• New Life

    New Life

    ★★★★

    Fantasia International Film Festival 2023

    At first glance, John Rosman’s New Life reads like your average thriller. A cat-and-mouse chase between two people with enough ambiguity to keep things interesting. By itself, that works enough for me, I enjoy a good thriller - emphasis on good - and can happily acknowledge that sometimes when things are kept simple, they can flourish. Jessica (Erin) is on the run for unknown reasons and needs to cross the Canadian border to earn a…

  • The Childe

    The Childe

    ★★

    Fantasia International Film Festival 2023

    South Korea’s Park Hoon-jung, writer of I Saw the Devil and creator of a host of action thrillers, returns with The Childe, a neo-noir action thriller with more than a hint of John Woo to it. His eighth feature mainly follows Marco (Tae-joo), a boxer who has fallen foul of local gangs which leaves him unable to fund his sick mother's treatment, as he is whisked away to South Korea to apparently reunite with his…

  • ROMI

    ROMI

    ★★½

    Fantasia International Film Festival 2023

    The mere mention of AI in 2023 is enough to cause a cavalcade of opinions, thoughts, and emotions, thus making the ever-controversial subject ripe for the horror genre (though this isn’t a new idea) to examine and exploit. Robert Cuffley’s ROMI pits human vs. artificial intelligence set against the backdrop of a beautifully minimalist, yet technologically advanced, house secluded away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life - which is perfect as Maddie (Barajas)…

  • Perpetrator

    Perpetrator

    ★½

    Fantasia International Film Festival 2023

    With its eye-catching poster and intriguing premise, Perpetrator seemed primed to deliver one of the year's more memorable genre entries. Jennifer Reeder’s latest effort follows Jonny (McKirnan), a young girl struggling to harness her untapped powers in a town where missing girls are becoming an all too frequent occurrence. According to Reeder herself, the film is “inspired by the shared experience of generations of women,” and an “exploration of youthful chaos” - and it’s immediately…

  • It Lives Inside

    It Lives Inside

    ★★★★

    Fantasia International Film Festival 2023

    I love me some demonic horror. Admittedly, the majority of films that fall into this category are bloody awful but occasionally one comes along that restores my faith. Bishal Dutta’s It Lives Inside is a horror movie that wears its influences on its sleeve with genre nods ranging from The Ring to Lights Out and A Nightmare on Elm Street (to name just a few) whilst proudly pulling on and immersing itself in Indian culture…

  • Sometimes I Think About Dying

    Sometimes I Think About Dying

    ★★★★½

    Fantasia International Film Festival 2023

    Based on a short film that itself was based on a play, Sometimes I Think About Dying has taken a cultured road to the big screen, but with director Rachel Lambert and Star Wars leading lady Daisy Ridley at the helm, the moodily-titled dramedy has arrived at Fantasia International Film Festival 2023. Thankfully, the film isn’t as pessimistic or downcast as its title suggests but it does provide a strong examination of social inclusion and…

  • Journey to the West

    Journey to the West

    ★★½

    Fantasia International Film Festival 2023

    Mixing mockumentary stylings with a standard narrative format, Dashan Kong’s Journey to the West is a strange beast, much like its lead character Tang Zhijun (Yang), a UFO enthusiast who publishes an extraterrestrial-themed magazine for little reward. Based on the 16th-century Chinese literary classic, rather than searching for holy scriptures, Tang and his cohorts Qin (Liya), Xiao (Chen Chen), and Narisu (Qiming) head to rural Southwestern China to investigate possible UFO activity in the area.…

  • Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls

    Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls

    ★★

    Fantasia International Film Festival 2023

    Up there with Apocalypse Clown as the film with the oddest title at Fantasia International Film Festival 2023 is Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls - or Onyx the Fortuitous as this reviewer will refer to the film. Shortening it to simply Onyx would not do as that is the name of our lead character, or, indeed, the pseudonym he prefers to go by.

    Onyx the Fortuitous (a Satanist) is the creation of…

  • Killing Romance

    Killing Romance

    ★★★★

    Fantasia International Film Festival 2023

    Returning after nine years away from the big screen, Lee Won-Suk brings with him his new feature Killing Romance - a comedy-thriller that takes aim at toxic masculinity, consumerism, and domestic violence complete with K-pop, an explosion of colour, and plenty of excesses. It’s certainly a trip that will ultimately reward you if you’re willing to stay on board the further into its own chaos it descends into, despite the flaws along the way.

    Hwang…

  • Birth/Rebirth

    Birth/Rebirth

    ★★★★½

    Fantasia International Film Festival 2023

    Very loosely based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Laura Moss’ first feature Birth/Rebirth posits the duality of life and creation with motherhood in such a way that it begs the question - how has this not been adequately presented before now? Had it done, it would have had to go some way to be more effective and thought-provoking than Moss’ chilling and complex horror drama.

    The basic premise of the film is that Marin Ireland’s Rose,…

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

    ★★★★

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of my first pop culture loves, alongside Transformers and Ghostbusters (such good times…), but the heroes in a half shell haven’t always adapted well on the big screen. Sure, 1990’s original film and 1991’s Secrets of the Ooze are nostalgic fun, but I’m not sure they can be classed as strong - similar sentiments apply to Jonathan Liebesman’s 2014 effort. The animated series and comics have led the line well, and now, with Jeff…

  • People Who Talk to Plushies Are Kind

    People Who Talk to Plushies Are Kind

    ★★★½

    Fantasia International Film Festival 2023

    I can tell you now, Fantasia International Film Festival 2023 boasts some of the best film titles I have seen in a while, and Yurina Kaneko’s delightfully titled People Who Talk to Plushies are Kind is another addition to its lexicon of wonderful names. Based on Ao Omae’s short story of the same name, Plushies delivers what it says on the tin - people talking to plushies! This isn’t a laugh-a-minute buddy comedy about characters…