Fantasia Film Festival 2022 is just around the corner, and I’ll be missing it. Missing it in the sense that I won’t be there, and missing it in the sense that god damn it, I just really miss going to Montreal’s best film festival. I miss the friendly and enthusiastic staff, I miss the chill summer-in-the-city vibe, I miss the unpretentious university-campus setting, I miss the weird audience rituals, and most of all I miss hanging out with my friends at the pub every night talking about movies. I’ve worked at the festival, I’ve worked for the festival, I’ve pitched at the festival, and I’ve watched hundreds of movies at the festival, but it’s the people that always draw me back.
At the risk of distracting from the festival’s intended purpose, I also miss the movies themselves. Running at three weeks long, Fantasia is an epic, sprawling festival, featuring weird and wonderful genre cinema from around the globe. Amongst its programme of usually 150+ titles, you can find subtle and artful genre meditations, wild action flicks, inventive animated films, a vast array of world cinema, obscure retro screenings, and in many cases, the cult films of tomorrow. I’ve discovered so many favourites there; films that either had me bouncing up and down with excitement afterwards, or sobbing into a friend’s arms on Boulevard de Maisonneuve.
Though my homesickness cannot be sated except by flying back around the world (fuck you Covid), my FOMO is mitigated somewhat through being accredited to cover the festival remotely this year. While I won’t be looking at the retro screenings – and holy Christ I wish I could sit with a Fantasia audience for Heroic Trio, Harold and Maude, The Deadly Spawn, Face/Off, Dr Lamb, Hard Boiled, Shriek of the Mutilated, and the films screening alongside the 10th anniversary of Kier-La Janisse’s great and influential book House of Psychotic Women, including In My Skin and bonkers Elizabeth Taylor vehicle Identikit – I’ll be checking out and reviewing as many new and exciting genre films as I can get a hold of. Here are some I’m hoping to see (although, as I’m a remote critic, there’s no guarantee I will):
Glorious – a horror-thriller starring Ryan Kwanten as a man who finds himself trapped in a toilet stall, and J.K. Simmons as a mysterious voice from the next stall over;
What To Do With The Dead Kaiju? – a Japanese satirical comedy about a group of people racing to deal with a giant monster corpse before its post-mortem bloat causes a devastating explosion;
Freaks Out – an Italian action film that sees a troupe of circus performers fighting against Nazis in Rome in 1943;
House of Darkness – Neil LaBute’s latest dark comedy turns to horror as Justin Long braves an increasingly terrifying situation in order to get laid;
The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra – a Korean fantasy-drama telling the story of a breakup from the point of view of the mould left behind on their mattress;
Vesper – the new film from the directors of the dazzling Vanishing Waves, and what looks like an equally dazzling ecologically-driven post-apocalyptic adventure;
The Artifice Girl – an indie sci-fi thriller about online crime prevention and the moral issues that can spring up in the process;
A Life On The Farm – a found-footage documentary unearthing the strange home recordings of a farmer in Somerset, England;
Country Gold – a new comedy from indie fave Mickey Reece, delving into a weird, dark world behind country music; and
La Pietà – a visually-striking Spanish horror exploring power dynamics, mother-son relationships, and lots and lots of bodily fluids.
I’ll be posting a bunch of reviews from Fantasia in the coming weeks. Hopefully some future favourites will be among them.