Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Fantasia Film Festival 2021: 11 Movies You Must See

samurai cat and a pug
With the proliferation of COVID-19 vaccines and at least some people caring enough about their fellow humans to take it, in-person events like film festivals have made a comeback. [Editor’s Note: Hopefully this holds, but it looks like we’re going backwards.] Not all, however. Canada’s Fantasia Film Festival is sticking to the virtual model for 2021. I usually cover the fest remote, so this isn’t much of a change from the norm for me. Regardless of the platform, the fest has yet again assembled an eclectic, weird-as-hell program, and we have some suggestions of things you might want to check out.


Some of these we’ve seen, others simply look like a blast, or at least strange enough to pique our interest. And as always, there’s a glut of genre films to choose from. There’s action, horror, sci-fi and all manner of the oddities that make Fantasia one of our favorite film festivals to cover. 

[Related Reading: 10 Movies to See at the 2020 Fantasia Film Festival]


There are, of course, a ton that aren’t on this list that were psyched to see. The Suicide Squad opens Fantasia, but we’ll get to see that on HBO Max on Friday; Takashi Miike’s The Great Yokai War—Guardianswill play; and so much more. You have dozens of features and shorts to choose from, and no matter what you opt for, it’s bound to be unusual.

[Related Reading: The 50 Most-Anticipated Movies of 2021]


Take a look, make a list, and hunker down for Fantasia 2021!

nicholas tse

Raging Fire


A cop, haunted by his past? Who’s a bit of a hotshot and plays by his own rules? With a pregnant wife? Maybe we’ve seen this set up before. But when that cop is the great Donnie Yen, all we can say is hell to the yes. And this Heat-inspired cops and robbers opus delivers in all the ways that matter. It rules as hard as one might hope.

paul dood

Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break


An aging dreamer, Paul Dood has delusions of stardom, only he’s a spineless, little-talent wiener who lives with his mother and gets bullied at every turn. When he’s finally pushed too far, this blackly comic revenge tale echoes Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers—in fact director Nick Gillespie is a frequent Wheatley collaborator. Dark and sad, brutal and twisted, this is bloody and silly and sneakily earnest.

man with a gun and clone



A former secret agent with a brain tumor comes back for one last mission, to protect the first human clone, who just so happens to have powers, in this South Korean sci-fi actioner. Full of action, sects vying for this scientific prize, and mediations on the ethics of playing god in a laboratory, Seobok promises to be both exciting and thought provoking in equal measure. 

a boy a baby and zombies

Brain Freeze


I’m a simple man. Hand me a solid zombie movie and I’m in. Laughs, scares, and blood fill this Canadian take on the undead where an experimental golf course fertilizer transforms everyday folks into flesh-hungry monsters. It’s a clever spin on the genre, with a sharp satirical bend, that proves there’s still life in the undead.

haunted underwater house

The Deep House


The omnipresent danger of being underwater immediately adds tension and stakes to a situation, but when the location may be haunted, damn. When two YouTube adventurers explore an abandoned, isolated, not-on-any-maps underwater structure, they discover even more than they bargained for. I can’t imagine this goes well for them.

horror movie

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror


Folk horror is in the midst of a resurgence right now, and this documentary takes a deep dive into the history of the subgenre. From Kier-La Janisse, author of The House of Psychotic Women, this three-hour (!) saga presents an at-times academic portrait that not only examines this slice of cinema, but these films as a way to confront the real-life horrors and traumas of the world that produced them.

nicolas cage sion sono

Prisoners of the Ghostland


Nicolas Cage and Sion Sono together is a powerful and unhinged combination. Cage said Prisoners of the Ghostland, “might be the wildest movie I’ve ever made,” and I can’t say he’s wrong. There are testicular explosions, irradiated mutant ghosts, and so much more madness to behold in this hyper-absurd post-apocalyptic jaunt.

Beau Knapp with a gun

Ida Red


A neo-western action thriller starring Frank Grillo, William Forsythe, Josh Hartnett, Beau Knapp, and Melissa Leo has our attention. Include a grim generational crime saga, and writer/director John Swab has us already waiting in line.

man with mechanical mouth

King Car


Yes, we already want to see a movie about a taxi driver’s son who has the ability to talk to cars. And when a film garners comparisons to capitalist-nightmare cinema like David Cronenberg’s Crash, that is a movie absolutely must see.

glasshouse movie



Dystopian science-fiction, gothic melodrama, folk horror. All of these terms have been used to describe South African thriller Glasshouse, so whoever is in charge of the film’s marketing appears to have a direct line into our collective mind.

russian movie

Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It


A trio of losers on a fishing trip, a van full of sex dolls, inept hitmen, and a one-eyed badass? I’ve watched movies for far less, and this Russian import sounds like a deranged mishmash of awesome elements. Can’t freaking wait.

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