FANTASIA22 REVIEW: 범죄도시2 [The Roundup] [2022]

And no balsamic vinegar. Set four years after the events from The Outlaws (known as Crime City in Korea), new director Sang-yong Lee and screenwriter Min-Seong Kim bring Detective Ma Seok-do (Ma Dong-seok aka Don Lee) back to the big screen with The Roundup (or 범죄도시2 [Crime City 2]). A standalone film with a couple characters returning via tongue-in-cheek reveals, you really don’t need to know anything beyond what we learn at the start. While Jeon Il-man (Gwi-hwa Choi) is the police captain, he knows it’s better to get out…

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FANTASIA22 REVIEW: Next Exit [2022]

I can start with one minute. While a viral video of a young boy playing cards with his dead father captured the nation so profoundly that suicides and murders have skyrocketed due to humanity no longer fearing death, allowing every single ghost to be seen by every single human on Earth would be quite the logistical issue for first-time feature film writer/director Mali Elfman. She first started crafting Next Exit ten years ago and thus has had plenty of time to tweak and hone her script in a way that…

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FANTASIA22 REVIEW: All Jacked Up and Full of Worms [2022]

I think I just killed my own childhood. Is first-time feature film writer/director Alex Phillips trying to say something with All Jacked Up and Full of Worms or is he just looking to make viewers wish they were as high on hallucinogenic worms as the characters on-screen? Ask his target audience and they’ll probably laugh in your face for daring to presume they care. All they want is that out-there insanity writhing around in the slimy discharge left behind by a journey between nightmare and reality. Ask everyone else and…

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FANTASIA22 REVIEW: L’employée du mois [Employee of the Month] [2022]

The most dangerous thing here is you. It’s review day and everyone is laughing about what raises and bonuses they’re going to request this year. Nico (Alex Vizorek) jokes about asking for an SUV and money because it worked for someone else in the past. And why not? EcoClean Pro’s manager Patrick (Peter Van den Begin) decided to give his latest intern (Laetitia Mampaka‘s Melody) a stack of papers to shred on her first day, so it’s not much of a leap to assume the books have been cooked to…

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FANTASIA22 REVIEW: Dark Nature [2022]

Yes. I will face my trauma. Or whatever. The risk of dealing with a therapy group like the one at the center of Berkley Brady‘s directorial debut Dark Nature is that the narrative quite often needs to turn into a “Trauma Olympics” to progress. She knows this and even includes the sentiments as a joke early on when one of Dr. Dunnley’s (Kyra Harper) usual patients Shaina (Roseanne Supernault) speaks about why she’s attending this woodland retreat in the Treaty 7 territory of northern Alberta (Brady is a Métis filmmaker)…

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FANTASIA22 REVIEW: Polaris [2022]

In a post-eco-disaster 2144, a young girl (Viva Lee‘s Sumi) lives as a polar bear cub in the snow. She crawls around with her “mother,” growling under the stars until a sound is heard in the distance to open this world up wider. Sumi travels over the hill to discover a group of Morad hunters wielding machinery to cut down trees and brutalize whatever creatures might cross their path. When one inevitably sees Sumi in the distance, she screams to rally her ragtag clan and give chase. Most ferally run…

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FANTASIA21 REVIEW: Mad God [2022]

The Mad God of the film’s title is writer/director/animator Phil Tippett and the sheer audacity of him manufacturing an 80-minute opus of grotesquery sprung from a passage by Leviticus that would ultimately need thirty years to complete. His original footage went before cameras during the late 80s and early 90s—around the time he was working on Robocop 2—before he let the concept fade away once computer graphics (thanks to Jurassic Park, which he won an Oscar for) began taking over the special effects industry. It wasn’t until the 2010s that…

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FANTASIA21 REVIEW: Baby Money [2021]

Everyone’s gotta have their moment. The job is simple. Break into an old couple’s home in the middle of the night, skulk around while they sleep to procure a purple metal box, and then just wait for a 4am call on an already supplied burner phone. In, out, and thousands of dollars richer. Saying “No’ isn’t therefore an option for Minny (Danay Garcia) and Gil (Michael Drayer) considering they don’t even have to get their hands dirty as getaway driver and lookout respectively. Having a baby on the way and…

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FANTASIA21 REVIEW: Baby, Don’t Cry [2021]

You still have a chance. Baby (Zita Bai) is a seventeen-year-old Chinese immigrant surviving on the fringes of her community. She’s a voyeur—always with camera on to capture the dialogue and actions of others so that she can better mimic how it is that she should act to “fit in.” That she also photographs animal carcasses and death with excitement might make that sort of assimilation tough, but she’s not really interested in those that would dismiss such a thing without context. It’s not until she meets Fox (Vas Provatakis)…

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FANTASIA21 REVIEW: Daewoebi: Gwonryeok-ui Tansaeng [The Devil’s Deal] [2021]

Can’t we live ordinary lives? There’s no way anybody beats Jeon Hae-woong (Cho Jin-woong) in a hometown election because everyone in Haeundae loves him. Walking down the street means shaking hands and bowing to applause because the people know that he will fight for them. He is one of them, after all. Thinking as much only proves naïve if the world in which he exists is corrupt and, according to the President (who is also up for re-election at the same time as Congress), this will be the most transparently…

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FANTASIA21 REVIEW: When I Consume You [2022]

I’m taking a lot of deep breaths. Daphne (Libby Ewing) and Wilson Shaw (Evan Dumouchel) didn’t really have anyone growing up besides themselves and the same could be said now too. They cut out their parents years ago and did their best to dig out from under the trauma they endured, but it almost came crashing down five years ago courtesy of the former’s long-lasting drug addiction. They got through it, though. Together. And they have hope again thanks to Daphne’s dream of adopting a child to love like they…

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