This year, Derek, Michelle, Chris, and Ross will be covering the mighty Fantasia International Film Festival, the genre film juggernaut that has turned Montreal into the world capital of wild cinema every summer for the past two decades. There’s no shortage of cool movies on this year’s slate, so with that, here’s a small sampling of the stuff the DtHL crew is especially psyched to see at Fantasia 2018.
Hanagatami (July 14th, 11:30am; July 19th, 6:40pm)
Most North American audiences probably only know Nobuhiko Obayashi for his mind-bending 1977 film House, but the director has been working steadily ever since. While I’ll cop to being ignorant to his post-House output, his new film Hanagatami has me excited. The nearly three-hour adaptation of Kazuo Dan’s wartime novel has been floating around Obayashi’s head since before House and, while the subject matter is completely different from that film’s, early notices from Japan and the UK point to an equally mad avant-garde experience. If I were a different person, I might be more excited for a different film in the festival, like Josephine Decker’s psychodrama Madeline’s Madeline, which looks to be a huge leap forward from her interesting but slight first films, but I am who I am, and the prospect of a successor to House is just too exciting to ignore. Expect fast cutting, actors way too old for their roles, and a cut-and-paste collage style unlike anything else. [Chris Mello]
The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot (July 20th, 9:30pm)
As a bigfoot film aficionado (I have a poster for Legend of Boggy Creek hanging on my wall), I have both great hopes and great reservations for the bluntly titled The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot. In the pro camp, we have Sam Elliott, mustache extraordinaire and American archetype in his own right, along with visual effects co-created by the legendary Douglas Trumbull, and a dog whose name on IMDb officially reads Silas Archer Gustav. Beyond that, it’s directed by Robert D. Krzykowski in his feature directing debut, who is most known for producing The Woman, a serious-minded and exceptional little horror film based on the novel by the late Jack Ketchum. As far as reservations go… I mean, have you seen that title? Ever since Snakes on a Plane, the mediocre but hyped to hell Sam Jackson vehicle that launched a thousand unfunny parodies, the overly descriptive and preposterous B-movie title has been a sign of bad things to come. Here’s hoping the talent in front of and behind the camera delivers more than Sharknado-level ironic detachment. Though, if Bigfoot and Sam Elliott have a fistfight, I guess that’d be fine too. [Michelle Arf]
Mandy (August 1st, 9:30pm)
Even though I might come off as a salivating fanboy, I have to admit the following: I have been waiting seven years for Panos Cosmatos to come back to the director’s chair. Ever since I had my cortex melted by Beyond the Black Rainbow, I’ve been craving another hit of his intoxicating bongwater brew of retro-futurist genre fare. This movie looks like what a doom metal double album feels like: heavy, elemental, conjuring haunting images that would be right at home both in your nightmares and airbrushed on the side of a ’73 Ford Econoline. And while Rainbow was a tumultuous gaze inward, Mandy has the making of a grand Viking journey, but with more foggy phantasmagoria and chain saw fights. And as if the Movie Gods were not benevolent enough, they decided to sweeten the deal by having the whole thing scored by the late, great Jóhann Jóhannsson and first-billing the king shaman of American acting, Nicolas Cage. I’m calling my shot now: there’s no way this movie doesn’t at least place for me when list-making season comes around. [Derek Godin]
Relaxer (July 14th, 9:50pm; July 16th, 1pm)
Joel Potrykus might not be a household name just yet, but he has been making waves at festivals over the past few years with his idiosyncratic portraits of grimy slackerdom. Ape and Buzzard are the kind of movies that feel right at home being released on VHS in the 2010s, and Potrykus’ fourth movie, Relaxer, appears to be no different. Wielding the talents of mad-eyed leading man Joshua Burge for the third time, here Potrykus has him play a fiercely committed gamer who refuses to leave his couch until he conquers an unbeatable final level of Pac-Man, even as the world outside is on the brink of Y2K. Remember the millennium? Joel Potrykus sure does. We can’t wait to take this bizarro trip back in time with him, which may just be the first disaster movie to never gets its ass off the sofa. [Ross Birks]
Under the Silver Lake (July 19th, 6:30pm)
David Robert Michell’s eagerly anticipated follow up to It Follows might have gotten a lukewarm reception at Cannes earlier this year, but that doesn’t mean we’re any less excited for it. Billed as a sprawling detective story unfolding under the shadow of the Hollywood sign, Under the Silver Lake stars Andrew Garfield as an amateur sleuth who finds the girl of his dreams (Riley Keough) in his swimming pool one night, then takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of her disappearance when she suddenly goes missing. Busily populated by a revolving door of hot young stars and seasoned character actors alike, Silver Lake promises to be an eventful shamble through modern day L.A., full of madcap encounters with oddballs and a nonsensical labyrinth of unruly subplots. It’s the kind of potentially indulgent hot-off-the-success-of-their-last-film big-swing most filmmakers attempt at one point in their career, as long as they’re lucky enough to be given the opportunity. Mitchell seems to have embraced his carte blanche with total abandon and the result could either be a Long Goodbye for the millennial age or 2018’s answer to Southland Tales. As a big fan of both those movies, I can’t wait to find out how this one lands. [Ross Birks]
The 2018 edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 12th to August 1st in Montreal, Quebec.