Montreal – July 10, 2022
The world renowned genre film festival, Fantasia, is back in full swing for 2022, and its 26th edition. That means back to the silver screens, the cinemas and the cinephiles. The smell of fresh popcorn, human camaraderie and yes, all the meowing as soon as the lights go out. Those that know, know. See, Fantasia – like everything else, was hard hit by the pandemic. For two editions of this wonderful festival, screenings had to be from the homes of the viewer. Although there is nothing wrong with watching movies from the comfort of your own couch, it does lack the very essence of what Fantasia has grown to be.
Sure, there’s no price you can put on the freedom of your own home. The popcorn and snacks are considerably cheaper and there is no rule that says you must wear pants – or any clothing whatsoever in order to enjoy a film. However, watching a film at the Fantasia festival is an experience unlike any other – and although you must be dressed, the ambiance found in the dark cinemas of the festival can not be matched nor equaled. Truly, it needs to be experienced to fully grasp what I mean here. Those that know, know. I mean it.
So with that in mind, we dug through the programming of this years splendid edition, to unearth what we believe will be some of the must-see screenings. We haven’t seen these films (well, one of them we have, but whatever!) but these are the ones the Modern Free Press staff are most looking forward to seeing. So, there’s that.
The Modern Free Press Staff Picks List:
10. We Might As Well Be Dead
Two parents and their young child are seen crossing the German countryside—bog-eyed, weapons in hand, sweaty yet dressed to the nines. They move fast towards the high-rise that sticks out of the edge of the landscape like a godsend. If the interview goes well, the apartment will be theirs. Few know this feeling better than Anna (Ioana Iacob), the complex’s security officer (as well as tour guide and daily weather report dispatcher). She is a useful, beloved member of this “curated” utilitarian community but she soon finds herself in the midst of an imbroglio. Her daughter grows convinced she harbors an ancient evil—and refuses to leave the bathroom. Worse yet, a dog’s disappearance creates a panic that spreads across the building like wildfire.
09. Whether The Weather Is Fine
Waking in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan to find his coastal town (a stand-in for Tacloban City) completely decimated, Miguel (Daniel Padilla, THE HOWS OF US) begins searching for his mother Norma (Charo Santos-Concio, KISAPMATA, THE WOMAN WHO LEFT) and friend Andrea (Rans Rifol) in the rubble. Shelters are overflowing, people are bartering for food, praying, dancing and doing anything necessary to survive. Meanwhile, news of a single ship leaving the coast for Manila makes its way through the crowd, as another storm threatens to hit land imminently. The trio must decide what to do, but their home has other plans for them.
08. What To Do With The Dead Kaiju
The battle is over, and a brittle sense of relief settles over Japan. It has been ten days since the cataclysmic defeat of the gigantic monster that had wreaked havoc in Tokyo. The public alarms have ceased and the conscripted army is demobilizing. The mysterious force that slayed the beast, where no human military technology could, remains an enigma, but right now the main task is to pick up the pieces in the aftermath. There’s one piece, though, that presents a challenge—the enormous, rapidly decomposing carcass of the creature. Officer Arata of the Japan Special Force is assigned to the clean-up task force, an assignment made all the more complicated by political opportunism and romantic entanglements.
07. The Roundup
Legendary officer Ma Seok-do, the man who violently grinds up criminals first and worries about procedures too late for his superiors’ liking, is about to export his indelicate techniques to Vietnam. Indeed, many expatriate thugs are defrauding Korean tourists and investors. One of the main suspects has contacted them to turn himself in for immediate repatriation. Ma and Captain Jong, supposedly an interpreter yet hiding the fact that he is about as bilingual as kimchi, meet the accused in Ho Chi Minh City and discover that a deranged gangster using cruel and gruesome methods is terrorizing even his fellow thugs. The unstoppable lawman Ma sets out to pursue this mysterious psychopath, despite the reluctance of his superior and the interdictions of the local authorities. To say that subtlety is not his strength would be an understatement, so hang on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride!
06. The King Of Pigs
A serial killer is on the loose. He leaves cryptic, violent crime scenes in his wake, even taking the liberty of directly addressing a homicide detective, Jong-suk (Kim Sung-kyu, HANSAN, KINGDOM), by identifying himself. The murderer is a childhood friend of the policeman. His name is Kyung-min (Kim Dong-wook, ALONG WITH THE GODS 1 and 2) and he targets those responsible for their misery when they were beaten, bullied, humiliated, and marginalized at school. He takes pleasure in murdering his former tormentors, and Jong-suk can’t help but feel a little satisfaction. He must, however, stop the killer, but Kyun-gmin is always one step ahead of him and his colleagues. A moral dilemma nags at him, as well as a question that obsesses him: who are the real monsters?
05. The Breach
The new film from Rodrigo Gudino, the founding editor and publisher of famed horror magazine, Rue Morgue, returns with his second feature-length title. Just before he leaves for the big city, Chief of Police John Hawkins (Allan Hawco) is asked to consult on a strange case. A body is found in a boat on the Porcupine River with unsettling the wounds. It’s a find that shakes up the small town of Lone Crow and a job for local coroner Jacob Redgrave (Wesley French). They begin to suspect the remains are of a missing physicist, Dr. Cole Parsons (Adam Kenneth Wilson), and Hawkins is forced to revisit old ties with his ex, Meg Fulbright (Emily Alatalo)—the town’s charter-boat captain who knows the waterways like the back of her hand. She takes Hawkins and Redgrave to Parsons’ leased house, where he conducted secret research deep in the woods. When they arrive, they find the home in disrepair, with an indescribable heaviness and a strange machine in the attic. Parson’s missing daughter and a visit from his grieving wife Linda (Natalie Brown) put the investigation deeper into mystery, and more secrets revealed push everyone to the brink of danger.
What’s even cooler about this film, is that the producer will be there. Normally not that big of a deal, right? Well, in this case it certainly is. That producer, is none other than Slash from Guns N’ Roses! Yeah, Slash is going to be in Montreal, at a movie premier. That alone should be worth the cost of admission. Still need more? Fine. The film also stars Alex Lifeson, of Rush. How’s that?!
04. Dark Glasses
Of course, we had to pick Dark Glasses, the new film by famed director Dario Argento – how could we not?
For high-end sex worker Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli, THEY CALL ME JEEG), 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. And because she’s been harboring Chin (Xinyu Zhang), a young boy whose parents were also victims of that accident, Diana can’t go to the cops, who suspect her of kidnapping the child. So she and Chin have only each other to depend on as they flee through the night, trying to stay one step ahead of the maniac and facing other perils along the way.
03. Relax, I’m From The Future
The world’s fate lies in the hand of a well-meaning time traveler from the future named Casper (Rhys Darby, OUR FLAG MEANS DEATH, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS). Armed with only a form-fitting time-travel suit and his wit, Casper must find his way around the past since he can’t make it back to the future. As he acclimates to our times, he meets Holly (Gabrielle Graham, POSSESSOR, IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON), a queer, disillusioned punk who takes a liking to Casper. He reveals he’s from the future, things get better, and he’ll save the world. To prove it, Casper shows her a would-be cartoonist, Percy (Julian Richings, ORPHAN BLACK, SUPERNATURAL, EJECTA), who becomes a key element when things get messy with Casper’s plan. When Doris (Janine Theriault), an agent who rids the present of random time-travelers, gets wind of this, she’s determined to eliminate Casper, and the chaos created.
02. Hard Boiled
The only thing that could make a 35mm screening of this cult piece of Hong Kong cinematic history better, is if master director John Woo himself would be sat there among the audience – oh wait, that’s happening! Yes, John Woo will be in Montreal for this screening (and a screening of his 1997 film Face/Off too).
A cheerful teahouse in Hong Kong is the scene of a sudden eruption of violence when Inspector “Tequila” Yuen pounces on an illicit gun deal taking place there. His partner doesn’t survive the melée, and Tequila’s propensity for letting hot lead do the talking earns him the ire of his boss. Meanwhile, triad killer Alan is slowly infiltrating the operation of criminal arms dealer Wong—who doesn’t know that Alan is in fact an undercover cop. Tequila and Alan cross paths soon enough, clashing at first but, when the bad guys close in and the path to Wong’s arm cache is revealed, standing back to back—because these two sure as hell won’t stand down.
01. Shin Ultraman
Giant, unearthly monsters are appearing in Japan, and the government has created the S-Class Species Suppression Protocol, an elite agency dedicated to confronting and defeating this invasion by extraterrestrial lifeforms. But when an invisible electrical monster attacks the countryside, a giant, silvery alien being lands on Earth. The titanic superhero, soon to be codenamed Ultraman, destroys the deadly beast quickly enough—but accidentally kills SSSP officer Shinji Kaminaga during the battle. Secretly assuming Kaminaga’s appearance, Ultraman joins the SSSP to help defend humanity, but as more menacing monsters from space arrive, the cosmic conflict can only become more confounding!
Tickets to these shows and many, many more can be found at the Fantasia website. Enjoy the festival! Meow!