Fantasia International Film Festival 2024 – What to Watch

The Fantasia International Film Festival returns to Montreal from 18 July to 4 August. I’m delighted to be providing remote coverage of the festival for the 4th year and my goodness, they have some delights in store. With over 125 features, including multiple world premieres, 200+ shorts and special events this year’s event is shaping up to be a banger. 

This year, Fantasia is giving a Career Achievement award to Mike Flanagan, who will give a free artist talk on Sunday 21st July. Flanagan is a true master of horror. His zero-budget debut Absentia is a creepy little number which ensured I could never walk down subway tunnels again. Oculus is a remarkably nihilistic horror with excellent performances from Karen Gillan and Katee Sackhoff.   Ouija: Origin of Evil could have been a generic IP entry but Flanagan turns it into something genuinely creepy. Doctor Sleep gave us Rebecca Ferguson as one of the most memorable female villains of all time. And that’s before we get to his Netflix work The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, his masterpiece Midnight Mass and his most recent stunning adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s work The Fall of the House of Usher. Flanagan is a worthy winner of the career achievement award and it’s sure to be a brilliant talk.

Here’s our top tips for the films you should catch at the Fantasia International Film Festival this year:

Frankie Freako

The hotly anticipated new movie from director Steven Kostanski. Kostanski’s last film was the much-loved cult classic Psycho Goreman which I adored but I am still incredibly salty about what happened to Alistair. Alistair, you will be avenged!!!

Starring Conor Sweeney and Adam Brooks Frankie Freako follows a nerdy man who just isn’t cool. In an attempt to impress his wife and boss, he’s lured by a 1-900 TV ad to party with a strange little creature called Frankie Freako. All hell breaks loose when Conor calls and Frankie and his two friends wreak inter-dimensional havoc on Conor’s life. 

Hell Hole

The multi-talented Adams family follow up haunting tale Where the Devil Roams (streaming now on Tubi) with their new highly anticipated monster movie Hell Hole. Shot in Serbia and mixing old-school sci-fi horror, with questions of gender and bodily autonomy Hell Hole is sure to be another killer entry in the Adams family filmography.

Oddity

Director Damian McCarthy follows up the unnerving Caveat with new creep fest Oddity. Darcy (Carolyn Bracken, You Are Not My Mother) is a blind medium blessed with occult abilities. She runs an antique shop, secretly collecting haunted and cursed items. Through a chance encounter, Darcy begins to decipher terrible secrets about her twin sister’s unsolved murder. With the otherworldly help of a nightmarish wooden mannequin, Darcy embarks on a fact-finding mission of supernatural retribution, opening doorways into pure horror. Meant to be one of the scariest films of the year.

Azrael

Starring the wonderful Samara Weaving (Ready or Not). Menaced by a cult in a post-apocalypse world Azrael and her partner Kenan (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Femme)) Azreal learns that she will be sacrificed to appease an ancient evil that lurks within the shadows of the trees. Not willing to become demon food for a cult that has only caused her harm, Azrael must fight tooth and nail to secure her and Kenan’s freedom. Written by Simon Barrett (You’re Next) and almost dialogue -free Azrael is the latest from director E.L. Katz’s (Cheap Thrills). 

The Beast Within

Kit Harington stars in this nightmarish werewolf tale that reflects on the uncanniness of childhood and the creatures that come out at night. The narrative feature debut of esteemed documentary filmmaker Alexander J. Farrel follows a ten-year-old girl as she starts to question her atypical life in her family’s fortified compound in rural England, ultimately discovering that once a month, her father (Harington) turns into a monster.

The G

Dale Dickey is a goddess. A prolific character actor who has appeared in multiple projects including Winter’s Bone with Jennifer Lawrence, Hell or High Water and most recently, Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter One and Fallout she always elevates the material. In The G she gets to take centre stage as Ann, a harsh-tongued, tough-as-nails septuagenarian who finds herself with no husband, no money, and no home other than the miserable facility she’s been locked up in after being betrayed by her corrupt legal guardian. But as her tormentors are about to find out, someone who’s had everything taken away from them is someone with nothing left to lose. If didn’t know I needed Dale Dickey in a gritty revenge thriller but I cannot wait to watch this. From director Karl R. Hearne.

Cuckoo

The Dan Stevens renaissance continues with this kooky body horror. A seventeen-year-old girl (Hunter Schafer) is forced to move with her family to a resort where things are not what they seem in this astonishing mix of domestic tension, body horror, and perverse science from Tilman Singer, director of Luz.  Winner of the Silver Raven Award at the 2024 Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film. 

Timestalker

The wonderful Alice Lowe (Prevenge) last seen as a cheerfully nasty piece of work in Netflix’s Lockwood & Co returns with a time-jumping/reincarnation anti-rom-com where a woman continuously seeks out the love of her life across time. Co-starring Jacob Anderson  (brilliant as Louis in the TV adaptation of Interview with a Vampire), Nick Frost and Aneurin Barnard.

Shelby Oaks

A woman’s desperate search for her long-lost sister, a famous YouTuber who investigated paranormal happenings, becomes an obsession when she realizes that the imaginary demon from their childhood may have been real. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign Shelby Oaks is the feature debut feature from YouTube creator Chris Stuckmann.  Executive Produced by Mike Flanagan.

Witchboard

There is nothing I love more than a cheesy “teens mess around with an ancient artefact and terrible consequences ensue” movie. Director Chuck Russell (A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors returns to horror with a reinvention of the cult classic Witchboard. Emily (Madison Iseman) and her fiancé Christian (Aaron Dominguez) discover an ancient Wiccan artefact, a pendulum board, as they prepare to open a bistro in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Emily becomes obsessed with the board’s powers, exposing her to the ancient spirit of the Queen of Witches. Desperate to help his fiancé, Christian seeks the advice of occult expert Alexander Babtiste (Jamie Campbell Bower last seen menacing the hell out of everyone as Vecna in Stranger Things), but Babtiste has dark secrets of his own. 

Tickets are on sale for the Fantasia International Film Festival now

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