Saturday, June 30, 2018

Fantasia 2018--Second Wave of Title Announcements

The Festival is just a few weeks away!
As the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival draws that much closer, my anticipation is ratcheting up exponentially.  The tough part will be what to see and when, because one needs to eat, sleep, and be discriminating regarding what to see--and it's not possible to see everything on offer (sadly).  Here are some more titles about which to be excited!!

The original Tales from the Hood was groundbreaking, but that was 23 years ago!!
You might have heard of a recent horror film that brought race front and center--Jordan Peele's Get Out (2017).  Yet, Rusty Cundieff's Tales from the Hood (1995) broke that ground years ago--twenty-three to be exact.  He's finally premiering his latest Spike Lee produced joint, Tales from the Hood 2, at this year's Fantasia.  The time gap between the two films is a clear indicator of the dearth of horror films directed by, and focusing on, people of color.  I'm pretty sure this screening will be an EVENT.
A toxic fog blankets Paris in Just A Breath Away/Dans Le Brume (2018)
Opening night at Fantasia is going to be fierce, with the world premiere of Daniel Roby's France/Canada co-production Just A Breath Away/Dans Le Brume about a family in Paris trying to survive a toxic fog apocalypse.  So many great images from this film--here's another one.

Looking down from Parisian rooftops in Dans Le Brume
The title alone is a draw
Sam Elliot tends to steal any film or television show that he is in, and he has just the right amount of charm combined with gravitas to headline a film with this ludicrous, and brilliant, title--The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (as if there's just one Bigfoot??).  This feature film debut writer/director Robert D. Krzykowski seems plenty strange, AND it features visual effects by celebrated two-time Academy Award Winner Douglas Trumbull (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, BLADE RUNNER), who also co-produced alongside John Sayles and Lucky McKee.  The names behind this film makes Krzykowski's debut impossible to resist, and its world premiering at Fantasia!

A morgue attendant talks to cadavers in Brazilian Writer/Director Dennison Ramlho's Among the Living
When Fantasia staff send out a press release that tells press and fans to "Brace Yourself," I usually just immediately want to see that film.  Dennison Ramlho's Among the Living has that cachet, and it's described as " a film brimming with grotesque imagination and otherworldly magick in which a morgue attendant working the night shift in a very large, very violent city possesses an occult ability to communicate with cadavers. He commits the sin of acting on information obtained from the dead and horrifically curses himself and those that he loves."  Another world premiere for Fantasia, this Brazilian film has so little info on it, I'm delighted that I'll be one of the first to see it.

Sonny Mallhi's newest film, Hurt, will premiere at Fantasia this year
I was really impressed by Sonny Mallhi's film Anguish (still available on Netflix) when I saw it at Fantasia several years ago, so I'm delighted that Mallhi will be premiering his latest film, Hurt, this year.  His second film, Family Blood, is also available on Netflix, and with this strong track record, hooking up with Blumhouse productions looks like a lucrative move.  The Fantasia press release is quite vague about the film's plot, but suggests that it alludes to mask wearing fiends from horror films of the past.  Wouldn't it be awesome if this masked killer is a woman??

Does this The Vanished focus on ghosts, murder, or a slick combination of the two?
Turns out that Chang-hee Lee's Korean thriller The Vanished is a remake of a Spanish thriller from 2012 titled The Body (Oriol Paulo, 2012) and the trailer for that film looks pretty cool.  Sure, Spanish and Korean filmmaking are worlds apart (literally), but when Fantasia describes a film as "modern suspense in gothic drag, full of old school brio, dolly zooms, a ticking clock, entitled murderers, and vengeful ghosts," I'm excited to see it.

Aaron Schimberg's Chained for Life supposedly looks at disabilities and difference with a critical eye
After premiering at BAM's Cinefest, Aaron Schimberg's Chained for Life received some rave reviews, and I am drawn to a film that critically explores representations of disability with humor and sensitivity.  Also, Jess Wexler rocks.

Stemming from a successful Kickstarter campaign comes Saku Sakamoto’s Aragne: Sign of Vermillion
I am very uninformed about horror anime, but I understand that Saku Sakamoto's artistry is well established, and the trailer for Aragne: Sign of Vermillion looks gorgeous and unsettling.

Fantasia has just posted their schedule for the festival, which means that now the tough decisions need to be made.  Stay tuned for more coverage of Fantasia 2018!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Perfume of the Lady in Black--Francesco Barilli (1974)

A haunted Sylvia (Mimsy Farber) graces the elegant and very weird The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974)
Italian giallos are some of my favorite types of horror films, especially if they are centered on a female protagonist lurking around an incredibly stylish set.  They've often been accused of being more style than substance, and frequently seen as an incoherent mess of red herrings, but there's something so intangibly cool about these (mostly) 1970's thrillers, that none of those complaints make any difference to me--especially in regards to the gorgeous, and undeniably wacky, The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974).  Even though director Francesco Barilli wrote Who Saw Her Die (1972) and later directed Hotel Fear (1977), he's not really that known for his giallo offerings.  I wish he would have had a chance to dabble in the subgenre some more, because this 1974 film is completely, and utterly, unique.

Perfume introduces us to Sylvia Hacherman (Mimsy Farber), a career woman working at a perfume factory, with a smooth boyfriend, Roberto (Maurizio Bonuglia), and an elegant neighbor, Francesca (Donna Jordan).  She lives in an apartment complex with some very nosy neighbors, such as hippo-obsessed Signor Rosetti (Mario Scaccia), and a mysterious black cat named Chopin.  Sylvia seems successful and assured, albeit a little quiet, but this facade hides a roiling mind, troubled by her absent father and a trauma connected to her dead mother.  In typical giallo style, the film provides clues to Sylvia's puzzling past, but also throws in enough ominous little moments to make viewers suspicious of everyone--especially Andy (Jho Jenkins), a black man who talks about occult practices and ritual sacrifice at dinner parties.  While playing tennis with Andy, she cuts her hand on a nail that happens to be jutting out of her racket, and Andy seductively sucks on the wound in a truly unsettling manner.  He and Roberto are pals, but they seem to exchange frequent odd gazes when Sylvia's back is turned.  I give some credit to Roberto in a love scene which is exclusively about her pleasure--nice.  Yet, for the most part, you can't trust this guy.  He's shifty and far too smooth.  Unsurprisingly, the narrative hinges on whether Sylvia is mentally disturbed, or whether her friends and neighbors are deliberately trying to drive her there.

Sylvia is haunted by visions of her mother, handling perfume while wearing black
In many ways, Sylvia is a classic haunted heroine, jumping at shadows and seeing people only she can see.  As the film unfolds, she becomes increasingly unstable: she flashes back to her mother having sex with someone other than her father, and sees Mom in all sorts of places.  In one version of events, Sylvia stabs her mother's lover, indicating an early penchant for violence.  She repeatedly visits her mother's grave, until she violently smashes her mother's image on her gravestone with a hammer.  In another scene, she's using scissors to cut all the men out of her mother's photographs.  She becomes enamored with a vase she sees in a store, but when she goes to purchase it, it's no longer there.  Shortly thereafter, it shows up as a gift at her door, as if someone is watching her, or can see inside her mind.  She starts to see a younger, child version of herself hanging around her apartment, until the girl declares "I've come to live with you."  Little Sylvia gives "the bad seed" a run for her money.  Things escalate, and soon Sylvia's getting really handsy with a cleaver, and setting up her own macabre tea party after obviously reading Alice in Wonderland.

Grown Sylvia and Little Sylvia bound together over a mysterious shared trauma
Still, there's more going on in this film than Sylvia merely losing her mind because she's haunted by a trauma from her past, and viewers are given glimpses in order to suggest some gaslighting is underway.  Sylvia is blown off by Roberto for one evening, but as she hangs up, the camera cuts to Roberto climbing into his car with both Andy and Francesca by his side (Andy's supposed to be on a date with Francesca that evening too).  Soon, the gang are joining a whole bunch of other people, dressed in black trenchcoats, and hanging around an ominous warehouse space.  The next day, the neighbors are whispering over the tragic death of Francesca, who somehow fell to her death the previous night.  How???  After the memorial service/cremation, the camera cuts to Signor Rosetti, painting some hippos (yes, I'm not kidding) and feeding his cats some bloody looking meat.  A close-up reveals there's a finger in that mess!  What???  They even have a seance with a blind psychic, because...creepy.  The film isn't remotely as entertaining if you insist on these random things making any sense.
A blind psychic creeps out Sylvia in a random seance they happen to have
Often a film's ending is what really solidifies the narrative's drive, or may give the audience a false impression, only to perform a killer twist in the end.  For instance, in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), we ostensibly believe that Nancy has successfully banished Freddy just by virtue of turning her back on him, even after a rather violent climactic battle.  Yet, that film's actual ending turns everything upside down in a "what just happened??" way.  The Perfume of the Lady in Black performs a similar feint.  By film's end, we're pretty convinced that Sylvia has lost her mind, and turned to violence once again.  But then...the gory ending makes you feel like you're watching some other film, even though most of the cast of characters left standing are from earlier moments--at her apartment building, at the perfume plant, and even from the local antique store. 

Francesca's pad just gives you a sense of the outre style and visual flair of the film
I'm very deliberately NOT giving away the ending of the film, so I recommend checking the film out--it's available on Amazon Prime for as little as a couple of bucks, and well worth your time.  The film is bold, visually rich, and gloriously demented.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Yet another review of Hereditary--Ari Aster (2018)

This moment precipitates the slide toward non-stop visual and narrative "insanity" in Ari Aster's Hereditary (2018)
Since everyone out there in "horror film" land has eagerly been anticipating this film, has seen it, or has seen a bazillion reviews about Ari Aster's Hereditary (2018), I figure it's time for me to weigh in.  Not only should you see this film if you are into horror, but you should probably screen it more than once, since a great deal happens in little corners of the frame, and certain moments take on much greater significance (and perhaps a shift in meaning) upon film's end.

The film follows one particular family, The Grahams, as they process the death of their mother/grandmother, a difficult woman that her artist daughter, Annie (Toni Collette) tends to immortalize in these miniature dioramas of her house, and the experiences she has there.  Rounding out the rest of the Grahams are psychiatrist/father, Steve (Gabriel Byrne), with eldest son, Peter (Alex Wolff), and younger, ambiguously disabled daughter, Charlie (Milly Shapiro).  Unsurprisingly, this family is really pretty bad at expressing their emotions and supporting each other in times of crisis, so the death of Annie's Mom sends them on a slippery slope, and then over a precipice into a nightmare abyss from which there is no return.  The film is a pretty slow burn, punctuated by the death of a main character a la Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.  Once that death occurs, things start to escalate, but the film really gets into gear in the last 15 minutes of the film, and then things just get nuts.  While one has to be careful how one uses words like "insanity," "crazy," or "nuts," the ending of Hereditary is so intense, over the top, and out there, that these terms seem quite appropriate--especially for a film that in some ways at least calls out, if still not really exploring, the pain of mental illness.  I haven't seen an ending in a contemporary horror film that left my mouth hanging open quite so much as Hereditary's, not since Liam Gavin's  A Dark Song (2016)--a film I really need to rewatch and review.

Annie (Toni Collette) channels her turbulent inner life by creating bespoke interiors
One of my favorite things about Hereditary is its portrait of its protagonist/artist, Annie.  She makes these finely detailed dioramas of her personal space, and many clues to the film's world are lurking in these miniature realms.  Indeed, the film begins through a clever device thrusting us into its world, as one of Annie's miniature rooms is suddenly charged into animation by Steve walking into his Peter's room in order to wake him for Grandma's funeral.

Making living in "little boxes" all too real
This liminal, psychological space, formed and perfected through Annie's artistry, constantly shifts as Annie's perspective changes.  No one really talks about their feelings in the Graham household, compelling Annie to visit grief counseling groups, rather than turning to her psychiatrist/husband, Steve.  On the whole, Steve is one of the most useless characters ever committed to celluloid, and sure, Gabriel Byrne is underplaying his role, but Hereditary really does some harm to representations of the psychiatric and therapeutic communities.  In fact, it's in grief counseling where Annie meets Joan (the always marvelous Ann Dowd), who sends her on a journey that "ignites" a spark that rapidly explodes the family's already tenuous connections to each other.  What I'm suggesting, in perhaps a roundabout way, is that the film does a wonderful job of allowing Annie an outlet for some of her pain at the same time implying that her safe, miniaturized universe will not save her from the sh**storm to come.  One particularly powerful moment has Annie regaling her grief group with an anecdote regarding her mother's overbearing presence in raising her daughter, Charlie, which the film chooses to illustrate by returning spectators to the world of her dioramas.  These chilling illustrations punctuate the film's past and present with reminders about the unsettling contents of Annie's psyche.

Annie illustrates a not-very-touching scene where her mother's domineering presence hinders her connection to Charlie
Also, Toni Collette has given one of the best performances of her acting career.  During the film, you cannot take your eyes off her.  She combines sympathy with charisma and the kind of blithe cluelessness that seems essential in order for horror film protagonists to fall into the hot messes required.  She performs grief, rage, stoicism, confusion, and mania with equal expertise, and like Amelia in The Babadook, spectators are both identifying with and afraid of Annie--quite a trick that only the most talented actors can pull off. While horror films rarely get enough accolades, one hopes that someone in these various awarding institutions realizes the tremendous performance Collette gives in Hereditary.

Of course, I wouldn't be a horror film critic if I didn't s**t a little bit on the effusive love of Hereditary by calling out some of its most egregious problems.  Be warned, from here onward there are lots of ***spoilers.

Herditary's representations of disability, and their alignment with evil, really suck
The film's pat representations of both mental illness and disability, and their ultimate link to demonic evil are a really BIG problem, and I have seen some, but not a ton, of discussion about these issues in reviews.  First, audiences learn from a monologue Annie gives to the camera/her grief support group, that she comes from a long line of mentally ill family members, including her mother and brother.  This revelation, combined with the tragic ways in which the Grahams communicate/do not communicate with each other, points a finger throughout the rest of the film right at "bad MOM" Annie, who perhaps has inherited these unfortunate traits, and has indeed passed them onto her disabled daughter, Charlie. 

Then there's Charlie's unnamed, undiagnosed, and unclear disability.  Ominously pegged as Grandma's favorite, she barely speaks, and needs to be monitored at all times since she cannot seem to control her own vicious nut allergy.  Is she on the autism spectrum, developmentally disabled?  Hereditary is happy to use her disability to make Charlie creepy and unlikable, but cannot spare the time to either explain what's wrong, nor flesh out her interior world.  Like Annie, Charlie also appears to be an artist, constructing her own little effigies out of various parts, but she happens to cut the heads off of dead birds to use in her contraptions.  Such details become important when spectators find out at film's end that Charlie houses a demon who's trapped inside her inferior female body until "he" can find a preferable male vessel in Peter.  Here is the film's great conceit: Charlie isn't actually disabled, but rather possessed by a demon, seemingly compelling her to decapitate herself in order for the demon, Paimon, to sneak into her now devastated brother, Peter.  This great demon uprising has been in play since before Charlie's birth, as Annie's mom had pressured her to have children in order to create this vessel.  Which brings me to the most tired and cliched part of Hereditary:

Moms are evil and will destroy everything and everyone--including themselves--for the greater demon good
Women, especially mothers, are evil, self-absorbed, and not protective, and will do anything to reestablish patriarchal dominance through the worshiping of male demons, and once that's handled, they might as well off themselves in one of the most incredible, indelible images ever to be committed to horror film.  Seriously, the image of Toni Collette's Annie, levitating up into the upper corner of the house, manically sawing her own head off in front of Peter's horrified gaze is going to stay with me for a really long time.  That image, followed by a perverse tableau of demon worship (visited by a trio of headless female corpses) enacted in the family tree house, leaves Peter the last guy/demon standing, compelled into place by the machinations of some demon-worshiping cult (led by Anne Dowd, of course). 

So Hereditary isn't a film about mental illness, or a family's inability to cope with grief.  Nope.  The long con is a plan to resurrect a demon, and it works.  Women are only pawns or tools in achieving this dream, and their bodies are easily violated as they are mere supplicants to this patriarchal fantasy run amok.  Now you might think, "Hereditary is obviously a critique of these ideas because it's representing them in such a blatant manner."  I would then sigh, heavily, and once again remind readers that "representing" racism, sexism, and homophobia doesn't necessarily mean that those problems are critiqued, and very well might be reinforced by said representations.

Come for the occult rituals and weirdness, but don't be fooled by talk of "cultural critique"
Should you see Hereditary?  Definitely.  The film is visually provocative, marked by a riveting performance by Toni Collette, revels in various uncanny settings, and is laden with enough creepy occult stuff to pretty much demand repeat viewing.  What are those words written sporadically on the walls of the house?  What are some clues that Joan's really evil, and how does Charlie manifest this evil while she still has her "girl" body?  How many shallow shout-outs to mental illness are there?  Why is Steve clearly the worst mental illness professional ever?  These questions are sure to haunt viewers after their first screening, but nothing, NOTHING haunts as much as that image of Annie frantically sawing off her own head.  Still haunted.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Marrowbone--Sergio G. Sanchez (2017)

Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy) comforts a distraught Jack (George MacKay) In Marrowbone (2017)
Somehow, I've seemed to have fallen into some Anya-Taylor Joy cinematic rabbit hole, and have watched a passel of her films recently, including Sergio G. Sanchez's feature directorial debut, Marrowbone (2017).  Sanchez is mostly known for writing two of J.A. Bayona's rather atmospheric films--The Orphanage (2007) and The Impossible (2012), so I knew that he was quite an effective and nuanced storyteller.  Not to compare too much, but this film tries for The Orphanage but doesn't quite meet that standard, either narratively or visually.

Something about creepy dolls/effigies gets me every time
Like a film that I also plan to review, Hereditary, the film opens with a DIY model of a house, with lots of doll/child figurines scattered about.  The film is framed as a fairy tale with a beautifully illustrated book of watercolors entitled "Our Story" to introduce audiences to the Marrowbone clan--Jack, Billy, Anna, and Sam--the children of Rose Marrowbone, who has recently passed away due to a wasting illness.  The backstory of this family is crucial: the Marrowbones are named after the home to which they flee from what appears to be a serial killer father.  This house is rich with memories, as it is Rose's childhood home, but she steers the children away from their family trauma by suggesting that once the children cross an invisible line on the floor, "there will be no more memories.  Our story begins here."  Yet, Marrowbone is really about how one cannot escape so easily, or erase, one's past, and the hauntings that occur in this ruined, and dilapidated old house are reminders of what clings to this family, despite supposed new beginnings.  The kids have also built this massive fort in one of the rooms because they have been told by Mom to "have a safe place case he finds you."  She clearly means dear old Dad.

Once Rose passes, the kids retreat from society and most visitors, clinging to each other for "no one will separate us--we are one."  Only Allie (Anya-Taylor Joy), the local librarian, appears to connect with these kids, especially Jack (George MacKay).  Cue hetero-romance plotline with even a mild sub-antagonist in Tom Porter (Kyle Soller), who competes for Allie's affections in this po-dunk "American" town.  He also happens to be the solicitor who can demolish their family if he finds out that Rose has died, and there are an elaborate series of ruses used in order to provide him with Rose's signature on important documents.  When Porter gets suspicious of the goings on at Marrowbone, Jack placates him with some cold hard cash--"blood money" seemingly stolen from their father's victims, and then taken when the family ran away.  Of course, when Porter's financial well runs dry, he tries to get some more, and "sh** happens."  Bad "sh**.

The Marrowbone clan sticks together at all costs
The film makes the most of its setting, and the old homestead, Marrowbone, has plenty of creaking doors, overgrown yards, and dusty attics.  Their poverty is emphasized in their spare, dirty clothing, especially in comparison to Allie and Porter's more modern garb.  The film takes place in 1969, but Jack and his siblings look like they are from a far earlier era.  The film has several timeline jumps that don't make a lot of sense until the film's end, starting with the family's arrival, then shortly after Rose's death and when an unwelcome visitor arrives, with the majority of the film taking place "6 months later," in July 1969.  During this time period, the family makes sure to keep all mirrors covered, and lives in fear of the return of some ghost that seems to haunt them at every turn.  This haunting, combined with their attempts to stay one step ahead of their solicitor, maintain the primary tensions of the film.  Unfortunately, too many scenes spent with the family squabbling, or Jack clutching his head in pain, are repetitive moments that don't really take the narrative anywhere, nor provide the film with a source of momentum.

Jack is tasked with protecting his family, but some jobs may turn out to be too difficult
Like many contemporary horror films, most of Marrowbone's explanations come to a head during the film's climax, so from here onward, this review contains ***spoilers.  Much of the research I'm undertaking these days is on a figure I call "the haunted heroine," a female protagonist whose past is clouded by trauma, and her fragile subjectivity leaves her vulnerable to supernatural happenings and hauntings.  Yet, throughout the narrative, her perspective is questioned, and the specter of mental illness lurks as a possible explanation for her experiences.  When one works on a book project, you have to flesh out your research with other possible examples.  While there are not as many examples available in the horror genre, it does have its share of "haunted hero" characters, and Jack would fit right into this mold.  As the oldest in his family and ostensibly the "man of the house," he is A) tasked by his mother to protect his siblings and keep his family together, B) marked by the most trauma, C) trusted as the audience's chief POV, since he not only goes to town, but interacts with a love interest to boot.  Much of the film, his siblings are more like incredibly chatty background.

In a roundabout manner, the film goes back to a moment earlier in the narrative where a gunshot drives a hole into one of the windows, and we actually get to see what events occurred prior to the time jump to July 1969.  **Turns out that not only did their psycho father find them, but knocked Jack unconscious, leaving his siblings to be systematically murdered (thankfully, these murders occur offscreen).  Upon waking, and realizing what has happened, he traps Dad in the attic, and then walls up the room, hoping that Dad will just die from starvation.  Yet, Jack's failure at protecting his family causes him to snap, ergo the mental illness part.  Henceforth (July 1969), Jack sees his siblings around him, taking on their voices, and interacting with them as if they were still alive.  Not only are there no ghosts, but Jack's Dad is still alive in the attic, eating rodents and biding his time until Porter tears the wall down and is killed by Dad--as he should.  Allie stumbles into his clutches, and Jack, in a moment of lucidity, saves her, kills Dad, and it's all very standard.  Allie and Jack end up a couple, and Allie picks up Jack's "medicine" for his dissociative identity disorder,  but doesn't make him take it so that he can continue to live in a fantasy world where his siblings are still alive.  Ugh.  Anya Taylor-Joy's Allie is thus trapped in this life taking care of her mentally ill boyfriend, but she does it for love.  Like The Orphanage, the film plays with spectral incognizance (ghosts do not realize that they are dead), then explaining that idea away with "mental illness," while throwing in some unnecessary gender-norm sentimentality at film's end.  Sanchez certainly is good at creating atmosphere, but unfortunately falls into too many conventions to compel me to recommend Marrowbone with enthusiasm.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fantasia 2018--First Wave of Title Announcements

By far my favorite poster of the past 5 years!!
As I've been running around the planet, giving papers and being all sorts of academic, the year has flew by, and before I knew it, the first announcement of the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival's line-up has happened!  While one only makes final decisions once the schedule is up, I love the anticipation that builds as the event draws closer.  Of course I perused the first announcement with painstaking care to get excited about what's brewing this year.  Here are some tasty items:

Horror anthologies can be hit (all women-directed XX) or miss (the first VHS), and most fall somewhere in between (see my review of Tales of Halloween, for instance).  Still, they can be full of hidden gems, so I'm looking forward to two big new horror anthologies screening at Fantasia this summer.  First off, Nightmare Cinema will be screening on the festival's opening night, in part as a tribute to Joe Dante, who will be receiving a lifetime achievement award at the festival.  Five filmmakers will be presenting their visions of horror for the project: Alejandro Brugues (Juan of the Dead), Joe Dante (Gremlins), Mick Garris (Hocus Pocus), Ryuhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train), and David Slade (30 Days of Night).  Tony Timpone is hosting, and he's great at these events--many of the directors are likely to be there.  A little bit of a mixed bag, but the conceit is that Mickey Rourke plays "the projectionist," and is the link to the five films.  Check out this picture!

Is Mickey Rourke hanging out with...Dracula??
Honestly, I'm even more excited about The Field Guide to Evil which headlines some of my favorite filmmakers for this anthology.  This upcoming horror anthology is directed by Ashim Ahluwalia, Yannis Veslemes, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe Calvin Reeder, Agnieszka Smoczynska, and Peter Strickland.  So the directors of Housewife, Goodnight Mommy, The Lure, and The Duke of Burgundy are being represented here.  Check out an image from Peter Strickland's contribution:

A folktale influence in The Cobbler's Lot, Peter Strickland's contribution to A Field Guide to Evil
This image is so gorgeous, and unsurprisingly unsettling and poetic coming from a filmmaker with such skill.  The film screened at SXSW, the lucky bums.  I wouldn't miss it.

The 2014 Fantasia Film Festival was rife with time travel films/puzzle films, and I love them.  I've used quite a few films that I saw at Fantasia for my puzzle films class--The One I Love, Predestination, Infinite Man, The House at the End of Time.  I'm really hard to please when it comes to comedies, but New Zealand's Mega Time Squad sounds suitably nuts, and might be fun to insert in all that puzzle film darkness.

Two-bit criminals stumble on a time travel device in Mega Time Squad
As a "haunted house" film fan, I try to see as many of these films as possible, and this one happens to hail from Canada (a country in which I wish I lived).

Love the tag line!
The Camera Lucida section of the Fantasia Film Festival is dedicated to experimental, boundary-pushing and auteur-driven works of genre cinema, and I want to see all four of its announced titles.  These films are often like nothing you've ever seen before.  David Robert Mitchell's Under the Silver Lake has gotten some mixed reviews when it's screened elsewhere, but it looks quirky and unsettling, and I'm willing to give it a shot.  The director of It Follows has definitely got vision.

Riley Keough channeling Marilyn in Under the Silver Lake 
The Fantasia staff tantalizingly describes Luz
"LUZ recalls the best of ’70s arthouse and Euro-horror (Zulawski, Fulci, and even Fassbinder come to mind), without ever giving way to pastiche or citation. Instead, LUZ is a mise-en-scène tour-de-force; an experimental subversion of the familiar possession narrative by way of avant-garde theatre – even shot in scope on gorgeous 16mm!"--You had me at Zulawski.

His eyes are a dead giveaway in Tilman Singer's Luz 
I'm a latecomer to Josephine Decker's films--I wasn't really clued into her work when Fantasia screened both Butter on the Latch and Thou Wast Mild and Lovely in 2014 (cut me some slack, it was my first year attending).  Both films are available for screening on SHUDDER, Btw.  As someone very committed to screening work by female directors, I'm very excited to see her newest film Madeline's Madeline, which sounds suitably smart, dark, and complex.

Josephine Decker's latest film, Madeline's Madeline
And finally, but by no means, last for a reason, the fantastic director of Hausu (1977), Nobuhiko Obayashi, after having recovered from stage four lung cancer (?!) will be screening his latest film, Hanagatami.  I'm so glad he's recovered and making films, for his zany filmmaking is utterly unique.

I'm a fan of Andy Mitton's 2016 film We Go On--it's smart and nuanced with some great surprises--so sign me up for his latest solo venture, a film entitled The Witch in the Window, about another haunted house.

Andy Mitton's creepy The Witch in the Window--shades of The Sentinel?
Not to "toot my own horn" whatever that means, but I know quite a bit about erotic thrillers.  I haven't really been writing about these films for a while (Noe and Von Trier didn't do it for me), but I cannot help but be intrigued by Cam, which the Fantasia staff describes as "a surrealistic thriller set in the world of webcam erotica in which an ambitious young camgirl (“The Handmaid Tale”’s Madeline Brewer) discovers that she’s inexplicably been replaced on her site with an exact replica of herself – a replica that knows personal things only she could know, and is considerably less guarded about privacy. The control that she has over her life, and the people in it, begins to break away."  It's also written by a former sex worker, so it will have a ring of authenticity.  And it looks gorgeous.  They say it "borders on Lynchian."  Sold.

Isa Mazzei and Danny Goldhaber’s Cam sounds like an erotic thriller puzzle film
One of my favorite films screened at Fantasia in recent years is Su-jin Lee's Han Gong-Ju (2013), so when the Fantasia staff waxes poetically about Last Child (2017), I take notice.  Writer/director Shin Dong-seok’s masterpiece recently secured the coveted White Mulberry Award for Best Debut Film at the Udine Far East Film Festival, so I'm looking forward to being moved by strong Korean filmmaking.

A moving image from Shin Dong-seok's Last Child (2017) 
Rounding up the list of titles in which I'm interested, I'm also looking at Justin P. Lange's The Dark, Parallel, shot by my cinematographic crush, Karim Hussain, The Ranger, which has also gotten some mixed reviews, but it's directed by producer Jenn Wexler, so why not.  Satan's Slaves is an Indonesian Haunted House film tempting for the title alone, and Skate Kitchen, also women-directed, about a NYC female skateboarding crew are on the list.  Here's a few last images to tempt you:

An undead teenage girl befriends a blind boy in Justin P. Lange's The Dark
Jenn Wexler's The Ranger has got a cool, punk vibe
Not quite what I expected for the film's title, Satan's Slaves