We list our favorite films from the 2023 edition of the Fantasia Film Festival, a showcase for cool genre films from around the world.
The 2023 edition of Fantasia has come to an end and let me tell you: this year was a good one. From personal looks at the dark web to Indian demons, there are plenty of interesting stories to latch onto. I attended virtually and had a wonderful time with the festival, getting to see a bevy of new favorites. I should state upfront that there were several heavy-hitters from the festival that I was unfortunately unable to see due to unforeseen circumstances. So if it’s not here, that’s probably why. Now let’s take a look at some of the best that the festival had to offer.
Aporia (dir: Jared Moshe)
The concept of being able to shoot a gun into the past, therefore changing the future, is already enough to have most people’s attention. But add wonderful performances from Judy Greer and Edi Gathegi and you’ve got one of the more interesting “high concept” films from the festival. This is one that will have you putting yourself in these characters’ shoes and debating which decisions are right or wrong. While all of these decisions may not be the right ones, it’s fascinating to see what conclusions they reach.
Booger (dir: Mary Dauterman)
The title may be polarizing for most but if you can get past that then there’s a great story about grief and moving on. We follow Anna after the death of her best friend Izzy as she tries to navigate the world. Things get complicated when her cat Booger bites her and she starts to undergo a very strange transformation. While there is light body horror here, this is mostly a character piece. The performances here are wonderful, with Marcia DeBonis being a true standout. Don’t let this title turn you away.
It Lives Inside (dir: Bishal Dutta)
This movie made me realize how much I love the usage of cultural demons in horror movies. They provide such an interesting angle to what can be very tired. Because the story of It Lives Inside isn’t exactly breaking new ground, but its execution is fantastic. Megan Suri is great and leads the viewer down a journey of chaos. The creature design is an all-time great, with the perfect blend of practical effects and keeping it to the shadows.
New Life (dir: John Rosman)
This one almost slipped past me and I’m glad it didn’t because this look at an almost-pandemic is truly terrifying. Thanks to 2020, these kinds of things hit a little harder, and it’s easy to see where things can go wrong here. The film follows Elsa as she’s trying to track down a woman on the run, carrying a deadly strain of the Ebola Virus. I could easily see this film just having passed me by just four years ago but nowadays, its message is poignant and relatable.
Red Rooms (dir: Pascal Plante)
The first film from the festival ended up being the best as Red Rooms absolutely stuns. I was enthralled from start to finish and couldn’t wait for the conclusion to come. It’s tense, it’s disgusting, but it’s absolutely mesmerizing in its pursuits. We follow Kelly-Anne as she attends the trail for high-profile serial killer, Ludovic Chevalier. She is such a conflicting character who is constantly making questionable decisions and yet, even broken, serves as the moral compass. This will make you uncomfortable but some of the best films do.
Some of these films will be released soon and some won’t be widely available for some time. So make sure you keep an eye out for these gems.