The Fantasia International Film Festival is just around the corner, — the festival runs from July 14 to August 3 this year — on its way to celebrate its 26th edition in Montreal, Quebec. Like every year, the Fantasia 2022 lineup, which covers 130+ features and 200+ shorts from around the world, is packed with promising, compelling entries, making it difficult to choose a handful for the purposes of recommendation. Naturally, there is a lot of ground to cover in terms of this year’s spotlights and feature sections, which include Queer Genre Cinema (featuring Eduardo Casanova’s La Pietá), Korean Animation (featuring Jun Pyo Hong’s Chun Tae-il), and Fantasia Underground (which includes Mitchell Stafiej’s experimental short, The Diabetic), among others.
1. The Mole Song: Final
(Director: Takashi Miike, North American Premiere)
Takashi Miike’s The Mole Song: Final wraps up his Mole Song trilogy, which follows double-agent Reiji Kikukawa, who infiltrates an extremely dangerous Yakuza Clan. I might be biased about this, but anything Miike has to offer is worth checking out — the man possesses directorial range, having belted out films like Audition, Ichi the Killer, Gozu, and the Dead or Alive trilogy. The Mole Song: Final will be closing out a bonkers, surreal saga, and the storyline already sounds fun: the mafia has now managed to manufacture meth pasta, dubbing them speed-a-ronis, and Reiji must go back to his shenanigans and attempt to maintain a delicate balance between his dual identities.
2. Bodies Bodies Bodies
(Director: Halina Reijn, Special Screening)
Bodies Bodies Bodies premiered at SXSW, and the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. Fantasia 2022’s closing night includes Bodies Bodies Bodies among its impressive, wide-ranging lineup, and this is a must-see for those who love a good ol’ slasher with a twist. The narrative situates the characters in an isolated mansion, wherein Sophie (Amandla Stenberg) and her friends are just trying to have fun. However, what initially seems like an innocent game takes an extremely murky turn, and there seems to be a killer in the midst of familiar faces.
(Director: Alexandre O. Phillipe, Canadian Premiere)
Alexandre O. Phillipe’s documentary, Lynch/Oz, delves into the fascinating connections between the Wizard of Oz and the works of David Lynch, tracing the foundations of his work to this gripping American fairytale. Lynch made overt connections to the Wizard of Oz in Wild at Heart, but a huge chunk of his work is about traversing strange worlds steeped in symbolism and alternating between dream states and reality, often making the two indistinguishable. In case you’re a Lynch fan or harbor a deep love for cinema, I would recommend checking this out.
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4. Special Delivery
(Dae-Min PARK, North American Premiere)
(Director: Nico Van Den Brink, International Premiere)
This feature debut from Dutch filmmaker Nico van den Brink weaves in elements of folk horror, straddling the arenas of horrid daydreams and terrifying nightmares. Moloch is the kind of atmospheric horror offering that can potentially have something seminal to say, with its narrative revolving around a haunting like no other, and the invocation of primordial power. There’s something about films that delve deeper into the darker aspects of nature, as it confronts us with ideas and beliefs that are often beyond human comprehension.
(Rebekah McKendry, World Premiere)
Fantasia 2022 has the choicest horror lineups, and one has to look no further than Rebekah McKendry’s Glorious, in which a young man named Wes (Ryan Kwanten) finds himself locked inside a rest-stop bathroom (that’s horror right there). Things get progressively worse when a mysterious man (J.K. Simmons) starts speaking to him from an adjacent stall, making our protagonist realize that things are murkier than they seem. McKendry is clearly well-versed in the horror genre (Tales of Halloween, All the Creatures Were Stirring), and the premise seems gripping enough to warrant a good time.
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(Director: Masaaki Yuasa, Quebec Premiere)Masaaki Yuasa (Devilman Crybaby, Ride Your Wave) presents a feature animation film that reimagines ancient Japanese history via the lens of psychedelic rock opera. Having garnered rave reviews, Inu-Oh is undoubtedly a must-see, as it tells a moving story that incorporates myth and celebration via musical extravaganza. Inu-Oh is about using art to speak one’s truth, and those familiar with Yuasa’s style can look forward to his expressionistic storytelling, which brings the never-done-before premise to life in profound and interesting ways.
8. Next Sohee
(Director: July Jung, North American Premiere)
A gem to emerge right out of the recent Cannes Film Festival, Next Sohee is an unforgettable foray into tragedy, featuring Kim Si-eun and Bae Doona (always a treat to watch) in powerful, nuanced roles. The film follows a high-school student who undergoes intense depression after being forced to take up a job in an unsafe, predatory environment, and a detective tries their best to make sure that such a situation never occurs again. The direction is impeccable and the performances are strong, making it a must-see, without a doubt.
(Director: K C Carthew, World Premiere)
Being a festival opener is a big deal, and K C Carthew’s Polaris absolutely deserves that honor. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Polaris features Sumi (Viva Lee) and her polar-bear mother, whose journey across the snow is interrupted by a group of warrior women. Polaris is a tale of separation and homecoming and stepping into one’s power despite trials and tribulations. The cinematography looks gorgeous, and most sequences are action-heavy and even weave magic into the mix.
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(Director: Michelle Garza Cervera, Canadian Premiere)
Michelle Garza Cervera’s Huesera zeroes in on Valeria (Natalia Solián), who is pregnant with her first child and plagued with horrific visions, which leads her to believe she is cursed. Huesera asks questions that most horror films revolving around similar tropes skirt around while subverting the concepts of motherhood and what it means to abide by domesticity. The film dives deep into Mexican folklore and Catholicism, creating an atmosphere of anxiety and doom that permeates every frame.