08th Jul2019

Line-up for Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 revealed

by Phil Wheat

Long-running Montreal genre Fantasia International Film Festival is set to host World Premieres of MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT, BLOOD ON HER NAME, STARE, 1BR, and THE DEEPER YOU DIG; as well as special live appearances from producer Edward R. Pressman, director Ted Kotcheff, and horror host Joe Bob Briggs…

Highlights for me include:

BLISS. USA – Dir: Joe Begos
A drug-fueled night out in LA transforms a young artist into something otherworldly, but is it due to the vampiric ménage à trois she took part in or the cocaine-like “bliss” she’s been snorting? ALMOST HUMAN/THE MIND’S EYE director Joe Begos deliver a stunning heavy metal head-trip that’s equal parts blissful euphoria and horrifying bloodbath. Joe Begos’s latest horror? Count me in!

FREAKS. Canada – Dirs: Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein
Bruce Dern, Emile Hirsch, and Amanda Crew headline this mind-bending mystery box of a thriller about a young girl (newcomer Lexy Kolker) whose father has convinced her that leaving their suburban home will spell her doom… and when she finally does step outside, she discovers a world unlike anything she – or this film’s viewers – would ever believe. Having seen this at Glasgow Frightfest earlier this year I can say this is unmissable!

HARPOON. Canada – Dir: Rob Grant
When a troubled trio of young friends find themselves marooned on a yacht in the middle of the ocean, suspicions and anger bubble to the surface as their faith in each other sinks like a shipwreck. Writer/director Rob Grant returns to Fantasia with thrilling, seafaring suspense film that takes absolutely no prisoners. Starring TURBO KID’s Munro Chambers. Who doesn’t want to see the latest film from acotr Munro Chambers?

PORNO. USA – Dir: Keola Racela
Trapped in a cinema late at night, five sex-starved religious teens are easy prey for a succubus with lust and murder in mind, but these Bible-thumpers won’t give up without a fight… even when this ‘90s-set retro riot has their balls literally to the wall.

SWALLOW. USA – Dir: Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Meek housewife Hunter (an utterly terrific Haley Bennett) struggles to find purpose and meaning – until she begins swallowing a variety of household objects. A film that will pique anxieties and turn stomachs, this is a surprisingly tender look at the echoes of abuse. See this one at all costs or miss one of the most potent works of the year.

fantasia-2019-header

From the press release:

The 2019 edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival has now released its full lineup, featuring over 130 incredible features from across the globe. Of note, the festival will host the World Premieres of MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT, BLOOD ON HER NAME, STARE, 1BR, THE DEEPER YOU DIG, and HOMEWRECKER; the North American Premieres of VIVARIUM, DREADOUT, and LES PARTICULES; the Canadian Premieres of THE LODGE, PROMARE, ANOTHER CHILD, and SWALLOW; and Special Advance Screenings of READY OR NOT and A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND.

In addition, the festival is also very proud to announce a record number of repertory titles, its esteemed 2019 jury, a horror film location bus tour through Montreal, and exciting, one-of-a-kind live events featuring producer Edward R. Pressman, FIRST BLOOD director Ted Kotcheff, and iconic horror host Joe Bob Briggs.

JAPANESE HORROR ICON SADAKO WILL OPEN FANTASIA 2019!

Twenty years ago, Fantasia celebrated the North American Premiere of Hideo Nakata’s RINGU and its sequel, which led to Dreamworks acquiring the franchise and is largely seen as having been the birth of J-Horror in the West. This Summer, the festival is proud to open its 23rd edition with the series’ latest sequel, SADAKO (North American Premiere), which also marks the return of director Nakata to his beloved franchise. One of cinema’s scariest characters is back on the big screen, and you’d better prepare yourself in case she and her young acolyte decide to crawl out of it. SADAKO cleverly respects all of the elements that made Koji Suzuki’s novels so successful, but brings in a host of new elements that will revive J-horror for an all-new generation of terrified moviegoers.

READY OR NOT… FOR THE YEAR’S BEST HORROR RIDE!

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (V/H/S) and Tyler Gillett (DEVIL’S DUE), READY OR NOT follows a young bride (Samara Weaving of MAYHEM) as she joins her new husband’s (Mark O’Brien) rich, eccentric family (Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell) in a time-honored tradition that turns into a lethal game with everyone fighting for their survival. In this Special Screening from Fox Searchlight Pictures, the games that people play are the games where people slay!

BLOOD ON HER NAME IS A SOUTHERN GOTHIC NEO-NOIR FOR THE AGES

A sad, soulful crime drama about choice, guilt and consequence, imbued with a creeping sense of damnation that will haunt you to your core, BLOOD ON HER NAME (World Premiere) is a scorching feature debut for director and co-writer Matthew Pope. It’s an intimately powerful film centered around an extraordinary performance from Bethany Anne Lind, who reveals herself to be one of the most remarkable actors working today. Through her character’s perspective, she and Pope deliver a compelling exploration of moral compromise steeped in a tone of defeated desperation that pulls us into its world without a single false move. Also starring Will Patton and Elisabeth Rohm, this film will mark you forever.

FEAR THE MYTHICAL ASWANG IN MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT

Adolfo Alix Jr. (DARK IS THE NIGHT, MANILA, PORNO) is one of most prolific independent filmmakers of the Philippines, whose multi-genre films have graced the screens of Cannes TIFF, Rotterdam and Locarno. With MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT (World Premiere), he gleefully turns to horror with a strange, impactful, 1900s-set adaptation of Rody Vera’s play “The First Aswang”. Making great use of the classic folklore of the Aswang, Alix Jr. addresses the multi-generational horrors of Spanish colonial rule in a classic fairy tale retold with a dash of eroticism and the weird. This special, unforgettable film achieves a unique and strange aesthetic that builds to great hypnotic effect, sinking its claws into its audience, and dragging them further into the night.

PREPARE TO BE TRAPPED BY THE NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE OF VIVARIUM

Following an acclaimed launch in Critics Week at Cannes, Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan’s VIVARIUM will be making its North American debut at Fantasia 2019. It tells the story of a young couple, played with charm by Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg, who check out a potential new home in a Kafkaesque suburbia, only to later discover that they’re unable to escape from the endless, empty residential neighbourhood. Featuring stellar supporting performances by Eanna Hardwicke and Jonathan Aris, this fascinating paranoid thriller is in the vein of the greatest Twilight Zone episodes: a tense science fiction fable that will imprison you in its otherworldly hold and never let go.

COVER YOUR EYES FOR THE WORLD PREMIERE OF STARE

The dead are piling up at an alarming rate, and the state in which the victims are discovered is even more shocking. Everyone seems to have died from heart attacks, visibly provoked by extreme fear – and their eyes have literally exploded. Fans of RINGU’s Sadako and THE GRUDGE’s Kayako will be thrilled to experience STARE (World Premiere)… and meet Shirai-san, an unforgettable new Eastern apparition that will haunt festivalgoers’ nightmares forever. 2019 continues to deliver on cutting edge J-horror – and there is no doubt that director, screenwriter, and author Hirotaka Adachi’s STARE will be one of the year’s biggest highlights.

1BR LEASES THE APARTMENT COMPLEX OF YOUR NIGHTMARES

The feature debut of writer/director David Marmor, 1BR (World Premiere) joins a very select group of quality horror films – including Polanski’s THE TENANT and Argento’s INFERNO – to successfully explore the terrors of apartment living, but what sets this film apart is its plausibility. It would be running into spoiler territory to divulge more, except to say it’s probably not a coincidence the story is set in Los Angeles, a city where unsuspecting people, looking to make a change, all too often have that change forced upon them against their will. Marmor’s smart script and solid cast of mostly unknowns make 1BR one of Fantasia 2019′s top discoveries.

THE FATHER’S SHADOW UTILIZES THE FANTASTIC TO EXPRESS ANGUISH

After her first feature, FRIENDLY BEAST, a theatrical tale of blood, sex, and the battle between social classes which world-premiered at Fantasia 2017, Gabriela Amaral Almeida returns with a second, much darker film. THE FATHER’S SHADOW (North American Premiere) was a short film written and developed in 2014 through Sundance’s Director’s Lab program, which evolved into a feature. Inspired by virtually every great master of horror, and much like her zombie-obsessed young lead, Amaral uses her fantastic imagination and ability to create visceral, haunting images in order to express the anguish of Brazilian society in decline.

THE SHACKLES OF CANADIAN POLITENESS ARE FUEL FOR NIGHTMARES IN HOMEWRECKER

Michelle (Alex Essoe) meets Linda (Precious Chong) at a yoga class. Linda’s wide-eyed enthusiasm is clearly off-putting, but Michelle’s aversion to conflict makes it difficult for her to brush off the increasingly pushy woman. Things escalate once Linda asks Michelle to redecorate her home and refuses to let her leave. Written by director Zack Gayne and the film’s two stars, Chong and Essoe (who wowed audiences with her breakthrough performance in 2014’s STARRY EYES), HOMEWRECKER (World Premiere) embraces an unusual tone informed by late 1980s pop sensibilities. With the energy of a Jane Fonda workout tape, the movie escalates into the uncanny, especially as it deals with gendered expectations surrounding femininity and romance.

DREADOUT: THE VIDEO GAME ADAPTATION YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR

In an attempt to boost their online popularity, a group of friends obsessed with their social media exposure decide to broadcast their clandestine visit into an abandoned building that was last used by a cult, and end up opening a portal to an alternate dimension. Writer-director-producer Kimo Stamboel of the Mo Brothers (MACABRE) demonstrates impressive efficiency and creativity with his first solo feature DREADOUT (North American Premiere), adapted from the popular video game. If DETECTIVE PIKACHU gave gamers a cuteness overdose, DREADOUT is the remedy – an ample serving of the undead with a shot of demonic possession on the side.

Fantasia’s 2019 website details all films and events at this year’s festival.

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