This year was a huge year for myself in terms of coverage I was able to do at Fantasia. Having moved back to Montreal (albeit temporarily), I was able to see a huge number of films at the fest, which led to an average of 2 films per day most days with just a few days off to recharge. 2 films per day may not seem like a lot, but when you factor in the reviews being written to publish as soon as possible and networking every night after the fest, the best festival of the year for this reviewer becomes the most exhausting. Your schedule shifts to live between 12noon and 4am most days, waking up then writing reviews, sending reviews, going to the fest in the afternoon or at night, then to the official pub to meet with filmmakers, reviewers, staff, and fans, then bed at 4am-ish most days, the schedule takes a toll. Kudos to the staff of the fest who are up all day working, then all evening and part of the night before doing it all over again the next day, this for 21 days. I know I could never do that for that long. Even with a few full days off to handle life and try to survive, it was an exhausting yet exhilarating experience to be able to be there from the programme launch the week before the fest to post fest goodness with friends.
Eric Valette is a French film director known for his fantastically creepy film Malefique (2002), his remake of One Missed Call (2008), The Prey (2011), etc. This year, his French polar, or thriller, Le Serpent aux Milles Coupures (Thousand Cuts) had its North American Premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival.
Each year Fantasia showcases a ton, almost a literal ton, of shorts films. Reviewing them can be a bit demanding, so it has been decided to review them in groupings. The following shorts were attached to feature films that played the fest and were viewed on the big screen.
Coulrophobics look out, “The Night Watchmen” is easily your worst nightmare come true, but it’s also one of the best horror comedies I’ve seen in a while. Director Mitchell Altieri delivers one of hell of a great horror gore fest that imagines the world overrun by vampire zombie clowns. “The Night Watchmen” is set primarily in an office, and Altieri makes great use of it, picturing the night shift from hell. You could make a sub-genre out of horror movies set in an office work place, these days, but “The Night Watchmen” has a great time making use of the back drop, with the various halls and corners of the office, and the typically monotonous setting.
Small Gauge Trauma is a programming block of shorts at the Fantasia Festival that sort of functions as a two hour anthology movie without a wraparound story. The shorts can be in any genre and are chosen by rough theme. In the 2017 edition’s case the theme was “Family” and while I know that this doesn’t sound overtly ominous, trust me when I say that it should.
Before I even start the review(s) I’m going to issue a mild to medium spoiler warning. Short films are, well… you know… short. So I have to talk about something and because the various runtimes are often under ten minutes I may mention stuff that happens towards the end. I promise I won’t ruin any twists and I will try not to describe every aspect of the plot and story, but I have to work with what I got.
Izzy Lee is a talented short filmmaker who some of us cannot wait to see a feature film from. Her shorts have been many and has one of them, For a Good Time Call…, played Fantasia International Film Festival this year paired with the feature Dead Man Tells His Own Tale. As her work should, more like needs to, be seen by all horror fans, here is a rundown of some of her recent shorts.
Chris Peckover’s “Better Watch Out” is absolutely nothing like I thought it’d be. That might be a criticism by some when the movie makes its way to VOD this year, but walking in to it blind, I was stunned to find something different but still rather entertaining. “Better Watch Out” just might end up being a Christmas classic somewhere down the road, as it’s a pitch black comedy, and unusual horror thriller that derives great pleasure in its sheer sadism. I’m not usually a fan of horror movies filled with such a mean streak, but “Better Watch Out” is shockingly clever, and very slick in how it builds up its villain slowly and makes the menace in the movie more and more terrifying.
Last year saw the first time where the programmers at the fest felt a need to have a short film block dedicated entirely to women-made short genre films as they had received a big selection of very strong titles. This year continues this with its second edition or the 2017 edition. Here are short reviews for each film involved in it this year (in no particular order).