This year’s Fantasia International Film Festival — one of the world’s premiere genre gatherings, held every year in Montreal — looks to be especially epic. Beginning July 12 and running through August 5, the Festival has a number of delights for the horrorheads and weird cinema freaks amongst the Quebecers, but also helps to shape the year in genre releasing at large.
In short, the crazy movies you’re going to see here are the ones that your pals are going to be talking about in the months to come.
There are ton of incredible things to do if you’re on site in Montreal — Michael Ironside is being interviewed, Mick Garris is recording his popular podcast, Joe Dante is being honored (check out their website for more) — but we’ll be covering the festival and its many titles remotely from our home base in Boston. Oh how we wish we could be there! Still, here are seven titles you’ll want to see if you’re going to the Festival and that you’ll want to check out when they hit a theater near you later on this year.
Under the Silver Lake
Though it’s easy to forget that he’s out making movies sometimes, David Robert Mitchell is one of our most interesting modern filmmakers. Regardless of whether or not you love every aspect of his output (for instance, we love The Myth of the American Sleepover and kind of hate It Follows), a new film from him is a cause for celebration. His latest work, a neo-noir pastiche about a LA ne’er-do-well (Andrew Garfield) who becomes paranoid when his neighbor disappears, is a movie that confused and delighted critics at Cannes. You’ll have to wait until December to see it otherwise, so if you’re looking to be the first to see something that everyone will be talking about in six months, definitely put this near the top of your list.
Based on the novel by horror maestro Ryu Murakami (whom you definitely shouldn’t confuse with Haruki, because if you do, you might be in for a pretty bad time), Piercing is about a salaryman (Christopher Abbott) who, after his child is born, decides to rid himself of all of his terrible impulses by murdering a sex worker. He’s got every detail planned out in a meticulous fashion, but when the woman (Mia Wasikowska) arrives, things don’t go according to plan. Murakami’s work has already made for one incredible film, that being Takashi Miike’s Audition, and Fantasia alum Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother) seems to be well up to the task, if early word from Sundance is any indication.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
We’ve heard bits and pieces about this sequel to Charles Band’s genre-schlock classic, and what we’ve heard is that this is the shock cinema event of the year and perhaps even the decade at large. Yes, the little murderous Nazi puppets are back, this time causing chaos at a convention dedicated to their creator Andre Toulon (Udo Kier). This boasts a screenplay by Brawl in Cell Block 99’s S. Craig Zahler, and is directed by Wither creators Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund, so you know there’s something special to see here. We’re excited to see what evil shit these nutty bastards have crafted, no matter how ashamed our parents would be of us.
Unfriended: Dark Web
We were lucky enough to catch the world premiere of this Blumhouse-produced sequel to the 2014 hit back at SXSW in March, and we have to say that this is a damn good time at the movies. It’s one of a number of films at this year’s festival (Searching, Timur Bekmambetov’s Profile) to take place entirely on a computer screen, but it might be the most out-there. Taking a page from urban legends about the very-real “Dark Web,” this tale is about why you shouldn’t take laptops from the lost-and-found section at your work, even if you want to impress your deaf girlfriend or play Cards Against Humanity with your buddies. It is a hoot and a half, and you need to check it out.
The Traveling Cat Chronicles
Oftentimes during a genre film festival, it’s easy to get totally swept away by all the blood and guts and thrills and scares, and to get a little numb to it all. To put it plain, you might need a palette cleanser, especially after something like Puppet Master, and what better way to clear the eyes and spirit than with a heartwarming tale about a man and the cat that he needs to rehome. Director Kôichirô Miki aims to tug on your heartstrings here, and we’re incredibly excited to see what he has in store with us, though we might not ever recover if something bad happens to this cat.
The Man Who Killed Hitler and then The Bigfoot
That titled grabbed our attention, but the synopsis has our curiosity: Apparently this film is about a grizzled World War II assassin (who, yes, killed Hitler back in the day) — in the year of our lord 1987 — tasked by the government to off western civilization’s second greatest enemy: The Bigfoot. The fascinating part: That assassin is played by Sam fuckin’ Elliott. Yes, you read that right. It’s the debut film of writer/director Robert Krzykowski, produced by John Sayles and Lucky McKee, with special effects by Douglas Trumbull (who did the effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as directing fuckin’ Silent Running). With a pedigree like that, why wouldn’t you jump at the chance to see this?
You have heard us rant and rave about Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy — check out our Sundance review here — each and every day of the year, so we’ll just point you to our review of this Nicolas Cage-starring modern classic. It’s already sold out, but if there’s some way that you can sneak into this, the closing night film, you definitely should. You will not regret it.