Our friends in Finland have prepared a springtime feast that promises to be quite horrible. And that's a good thing!
Night Visions is the name of the festival, and it describes itself as "the biggest festival in Scandinavia focusing on fantasy, horror, science fiction and action cinema," which sounds about right. They put on two big events annually in the beautiful, terrifying city of Helsinki, and this year its spring edition will be held from April 10-14 (yes, that's next week).
The spring highlights begin with a trio of wonderfully intriguing films: "David Robert Mitchell's Cannes competition entry Under the Silver Lake, Neil Jordan's mesmerizingly pulpy TIFF premiere Greta - with a tour de force performance by the one and only Isabelle Huppert - and Michael Chaves' SXSW headliner The Curse of La Llorona." Our reviewers have expressed their opinions on those films -- see below -- but I have no doubt that these are among the biggest 'want to see' titles of the moment.
As usual, Night Visions will also be showcasing documentary finds, including Alexandre O. Philippe's Memory: The Origins of Alien and Luke Lorentzen's ambulance biz film Midnight Family.
Of the other features, I can recommend Henry Dunham's tense The Standoff at Sparrow Creek. I am also very curious about the latest by Adrian Garcia Bogliano's Black Circle, which was shot in Sweden and stars Christina Lindberg in her comeback role.
Many more delights await Scandinavian genre fans. Here's more of the official verbiage, courtesy of Night Visions:
"Out of this year's Sundance selection, the festival is extremely proud to host the Finnish premiere of Irishman Lee Cronin's creepy first feature The Hole in the Ground, also featuring the horror film debut of the Finnish veteran actress and Aki Kaurismäki muse Kati Outinen. The lineup also includes two significant documentary discoveries fresh from the Sundance screens. Memory: The Origins of Alien is the Night Visions favourite Alexandre O. Philippe's (the Psycho doc 78/52) in-depth take on Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece. Midnight Family, the winner of Sundance's U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography, is Luke Lorentzen's utterly impressive and bizarre look at the privatized ambulance business in Mexico City.
"The Night Visions selection, always also showcasing the best of the recent Nordic genre product, features four Finnish premieres of the highlights emerging from the territory. So far the most critically acclaimed feature of the bunch, Johannes Nyholm's surreally shocking Koko-di Koko-da also had its world premiere in Sundance this January. Christoffer Boe's surprisigly gritty crime thriller The Purity of Vengeance hit a home run at the end of 2018, becoming the biggest domestic box office hit ever in Denmark. The Swedish actor-turned-director Fredrik Hiller's sophomore feature Operation Ragnarök follows closely on the footstep's of last year's Swedish sci-fi sensation The Unthinkable. The Latin American genre maestro Adrian Garcia Bogliano's latest accomplishment, the Sweden-shot psychedelic horror thriller Black Circle features the highly anticipated comeback of Christina Lindberg, the Swedish 70s exploitation icon and Tarantino muse who has not performed in front of a feature film camera for nearly 40 years.
"Latin America is present not only through Bogliano's Scandinavian debut, but also three remarkable features from the territory. The Coffin Joe scribe Dennison Ramalho's first feature The Nightshifter from Brazil made a well-deserved splash already at its world premiere at Fantasia in Montreal. Emilio Portes' nasty Tobin Bell starrer Belzebuth is one of the latest Mexican genre entries to gain recognition on the international front. I Am Toxic by the Argentinian director duo of Pablo Pares and Daniel de la Vega is a welcome entry to the canon of contemporary post-apocalypse sci-fi cinema.
"On the US indies front, the festival is exceptionally proud to host the world premiere of the Kansas City filmmaker Matthew Dunehoo's feature film debut, the occultist self help horror Wretch. Other highlights in the North American independents selection include Henry Dunham's TIFF Midnight Madness hit The Standoff at Sparrow Creek, Robert D. Krzykowski's Sam Elliott starrer The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot, and Zach Lipovsky & Adam B. Stein's joint venture, the strikingly multi-layered sci-fi thriller Freaks.
"The short film picks include fresh takes on genre subjects from the Nordic region, spiced up with discoveries from Israel (Igor the Vegan Vampire), the Netherlands (Blue Blood) and Spain (9 Steps).
"With its 65 screenings, the festival is spreading over five different venues in the downtown Helsinki area. With the April 2019 edition Night Visions is also leaving a permanent footprint in the local film festival history by being the final movie-related event arranged in the iconic Andorra cinema. The legendary venue and one of the home bases of several film festivals in Helsinki, established and still partially owned by the Finnish filmmaker brothers Aki and Mika Kaurismäki will be closed down for good and then demolished due to restructuring two months after the spring 2019 edition of Night Visions IFF.
"Full lineup and the screening schedule of the April 2019 edition of Night Visions IFF is now up on the festival's website www.nightvisions.info. Tickets to all screenings are also available from the website."