Hello! Tapir is exactly the kind-of film that hits me in the emotional feels; one of those kind-of films that use fantasy to deal with our own grief. Films like Bridge to Terabithia come to mind for that, as well as more direct comps in A Monster Calls and I Kill Giants. In this Taiwanese film, a young boy, Ah-Keat (Run Yin-Bai) is told stories by his father, Ah-Sheing. His main tale is about a tapir – a creature with the body of a pig, trunk of an elephant, ears of a horse and feet of a rhinoceros. The tapir is a benevolent creature who passes through villages at night, gobbling up all nightmares.
Mark O’Brien’s The Righteous explores the interesting “hook” of a mysterious stranger coming upon a home. The mysterious stranger is O’Brien’s Aaron Smith (“Original, I know,” says Aaron), who comes upon the property of an elderly couple one night, leg injured. The home is owned by former priest Frederic Mason (Henry Czerny) and his wife Ethel Mason (Mimi Kuzyck), the reason Frederic left the priesthood. Playing with fascinating themes of sin, retribution and penance, Mark O’Brien creates quite the compelling storyline in his feature directorial debut, where he also writes the screenplay.
Featured image: Wi Ha-Joon as Do Shik in Midnight. (Courtesy of Fantasia.) Directed and written by Kwon Oh-seung. Starring Wi Ha-Joon, Jin Ki-Yoo, Kil Hae-yeon. Runtime 1h 43 min. Midnight had its Canadian Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival on August 22, 2021. I’m a total sucker for South Korean thrillers, and thrillers in general, especially ones [...]
Back at last October’s first edition of the Nightstream Film Festival, I was able to watch the wild puppet horror film Frank & Zed, written and directed by Portland filmmaker Jesse Blanchard. I loved it a lot as a love letter to the horror genre and monster movies, and I loved seeing all the effort that went into a puppet film of nature, especially with the climactic Orgy of Blood. I spoke with Jesse at that festival, but as our conversation came at the very end of the festival, we thought it best to hold the conversation for either its release (On Demand or what have you), or its next big festival stop. It’s now playing at the Fantasia Film Festival – available On Demand through Wednesday, August 25 – and I’m super excited to unveil our conversation.
Featured image: Nick Cassavetes and Nicolas Cage in Prisoners of the Ghostland. (Courtesy of Mongrel Media.) Directed by Sion Sano. Written by Aaron Hendry and screenplay by Reza Sixo Safai. Starring Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes. Runtime 1h 40 min. Prisoners of the Ghostland premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and had its Canadian Premiere [...]
The first 20 minutes of Perry Blackshear’s When I Consume You immediately catches our attention. It throws us into something unsettling as one of the film’s main characters, Daphne (Libby Ewing) is pulling a tooth from her mouth, emotionally distraught in a bathroom. It has our attention, and even if we couldn’t exactly tell what this would be about 20 minutes in, I didn’t mind. That’s part of the fun, not being able to tell the direction where a film will be going. And in these first 20 minutes especially, Blackshear’s script subverts expectations in a memorable way, which I won’t spoil. And I don’t want to spoil too much about this film as it does feel so unpredictable, so the basic logline and premise is that a pair of siblings, younger sister Daphne and older brother Wilson (Evan Dumouchel), aim to get revenge on a mysterious stalker. The film does maintain that unpredictable edge throughout the film, where only around the 45-minute mark is where we really know what type of film this is.
In horror thriller Don’t Say Its Name, outsiders are being killed by an unseen force in the woods in a Canadian Indigenous community. The town’s sheriff, Betty (Madison Walsh), can’t make heads or tails of it, so she enlists the help of badass game warden Stacey (Sera-Lys McArthur). The film is an Indigenous story at its core, one about protecting one’s land as outsiders (a coal mining company called WEC) look to profit off their land. At the very least, Don’t Say Its Name is thought-provoking because of this. There’s strong character work here, especially with Betty and Stacey. Stacey’s an army vet suffering from PTSD, so her healing from trauma of war is an intriguing element on top of Indigenous people coping with their collective trauma.
The 1800s and horror are just such a great mix. Really, any film that's horror but also a period piece is such an opportunity to utilize some of the underappreciated aspects of horror films; like showcasing great production design (by Charlie Chaspooley Robinson), costume design (Sofija Mesicek) and especially cinematography (by David Kruta, whose use of natural light looks so beautiful here). These are all checked boxes for Edoardo Vitaletti's feature film debut, The Last Thing Mary Saw, Even from the film's title, there's a sense of foreboding in the film, which follows the titular Mary (Stefanie Scott) in 1853 Southold, New York.