Montreal’s Fantasia Festival is wrapping up its 2022 edition and they’ve once again outdone themselves with such an eclectic and well-crafted lineup. In addition to this week’s podcast which just dropped, below you’ll find the next batch of titles I caught at the fest with my thoughts on each.
Be sure to check out all of our Fantasia coverage here and a huge congrats on everyone involved in the festival for another wonderful year!
The maestro of giallo Dario Argento is back after a decade hiatus from the director’s chair with Dark Glasses, an entertaining, but flawed homage to the genre that he essentially defined.
The film stars Ilenia Pastorelli as Diana, a high-class call girl who is blinded in a car crash after becoming the target of a serial killer targeting prostitutes. As Diana acclimates to her new reality she takes a young orphan boy under her wing, but just as she begins to find purpose in her life again the killer comes back and now she must protect herself and the child from the man’s clutches.
With decent cinematography and an oppressive synth score by Arnaud Rebotini, this modern giallo may contain many of the hallmarks of the genre, but doesn’t quite break any new ground.
It’s an overall entertaining experience, with more than a couple interesting set pieces, specially one involving snakes, but perhaps my expectations were a bit too high as I was left feeling a bit disappointed with the overall narrative.
The good news is, this is dropping on Shudder this year, which is a great home for it where it will certainly find its audience and be appreciated by fans.
What to Do with the Dead Kaiju?
I was clamoring to see Satoshi Miki’s What to Do with the Dead Kaiju immediately after hearing that title. A film that opens after a kaiju is killed in Japan and the movie revolves around how the government plans on getting rid of the carcass is both hilarious and something I’ve thought about numerous times in the past.
Miki’s comedy starts off intriguing enough, a bureaucratic nightmare of battling ministries claiming their department should be the one handling the cleanup, wasting time while the giant corpse begins to rot in the heat, potentially poisoning the surrounding populous.
Initially reminiscent of some kind of goofy comedy version of Shin Godzilla, the novelty sadly wears off fairly quickly, as the chaos between various governmental bodies becomes tired. Everything screams of wasted opportunities as promising moments devolve into bland outcomes punctuated with sub-par effects.
It’s not without its moments, like when a gas pocket forms on the monster, resulting in some exciting moments of problem solving, but the end result negates nearly everything we see throughout the run time. This finale is what truly derails the film and makes everything feel pointless.
The third South Korean action film I caught at Fantasia 2022, and the most colorful and stylish. Directed by Park Dae-min, Special Delivery stars Park So-dam as a special driver who works for a company handling courier services that no one else does.
What is essentially a South Korean version of The Transporter, Park So-dam kicks ass, both in and out of her vehicle, as Eun-ha, a top notch driver who ends up needing to protect a young boy after a job goes awry.
Bathed in vibrant color, this car stunt focused action film is chock full of jaw-dropping moments, but tends to focus a bit too much on a narrative that is something we’ve seen multiple times before. While this does make the action scenes stand out a bit more, considering the 109 minute runtime, it could have used a few more set pieces.
Still, what’s here is exciting and easily worth a look, especially for action fans such as myself looking for something more than just another poorly done John Wick clone.
This is by far the toughest film to discuss that screened at Fantasia this year, and it’s a hard film to recommend despite the excellent performances and visuals, simply due to the grisly and disturbing content.
Set in Belgium and inspired by the true story of The Butcher of Mons, a serial killer who murdered women in the mid-nineties who was never caught, Megalomaniac is a dark fantasy that hypothesizes that the butcher had two children who carried on the urges of their father after his death.
Directed by Karim Ouelhaj, Eline Schumacher stars as Martha, the soft spoken daughter of the butcher. She works the night shift at a factory as a janitor and is mercilessly bullied on a daily basis until finally the men escalate their barbarism into full on assault. Although her super creepy eyebrow-less brother, Felix (Benjamin Ramon), has been acting on his carnal desires for some time, it’s not until this incident occurs at her work that her genetically influenced homicidal tendencies are awoken.
Megalomaniac is the type of movie that sears itself into your brain- a nasty experience that contains multiple moments of brutal, realistic violence that you’ll likely have a hard time shaking even after the credits roll.
Despite its horrific depictions, the visuals are gorgeous, largely taking place in either the siblings’ ornate manor-like home, or the grimy factory where Martha works. Everything is oozing with style, ensuring every frame is meticulously shot, frequently dabbling in surrealism as their father’s influence begins creeping in.
Megalomaniac is a difficult film that dabbles with some interesting ideas, but tends to focus more on the outcome than the events leading up to it, resulting in the overall themes feeling a bit lacking. Ouelhaj has succeeded in creating something that truly gets under your skin though, and that’s a tough thing to do within the horror genre these days.