Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival is one of the best genre film festivals in North America. Its weeks-long celebration of international horror, sci-fi, action, and more will present its 27th such offering this July. The first wave of titles it’ll screen hit us last month. Among those films are vampire reinvention movie Empire V, time-bending sci-fi drama Aporia, and Larry Fessenden’s werewolf romp Blackout. Now Fantasia has its second wave of titles and they include a steampunk anime, a body-swapping romance, and Nicolas Cage! Here are some of our favorite standouts from this second list.
The festival’s opening night movie will be the North American premiere of Red Rooms from Quebec filmmaker Pascal Plante. The story follows the high-profile case of serial killer Ludovic Chevalier, which has just gone to trial. Kelly-Anne is obsessed. When reality blurs with her morbid fantasies, she goes down a dark path to seek the final piece of the case’s puzzle.
Next up, we have Sympathy for the Devil, which has Nic Cage opposite Joel Kinnaman from director Yuval Adler. The festival info says it’s one of Cage’s “most intense performances,” which is quite a claim. After being forced to drive a mysterious passenger at gunpoint, a man finds himself in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse where nothing is as it seems.
The aforementioned steampunk anime is Kurayukaba. Equal parts crazy cartoon caper, shadowy film noir, nostalgic escapade, and steampunk fantasy, the movie is a retro-flavored anime reimagining of the freewheeling Taisho era, Japan’s equivalent of the Roaring Twenties.
Filmmaker Zach Clark brings the fascinating, lo-fi sci-fi comedy The Becomers. This movie is a romantic tale of two body-swapping aliens trying to find their place on this big, dumb planet. As much a love story as a dark comedy satire on American life. Our favorite!
One of my very favorite Fantasia movies from 2021 was Junta Yamaguchi’s Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, a one-take time-loop comedy. It really blew me away both with its ingenuity and its heart. He revisits the concept in River, which culminates into a multifaceted portrait of a place as the various guests, employees, and hosts band together to solve the mystery of the valley stuck in time.
I’ve become a huge fan of folk horror from around the world. This is why I’m so stoked to see the Bangladeshi folk horror movie Pett Kata Shaw. The movie is an anthology of stories of Bangladesh’s ghosts and unforgiving spirits, all tied to the country’s history of injustice and societal dread. Relatable, innit?
Filmmaker Joe Lynch (Mayhem) will pay tribute to the late, great Stuart Gordon with an H.P. Lovecraft adaptation featuring actress Barbara Crampton, producer Brian Yuzna and writer Stuart Paoli. Gordon had a trio of excellent Lovecraft movies with Re-Animator, From Beyond, and Dagon. Lynch’s Suitable Flesh will adapt Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep,” starring Heather Graham and Judah Lewis. A psychiatrist falls into a downward spiral of sex, possession, and death when a young patient shows up at her door with symptoms that are of another world. This will be the Canadian premiere of the movie.
To see the rest of the second-wave titles for the film festival, check out Fantasia’s website. The festival will run from July 20 to August 9, 2023.