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Six movies to catch at Fantasia Festival 2023

If you can believe it, we’re already over halfway through 2023! If you’re anything like us, the thought probably inspires a brief flash of existential dread. But fear not: the perfect antidote for any mid-year woes is just around the corner. From July 20 to August 9, Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival is back for its 27th edition!

We’re beyond pleased to be providing remote coverage of Fantasia 2023 again, and as always, there’s an exciting and diverse range of films, workshops and in-person events to look forward to. Now that all three waves of announcements have been released by the folks at Fantasia, the hard part is deciding what to watch. To make things a little bit easier, here are six films to consider checking out at Montreal’s finest.

Lovely, Dark, and Deep

Georgina Campbell as Lennon in “Lovely, Dark, and Deep”

This is the directorial debut of Teresa Sutherland, whose work as a screenwriter includes the likes of 2018’s “The Wind” and even Mike Flanagan’s “Midnight Mass” over at Netflix. Georgina Campbell – who recently rocked audiences in last year’s “Barbarian” – stars as a newly hired park ranger who decides to uncover the truth within an infamously mysterious remote outpost. We’re suckers for horror set in the great (and terrible) outdoors, so this is ringing all the right bells.

The Primevals

Fans of practical effects, especially classic stop-motion, should keep their eyes peeled for the premiere of this adventure feature decades in the making. It’s the brainchild of the late David Allen, a special effects genius whose work appeared in the likes of “Twilight Zone: The Movie,” “Bride of Reanimator,” “The Stuff” and countless others. He sadly passed away back in 1999, leaving “The Primevals” on ice – but Full Moon Features’ Charles Band and animator Chris Endicott have overseen the film’s completion, and we’re excited to see Allen’s vision come to fruition.

Suitable Flesh

Heather Graham as Dr. Elizabeth Derby in “Suitable Flesh”

If any film on the Fantasia lineup could be described as a match made in heaven, it would have to be Joe Lynch’s “Suitable Flesh”. A modern twist on the classic H.P. Lovecraft tale “The Thing on the Doorstep,” this baby manages to pack in Heather Graham, Barbara Crampton, a screenplay by Dennis Paoli (“Re-Animator”, “From Beyond”) and is billed as a tribute to the sorely-missed master of Lovecraftian cinema, Stuart Gordon. We’re already chanting “Iä! Iä!”.


A still from Divinity by Eddie Alcazar, an official selection of the NEXT section at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. 

When Steven Soderbergh’s name appears on a poster, one can’t help but be curious – and “Divinity” looks deliciously bonkers. Eddie Alcazar’s second feature film appears to go all-in with a far-flung sci-fi dystopian aesthetic that defies straightforward description. With a cast including Stephen Dorff (“Blade”, “True Detective,”) and sound work by the incomparable Dean Hurley (“Twin Peaks: The Return,”) we’re looking forward to finding out what cosmically demented experiences “Divinity” might have in store.

With Love and a Major Organ

Hamza Haq and Anna Maguire in “With Love and a Major Organ”

After receiving positive buzz out of SXSW 2023, the inclusion of Kim Albright’s “With Love and a Major Organ” on the Fantasia roster has our hearts thumping. Adapting Julia Lederer’s play of the same name for the big screen, this near-future sci-fi dramedy explores tech-agnostic Anabel (Anna Maguire) and her attempts to find love in a world where the human heart is a removable fixture. With the latest season of “Black Mirror” falling short for some, this could hit the mark for those hungry for good speculative cinema.

Empire V

There’s no denying that Hollywood was responsible for cultural over-saturation of vampire media about a decade ago. But it’s been long enough to bring back the fangs! Russian writer-director Victor Ginzburg brings us a big-screen adaptation of Victor Pelevin’s novel, which follows a young man’s induction into the shadowy world of what’s essentially the Vampire Illuminati. It’s political satire and horror on a grand scale, and we can’t wait to sink our teeth into it.

Fantasia Festival 2023 runs from July 20th the August 9th. The full line-up is available at the official Fantasia website.

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