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Each year, the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal gathers some of the most thrilling genre films from around the globe for weeks of cinema celebrations. This year, COVID concerns have changed the timing and details of the festival, urging some of its titles to be available On Demand in Canada. Yet, these shake-ups have not scared off fascinating films and fave filmmakers.
SYFY FANGRRLS looks to Fantasia for what's going to be the next thrilling thing in horror, fantasy, and science fiction. This year, this fabulous festival has slates stocked with intriguing choices. We're highlighting the 10 we're most excited to have you see. Whether you're searching for history reimagined as horror, fantastical romances with mermaids and magic, daring documentaries, or just a truly killer fashion scene, we've got you covered.
Fantasia International Film Festival runs from August 20 to September 2.
A Mermaid in Paris
Also known as Une sirène à Paris, Mathias Malzieu's fantasy romance plays like Splash meets La La Land. Nicolas Duvauchelle stars as a heartbroken lounge singer whose life changes dramatically when he rolls up on a wounded mermaid named Lula (Marilyn Lima). Typically, her siren's song makes the hearts of men explode, literally. But as he lugs her to his bathtub to heal, he insists he is immune because his heart has grown cold. Nonetheless, this peculiar pair soon finds a shared passion for music... and each other. Bursting with vivid colors, wild characters, and a romantic whimsy, A Mermaid in Paris is a totally charming fairy tale.
Jeans to die for takes on a whole new meaning with this twisted horror-comedy from director Elza Kephart. Making its World Premiere, Slaxx centers on young Libby McClean (Romane Denis), whose dream job is about to become a nightmare. She's absolutely giddy to join the crew of a chic flagship store — that is until a pair of designer jeans start killing her co-workers. With ghoulish gore, outrageous gags, and a sharp satirical edge, Slaxx jumps off the rack and straight for your jugular!
Director Natasha Kermani and writer Brea Grant team up to expose the horror of being a woman in a man's world. Specifically, Lucky centers on a self-help book writer (played by Grant), who finds herself relentlessly stalked by a masked man in a blazer. Every night, he breaks into her home to murder her. No matter what she does — even stabbing him to death — he vanishes before the police arrive, leaving her certain of his impossible but inevitable return. This trippy tale of terror explores what it's like to be gaslit about the rampant misogynistic abuse that is an all too common part of existing in a patriarchal hellscape.
12 Hour Shift
Lucky's Brea Grant writes and directs this deeply dark comedy that involves black market organs, naughty nurses, a sloppy serial slaughterer, and David Arquette turning the tables on his Scream persona. Angela Bettis stars as a drug-addicted nurse who will do just about anything to get her next fix, including selling the organs of recently deceased patients. However, when ditzy cousin Regina (Chloe Farnworth) misplaces a costly bag of guts, a surly gangster threatens to take hers in exchange. This leads to one crazy night in a hospital, where there will be blood, workplace comedy, and some gut-churning shocks.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette
Speaking of David Arquette, he may be an icon to horror fans. However, to pro wrestling fans he became a stunt-casting joke when he took to the ring in 2000. Still, he fought back, which brought him bruises physically, personally, and professionally. Now, documentarians David Darg and Price James are sharing his journey, warts, broken ribs, and all.
Clapboard Jungle: Surviving the Independent Film Business
At Fantasia 2018, we were thrilled to speak to writer/director Justin McConnell about his feminist horror-thriller Lifechanger. Once it got released, it made our cut for the 10 best horror films of 2019. So, we were eager to see whatever McConnell would dare to do next. His follow-up is a fascinating and deeply personal doc about the struggles of a modern indie auteur trying to make a movie in a shifting cinematic landscape. Here is the story of how Lifechanger came to be, and much much more. Along with ushering audiences through his triumphs and trials, McConnell also interviews a string of our favorite filmmakers: including Guillermo del Toro, Richard Stanley, Mick Garris, Don Mancini, Travis Stevens, Jovanka Vuckovic, and the late George A. Romero.
In 2017, Japanese helmer Shin'ichirô Ueda blew audiences away with his unique spin on the zombie subgenre, One Cut of the Dead. Now the acclaimed filmmaker is back with another comedy that blurs the line between reality and performance. Special Actors centers on an unusual troupe, performers who stage mundane moments of everyday life. Among them is an aspiring actor who dreams of playing great superhero roles, but faints every time he gets stage fright. Can he be trusted to infiltrate a bizarre cult to break out a brainwashed victim? We'll find out when this curious comedy makes its Canadian premiere.
Love can be a wild ride. But what about when you fall in love with a wild ride? That is the plot of this French fantasy film, written and directed by Zoé Wittock. Portrait of a Lady on Fire's Noémie Merlant stars as an introverted woman who generally feels overwhelmed by the prying questions and pressures of the people around her, including the mother that needles her about being single. Then, one magical night, while working at a local amusement park, she meets Jumbo, a towering attraction that glows and swirls and really gets her. Jumbo is gaining momentum, praised for its empathetic exploration of objectophilia as a means of creating a unique coming-out story.
Based on the popular Japanese video game, Detention is set in 1960s Taiwan during the White Terror, a period when martial law cracked down brutally on anything or anyone considered subversive to the ruling party. Directed by John Hsu, the movie adaptation focuses on Fang Ray-Shin (Gingle Wang), a schoolgirl who is part of a secret club where they read banned books. Once the club's leader vanishes, the school changes into a place of ruin and monsters, and Fang must not only survive but uncover its mysteries.
Neil Marshall is a master of horror, having unleashed such sensationally scary cinema as Dog Soldiers and The Descent. Now he's back with a bit of historical fiction splashed in horror and gore. In 1665 England, a heinous plague has thrown the nation into chaos sparked by fear. (Imagine that.) Charlotte Kirk stars as a recently widowed single mother whose survival and independence intimidate the men around her... so, naturally, she's accused of being a witch. However, the title suggests, she will have her reckoning.