As the editor of Sordid Cinema, I’ve spent the last few years jealously parsing our writers’ Fantasia Film Festival coverage, but now it’s finally my turn to hit the theaters of Montreal and turn in some reviews. As it’s my first time at Fantasia, I’ll be going with less of an agenda and looking more to make happy discoveries, but that doesn’t mean that a few of their announced selections haven’t already caught my eager eye. Here are five films that already have me excited for what’s to come:
Also, be sure to check out:
Ready or Not
Sometimes people have a good reason to hate their in-laws. If they convince you that a murderous game of hide-and-seek on your wedding night is a time-honored ‘family tradition,’ for instance, it might be time to start looking for a good divorce lawyer. With a kooky premise and the promise of some goofy gore, the latest from directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett has the potential to hit that sweet spot of horror and hysterics. Also, Henry Czerny.
The Art of Self Defense
Put aside the off-beat, Napolean Dynamite vibes in regards to a meek dork fantasizing about learning martial arts, and there’s something nicely sinister going on in this trailer. Dark humor is tough to pull off, but my Spidey senses are telling me that director Riley Stearns might have tapped into something primal here. If the film can find the right balance between cracking wise and cracking skulls, it has the chance to be more than a passing diversion. Jesse Eisenberg will surely do his thing, but I’m looking for Alessandro Nivola to stand out as his macho sensei.
A Good Woman is Hard to Find
Sometimes one needs to make gut choices when it comes to film festivals. In the case of A Good Woman is Hard to Find, I’m a sucker for “ordinary person caught in extraordinary circumstances” stories (Hitchcock made a living off these), and the blank stare of star Sarah Bolger in the above still is just enough to pique my interest. About a recently widowed woman looking for answers to her husbands murder, this sophomore effort from director Abner Pastoll (Road Games) will likely have some nice twists and turns to accompany the likely bouts of grisly violence. All it needs to do is deliver some stylish visuals and brisk pacing, and I’ll be set.
Oddly, this is the second film on my list starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots. Hmm. Anyway, this story of a young couple house-shopping in an empty suburban neighborhood that they soon discover that they cannot escape from is described in the press notes as a “paranoid thriller…in the vein of the greatest Twilight Zone episodes.” Nothing more need be said; my unwavering love for that eerie sci-fi paragon (even after its recent disappointing reboot ) means that I must see this. Here’s to hoping that the filmmakers have discovered what Rod Serling knew all along: the secret to success for this type of story doesn’t lie in the twisting machinations of the plot, but in solid character construction that allows for exploration of some particular aspect of humanity.
Lake Michigan Monster
Besides Hitchcock and The Twilight Zone, I have another soft spot in my heart for creature features. Normally I’d be wary of any film advertised to have a “love for ’50s B-movies and monster flicks,” as I’ve found that this type of wink-wink homage rarely captures the true spirit and love of filmmaking that make its inspirations so charming. However, the gorgeously compelling black-and-white imagery on display here simply can’t be ignored, and director Ryland Brickson Cole Tews seems to have injected a fever-dream quality into the proceedings. If the film can avoid snarkiness and instead come from a place of sincerity, this might be the best time I have at the whole festival.
While these films certainly get me in the spirit for some good genre thrills, I still think that I’ll have more fun during my first time at Fantasia wandering from showtime to showtime, following my nose wherever it leads. What hidden gems might be discovered? Stay tuned to Goomba Stomp’s 2019 Fantasia Film Festival coverage to find out.