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Our favorite genre festival is back with an amazing lineup of films. If you aren’t doing anything this weekend and love genre films from all over the world heading to Montreal, Canada would be the right thing to do. However, with a strong lineup of full length and short films – that also feature 2 dozen debuts, it’s really hard to pick what films to watch. We have you sorted in that accord. Here are 20 films you simply can’t miss at the 22nd edition of one of the biggest genre festivals in the world:

20. Neomanila | Director: Mikhail Red

Director Mikhail Red follows BIRDSHOT (Best Film Award at the 2016 Tokyo Film Festival) with NEOMANILA, a neo-noir that brilliantly combines realism and the dystopian, stylizing reality to better observe it and commenting on current events. Under the Duterte presidency, “EJKs”, or extrajudicial killings, have increased in frequency and popular support (Duterte having promised to “clean up” his country), and Red’s descent into hell leads the viewer to both sides of the phenomenon – not to mention the battlefield. Under the cover of genre cinema, NEOMANILA bravely questions the repercussions of such a climate of violence on ordinary people’s lives, and demonstrates the intimate consequences of politics, as well as the futility of abuse of power leading to more violence. – Rupert Bottenberg

 

19. Luz | Director: Tilman Singer

Attention audacious film lovers, a new master of genre cinema has stepped forward with LUZ, a most unexpected revelation of this year’s Berlinale (and, perhaps, even of the entire year). An experimental shocker with an irresistible retro vibe, Tilman Singer’s first feature fluidly assembles elements of influence from the horror and arthouse cinema of the 1970s – think Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Andrej Zulawski and Lucio Fulci – in one compact whole. However shot on 16mm Scope, with impeccable visuals worthy of the aforementioned classics, this is much more than a simple homage. LUZ is a singular achievement in economical screenwriting and tight mise-en-scene; an ingenious and anxiety-inducing tale, told in huisclos, that deftly deconstructs the demonic possession narrative as we know it, and turns a simple police station into a crossroads for the occult… where past and present converge with the hell that lies beneath our feet. Like us, you will see the light. – Guillaume Desbiens

 

18. Profile | Director: Timur Bekmambetov

When not making blockbusters for major studios, Director Timur Bekmambetov has been exploring what he calls “Screenlife” storytelling, a pioneering approach first seen in UNFRIENDED (a Fantasia world premiere), that brilliantly captures the ways we engage online. This year sees a trio of works that he’s produced in this style, the others being the Sundance breakout SEARCHING and Blumhouse?s UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB, both also screening in this year’s lineup, each playing with a wholly unique impact from the others. PROFILE is the one that Bekmabetov chose to direct, and it’s a harrowing tour-de-force of knockout storytelling that’s at once innovative and deeply dramatic, taking the Screenlife approach to the full-bloom next level as it gives us inner character perspectives of the sort that were previously only possible with literary devices. Seen with a crowd, the film comes to life as a thrillingly immersive shared experience that?s as engrossing, visceral and frightening as cinema could ever be. No wonder it’s won audience awards at both SXSW and the Berlin Film Festival. Anchored by a pair of phenomenal lead performances, PROFILE is smart, pertinent and tense beyond belief. It will positively lay you out. – Mitch Davis

 

17. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot | Director: Robert Krzykowski

A wondrous feature debut from writer/director Robert D. Krzykowski, featuring visual effects by celebrated two-time Academy Award Winner Douglas Trumbull (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEYBLADE RUNNER), who also co-produced alongside the great John Sayles and Lucky McKee, and a supporting cast that includes Aidan Turner (THE HOBBIT trilogy), Caitlin FitzGerald (ALWAYS SHINE), Ron Livingston (THE CONJURING), Sean Bridgers (ROOM) and Rizwan Manji (PATERSON), this is one special film. A fantastical discourse on the melancholia of old age and a singular blast of entertaining wit, THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT bubbles with imagination and poignancy. It’s a work that stands as staunchly alone as the weather-beaten hero at its core. It will bowl you over like a forgotten beast deep in the Northern wilderness. – Mitch Davis

 

16. Anna and the Apocalypse | Director: John McPhail

Get ready for your new favourite Christmas zombie movie musical, ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE, the movie that will leave you singing and dancing while also screaming at the hordes of the undead. By all accounts this movie shouldn’t work, but it does like a dream, with plenty of charm, fun and entertainment to make this one of Fantasia 2018’s sure audience favourites. It’s based on the 2010 YouTube short ZOMBIE MUSICAL, written and directed by Ryan McHenry, who also invented the Vine meme “Ryan Gosling won’t eat his cereal,” but who passed away in 2015 before the feature version could reach to the screen. Taking his place is John McPhall, who injects great energy, spirit and genuine enthusiasm into what could have been stale and uninspired, and makes it a delight. Ella Hunt is terrific as Anna, making her one of the most likeable horror heroines of recent years, and best of all are the songs by Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly which, unfortunately, won’t be available for sale for several more months (it opens in December). So for now, you’ll just have to experience the most toe-tappin‘ zombie musical since “Thriller” on the big Fantasia screen with several hundre others who will all have the same big smiles on their faces that you do. Merry Christmas, Fantasia! / Matthew Kiernan

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