Fantasia 2021: Takashi Miike Leads the Final Wave of Films

The Fantasia International Film Festival has announced a massive new assortment of feature films for its 25th edition, along with details on scheduled panels, talks, tributes, and special events. While their streamed events are globally accessible, their virtual slate of films are all geo-locked to Canada. But! You can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be covering the fantastic fun here at iHorror.

Last year’s Fantasia Fest coverage included reviews for For the Sake of Vicious, The Dark and the Wicked, Anything for Jackson, The Oak Room, Lucky, The Mortuary Collectionand Neil Marshall’s The Reckoning.

Fantasia begins August 5th with the World Premiere of Quebec zombie feature BRAIN FREEZE— following the August 4th special event screening of James Gunn’s THE SUICIDE SQUAD in celebration of the festival— and ends on August 25th with newly announced closing film, Takashi Miike’s hotly-anticipated THE GREAT YOKAI WAR – GUARDIANS.

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TAKASHI MIIKE CLOSES OUT FANTASIA 2021 WITH THE GREAT YOKAI WAR – GUARDIANS 

The honour of Closing Film belongs to the great Takashi Miike (AUDITION, 13 ASSASSINS), a constant yet always surprising presence in the festival’s long history. THE GREAT YOKAI WAR – GUARDIANS, a sequel to THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, which opened Fantasia in 2006, plunges the audience into the fairy-tale world of friendly Japanese demons that overflows with creativity. With its kaiju references, unifying story, festive atmosphere, love for popular culture, and spectacular direction from the festival’s favourite filmmaker, it’s the perfect movie to close out this 25th anniversary. INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.

Fantasia

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WHAT JOSIAH SAW WILL CHILL YOU TO YOUR VERY CORE

In director Vincent Grashaw’s Southern Gothic nightmare WHAT JOSIAH SAW, an estranged family grapples with the sins of the past… yanking the skeletons right out of their closet, kicking and screaming all the way! The superlative cast includes Robert Patrick, Nick Stahl, Kelli Garner, Tony Hale, Scott Haze and Jake Weber. It’s this year’s THE DARK AND THE WICKED. WORLD PREMIERE.

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CRIME AND POLITICS COLLIDE IN SOUTH KOREAN NAILBITER THE DEVIL’S DEAL

In his first picture since the Cannes selection THE GANGSTER, THE COP, THE DEVIL, Lee Won-tae returns with the masterfully directed THE DEVIL’S DEAL. What starts as a critical political satire escalates into a white-hot thriller in which corruption, insider trading, and organized crime run the show. Leading a fabulous cast, actor Cho Jin-woong (ME AND ME) delivers one of the best performances of his career, portraying with disarming naturalism the multiple facets of an ambitious and tortured politician, as endearing as he is loathsome, whose life literally depends on his election. With its immersive score, captivating plot, and clever twists, THE DEVIL’S DEAL is a must-see. WORLD PREMIERE.

Fantasia

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A FEROCIOUS BRITISH CRIME THRILLER THAT CHARGES LIKE A BULL

A feared gang enforcer (Neil Maskell, KILL LIST), vanished for ten years, returns to hunt the mobsters he once ran with in BULL, the ferocious British revenge thriller from BAFTA-winner Paul Andrew Williams (LONDON TO BRIGHTON). A brutal and subversive work that frequently plays out like a horror film, stunningly executed and grounded by well-scripted characters, with a cast that includes Tamzin Outhwaite (EASTENDERS) and David Hayman (TABOO, SID AND NANCY) in a frightening turn that ranks with the strongest of British mobster portrayals. WORLD PREMIERE.

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TOKYO REVENGERS IS AN ALL-OUT STREET FIGHT TO SAVE THE FUTURE

Takemichi may just have a chance to change the future – if he can survive his own past! A jawbreaking, juvenile delinquent street fight royale combined with a high-stakes time travel thriller and dashes of adolescent angst and romantic comedy, TOKYO REVENGERS is the live-action feature adaptation of Ken Wakui’s enormously popular award-winning manga of the same name. Director Tsutomu Hanabusa (KAKEGURUI 1 and 2, also at Fantasia this year) succeeds mightily at adapting this complex science-fiction story; amid a barrage of bloody, brutal hoodlum battles, he still finds room for the sweetness of first love. INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.

Fantasia

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A DYSTOPIAN SOUTH AFRICAN FAIRY TALE: GLASSHOUSE

A memory-shredding neurochemical permeates the atmosphere like airborne dementia, but safe within an airtight glasshouse a family preserves their past through rituals of collective memory. Sensual and savage, GLASSHOUSE weaves aspects of dystopian science fiction with notes of folk horror and perverse, brooding, Gothic melodrama to craft a taught existential tale that ultimately explores the importance of storytelling and memory. It’s a stunning feature debut from South African filmmaker Kelsey Egan, starring Adrienne Pearce, Jessica Alexander, Anja Taljaard, and Hilton Pelser. WORLD PREMIERE.

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WHEN A BEAUTIFUL COMING OF AGE STORY MEETS SCIENCE-FICTION, JUST FOLLOW THE LIGHT

Freshly arrived from Tokyo to a fading village in the Japanese countryside, Akira becomes fascinated with an isolated girl who is obsessed with a crop circle in her grandfather’s fields. This multi-layered, sci-fi coming-of-age story by first-time director Yoichi Narita is a true gem with a dazzling narrative. The majestic, rich cinematography, which highlights the magnificent rural landscapes, and judicious use of music recall Shunji Iwai’s masterpiece ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU. FOLLOW THE LIGHT will leave a lasting impression with its soft visual splendour and sensitive storytelling. WORLD PREMIERE.

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BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER IN THE CRIME FAMILY SAGA IDA RED

Midwest filmmaker John Swab (LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR) returns to Fantasia with IDA RED, a propulsive, gripping, crime thriller that escalates his career to the big leagues. Cast-as-criminals Josh Hartnett, Frank Grillo, and Melissa Leo (as a modern Ma Barker) have never been better. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.

Fantasia

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THE TRANSGRESSIVE HORROR EXPERIENCE OF THE DECADE: THE SADNESS

In an alternate version of Taiwan, a rapidly spreading pandemic suddenly mutates into a rabies-like affliction, and the infected find themselves unable to control their id. A nightmare vision steeped in unspeakably upsetting moments of violence, Rob Jabbaz’s THE SADNESS plays like a return to the no-holds-barred shock sensibilities of ’90s Hong Kong Category III films. Electrified with an existential fear that punches spikes of panic energy straight into your nervous system, and told with incredible style, THE SADNESS is a force to be reckoned with. Fantasia is proud to be bringing this extreme horror rollercoaster to North American shores, hot off its bow at Locarno. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.

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ALL HAIL PRODUCTION I.G’S ANIME FANTASY EPIC THE DEER KING!

Following its world premiere at Annecy, and ahead of theatrical release in Japan, comes the highly anticipated THE DEER KING, co-directed by anime veterans Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji. Based on the books by bestselling Japanese fantasy author Nahoko Uehashi, the epic saga of the legendary warrior Broken Antler Van comes to life with the peerless standards of quality we expect from the studios of Production I.G (GHOST IN THE SHELL, NEON GENESIS EVANGELION). Elegant and exacting design and animation seamlessly pair with Uehashi’s sturdy world-building and compelling conflicts to create a transporting animated otherworldly tale. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.

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DON’T SAY ITS NAME IS A SNOW-SET, INDIGENOUS HORROR FOR OUR TIMES

When an environmental activist is called back to the world of the living after a suspicious accident takes her life, an ancient spirit is reborn outside a small northern town. With a wealth of Indigenous talent both in front of and behind the camera, DON’T SAY ITS NAME, the eerie feature debut from director/co-writer Rueben Martell, builds its chills with compellingly real characters and strong performances from Madison Walsh (SOMETHING UNDONE), Sera-Lys McArthur (OUTLANDER), Samuel Marty (GODLESS), Carla Fox, and Julian Black-Antelope (HOLD THE DARK). WORLD PREMIERE.

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HAVING FUN IS ALL THAT MATTERS IN GRAND BLUE DREAMING

Stuck in a surreal, nudist loop somewhere between GROUNDHOG DAY and MEMENTO, two young men end up trapped in a scuba diving club full of muscular party animals and pretty girls with a temper. Based on a popular manga series, GRAND BLUE DREAMING, by Tsutomu Hanabusa (TOKYO REVENGERS), is as weird as it is hilarious. Astonishingly fast-paced and loaded with politically incorrect humour, this wild comedy also finds moments of calmness with beautiful and relaxing underwater shots. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.

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CROSS INTO THE DEEP HOUSE FOR IMMERSIVE UNDERWATER HAUNTS

Two daredevil Youtubers with a passion for abandoned urban edifices film themselves as they take a deep dive into the bottom of a lake where there lies a mysterious house with a sinister past. Award-winning French genre maestros Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (INSIDE, KANDISHA) display numerous filmic skills with this intelligent found footage style feature. The immersive darkness, the floating strangeness, THE DEEP HOUSE takes us down and further down, from mere unfamiliar discomfort to absolute and unfathomable terror. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.

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BREATHTAKING SOUTH KOREAN THRILLER MIDNIGHT WILL LEAVE YOU SPEECHLESS

A wave of murders hits the city and, lurking in the shadows, a killer has just identified his new prey – a deaf woman. South Korea has become the go-to source for fans of dark, intense, unpredictable thrillers that deliver cutthroat tension, and Kwon Oh-seung’s debut feature MIDNIGHT follows in this tradition. A breathless tale boasting hallucinatory sound design that relishes in testing the nerves of even the most seasoned viewers. CANADIAN PREMIERE.

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A HAUNTING NEW CREATION FROM PERRY BLACKSHEAR

A brother and sister face off against a mysterious force responsible for years of devastating misfortunes in WHEN I CONSUME YOU, a haunting new work from award-winning indie filmmaker Perry Blackshear. Reuniting with Evan Dumouchel, MacLeod Andrews, and Margaret Ying Drake, the core acting trio of his previous films THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE and THE SIREN, Blackshear and his team dole out powerful blows of tragedy, devastation, and personal struggle while a demonic figure looms just out of focus, yellow eyes burning in the background. WORLD PREMIERE.

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A SEPTET OF LEGENDARY FILMMAKERS PAYS TRIBUTE TO HONG KONG

A sifu hardens his students with “Exercise” in Sammo Hung’s evocation of childhood. Ann Hui stages a stirring tribute to Hong Kong educators in “Headmaster.” Patrick Tam Kar-Ming depicts the emigration of Hong Kongers by way of an impressionistic love story, “Tender is the Night.” Master action choreographer and director Yuen Woo-ping addresses generational divides in the 90s with “Homecoming.” Johnnie To details the city’s capitalistic hustle in “Bonanza.” The expanding harbour opens the floodgates of memory in Ringo Lam’s posthumous film “Astray,” and the decade to come is evoked by Tsui Hark’s futuristic, tongue-in-cheek closer “Conversation in Depth.” An exceptional omnibus comes to us at a crucial time in Hong Kong history, SEPTET: THE STORY OF HONG KONG reunites seven legendary Hong Kong directors for a heartfelt project composed of personal, resonant stories. QUEBEC PREMIERE.

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CATCH THE FAIR ONE FOR A BRUTAL REVENGE THRILLER THAT SCARS WITH PURPOSE

A mixed Indigenous ex-boxer infiltrates the sex trafficking world in search of her missing sister in this ferocious thriller propelled by a commanding performance from WBA Super Lightweight Champion Kali “K.O. Mequinonoag” Reis. Pulverizing with fury and grief, CATCH THE FAIR ONE is the culmination of a four-year collaboration with director Josef Kubota Wladyka (MANOS SUCIAS), who co-wrote with his star. As much a hard-hitting revenge thriller as it is a personal interpretation of true crimes, the film addresses North America’s horrific crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women with urgency. Co-produced by Darren Aronofsky and 2021 Oscar-winner Mollye Asher (NOMADLAND) and winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.

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FROM ARGENTINA, HORROR AND MYSTERY CONVERGE ON THE 3RD DAY

The latest from Argentinean director Daniel de la Vega (WHITE COFFIN) and production house Del Toro Films (South America’s answer to Hammer Studios), ON THE 3RD DAY follows an anguished mother (Mariana Anghileri) trying to find her missing son, and the missing memory of what happened on the night of a terrible car accident. INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE.

Fantasia

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MEET A WOMAN ON THE (SUPERNATURAL) EDGE IN, THE NIGHT HOUSE

From director David Bruckner (THE RITUAL, THE SIGNAL) comes THE NIGHT HOUSE. Reeling from the unexpected death of her husband, Beth (Rebecca Hall) is left alone in the lakeside home he built for her. She tries as best she can to keep it together – but then nightmares come. Disturbing visions of a presence in the house calling to her, beckoning her with a ghostly allure. Against the advice of her friends, she begins digging into her husband’s belongings, yearning for answers. What she finds are secrets both strange and disturbing – a mystery she’s determined to unravel. THE NIGHT HOUSE stars Rebecca Hall (GODZILLA VS. KONG), Sarah Goldberg (Barry, Elementary), Vondie Curtis Hall (DIE HARD 2, EVE’S BAYOU), Evan Jonigkeit (Togetherish, Sweetbitter), and Stacy Martin (VOX LUX, NYMPHOMANIAC). CANADIAN PREMIERE.

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DON’T GET CAUGHT OUTSIDE AT… MIDNIGHT IN A PERFECT WORLD — FINAL FEATURE OF THIS YEAR’S CAMERA LUCIDA SLATE

Near-future Manila is now a “perfect” world; the powerful forces keep it so, thoroughly hidden from view yet pressing down subconsciously and oppressively on the citizens. With rumoured blackouts happening around the city past midnight, the only refuge becomes government-sanctioned “safe houses” scattered around Manila. While many believe them to be a hoax, the truth of what they cover up may be something far worse. Taking its title from a DJ Shadow cut, and unfolding with an air of Philip K. Dickian strangeness, Dodo Dayao’s (VIOLATOR) long-awaited sophomore effort MIDNIGHT IN A PERFECT WORLD is, like his previous film, a uniquely savvy and nightmarish trip befitting the world’s ongoing dystopian situation, and one that cements Dayao’s unique voice in independent Filipino cinema. NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE.

The Camera Lucida section adds this final title to its competition, along with the following selection of short and medium-length films: AQUATIC BIRD (China – Dir. Zhang Nan); BORN PISCES (Japan – Dir. Yoko Yamanaka); DEATH VALLEY (United States – Dir. Grace Sloan); DOUBLE HELIX (China – Dir. Qiu Sheng); NOSES ON THE RUN (South Korea – Dir. Kim Boram) and TAIPEI SUICIDE STORY (Taiwan – Dir. KEFF)

For the full slate of Fantasia Fest’s 2021 films, click here!