Nine Films at Fantasia Festival We Can’t Wait For This Year
A preview of Fantasia Festival 2022, July 14th to August 3rd
Canada’s Fantasia Festival always showcases some of the world’s most interesting genre films, from horror to sci-fi to weird little nunsploitation romances, and I can never get enough. In past years I’ve found favorites like South African actioner Indemnity (now on Hulu!), Survival Skills (which is on Tubi!), The Night House, Dinner in America, and more, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this year’s festival brings!
With that in mind, here are the Top 9 Films at this year’s Fantasia Festival that I can’t wait to get my eyes on.
1. The Breach (dir. Rodrigo Gudiño)
Though I haven’t read the original novel that The Breach is based on, I have read a couple of author Nick Cutter’s other books; The Troop is a personal favorite. The writer has quite the interest in body horror, which coincidentally happens to be one of my favorite horror subgenres, and if the trailer for The Breach is anything to go by, director Rodrigo Gudiño has leaned into that aspect of this story with gusto.
According to the film’s description on the Fantasia website, “audiences can look forward to drama, gory prosthetics and an eerie, suspenseful atmosphere in this skin-crawlingly good horror.” Count me in.
The Breach premieres Monday, July 25th at Fantasia.
2. Country Gold (dir. Mickey Reece)
I’ve loved outsider auteur Mickey Reece’s last two films, Climate of the Hunter and Agnes. The former is about two aging sisters who fight over a man who may or may not be a vampire; the latter deals with a possessed nun. They’re weird and wacky and strangely-beautiful, solid enough that Reece has made me into a fan who’ll check out anything he does next.
Country Gold, this year’s premiere, stars Reece himself as a country music fan whose idol wants to be cryogenically frozen. “Part David Lynch and part Righteous Gemstones, Country Gold is a singular and strange film that defies all expectations,” promises Fantasia, which notes that the film has musical numbers and even an animated section. Again: count. me. in.
Country Gold premieres Thursday, July 21st at Fantasia.
3. Dark Glasses (dir. Dario Argento)
Dario Argento is the legend behind classics like Suspiria, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Deep Red, and more, elevating Italian giallo to the international arthouse scene. He hasn’t made a movie since 2012’s Dracula 3D, but he’s back, bringing Dark Glasses to this year’s Fantasia Festival.
“For high-end sex worker Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli), being blinded in a car accident is just the beginning of her trauma. The white-van-driving psychopath who caused the crash, and has already murdered another call girl, is out to finish the job, relentlessly stalking Diana through Rome and its outskirts,” writes Fantasia in the film’s official description. Dario Argento directing a film about eyes and murderers and Rome? How could I miss that?
Dark Glasses has its Canadian premiere on Saturday, July 30th at Fantasia.
4. Glorious (dir. Rebekah McKendry)
I love a thriller that takes place in very few locations with very few characters; think ATM, or Frozen (the one where they’re stuck on the chairlift, not… that other one). Rebekah McKendry’s Glorious, which has already been picked up by Shudder in advance of its premiere at Fantasia, promises exactly those kinds of thrills. JK Simmons and True Blood’s own Jason Stackhouse, Ryan Kwanten, star as two men in adjoining restroom stalls; Simmons warns Kwanten that if he wants to survive, he can’t leave the bathroom.
I for, one, am looking forward to finding out why!
Glorious premieres Thursday, July 21st at Fantasia.
5. House of Darkness (dir. Neil LaBute)
I’m never sure how I feel about Neil Labute, director of In the Company of Men, the ill-fated Wicker Man remake, and the bizarre Lakeview Terrace, that movie where Samuel L. Jackson played a cop racist against white people. He’s got an ear for snappy dialogue, but his gender politics seem… questionable? He always gets interesting performances from his actors, that’s for sure.
The casting of Justin Long and Kate Bosworth in his latest film, House of Darkness, leaves me very curious. Fantasia writes in the film’s official description, “Labute creates an old-school battle-of-the-sexes film that treads the line between farce and horror as it captures the strained social conditions of contemporary life. With two incredible lead performances and edge of your seat suspense, the slow turn of the screw of Labute’s horror will leave you queasy and disturbed.”
Consider me intrigued!
House of Darkness has its international premiere on Friday, July 22nd at Fantasia.
6. Next Exit (dir. Mali Elfman)
Rahul Kohli won me over with his sensitive work in Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Bly Manor and especially Midnight Mass, pretty much ensuring that I’ll check out whatever the guy does next. The fact that Next Exit happens to be a ghost-story road-trip movie that reunites Kohli with his iZombie co-star Rose McIver is an added bonus, and the other stars are two other Flanagan collaborators, Katie Parker and Karen Gillan. I’m sold already!
Gillan plays a scientist who discovers “that ‘ghost’ are demonstrably real, in that existence continues beyond the end of physical life. Through her groundbreaking technology, deceased persons can now be identified and tracked in the afterlife.” Push all my buttons, why dontcha.
Next Exit premieres Monday, July 18th at Fantasia.
7. The Pez Outlaw (dir. Bryan Storkel and Amy Bandlien Storkel)
Last year, Fantasia screened the incredibly-charming Alien On Stage as part of its Documentaries from the Edge series; this year, the doc that catches my eye is The Pez Outlaw, a true-crime film about a man who smuggled thousands of dollars’ worth of international Pez dispensers into America.
“This stranger-than-fiction tale of a lovable underdog who managed to elude (and royally annoy) a powerful corporation for years also invites us into the heart of the Pez community, an eclectic band of passionate hobbyists that can seem all-too-familiar to most of us festival-goers. Who knew true crime documentaries could be this sweet?” Fantasia writes, and I can’t wait to see for myself.
The Pez Outlaw has its international premiere on Friday, July 22nd at Fantasia.
8. Sissy (dir. Hannah Barlow and Kane Senses)
I’m a fan of horror movies that try to incorporate the increasingly-terrifying online spaces so much of our lives inhabit these days, and I’m intrigued by Australian directing duo Hannah Barlow and Kane Senses’ Sissy, which has also been picked up by Shudder. The film follows a woman with a thriving influencer career who has to confront a childhood bully on a bachelorette weekend.
“It’s a total crowd-pleaser, delivering outrageously gruesome shocks and a ton of uncomfortable character-derived humour that lands brilliantly, as much a dark comedy of traumas as it is a full-blooded horror work,” writes Fantasia. I’d click “Subscribe” on that one! (Sorry. I’m sorry. I’m trying to delete it.)
Sissy has its Canadian premiere on Tuesday, July 19th at Fantasia.
9. Swallowed (dir. Carter Smith)
The director of The Ruins, which I maintain is a sorely-overlooked masterpiece. Jena Malone, star of The Neon Demon and recent rescuer of dogs. A plot about gay porn. A villain role for Mark Patton, iconic star of Freddy’s Dead: Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and the incredibly-enjoyable documentary Scream, Queen!
Seriously… need I say more?
Swallowed has its international premiere on Friday, July 15th at Fantasia.
BONUS: Hypochondriac (dir. Addison Heimann)
I caught Addison Heimann’s mystifying, rewarding Hypochondriac earlier this year at the Boston Underground Film Festival, and I was pleasantly won over by how it takes a typical indie-horror “are they hallucinating, or is something paranormal happening?” plot to some surprisingly-tender places. It’s all helped by a graceful lead performance from Zach Villa, whose work crafts the kind of queer horror hero you just wanna give a big hug.
Hypochondriac has its Canadian premiere on Tuesday, July 19th at Fantasia.