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Fantasia 2012: Mike Ryan: Five Movies I’m Upset I’ll Miss

Fantasia 2012: Mike Ryan: Five Movies I’m Upset I’ll Miss

While Ricky, Edgar, Justine and myself work on our pieces about the films that we are most looking forward at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival, I thought that I would talk about the experience that every film-goer to Fantasia experiences: the films that for one reason or another you have to miss.

Sometimes it is because a screening sells out before you can get tickets. That will be especially heart-breaking this year, because in past years, Fantasia has deliberately programmed some TBA screenings so that they could replay films that sold out. This year with 160 feature films there is absolutely no flex, so if a screening sells out, you are probably not going to be able to see the film (at least at Fantasia.)

But even if you are the first person in line to buy tickets and have an unlimited budget, you have to face the fact that Fantasia programs films in three theatres: Concordia Hall Theatre, J.A. De Seve Theatre, and Cinematheque Quebecoise. Which means that there will be times during the festival when three different films – all great – will be playing at the same time, and no one can be in 3 places at once.

Even the Fantasia festival programmers must find it difficult to see all the films that the festival is playing! (I would say that they can’t possibly see them all, but I wouldn’t bet against Mitch Davis. He recently did a radio interview on CBC where the interviewer opened the 396 page Fantasia Festival program book to a random film to see if Mitch could answer questions about it and Mitch was giving her answers faster than she could ask questions.)

I should specify that just because I can’t see these films at Fantasia doesn’t mean that I will never be able to see them. There will be screeners floating around for some of them, some will play in Montreal theatres after Fantasia and there may be press screenings for the films. But the best way to see a genre film is to see it with a Fantasia audience; to see it with a few hundred knowledgeable film lunatics who shout at the right things, laugh in the right places and scream when they are scared. (Now if only Concordia would do something about those Frakking chairs…)

Here are the five films that I am most upset at missing during Fantasia:

1) The Tall Man (2012) Written and Directed by Pascal Laugier

One of 3 films featuring Stephen McHattie at this year’s Fantasia. The Tall Man stars Jessica Biel as a nurse trying to figure out why children are disappearing in her small town. It also features Jodelle Ferland who played Patience Buckner, the girl from the “Zombie Redneck Torture Family” in The Cabin in the Woods, whose diary unleashes the chaos, death and destruction.

Pascal Laugier previously directed Martyrs and while that film was not a favourite at Sound On Sight, it showed enough promise that the follow-up film looks, well, promising.

So Why Aren’t You Going?

While The Tall Man plays at De Seve, in the Hall Theatre they are playing For Love’s Sake, a musical by Takashi Miike.


2) Grabbers (2011) Written by Kevin Lehane, Directed by Jon Wright

A small Irish town is attacked by giant alien leeches which can only be destroyed if they consume blood laced with alcohol, meaning that to avoid getting killed the entire town has to get roaring drunk.

Genius plot.

The Irish may not make many genre films, but one of my most unsettling experiences at Fantasia was the Irish mutant cow thriller Isolation. (Which is so much better than any film that you could describe as ‘mutant cow thriller” has any right to be.)

So Why Aren’t You Going?

While Grabbers plays in the Hall Theatre, in De Seve they are playing Despite the Gods, the documentary about the disastrous production train-wreck of Jennifer Lynch’s Hisss. Because of film overlaps (and what I suspect will be a fascinating Q&A session after the film plays) I am actually missing two films to see Despite the Gods, the other being Eddie: the Sleepwalking Cannibal.


3) Young Gun in the Time (2012) Written and Directed by Oh Young-Doo

By the director of Invasion of Alien Bikini. The write-up in the program book (by Rupert Bottenberg) compares this film to The Calamari Wrestler, one of my favourite all time weird Fantasia films and the 3rd best wrestling film of all time.

The film is about a weird private detective who faces a time travel conundrum. Sounds like a Korean Dirk Gently influenced by Japanese surrealistic comedy.

So Why Aren’t You Going?

While Young Gun in the Time plays at De Seve. in the Hall Theatre they are playing Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time.


4) Possession (1981) Written by Andrzej Zulawski and Frederic Tuten, Directed by Andrzej Zulawski

I am not sure if the right word is upset or relieved. I have a friend who every year sends me a list of films to see at Fantasia that will push my boundaries. His previous challenges include Morituris, We Are What We Are, and Embodiment of Evil.

Part of the Fantasia spirit is taking risks, going to see films that you normally wouldn’t, expanding your horizons – even if doing so means going to see a film where a crazy French director destroyed his crumbling second marriage by forcing his soon-to-be ex-wife to act her way through scenarios inspired by Zulawski’s “crazy” first wife.

So Why Aren’t You Going?

While Possession is playing at the Cinematheque Quebecoise, I will be watching Funeral Kings in De Seve followed by Starry Starry Night in the Hall Theatre.


5) Alter Egos (2012) Written and Directed by Jordan Galland

I love the idea that directors are starting to accept the idea that the super-hero film has become the new western, the way that we interpret the world around us and are beginning to use the vocabulary and structure of superhero films to tell alternative stories to the mega blockbuster films.

Like this film,  which explores the idea that having super powers does not prevent your life and your relationships from completely and utterly sucking.

There is also supposed to be a short film by Jordan Galland, premiering at this screening, inspired by Alter Egos and in the process of being completed right now.

So Why Aren’t You Going?

The best way to make it through the 3 weeks of Fantasia without ending up living in a padded room wearing a jacket with sleeves that tie in the back, the best way to avoid Fantasia dementia in other words, is to take one day off a week, to see the sun, smell the roses and watch no films at all, at all, at all.

Also it’s my poker GURPS night.