Small Gauge Trauma Shorts 2019 Block [Fantasia Festival 2019]

As with every year, Fantasia Film Festival is also a place to showcase the talents of filmmakers that specialize in making short films of all genres. This year I tackled the “Small Gauge Trauma” block and thankfully didn’t find a single bad apple in the whole bunch. These shorts aren’t just creative, but they’re incredibly original and delivered in the realm of horror big time.

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Charlie Says (2018) [Blu-Ray]

Attempted peeks behind the curtain of the Manson Family and what led to the murders of Sharon Tate and her friends is a rocky road. It’s a narrative that can be exploitative, cheap, disrespectful, and either glorifies Charles Manson or worse, paints Manson’s cult as victims that were manipulated in to becoming murderous monsters. “Charlie Says” dabbles in the latter material where Mary Harron’s film boils down to a bunch of women being conned by a failed musician who would have sold them out at the snap of a finger.

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Harpoon (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2019]

Munro Chambers is one of the most underrated actors working in film today. He’s been a man mostly working in the corners of film with unsuspecting genre fare and every time he’s managed to turn in stellar performances. In “Harpoon” he manages to deliver a very layered and impressive turn as Jonah, a perpetually cursed protagonist who is revealed to be something and someone completely different every time Rob Grant’s twisted dark comedy reaches a new turning point. “Harpoon” is a fantastic addition to Fantasia this year, putting to film a morbid and weird amalgam of comedy, relationship drama, survival thriller, and horror.

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Riot Girls (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2019]

I wasn’t too interested in the premise of “Riot Girls” upon first glance, but it inevitably won me over with its execution and I came to appreciate (and kind of love) how fun and unique it was. The whole idea of high school cliques becoming the tribes of the post-apocalypse is rife for satire, and Jovanka Vuckovic has a great time with her concept. “Riot Girls” is both a teen drama comedy, and a fun bit of post apocalyptic fodder that you could easily digest right down to the last bite. I loved the whole punk rock, pulp comic book aesthetic, and the way it embraces its fantasy trappings like “The Warriors” did long ago.

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Away (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2019]

Gints Zilbalodis’s “Away” is one of the most dazzling and fantastic animated movies I’ve seen in years, and I’d be stunned if it isn’t appreciated as a masterpiece down the line. Zilbalodis spent years on this work of love committing to every facet of the production himself, and completing what is a tightly packed and briskly paced epic adventure film that is also deceptively simple in its presentation and delivery.

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How “The Crow” Changed My Life [Fantasia Festival 2019]

This year, Fantasia International Film Festival is screening a nice collection of vintage titles and anniversary screenings. One of these is The Crow coming up on the 30th of July at 7pm and it’s one screening I hate to miss.

The Crow turned 25 this year and it has been just about as long since it became my favorite film, hence why this is one of the hardest films for me to write about. There is no being objective, this film is entwined in my teen years and my adulthood. It’s one of those films that had such a big impact, it’s almost impossible to separate the emotional from the reality of the film. So, as it’s playing, I wanted to write a deeply personal piece, a piece that it nowhere near objective, a piece that is about my history with The Crow.

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Critters Attack! (2019) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

It’s been slim pickings for fans of “Critters” and it’s a shame that even after this film, there’s still not a lot of options for us. We’re either stuck with “The New Binge” which was nigh unwatchable, or “Critters Attack!” which is quite boring and defeats the whole idea of a sequel by dodging everything that makes these movies so fun. It even wastes the idea of a friendly Crite named Bianca by making the monster some aimless prop. Let’s just say Gizmo is in no threat of being dethroned as cutest monster ever.

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