What would late summer be without the Fantasia International Film Festival? A lot less fun, that's what. The fest, which programs the finest genre features and shorts from around the world, is an annual highlight for fans of action, science-fiction, horror, documentary, and experimental cinema. Once again, The Aisle Seat will be providing coverage of the event, which runs from August 5th – 21st.
So what's in store at Fantasia this year? Here are five of the most intriguing titles to screen.
The Spine of Night - Patton Oswalt, Lucy Lawless, and Richard E. Grant are among the voice actors in this throwback to the animated movies aimed at adults that were popular in the '70s and early '80s. Think Heavy Metal, Ralph Bakshi's American Pop and Wizards, and sections of Pink Floyd: The Wall. Directors Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King tell a tale about a group of heroes from different eras all fighting an evil figure who has gotten his hands on an ancient form of magic, with plans to use it nefariously. Fantasia has always aimed to prove that animation isn't just kids' stuff. The mind-bogglingly violent The Spine of Night continues in that fine tradition.
We're All Going to the World's Fair - Jane Schoenbrun's subliminally scary film has been tearing up the festival circuit since debuting at Sundance in January. Casey (Anna Cobb) is a teenage girl who decides to take part in an internet challenge that puts her in contact with a mystery man who may be benign or a predator. She can't figure out which. This one is guaranteed to challenge your ideas of storytelling with its bold choices and wonderfully moody atmosphere.
Frank & Zed - This one is something really special – a full-fledged horror movie accomplished completely through puppetry. If the Muppets suddenly found themselves in a George Romero flick, it might look something like this. The titular characters are creatures. Frank is a Frankenstein's Monster-like figure, Zed is a zombie. They live in an old castle, where Frank routinely kills rats so that Zed will have enough brains to eat. Their existence is disrupted by the arrival of villagers who are hoping to subvert a demon curse that has been placed upon them. Violent, insane mayhem ensues.
Prisoners of the Ghostland - Japanese director Sian Sono is known for bold, bizarre films like Why Don't You Play in Hell? and Cold Fish. Having him team up with Nicolas Cage promises hard-core cinematic craziness. The story is set in Samurai Town, an unusual place that's half ancient Japanese village, half Wild West town. People in kimonos reside alongside people wearing cowboy hats, and traditional Japanese architecture exists next to dusty saloons. Cage plays the unnamed Hero, a bank robber who gets caught after a heist goes violently wrong. He gets a chance at freedom when the Governor (Bill Moseley) makes him an offer. Hero will go free if he ventures into the mysterious area right outside of town to rescue a missing girl, Bernice. The teaming of Cage and Sono in a genre-blending tale like this makes Prisoners of the Ghostland a must-see.
What Josiah Saw - Making its world premiere is this chiller that follows an estranged family as they come together to sell their farm. Josiah (Robert Patrick) has received haunting visions from beyond, and they're telling him that the group has to atone for sins from their past. Nick Stahl, Kelli Garner, Jake Weber, and Tony Hale co-star in what promises to be a gripping work of southern gothic horror. This is one of the movies I'm most excited to screen this year.
Plenty of other promising films are part of Fantasia 2021. Keep checking back to The Aisle Seat for continuing coverage throughout the event.
For more information on this year's festival, please visit fantasiafestival.com.