlds fall apart through a visit from an unexpected stranger. Géza Röhrig (Son of Saul), Johann Meyers (Black Mirror), Hayley Carmichael (Overlord), Erin Godon (In Bruges), Kate Dickie (The Witch), Adrian Rawlins (Chernobyl), Ned Dennehy (Mandy, and Jan Bijvoet (Borgman) star.
Makoto Tezuka’s Tezuka’s Barbara (North American Premiere): A famous novelist finds a young, seemingly homeless woman in an overpass tunnel and brings her home, triggering a series of increasingly bizarre encounters in this adaptation of the Osamu Tezuka’s adult manga of the same name. Gorô Inagaki, Fumi Nikaidô, and Kiyohiko Shibukawa star.
Thomas Robert Lee’s The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw (World Premiere): A mother and daughter are suspected of witchcraft by their devout rural community in this unsettling and surprising occult horror film that’s steeped in folklore. Catherine Walker (A Dark Song), Jared Abrahamson (Fear the Walking Dead), Hannah Emily Anderson (What Keeps You Alive), Don McKellar (eXistenZ), and Sean McGinley (The Alienist) star.
Sidharth Srinivasan’s Kriya (World Premiere): The first horror film from the New Dehli filmmaker, Kriya sees a DJ thrust into a nightmare odyssey of ritual magic, patriarchal death customs, and unusual family conflict after going home with a beautiful woman he encounters at a club. Navjot Randhawa, Noble Luke, and Avantika Akerkar star.
Mauro Iván’s The Undertaker’s Home (World Premiere): The first feature of the Argentinean writer-director, The Undertaker’s Home focuses on Bernando, an undertaker who runs his mortuary business out of the home where his dysfunctional family lives. Mischievous ghosts visit regularly, but when a malevolent entity enters the scene, it wreaks havoc on the already fractured household. Luís Machín (Necrophobia 3D), Celeste Gerez, and Camila Vaccarini star.
Scott Burns’ Come True (World Premiere): In this dark science-fiction feature, rebellious teenager Sarah, a girl plagued by disturbing dreams and unable to go home, is relieved to find shelter at a university sleep study. But far from escaping her nightmares, she unwittingly becomes the channel to a horrifying new discovery. Julia Sarah Stone (The Killing) and Landon Liboiron (Truth or Dare) star.
Lloyd Kaufman’s #ShakespearesShitstorm (World Premiere): Celebrate 45 years of Troma with this insane interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, set against America’s opioid crisis. Directed by and starring Kaufman, #ShakespearesShitstorm features “all the sex, mutants, musical numbers, and violence that Shakespeare always wanted by never had.”
John C Lyons’ and Dorota Swies’ Unearth (World Premiere): A fracking horror story, Unearth follows two neighbouring farm families whose relationship is strained when one chooses to lease their land to a gas company. But as the land is drilled, something long dormant and terrifying is released. Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog), Marc Blucas (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Allison McAtee (We Summon the Darkness) star.
Shinichiro Ueda’s Special Actors (Canadian Premiere): From the director of One Cut of the Dead, Special Actors is a delicious meta-comedy that follows Kazuto, an amateur thespian whose dreams have been spoiled by a special nervous condition that makes him faint at the slightest sign of stress. When his brother sends him a special invitation, he joins a peculiar agency that employs actors to stage real-life situations. Standing in at weddings and funerals is one thing, but before long he’s infiltrating a cult!
Natasha Kermani’s Lucky (International Premiere): Originally slated to launch at this year’s SXSW, Lucky tells the tale of May, a self-help author who suddenly finds herself stalked by a threatening but elusive masked man that mysteriously reappears every night. Struggling to find help, May is forced to ask if this is just paranoia or if she’s doomed to accept her new reality. Brea Grant (Dexter) wrote the script and stars.
Johan Von Sydow’s Tiny Tim: King for a Day (World Premiere): Through the subject’s diaries (read by “Weird Al” Yankovic), archival footage, and interviews with family, friends, and contemporaries, Von Sydow’s documents the improbable rise to stardom and downfall of the outsider artist in this intimate portrait that will leave you in tears and stitches.
Ryan Kruger’s Fried Barry (Canadian Premiere): An alien takes over the body of a middle-aged drug addict and goes on a delirious joyride across Cape Town in this acid trip of a road movie that’s alternately depraved and oddly sweet. Gary Green stars.
Michael Venus’s Sleep (North American Premiere): In this confident debut that examines the continuing roots of totalitarianism through the prism of a dreamy haunted hotel film and the horror of our current moment, a woman tormented by vivid nightmares suffers a nervous breakdown in a remote German village. But as her daughter travels to see her, she encounters a well-kept family secret—and an old curse that will make her life a never-ending nightmare. Gro Swantje (Nothing Bad Can Happen) and Sandra Hüller (Requiem) star.
Brea Grant’s 12 Hour Shift (International Premiere): A gripping real-time, hospital-set thriller, 12 Hour Shift follows a junkie nurse through a series of grisly criminal happenings as she funds her habit through organ harvesting side work on the job. Angela Bettis (May), Chloe Farnworth (Departure), David Arquette (Scream), and Mick Foley star.
Lars Damoiseaux’s Yummy (Quebec Premiere): A young couple and the girlfriend’s mother travelling to a shabby Eastern European hospital for plastic surgery get more than they bargained for when they discover a gagged woman strapped to an operating table. This investive and surprising zombie gorefest has been generating plenty of hype, and Fantasia promises you won’t believe your eyes! Maaike Neuville and Bart Hollanders star.
The Camera Lucid section of the festival, which is dedicated to boundary-pushing, auteur-driven works at the intersection of genre and arthouse cinema, has also unveiled the first three titles of its 2020 line-up. These are: Nobuhiko Obayashi’s Labrinth of Cinema (making its Canadian premiere), Noah Hutton’s Lapsis (making its international premiere), and Sabrina Mertens’ Time of Moulting (making its North American premiere). Fantasia’s Axis animation section has announced its first two selections, which are Eduardo Rivero’s A Costume for Nicholas (making its Canadian premiere) and Oskar Lehemaa and Mikk Mägi’s The Old Man Movie (makings its North American Premiere).
Words: Samantha McLaren (@themeatispeople)