Gore and good times: 5 Must-See Movies At the Fantasia Film Festival

From July 14-August 4, watch independent films with a rowdy, appreciative audience

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At three weeks long, and showcasing over 130 feature films and over 20 world premieres, Fantasia is considered to be the largest genre film festival in the world. Every summer for the duration of the festival, the theatres of Concordia University become home to a massive helping of independent cinema from around the world. Although Fantasia’s line-up tends to concentrate on action, horror, and other genre films, the festival is open to any filmmaking with an eye towards originality.

On top of bringing Montrealers films they’d have a hard time being able to see otherwise, Fantasia also presents the movies in the sort of environment that has become all-too rare for a cinematic experience. Fantasia viewers are a rowdy bunch, and they’re not afraid to laugh, clap, and express their appreciation for the movies they love the most.

Here are the five films I’m the most excited about:

Tangerine

In a cinematic landscape increasingly dominated by 3D filmmaking and CG effects, it’s refreshing to see a film that takes the opposite approach. Tangerine was shot entirely on iPhone 5s, which director Sean Baker opted for both to cut costs and shoot in public places without permits (showing an authentic look at its West Hollywood setting). The film depicts the hilarious journey of transgender prostitute Sin-Dee as she tries to track down her pimp boyfriend with the help of her girlfriend Alexander. This is definitely an offbeat, unforgettable comedy.

Tales of Halloween

Horror fans will definitely want to check this one out, as the anthology film (in its world premiere) features the genre’s most prominent filmmakers with ten different vignettes. Each tells a different tale set on Halloween in an American suburb, and the stories weave together to create a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience that isn’t for the squeamish, but promises to be a blood-soaked good time.

We Are Still Here

Haunted house movie fans have gotten their share of good scares lately, and this film promises to continue the trend. Set in 1979, its retro approach creates an atmosphere of dread through subtle sound effects and creepy shadows. The throwback filmmaking style and non-stop tension make it a horror experience you won’t want to miss.

Roar

This film was originally made in 1981, but not theatrically released in North America until this year. Writer/director/star Noel Marshall features his real-life family (which includes Melanie Griffith and Tippie Hedren) in a gruesome tale about them falling victim to a vicious group of wild animals. The production was plagued by attacks on the film’s cast and crew from the animals they used on set.

Nina Forever

Getting over the loss of a loved one is never easy, and this film does a beautiful job of capturing the experience. If I’m making Nina Forever sound like a downer, though, the experience of watching it is anything but, as writer/directors Ben and Chris Blaine capture the feeling of grief in this hilarious and sexy horror comedy. Protagonist Holly loves her co-worker Rob, even though he’s cursed by having his dead ex-girlfriend’s corpse show up whenever they have sex. Their story makes for a unique film–equal parts morbid, laugh-out-loud funny, and sneakily moving.

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