Fantasia 2021 Hits Next Week and Here’s Our Most Anticipated!

Dan & the Cinapse team list their picks

North America’s largest genre film festival, Fantasia, is back with its 25th iteration of the iconic fest, running from Thursday, August 5th, through Wednesday, August 25th. This year the Montreal based festival will be offering a hybrid edition with both in person and virtual versions of their can’t miss premieres, classics, panels, and workshops. To honor 25 years showing some of the best in genre from all over the world, the fest is placing a special focus this year on Japanese cinema, and the part it’s played in the fest’s history over the years.

This year’s Fantasia opens with the world premiere of Julien Knafo’s Quebec-set zomcom Brain Freeze, starring Roy Dupuis and Iani Bédard and closes with Takashi Miike’s sequel to the film that screened at the fest in 2006, the equally ambitious looking The Great Yokai War — Guardians. The program has been broken up on the official site into Scheduled Films and OnDemand titles for those looking for the virtual option as opposed to in person. It looks like the majority of these virtual screenings will be time based as opposed to the all you can eat option. This eventizes the films and encourages the kind of discourse you’d have after seeing a film at a festival.

Check out for a full rundown of the program, but before you do here’s our picks:

Dan Tabor

I can personally vouch for the following titles, having reviewed some of them at previous fests:

Alien On Stage, Coming Home In The Dark, Cryptozoo, Mother Schmuckers, Prisoners Of The Ghostland, Strawberry Mansion, We’re All Going To The World’s Fair, Woodlands Dark And Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror

Films I am looking forward to viewing at Fantasia:

Wonderful Paradise — ONDEMAND

I love Japanese films that sound like a slice of life type scenario gone horribly wrong and Masashi Yamamoto’s latest looks to fit that bill to a T. The film is the story of the debt-ridden Sasayas who are moving out of their big house in the suburbs of Tokyo, when the daughter posts an open invitation on Twitter to their home, for their farewell party. This simple act can’t bode well for the Sasayas, and I can’t wait to see it.

Straight To VHS

A documentary deep dive on a hard to find shot on VHS grail from Uruguay called, Act of Violence in a Young Journalist (1989), which promises to be a cult film in the style of The Room.

Yes, please.

Satoshi Kon, The Illusionist -ONDEMAND

Perfect Blue, Paprika, Millennium Actress are easily some of the greatest animated films of our time and this doc looks to shed some light on the architect behind these masterpieces. Sadly he passed away too soon, with so much left to do.

The Sadness

As a diehard fan of transgressive cinema I tend to seek anything that has a trigger warning on it in the festival description, and that makes The Sadness a must watch for me.

“Fantasia rarely gives trigger warnings, but this film warrants all of them. Proceed with caution.”

Not reading anything else on it, not watching a trailer, just count me in!

Office Royale

I am assuming Battle Royale in an office setting, hence the name. Rarely do the Japanese disappoint when it comes to these sorts of over the top, ridiculous pairings, so yes, I need to see this.

King Knight

I am getting heavy What We Do in the Shadows vibes from this film about a coven of witches who discover something about their high priest starring Matthew Gray Gubler, Angela Sarafyan (West World) and Barbara Crampton (Re-animator). It looks ridiculous and meta, just in the right amounts.

Ed Travis

As always, my primary interest and focus is going to be on the action film selections made available at Fantasia, which remains one of the only genre film festivals that actually highlights and champions my most beloved of genres. Here are 5 of my most anticipated action films of the festival!

Yakuza Princess

If a movie is called Yakuza Princess, I am interested in it. Flat out. But the fact that this crime saga is a female-centered Yakuza story that also happens to be set in Brazil among Japanese immigrants living there makes this a must see for me just for the interesting setting it will provide.


I need no convincing to check out really any Korean action film. But with a weird sci-fi clone hook as a twist on the “badass must protect a vulnerable character” subgenre, Seobok more than has my attention.

Ida Red

The plot description for Ida Red didn’t honestly do it for me… but then I saw the cast. Frank Grillo, Josh Hartnett, and the incomparable Melissa Leo in the titular role of a family crime saga? Yes, please.

One Second Champion

Another intriguing sci-fi concept: If you could see one second into the future… how would that even provide an advantage to you? It’s not like you could alter global events with a one second advantage. But in the boxing ring? That would be quite the advantage indeed. This intriguing premise is all I need to want to check this one out.

The Deer King

While I’m not traditionally the biggest Anime fan, I’ve been watching some of the Studio Ghibli greats with my daughter, and with this one coming from one of the animators of some of those classics, combined with a “lone hero and a young girl” adventure dynamic, this sounds directly up my alley.

Austin Vashaw

As every year, Fantasia — my personal favorite festival — is serving up a huge slate of incredible films. Here are the ones that have caught my attention most.

Mad God

Decades in the making, fx genius Phil Tippett’s stop motion film is finally hitting our eyeballs and I cannot wait. Tippett’s incredible “Hollywood” work is always wonderful, but he’s had little opportunity to explore his own personal brand of misanthropic weirdness. Bring it.

The Great Yokai War: Guardians

Takashi Miike can be pretty hit and miss, but this festival closer looks like a blast and more importantly, that’s Daimajin, yo!

The Devil’s Deal

Lee Won-tae (The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil) returns with a new 90s-set Korean crime drama. Count me in.

The Deep House

I haven’t read up too much on this one, but the gloomy imagery alone has me intrigued. It’s a French haunted house film set underwater, a concept which which immediately sets me on edge. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m looking forward to some spooky abyssal frights.

Frank Calvillo

Hotel Poseidon

One of the most visually impressive titles of the fest promises to be a dizzying and surrealist look into one lost man’s madness. With the titular hotel standing in for a hell like no other, this film’s haunting set pieces and off-the-wall performances are ripe for some instant iconic imagery.

Baby, Don’t Cry

A tale more timely than ever, Baby, Don’t Cry aims to look at the immigrant experience through the eyes of a young girl anxious to put her own stamp on the world through filmmaking. What seems one the surface to be one of the more grounded titles of this year’s festival also looks like one of the most compelling.

The Righteous

After spending far too much time in the background, actor Mark O’Brien writes, directs and stars in this tale of a former priest, his wife, their troubled marriage and the mysterious stranger who turns up at their door. Religion, tension, secrets, the ghosts of the past and the isolated background of Newfoundland promise a slow-burn good time.


What appears to be a familiar setup is given what a seemingly fresh take in this period suspenser. Calling on themes of sensuality, envy and good old suspicion, this entry from South Africa looks to be a nightmarish fairy tale that gets to the heart of the human animal and the darkness that lurks deep within.

Martyrs Lane

One of the fest’s later selections which has been generating plenty of buzz is this tale of a young girl living with her disturbed mother who is visited by the ghost of a child. More on the contemplative end than of the “bump in the night” variety, the talk about Martyrs Lane is all about how the film both pays homage and reinvents the classic ghost story in poetic, telling ways.

Previous post BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF: A Genre Mash Up Of Legendary Proportions
Next post ALMOST FAMOUS Turns 21 On 4K