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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

10 Movies We Can’t Wait to See at This Year’s Fantasia International Film Festival!

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Fantasia International Film Festival, running from August 5-25. Founded in 1996, this Montreal-based fest dedicates itself to exploring diverse realms of genre cinema from across the globe. The fest doesn’t just introduce new international gems but countless new talents and voices as well.

The J-horror craze of the early aughts? It’s often credited to Fantasia, which premiered Ringu in 1999, where Dreamworks acquired it. The fest introduced Takashi Miike to North American audiences with the 1997 premiere of Fudoh. The festival celebrates 25 years of rich history that includes award-winning features, celebrated genre talents, and beloved horror favorites.

Fantasia’s still going strong, too, with their robust lineup for this year offering a slew of highly anticipated titles. Here are titles that Joe Lipsett and I can’t wait to see:

Joe’s Picks


The slow, but regular trickle of Screenlife horror continues with #Blue_Whale, a Russian film co-produced by Timur Bekmambetov. The premise sounds amazing: a rash of teen suicides in a Russian town is linked to a popular social media game aimed at chipping away at its victims’ lives. The fact that the film is inspired by real cybercrimes and has ties to the Japanese Momo hoax makes this one of my most anticipated films of the fest.

Don’t Say Its Name

The increasing prominence of Indigenous horror, from Stephen Graham Jones’ bestsellers to Jeff Barnaby’s kick ass Blood Quantum, is both welcome and overdue. Don’t Say Its Name sounds like another great addition. The film follows a dead environmental activist brought back to life as an ancient spirit reborn outside a small northern town, which ties directly into Indigenous teachings about the land and spirituality. Hopefully it’s also very spooky!


I’ve had my eye on the Adams Family since I caught their film The Deeper You Dig at Fantastic Fest in 2019. The DIY family of filmmakers – comprised of John Adams, Toby Poser, and daughter Zelda – wrote, directed, and starred in an astonishingly polished film on a bare-bones budget. Now they’re back with Hellbender, a new supernatural film about “a lonely teenage girl who finds guidance in her family’s suppressed supernatural lineage.” The logline is a little vague, but judging from The Deeper You Dig, expect some fantastic dreamy nightmare imagery.

King Knight

A new film from indie director Richard Bates Jr is always worthy of celebration. Bates Jr is the creative mind behind a host of uncomfortable, cringey comedy/horror films, including Excision and Trash Fire. The new film reunites him with frequent collaborator Matthew Gray Gubler and Westworld’s Angela Sarafyan who play “husband-and-wife high priest and priestess of a coven of witches in a small California community” who unearth a secret about their past. I’m getting slight Santa Clarita Diet vibes from the description, so I’m excited to see what Bates Jr delivers.

Martyrs Lane

Prepare for Gothic Horror with writer/director Ruth Platt’s Martyrs Lane. In the film, a 10-year-old girl living in a vicarage makes friends with a mysterious nightly visitor, but (in true spectral fashion) her new friend has some very dangerous knowledge. I’m always down for a UK ghost flick, so this sounds right up my alley. 

Meagan’s Picks

The Deep House

An underwater haunted house movie is the only description necessary for The Deep House to land at the top of the most anticipated Fantasia features. But here’s another: this found footage aquatic nightmare is from the twisted minds of Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury (InsideAmong the Living). The downside is that this special screening plays in-person only on August 22nd, which means those participating in Fantasia’s virtual-only offering will have to wait until the film hits Epix soon. But if you are attending in person, this one is a must.

What Josiah Saw

Last year’s Fantasia debuted Bryan Bertino’s ultra-chilling The Dark and the Wicked. So, when Fantasia describes a horror movie as “This year’s The Dark and the Wicked,” it instantly jumps to the top of the must-see watchlist. As for the plot, director Vincent Grashaw spins a Southern Gothic nightmare that sees a family grappling with the skeletons buried deep within their closets. Even more intriguing is its cast, including Robert Patrick, Nick Stahl, Kelli Garner, Tony Hale, Scott Haze, and Jake Weber.


South Korean cinema tends to be unmatched when it comes to intense thrillers, thanks to breathless suspense, shocking violence, and cruel twists. That Fantasia compares Midnight to the gut-wrenching serial killer thriller The Chaser automatically puts it on our radar. Midnight sees a serial killer target a deaf woman unable to call for help, which will undoubtedly lead to a thrilling cat-and-mouse game that will leave our jaws on the floor.

Mad God

Legendary and Oscar-winning visual effects master Phil Tippett receives this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award from Fantasia. The honor coincides with the North American premiere of his ambitious stop-motion animation feature 30 years in the making. Based on the trailer and images, Mad God looks to be a breathless wonder, full of monsters and mad scientists.

The Sadness

Billed as the “transgressive horror experience of the decade,” The Sadness draws comparisons to the extreme horror of Hong Kong Category III films. In other words, don’t expect your average zombie movie here. Set in an alternate version of Taiwan, a pandemic mutates to the point where the infected cannot control their id. Based on the images and description, it seems that bloodletting and violence will get dialed up to the max. Even more intriguing, it’s the only film Fantasia ever attributed a trigger warning.


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