August 4, 2022
WRITTEN BY: NICK, PAIGE, AND QUENTIN
Fantasia International Film Festival has been called "the most outstanding and largest genre film festival in North America," and has been hailed by many award-winning filmmakers, including Quentin Tarantino and Guillermo Del Toro.
This year, Nick, Paige, and Quentin had the chance to check out some films from the festival’s 26th iteration. Unfortunately, with a heavier focus on in-person attendance, we covered the festival remotely from Canada, the United States, and Germany. Nevertheless, we were honored to take part and feel privileged to view so many great titles from around the world.
GLORIOUS Come for the glory hole, stay for the amusing Lovecraftian horror film that entirely takes place in a rest stop bathroom. Glorious is at its best when embracing its wacky weirdness, and J.K. Simmons is having a blast being snarky without hamming it up. He plays his character as a strange force of both horror and humor to Ryan Kwanten’s straight man. Their back and forth is what makes this film so enjoyable. Although there are moments when the film struggles with the pacing and becomes a little aimless, the toilet eventually unclogs itself towards becoming a fun midnight flick. - Paige
THE FIGHT MACHINE All things considered, director Andrew Thomas Hunt demonstrates competency and even potential behind the camera (the cheesy final shot notwithstanding) by capturing the dirty world of bare-knuckle boxing with an authentic aura of grime and grit. The general story isn’t bad either. However, the way the story is presented fails him a bit. I understand wanting to show the motivations of two fighters from almost literally different sides of the tracks (or river in this case), but the lack of cohesion can kill the momentum at times. The two characters never intersect until the very end, so it almost feels like two separate movies. Still, The Fight Machine isn’t bad, but it could have been better. - Quentin
SHARP STICK If you don’t think about things too much, Lena Dunham's Sharp Stick is a fine, if unspectacular, coming-of-age story. However, when you go deeper, the reactions and motivations of Sarah Jo (Kristine Forsythe) make little to no sense, and logic is foregone for a quick laugh. Even the attempts at an honest exploration of sex (the presumed goal of the movie) don’t work as well as Dunham intends. The cast does what they can with the questionable script, but not even the energetic Jon Bernthal could save this one. - Nick
THE ROUNDUP The Roundup is a brutal, action-packed film from start to finish, and while it may not be ground breaking in any way, it breaks enough bones along the way to be entertaining. It’s also bloody funny, much to my surprise. Star Ma Dong-seok’s ability to shift from humor to violence on the flip of a coin is what makes this flick so great. The filmmakers do an outstanding job of balancing the film’s tone too, so if you enjoy foreign action films, this is a must watch! - Paige
CULT HERO I get that it’s not fair to compare super low-budget indie flicks to mainstream blockbusters, but even with that understanding…woo boy, is Cult Hero a stinker. Given the poster, I was expecting a fun, tongue-in-cheek, 80s throwback à la Psycho Goreman; However, I’m not sure the team behind this film even know what the joke here is supposed to be. Star Ry Barrett’s mustachioed, sunglasses-always-on, forced-raspy-voice-having, perpetually-grimacing tough guy comes across as the toxic bro at the 80s-themed frat party who dresses like this unironically. The guy that ladies roll their eyes at, cover their drinks around, and avoid all costs…which is sound advice for this movie too. - Quentin
THE BREACH I’m never going to fault someone for taking risks, which is exactly what director Kyle Ball does with Skinamarink, but it can still end with mixed results. There are certainly positives to be found, mostly a Super 8 film approach that works wonders, and Ball does a great job using minimalist filmmaking to find tension. Unfortunately, this style also leads to moments that feel long and drawn out, which would have been overcome by a shortened runtime. This film requires a lot of patience from its viewer and it’s certainly not for everyone, but it did succeed in creating an eerie vibe and giving me one of the better scares I’ve had in some time. - Nick
SISSY Sissy is a colorfully dark, comedy-slasher satire that could be considered a modern take on Carrie. While it features decent performances, the film lacks seriousness, which limits its ability to resonate. The film wants to have its cake and eat it too by focusing on heavy subject matter like bullying while also trying to balance the scale with some dark humor. Still, Sissy delivers clever twists and turns too, so I hope the audience is ready for a bumpy and unpredictable ride. - Paige
SPECIAL DELIVERY Although it’s derivative of everything from Baby Driver to Kate, there is still some fun to be had with Special Delivery (aka Special Cargo). The main story of a criminal going out of her way to help a kid hide from gangsters is overdone, but there are enough well-done car chases and action sequences to bring you back when you start to nod off. And nod off you will, either because it slows down in the middle or you simply get tired of reading subtitles (probably a bit of both). Is it groundbreaking? Not at all. Is it a fun, if overly familiar, diversion? No doubt. - Quentin
SKINAMARINK I’m never going to fault someone for taking risks, which is exactly what director Kyle Ball does with Skinamarink, but it can still end with mixed results. There are certainly positives to be found, mostly a Super 8 film approach that works wonders, and Ball does a great job using minimalist filmmaking to find tension. Unfortunately, this style also leads to moments that feel long and drawn out, which would have been overcome by a shortened runtime. This film requires a lot of patience from its viewer and it’s certainly not for everyone, but it did succeed in creating an eerie vibe and giving me one of the better scares I’ve had in some time. - Nick
Photo Credits: Fantasia International Film Festival