Fantasia 2021 – Capsule Reviews

By Naomi Roper

The Righteous

A grieving ex-priest Frederic (Henry Czerny) comes face to face with his past sins. Henry Czerny should have more lead roles. The man has an extraordinary voice and is completely hypnotic in everything he’s in (out acting both Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford respectively in Mission Impossible and Clear and Present Danger). The guy deserves to be recognised as one of our finest actors. Mark O’Brien makes his directorial debut here working from his own screenplay and also stars as the physical embodiment of Frederic’s past sins. Loved Czerny’s performance, far less enamoured of the movie which has significant pacing issues. O’Brien makes a promising directorial debut.

Seobok

Ki Heon (Gong Yoo), a former intelligence agent who is terminally ill, is given the task of safely transporting Seo Bok (Park Bo-gum), the world’s first human clone.  Fine South Korean sci-fi film that suffers from a lack of strong antagonists. Both leads are ace with Park Bo-gum especially heartbreaking as the clone whose whole life has been nothing but pain. Has a hugely satisfying action sequence at the end where Seo Bok vanquishes his foes with the power of his mind.

Indemnity

Theo Abrams (Jarrid Geduld)  is an ex-Cape Town fireman suffering from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, unable to return to work due to the psychological trauma sustained during a failed rescue mission. An increasingly frustrated, volatile and drunken Theo’s world is rocked when one morning, he wakes up next to his wife’s murdered corpse with no recollection of what transpired and all evidence suggesting that he’s killed her. 

Enjoyable, fast-paced South African action thriller from writer/director Travis Taute. Geduld is superb in the leading role as a man whose life is stripped away from him overnight. Taute keeps the tension sky high and the pacing fast as Abrams has to run for his life. Borrows liberally from The Bourne Indemnity and The Manchurian Candidate and slightly suffers from some drab antagonists. The movie keeps us on our toes by keeping the motivations of the police duo searching for Abrams suitably murky. Exciting to see a movie in Afrikaans and a fine example of South Africa’s burgeoning film industry.

On The Third Day

A woman goes missing after a car accident and is found 3 days later without her son. Giallo inspired supernatural thriller that I suspect I would have dug much more if I got the films it was referencing. Histrionic in tone and featuring a strings section that goes properly wild every other minute. 

The Last Thing Mary Saw

It’s difficult for me to know how to review The Last Thing Mary Saw as the review copy I was sent had such issues with the audio mix that I heard maybe 1 in every 4 words. Complete sections were utterly indecipherable. From what I could see The Last Thing Mary Saw is a beautifully shot movie with a heartbreaking performance from Isabelle Fuhrman and a fine cameo from Rory Culkin on strong, menacing form. Every scene looks like an oil painting, mostly lit by candlelight it glows from within. However, absent a lot of the dialogue it just came across as an exercise in pure misery porn with Mary and her love Eleanor being repeatedly tortured for being gay. Basically the olde Irish section of the third Fear Street film only a 1000 times more miserable and with ‘bonus’ sexual assault. Those who received a version with a better audio mix liked it a good deal more than me so I will be intrigued to see peoples’ reactions. It’s been picked up by Shudder for a 2022 release.

All of the above played at the Fantasia International Film Festival

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