Must-See Films of Fantasia Fest '14

The 18th annual Fantasia International Film Festival, taking place this July 17th through August 5th in Montreal, just announced the first wave of their line-up and as usual it is full of titles I am dying to see! James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy (my most anticipated blockbuster this year) is screening, in addition to the following genre flicks I need in my eyeballs stat:

Among the Living
(d: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury)

Well, this film was on my most-anticipated of 2013 list - whoops. Obviously, it was not quite ready yet! I was so excited to see the next film from the directors of Inside and Livid that I blew my proverbial load too soon! This 80s throwback "tells the tale of three youngsters who skip school, wander around an abandoned amusement park, and suddenly see a woman in chains being dragged around through a field by a man in a clown’s mask. Worse still, the masked man catches a glimpse of the boys." That's just a little taste of course, but it already has me drooling.

(d: Leo Gabriadze)

Not much information is out there for this movie yet, but I am hooked based on its premise alone! It also helps that Night Watch director Timur Bekmambetov is on-board as producer. Here is the synopsis provided by Fantasia: "On the anniversary of a teen’s suicide, the six cyberbullies responsible meet online for a group chat. A seventh, anonymous participant joins them. Told entirely by way of a character's computer screen, CYBERNATURAL brilliantly nails the ways in which we communicate and present ourselves online, hitting hard with a new kind of horror for an increasingly connected-yet-disconnected world." I'm there!

(d: Jean Luc Herbulot)

 I'm a sucker for drug-fueled crime thrillers! This hyperkinetic movie looks more than a little like Nicolas Winding Refn's Pusher films (which I adore) so it will either be redundant or fucking awesome. Either way, count me in. According to Fantasia, it promises to "drag its audience full-steam ahead through a Parisian underbelly filled with hoods and thugs, marking the powerful arrival of one of the most promising new voices in French genre cinema."

The Harvest 
(d: John McNaughton)

 The director of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and Wild Things is back from an 11-year hiatus with this psychological thriller about a child is born with a debilitating disease and his medical professional parents who seclude him from the outside world . Samantha Morton and Michael Shannon star. I am interested in McNaughton's return but also lured in by this description: "a disquieting median space between sinister fairy tale and shattering human horror."

I Origins
(d: Mike Cahill)

From the director of Another Earth comes this sci-fi drama starring Michael Pitt and Brit Marling about molecular scientists who tap into something that could change everything we thought we knew about life and society. I am fascinated by these modern science fiction films and this one looks to intertwine faith and science in curious ways.

(d: The Mo Brothers)

This one is definitely in my top three most anticipated films of Fantasia (if not number one)! Timo Tjahjanto, who helped create some of the most memorable shorts in The ABCs of Death and V/H/S/2, re-teams with Kimo Stamboel (as they previous did on Macabre) for this brutally bloody Indonesian actioner about a serial killer and a vigilante facing off. This is sure to be smart, action-packed and brutal. In other words, I need it in my life immediately!

(d: Noboru Iguchi)

The latest from the manic director of Machine Girl and Dead Sushi is about a public race-to-the-death, based on a 2005 novel by Yusuke Yamada. Keep your Hunger Games whining - I never get tired of these survival competition movies, especially when it's from the insane mind of Iguchi.

The Man in the Orange Jacket
(d: Aik Karapetian)

I had not heard of this Polanski-esque slasher film until not but it looks slick! Here is the synopsis: "A young man is fired from his job at the sea port and begins to stalk his boss and his beautiful wife. After a blood chilling turn of events, he attempts to escape his past by moving into the lavish mansion previously owned by his boss. The embittered young man tries to assume a new identity and lead a luxurious life, but nothing will prepare him for an unsettling visit by a vaguely familiar guest. After that unnerving encounter, the house will no longer be a safe haven, becoming, instead, a twisted and dangerous trap haunted by menacing spirits."

(d: Eisuke Naito)

Live isn't the only Fantasia film pitting Japanese youth against each other. In this one, high school staff and students are held hostage and forced to play a deadly game. Imagine someone watched Battle Royale, then took some acid and remade the film. I imagine you would get something like Puzzle which, based on the trailer, looks like an unofficial BR sequel only way crazier.

The Reconstruction of William Zero
(d: Dan Bush)

The Signal's co-director Dan Bush and star AJ Bowen reunite for this sci-fi thriller about "a scientist who awakens from a coma in the care of his twin brother, but neither may be exactly who they first appear to be." I don't know much else about it but I don't need to - I am already there.

Suburban Gothic
(d: Richard Bates Jr.)

This is the follow-up from the director of Excision, which I loved, so I am already hooked. This eccentric comedy-horror stars Matthew Gray Gubler, Kat Dennings, Ray Wise, Sally Kirkland, Jeffrey Combs and John Waters. Here is the synopsis, c/o IMDb: "Raymond has a prestigious MBA, but he can't find work. He can channel the paranormal, but chatting with a cute girl mystifies him. Kicked out of his big city apartment, Raymond returns home to his overbearing mother, ex-jock father, and beer-bellied classmates. But when a vengeful ghost terrorizes the small town, the city-boy recruits Becca, a badass local bartender, to solve the mystery of the spirit threatening everyone's lives." 

The Search for Weng Weng
(d: Andrew Leavold)

I have been following this documentary for some time so I am very eager to finally see it! If you enjoy Filipino exploitation or ever saw Machete Maidens Unleashed, you probably already know the name, Weng Weng. The 2'9 action star is not somebody you will soon forget, and this doc seeks to tell the world all about him.

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