Festivals: Fantasia Reviews

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Fantasia 2016 Review: REALIVE Deeply Engages With Medical Morality And The Human Condition

When screenwriters turn towards directing their own features, the case is often that they can make their talkiest screenplay into a film. This is not necessary a bad thing at all, especially considering the case of Mateo Gil's new science...

Fantasia 2016 Review: SHELLEY Marries Parenthood To Horror Without Enough Consequence

A classy, atmospheric take on the hysteria of new parenthood, Ali Abbasi's Shelley wears its influences boldly on its sleeve (and right there in the title), only the Frankenstein's monster here is a baby born by way of our modern medical...

Fantasia 2016 Review: I, OLGA HEPNAROVA, A Meticulous And Confrontational Look At A Mass Murderer

At one point over the course of this haunting and difficult film, the lead character is reading the Graham Greene novel, The Quiet American. She highlights a passage from the novel that is the lynchpin to understanding the unanswerable questions left...

BiFan 2016 Review: INSANE, Kinda Lame

Released earlier this year, the surprise hit Insane is the sixth film from versatile director Lee Cheol-ha. Employing a less than original premise, this new thriller turns out to be a middle-of-the-road attempt that pales in comparison to a slew...

BiFan 2016 Review: UNDER THE SHADOW Scores with Strong Scares and Social Sting

A well-executed jump scare can deliver one of the strongest physical reactions possible in a theater, but by and large, horrors that go bump in the night rely on little more than technical scares. This leads to a parade of...

BiFan 2016 Review: THE LURE, The Polish Mermaid Horror-Musical You Never Knew You Wanted

In the crowded world of cinema, many filmmakers set out to try something different. However, it's one thing to be novel, which normally means stretching a thin gimmick over other recycled bits of past films, but another thing entirely to...

Fantasia 2016 Review: FURY OF THE DEMON Offers Film History With An Occult Twist

Suspension of disbelief is a critical element to the pure enjoyment of a movie. Whether it is the premise of the story, the matte lines (or digital uncanny valley) of the special effects, or even character motivations, a good storyteller...

Fantasia 2016 Review: IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE Is A Talky If Slight Examination Of Western Tropes

In Sergio Leone's classic The Good The Bad And The Ugly, one of many iconic scenes involves a gunfighter sneaking up to murder Eli Wallach's Tuco in the bath-tub. The anonymous heavy lost his arm in a shootout with Tuco...

Fantasia 2016 Review: THE UNSEEN, An Exceptional Observation of Disappearance

In a cluttered single-wide trailer in a snowcovered, and anonymously dreary logging town in northern British Columbia, Bob Langmore finds himself disappearing. That it not to say that running away from his wife and daughter almost a decade ago to...

Fantasia 2016 Review: RUPTURE Turns Capture Into The Rapture

"Don't fight it. Let it happen. This confusion is all part of the process." This advice is repeated, often in a beatific manner, by the mysterious group of captors who are intent on, among other things, helping the audience navigate the...

Fantasia 2015 Review: NINA FOREVER Is A Threesome With Sex, Love And Death.

I had a university professor (English literature) who was fond of saying, "Nobody walks away happy from a threeway." I wonder what he would have to say about the Blaine Brothers' Nina Forever, a dark but droll relationship drama that...

Fantasia 2015 Review: Time Travel Is A Bastard In SYNCHRONICITY

I never thought it would happen, but I have finally, personally, hit the wall with indie time travel flicks. Jacob Gentry's Synchronicity is not lacking in smarts or clockwork precision, but abjectly fails to convince in its core ideas of love...

Fantasia 2015 Review: Sono Sion's TAG, Sure There Are Lots Of Japanese Girls In It, But...

Sono Sion's Tag opens with two busloads of Japanese school girls on a trip. It's all soft focus sweetness and light until the buses are attacked by an unseen force - literally a killer wind - and shy teen Mitsuko...

Fantasia 2015 Review: DARK PLACES, An Affecting Autopsy Of The 1980s Satanic Panic

1985. In a rural community of Kansas there was a young teenager named Ben Day (Tye Sheridan channelling Ezra Miller) who was very into the punk rock outfit The Misfits. He filled his sketchbooks with black-inked antichrist art, and was accused...

Fantasia 2015 Review: CRUMBS Finds Ethiopia In Tarkovsky's Zone

Ethiopian post-apocalypse dystopian fairy tale Crumbs has a decaying handsomeness to match its unique vision. It has a confident and accomplished auteur unwillingness for either pandering or traditionally pleasing its audience, while simultaneously offering an archetypal hero-journey tale. If features an optimistic message...

Fantasia 2015 Review: SHINJUKU SWAN, Sono's Glossy Yakuza Melodrama

The famous Shinjuku District in Tokyo is Times Square, The Vegas Strip and Magnificent Mile rolled into one (and multiplied by a hundred) is ward of so much light there is not an inch of darkness on the pavement, but...

Fantasia 2015 Review: Much Love for Sono's LOVE & PEACE

It's fair to say my appreciation for the films of Sono Sion runs hot and cold. I was hot on Cold Fish, a near perfect blend of raw, visceral violence both emotional and physical, all told through a narrative...

Fantasia 2015 Review: TALES OF HALLOWEEN, A Pumpkin-Flavored Love Letter From Hell

Horror anthologies have made a pretty healthy comeback in the last few years; some are ok, some are regrettable, and some have awesome production values as well as good stories, such as Tales Of Halloween, which sold out its world...

Fantasia 2015 Review: FATAL FRAME Has No Shortage Of Beautiful Images

Oh J-Horror! It has been years since you were worth my cinematic time. From your heyday in the late 1990s -- Ringu, Dark Water, Ju-On and Pulse -- to Sono Sion putting a very sharp fork into you in the mid-aughts with Exte:...

Fantasia 2015 Review: THE INTERIOR Exquisitely Balances Comedy And Horror

Somewhere up there in heaven (or hell) Samuel Beckett and Henry David Thoreau are tipping their coffee cups towards Trevor Juras' The Interior. For a first feature, this film is not only fully realized and confident, but has a deep understanding...