The 25th edition of the Fantasia International Film Festival has wrapped up and our final piece of coverage from ComicBook.com is here with more quick-fire reviews for some of the science-fiction, action, and fantasy movies we saw during this year's event. Ranging from the twisty and unpredictable (the sci-fi drama Ultrasound) to the quieter and more contemplative (the Basque language vampire movie All The Moons), we did our best to hit the highlights and watch as many titles as were possible to see in the near three-week span that Fantasia ran this year. Check them out below and look for our other Fantasia review coverage here.
All the Moons
While the field of horror films is often bloated with low-effort swings at zombies and ghosts, the vampire subgenre seems to only have a handful of attempts every few years. Sometimes this gets you over-produced studio fare like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or Priest, but for every two of those is one Only Lovers Left Alive, a film that quickly climbed the ranks among the greats and which recontextualizes the lore and shows it's a subgenre still worth exploring. Igor Legarreta's All the Moons is one of those such attempts, digging more into the humanity than the gore of the premise and delivering a rich and haunting experience as timeless as the monsters themselves.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Co-directed by Mikhael Bassilli and Luc Walpoth, Baby Money attempts to find a balance between embodying both Coen brothers' absurd criminals and the Coen brothers' serious criminals; sometimes it does it well, but that both exist puts it at odds with itself. Despite clearly wanting the story to focus on its leading ladies (where actress Danay Garcia does great work with what she's given), the film frequently focuses on its bumbling men who hog up all of the development time. The third act also fails to live up to the huge amount of build-up throughout the movie, but getting there is a fun watch.
Rating: 3 out of 5prevnext
A dreadful new entry in the "screenlife" format of movies that come to life almost entirely on computer screens and phones, this time focusing on the intricate web of an online game/challenge that puts young lives in jeopardy. Though the take is ripe for an interesting narrative, it squanders all of its appeal by meandering into the melodramatic and frequently sliding its characters into place likes pieces on a board rather than participants in a story. A handful of cool effects take place throughout, though overall it's a chore to watch and not nearly as interesting as any real-life counterparts (or the much calmer and tame We're All Going to the World's Fair).
Rating: 1 out of 5prevnext
Paul Andrew Williams's revenge thriller has more in common with Friday the 13th than it does The Mechanic, despite attempting to channel the latter more clearly. The non-linear structure of the movie makes every scene feel off, even as its story unfolds and becomes more clear, which makes for a frustrating viewing experience despite some scenes being enjoyable on their own. Combining small-town mafia with a vengeance narrative feels promising, and attempts are made to explore this, but it's too confusing overall to really land. It feels like a movie every dad in the UK will find one day and then label it their new favorite.
Rating: 2 out of 5prevnext
The Devil's Deal
This '90s set Korean, political thriller paints a unique picture of corruption in Busan, telling the tale of establishment politics vs. gangsters in a story that is both timeless and transcends language barriers. Filmmaker Lee Won-tae spends a lot of time within the narrative focusing on the mundane reality of backroom wheeling and dealing, but despite people conversing in secret rooms and making decisions that will affect thousands, it's always riveting. Star Cho Jin-woong leads the entire piece, which is primarily an ensemble, but everything unfolds from his character and he shoulders the weight of the narrative with ease. A final thought: the number of tape recorders in this would make Jigsaw jealous.
Rating: 4 out of 5prevnext
An action-thriller about going to therapy, Indemnity is largely too dull to make much of an impact, but the central conceit is interesting: a former soldier tied up in a large corporate conspiracy and on the run for a murder he didn't commit, even if it gets lost in the weeds. One scene in particular, though, where the lead hangs out of a hotel room window 15 stories up, is quite breathtaking and photographed impeccably. That scene is a great showcase for the lead (who did all of his own stunts) and the filmmakers themselves, but it's tragically found in the unsatisfying and frustrating narrative that is the rest of the picture. By the end, everything comes together with the plot, yet there's too much bloat for it all to work.
Rating: 2 out of 5prevnext
It's A Summer Film!
What filmmaker Soushi Matsumoto's debut feature, It's A Summer Film!, proves is that the boundless and infectious enthusiasm of youth has no language barrier. Telling the tale of three Japanese high-schoolers' summer breaks and how they're crafting a movie project with their free time, It's A Summer Film! is one of the best love letters to cinema in recent years. Done entirely without the need to make its characters seem like over-eager nerds that want to one-up each other on film knowledge, It's a Summer Film! is populated with fully developed young people that want to share their passion with the world, which makes for a stronger and more interesting narrative. It's a movie where the love for cinema isn't about winning a trivia contest but about the communal experience of connecting with a film.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5prevnext
Mad God seems to have a lot going on from both the subtextual and surface levels, but it being a spectacle for Phil Tippett's multi-hyphenated talents should have everyone excited. That Mad God is an animated movie may perhaps fool some audience members down the road, yet it should be stated that this is not for kids. There's a shocking amount of blood, guts, and even feces, that might make stomachs churn. But there's also a twisted sense of humor that takes glee in punishment, deadly sound effects, and moments like a Minotaur being sexually serviced. This is not a film for everyone, but it will be the film for some.
Rating: 5 out of 5prevnext
A sweet, low-fi science-fiction tale, Strawberry Mansion imagines a world where dreams are cataloged and taxed by the government, making for a story with some biting satire that further targets advertising, elder abuse, and more. Written and directed by Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney, with Audley starring as the dream auditor, it plays out like an expanded Adult Swim short, leaning into its low-cost aesthetic and focusing on gags that will appeal to that crowd. There's a lot to admire about Strawberry Mansion and, for those willing to go with its very specific flow, they'll find something worthwhile.
Rating: 4 out of 5prevnext
The title for this Korean sci-fi-thriller refers to the first human clone who is in need of a secure transport and a former secret service agent is given the task. An interesting premise and unique view of the world are quickly gripping but the frequent exposition dumps and legitimately terrible English-speaking actors drag much of the film down. Though its action set-pieces are few and far between, they're clearly the things that director Lee Yong-ju has a knack for, despite the quieter dramatic moments taking up way more space, and not being nearly as arresting.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5prevnext
Director Rob Schroeder and screenwriter Conor Stechschulte are going to be two people to keep your eye on as the meticulous storytelling on display in their trippy sci-fi drama shows them as already having a firm grasp of their respective crafts. A lot of information gets thrown at you early on, so much so that it feels like you need note cards to keep track, but it all connects in the end in an incredibly satisfying way. Detailing the weird conspiracy web that unravels after a night of heavy drinking, Ultrasound always has another layer at work and ends up a very interesting mix of sci-fi, drama, comedy, and surprises.
Rating: 4 out of 5prevnext
Voice of Silence0comments
Two mob cleaners (literal cleaners) are tasked with disposing of bodies when they are given a new job: keep track of a rival gang leader's daughter until he pays the ransom. Frequently feeling like a modern Raising Arizona, with shades of Burn After Reading, this South Korean crime drama comes from first-time filmmaker Hong Eui-jeong, which immediately cements them a place as director to keep an eye on. Frequently funny and often emotionally resonant, Voice of Silence seems poised to be a film Hollywood will battle to remake in a few years yet will lack all of the connectivity with its rural setting to really grasp on a big-budget scale.
Rating: 4 out of 5prev