With all of the massive news that came out of San Diego Comic-Con it might have been easy to miss that one of the most exciting and largest genre festivals in the world is currently taking place in Montreal. Fantasia Fest runs from July 16th to August 1st and showcases some of the most exciting, extreme, and engaging films from all over the world.This year is no different, and we’ve put together a list of the 11 upcoming horror movies you have to watch that were unleashed on the world by the twisted and brilliant minds behind Fantasia Fest this year.
Some of these films have release dates set (noted below) but many are still seeking distribution. So consider this feature a preview of upcoming horror movies you need to add to your must-see list in the months ahead!
If you’re a fan of a terrifying J-Horror ghost–like Sadako from The Ring–then get ready to meet Shirai-san. The spooky new apparition is the star of Stare, a super scary and original reimagining of the Japanese horror genre that became a worldwide phenomenon. The film follows Mizuki, a young woman who discovers a horrifying new trend of deaths after she witnesses her friend die of a heart attack so serious that her eyeballs explode. Turns out there are a lot more victims whose lives have mysteriously ended in the same way and it looks like it might be the work of a nefarious spirit. Fun, fresh, and freaky, Stare is a wicked J-Horror treat.
Lupita Nyong’o proves that she has some serious action chops in this zom-rom-com that doesn’t reinvent the wheel but instead reminds you just how funny and charming the subgenre can be. Following a useless man-child who suddenly gains an interest in his young nephew when he meets the very cute kid’s very hot teacher, things go awry when the pair takes the class on a trip to a local farm that just so happens to be next to a secret military base. And, yes, that’s just as much of a bad idea as it sounds. There’s also a star turn from Josh Gad, which works far better with the element of surprise so we won’t ruin that for you.
Mystery of the Night
Another inventive ghost-heavy offering is Mystery of the Night, which centers on a young child who’s banished along with their mother to the dark and haunted forests of the Philippines only to be raised by the spirits who live there. Set in the 1900s in an area of the country that was colonized by Spain, this is a searing story about the horror of invasion, the impact of trauma, and the power of nature. Mystery of the Night is a unique take on genre filmmaking that has to be seen to be believed.
When it premiered at Sundance, critics called The Lodge “the next great horror film,” and if you’re into atmospheric nightmares about secretive cults then The Lodge might just live up to that praise. Following Richard Marsh, a non-fiction author who has an obsession with extreme Christian cults, The Lodge is a family horror like no other. After taking up with the only survivor of a cult’s violent mass suicide, Richard makes the ill-informed decision to head off to a desolate wooded lodge with his children and new fiance where they soon become snowed in and awful, horrifying things begin to happen. (US Release Date: November 19, 2019)
Part of what Fantasia Fest’s own Kaila Hier coined as “Burnout Horror,” Lorcan Finnegan’s Vivarium is a masterclass in millennial horror. When a young couple go to view an apartment in a new complex known only as Yonder, they find themselves in a terrifying trap unable to leave and suddenly thrown into an extreme version of the suburban life they never wanted. Surreal, strange, and wildly unique, Lorrican’s flick plays as a feature length Twilight Zone episode for 2019 and that’s meant as the biggest of compliments.
If you’ve missed the cult-filled horrors of the 1980s then you’ll love the satirical bloodbath of Chelsea Stardust’s Satanic Panic. When a young pizza delivery woman heads to the mysterious and wealthy locale of Mill Basin, things soon go horribly wrong as not only do the homeowners not tip but they also worship the devil. Fun and frantic, this is a throwback to all things that the name hints at whilst still offering a refreshing twist on the classic cult horrors of days past. (Theatrical and VOD US Release Date: September 6, 2019)
One of the biggest releases at this year’s Fantasia Fest is the Samara Weaving star vehicle which pits the future daughter of Bill S. Preston Esq. up against her fiance’s family of murderous monsters. The trailer dropped earlier this year and had everyone super excited for the slasher free-for-all. In a twist on the Home Invasion trope, here it’s all about escaping the madhouse which her loving partner (Adam Brody) has dropped her into with apparently no warning. (US Release Date: August 21, 2019)
The second Fantasia Fest film to fit into Hier’s “Burnout Horror” mold is another film focused on housing instability and the desperation of the younger generation to find somewhere to fit in. It also happens to be a really solid horror flick that plays on very real and relatable paranoia, ramping it up to 10 and throwing its protagonist into the middle of a Rosemary’s Baby-style scenario that eschews the newborn for the millennial woman at its center. Creepy, cultish, and likely to gain a pretty big following when it hits screens, 1BR might be the breakout from Fantasia Fest this year.
Another film making waves at this year’s festival is Rob Grant’s debut offering, Harpoon. Adding a much needed new entry to the underserved “boat horror” subgenre, this pitch black comedy thriller is a cynical joyride through the voyage from hell. After a domestic incident that leaves a group of friends in a less than happy place, the trio heads out onto the open waters of the ocean only to find themselves stranded. As they become ever more desperate, their relationships are tested as are their tempers in this lo-fi satire shocker that will be seared on your memory long after you leave the theatre.
Taking a plot that could be from a Lifetime movie and turning it into a bleak and hilarious commentary on the expectations that society puts on women, Homewrecker is an exercise in social anxiety, politeness, and–ultimately–bloody violence. The inciting incident occurs when two women, Michelle (Alex Essoe) and Linda (Precious Chong), meet at a local yoga class and the latter quickly insinuates herself into the former’s life. But this goes way beyond a burgeoning friendship as Michelle finds herself trapped in the home of her new acquaintance after agreeing to decorate her house. If the thriller setup sounds standard, get ready to be surprised by this incisive, bleak, and often hilarious horror flick.
Blood On Her Name
Blood On Her Name is technically a Neo-Noir but it’s as horrifying as any of the other movies on our list and was easily one of the best films we saw at Fantasia Fest, so we had to include it here. When a young mother (Bethany Anne Lind) has to cover up an accidental killing, she quickly finds herself betrayed by her own moral compass. In the vein of cult Noir hits like Cold in July and Blue Ruin, Blood On Her Name is a tight and exhilarating thriller that throws you straight into the middle of every mother’s worst nightmare.