Fantasia’s annual showcase of cutting-edge genre works returns with nine strains of nightmares from five countries.
Award-winning Australian filmmaker Heidi Lee Douglas’s DEVIL WOMAN (World Premiere) is set in the Tasmanian forest, where a confrontation is escalating between a group of activist women and local loggers. An endangered animal’s bite alters the course of things in this propulsive eco-horror scream. Checking in from the Netherlands, Marcos Mereles’ THE DEAD MAN SPEAKS (Canadian Premiere) is a compelling experimental interlude that reminds us that the dead vastly outnumber the living on our increasingly cluttered planet. Spain’s Mateo Márquez strikes an urgent chord with THE INVADERS (Canadian Premiere), in which a young Muslim girl realizes that she’s being followed on her way home. It is a fraught descent into fear that uses the prism of genre to boldly address the dangers of anti-Muslim sentiments that are creeping across the West.
France brings a trio of standouts. A 16-year-old girl realizes that her finger has supernatural skin-piercing abilities in writer/director Mael Le Mée’s unforgettable AURORE (North American Premiere). In Aurélien Digard’s inventive and flesh-tearingly funny BESOIN DEAD (North American Premiere), a bride and her groom’s wedding-day plans are thrown a blood-soaked curveball when a zombie outbreak grips their town. Co-starring the great Philippe Nahon. Joséphine Hopkins’s tense and tragic THE DAY MY MOTHER BECAME A MONSTER (Canadian Premiere) is the story of a young girl getting ready to celebrate her ninth birthday in the shadow of her parents’ recent divorce. As the day comes nearer, she notices some deeply unsettling behavior from her mother, whose very physicality is beginning to change.
From the USA, Mike Marrero & Jonathan Rhoads’ haunting RILEY WAS HERE (World Premiere) tells a tale in which a horrific pandemic destroyed a large part of the world’s population. Today, a man will knock on the door of a woman who lost her child to the disease, having sought her out to explore a very particular need. A viscerally dramatic and ghastly film that chillingly addresses the unusual ways we cope with loss. In Ryan Oksenberg’s DAMAGE CONTROL, a man surprises his fiancée when he shows her a newly inherited property, but is in turn the one surprised when a mysterious visitor forces him to be accountable for past actions. In Marinah Janello’s ENTROPIA (Quebec Premiere), a lonely older woman undergoes a series of grisly self-care regimens in an attempt to find happiness. A poetically grotesque film packing equal measures of shock value and soul, ENTROPIA is reminiscent of early Jörg Buttgereit and has already won several awards on the international fest circuit. – Mitch Davis