Thursday, August 17

Fantasia Film Festival Capsule Reviews


Fantasia International Film Festival wrapped up on August 9 and it was another fantasic year of storytelling. And although I didn't get to screen as many films as I would've liked (damn full-time job), the ones I did watch varied from family-friendly to extremely dark.

Read my capsule reviews and how you can catch some of these films soon too.


Written/Directed by Jared Moshé 

Nothing seems to be going right in Sophie’s life. Her husband, Mal, is killed in a drunk-driving accident and she is left to parent their daughter, Riley, alone. Both are grief-stricken even a year after the accident and can’t seem to get their life back on track. Until Mal’s best friend and former physicist approaches her with an experimental machine that’s capable of bending time in specific ways. 

This film is an interesting concept for a sci-fi feature. It pulls at your heart strings first and has you question every decision the characters make in their journey back to normalcy. And just when you feel it’s getting a little redundant, the climax knocks you with an unexpected twist. 

All the actors hit it out of the park with their performances and I only wish this film could get a stronger marketing plug, so everyone gets a chance to see this film and dig deep into their own ethical codes. 

APORIA is currently showing at some theaters so check for showtimes near you.

4 out of 5 



Directed by Junta Yamaguchi 

Written by Makoto Ueda 

In RIVER, you’re an onlooker into the long-established Fujiya Inn, located in Kibune, a wintry valley town in the northern mountains of Kyoto, Japan. Mikoto, one of the establishment’s waitresses, goes about her work day taking care of the ryokan’s various tenants. As she stops to catch her breath from her work  by staring momentarily into the river nearby – suddenly something feels off. When she returns to work she discovers the inn is looping… two minutes at a time.  

What unfolds with this film is fun, quirky characters and small, heartfelt storylines that make you want to take two minutes to appreciate where you are in your life. And – fun fact for any educators out there – this film utilizes traditional Japanese dialog and would be a great film to showcase in any Japanese language classes. 

3.8 out of 5 



Written/Directed by Park Jae-beom 

The Yates are a nomadic, indigenous, reindeer herders who have lived on the sparse and unforgiving Siberian tundra for countless generations. Krisha, a strong-willed and impetuous Yate girl, is quick to fight for her way in things, whether it’s with her troublesome little brother Kolya, or with the bullying Russian military officer Vladimir. When the health of Krisha’s mother takes a turn for the worse, the village shaman offers her wisdom—follow the North Star to the Ancient Forest and find its guardian and master, the great red bear of legend which has haunted Krisha with visions. 

The stop motion animation in this film is stunning to watch and it’s a great way to tell the story of indigenous tribes and the dilemmas they face with modern society and honoring with their traditions in a family friendly. Stay on the lookout for this film for a nice family movie night. 

3.5 out of 5 



Directed by Kazuyoshi Kumakiri 

Written by Michitaka Okada 

Top salesperson, Shunsuke, earns the respect, and maybe the jealousy, of his friends and colleagues. On the night before his wedding, he is greeted with surprise party where the alcohol flows freely. Once he heads home, however, things take a sudden downward turn as Shunsuke tumbles into a deep manhole. His cellphone is of little use, initially, as calls to friends go unanswered and, when he finally calls the police, they are unhelpful, So Shunsuke turns to social media, concocting a false identity to lure assistance. Unfortunately for Shunsuke, the attention he gets may not be the attention he ultimately wants. 

This film pulls you in thanks to the uncertainty of Shunsuke’s situation and then throws you a major curveball at the climax. With only the one main character and manhole as your main setting, you’d think the story would get old after 30 minutes but it doesn’t – and the audience is awarded with a surprise ending. 

3.5 out of 5 


Written/Directed by Jennifer Reeder 

In a city where images of missing girls adorn lampposts across town, 17-year-old Jonny has grown up used to fending for herself. As her 18th birthday approaches, her father becomes increasingly nervous and sends her to live with her mysterious Aunt Hilda for an undetermined period where she will learn about her family’s darkest miracles as her body begins to change and unimagined powers bloom.  

Jennifer is known for quirky, visual, feminist genre storytelling – and PERPETRATOR is no different. However, the story of PERPETRATOR seems to get lost along the way and I have a feeling many won’t be able to sit through it to get to the bloody conclusion.  

PERPETRATOR will be making its Shudder debut on Sept. 1.

2 out of 5 

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