Fantasia Film Festival

Fantasia 2014: ‘Let Us Prey’ offers a tight, tense horror experience

‘Irish horror movie’ isn’t a phrase that comes up a lot, unless someone brings up Grabbers, and why on Earth would anyone do that. And yet, Fantasia 2014 has seen the unveiling of Let Us Prey, a new horror film by first time director Brian O’Malley, which is already making waves in the horror film circuit, and with good reason. Let Us Prey is a tense, tightly-wound and effective horror film that shows incredible promise from O’Malley, and delivers both for gore fans and those in search of something a little deeper than mere exploitation.

Fantasia 2014: ‘Yasmine’ is a familiar but excitingly boisterous effort from burgeoning Brunei

Archetypal characters, an easy to follow story, emotions that are worn on the film’s sleeve, and a soundtrack with easy listening pop rock are all featured prominently in Siti Kamaluddin’s Yasmine. Most have seen this sort of movie before, probably more than once. Credit where credit is due, however, as it should be argued that the filmmakers at least do a very nice job at making a film that can win over an audience, something not all films that follow such tropes accomplish.

Fantasia 2014: ‘At the Devil’s Door’ easily frightens despite a muddy script

It can be argued that a movie that is about a great many things is a strong one. There are more than enough examples throughout film history to support this statement. Movies that tackle several issues can be analyzed and enjoyed on multiple levels and speak to a wider audience than those that concentrate on hammering home a single viewpoint or idea. One must be mindful, though, that the mere fact that a film is thematically multifaceted is not a guarantee of quality. The filmmaker must cohesively weave the numerous ideas into the film’s fabric to help ensure cohesion for the final product.

Fantasia 2014: Predictable elements of ‘Predestination’ are compensated with emotional satisfaction

Based on Robert A. Heinlein’s short story All You Zombies, Predestination sees an unnamed agent (Ethan Hawke) for the temporal agency leap through time to catch an elusive serial murderer known as The Fizzle Bomber before he destroys over ten city blocks in New York. The only problem is the bomber seems to be aware of the attempts to stop him, as he keeps changing the specific day and time of his latest catastrophe.

Fantasia 2014: ‘Gun Woman’ takes the concept of concealing weapons to strange new heights

Is Gun Woman stupid? Yes, it is very stupid. Is it revolting? Yes, in some scenes it is quite revolting. Just as shocking as some of the plot developments themselves, Mitsutake’s film ends up a pretty memorable lark. One has to enter with the proper mindset of course otherwise it will easily turn off the average viewer. The film embraces the ‘show, don’t tell’ mantra, never shying away from depicting some truly gross effects. If one can handle a little queasiness, Gun Woman is a brash and bold bit of dark humour.

Fantasia 2014: ‘The Infinite Man’ is a funny and heartfelt time travel tale

Though time travel often demands expectation of the messiest, awfullest worst, Hugh Sullivan’s debut feature-length effort is one smoothly cut time machine. Whereas Primer has taught us to expect headaches, hair-splitting logic, and, for some of us, an utter lack of a point, The Infinite Man delivers laudable clarity, fun, and a deceptively straightforward end in sight.

Fantasia 2014: ‘The Run’ offers promise but goes nowhere fast

There is perhaps no worse criticism to throw at a film than calling it boring. A terrible film can be gleefully ripped to shreds and analyzed for its awfulness. A boring film simply fails to elicit considerable emotion. Yes the filmmakers obviously put effort and heart into creating the best fights scenes they could and in many respects those moments do pay dividends but there is very, very little else of note. Even the title itself is a bit misleading, suggesting that the protagonist shall be the one fleeing his pursuers whereas in fact the opposite occurs for the most part in the story.

Fantasia 2014: ‘Hwayi: A Monster Boy’ is a family feud all gone to hell

Assassins and thieves taking young hopefuls under their wings is nothing out of the ordinary in film and television. It takes the concept of the familial bond and gives it a perverted twist which easily appeals to movie goers. What Hwayi does is put a spin on the spin itself by having the titular character actually live as the adoptive teenage son of not one but five of them. What’s more director Jang throws in a lot of side plots and stories details that take the central figure through a topsy-turvy journey of self-discovery

Fantasia 2014: ‘Faults’ works on your confidence

The essence of a confidence game is as follows: the con artist describes a terrific bargain in which the mark is offered a chance in which to invest. Due to the mark’s own greed, he hands over whatever personal assets he must to the confidence man, expecting a greater return that he never receives.

Fantasia 2014: ‘Crows Explode’ surprisingly punches its way near to the top

Following in the footsteps of Takashi Miike is a frightfully unenviable position to find oneself in. Outdoing him in terms of audaciousness is a ludicrous goal to aim for, as few ever could. Even so, director Toyoda offers a rather strong piece of entertainment that bizarrely finds a middle ground between telling an overarching story of misguided teenagers, who view beating each other to a pulp as a viable technique to socialize, and delving into their more troubled personal lives, thus providing the picture with a speck of gravitas. What’s more, the film looks very handsome; further indication that the filmmakers took this premise quite seriously and wanted to give audiences the best picture possible. Crows Explode is a strange mix of ingredients but disproves the odds. It might not be the king of the heap, but prince is not a bad second place.

Fantasia 2014: ‘The Suspect’ entertains primarily due to its unabashed relentlessness

Director Won Shin-yun’s The Suspect is a generally fan-pleasing, sometimes rousing entry in the genre. It boasts tremendous energy, showcasing the amazing tailspin of a chase the anti-hero finds himself caught in with enviable vim and verve. The movie doesn’t trot, it races at the speed of light to the finish line, which is an impressive feat considering it runs just over two hours long.

Fantasia 2014: ‘Life After Beth’ entertains, but fails to truly rise from the grave

Twenty years ago, if someone said that ‘zombie romantic comedy’ was going to become an actual cinematic sub-genre, they’d have been called a witch and burned at the stake. And yet, they would have been right, and Fantasia 2014 has seen the unveiling of yet another film in the rapidly expanding genre, Life After Beth. Starring Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Recreation and Dane DeHaan, recently of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Life After Beth is best described as a zombie breakup comedy. It’s also best described as “decent, but not amazing”, a serviceable enough zom-rom-com kept afloat mostly by the supporting cast.

Fantasia 2014: ‘Han Gong-ju’ is a quiet, strong meditation on painful memories

Both the victim and perpetrator of a crime must live with the consequences of the events they were intricately involved in. For the guilty party, provided they possess an inkling of remorse in their body, the stigma carries over an extended period of time, with reminders coming in all shapes and sizes to reiterate that they did bad in the past and that society does not look kindly to them.

Fantasia 2014: ‘Faults’ has that good kind of sadistic feeling

The irony of the penniless cult and mind-control expert is not lost on us. Ansel Roth’s got the tools to get your loved ones back within your grasp, he’s written them down for all to read, but here he is selling copies of his latest book one hotel conference room at a time, living out of an AMC Gremlin, fishing meal vouchers out of the trash, and shoveling ketchup in his mouth with a fork.

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