Last year I broke all the end of the year lists down by genre or subgenre, however this year I’m being lazy and I’m only going to discuss the Horror and Science Fiction films and Festivals as separate genre. There are other great films but these are the films I’m recommending
The stand out HORROR films:
ARTIC VOID-Investigators are going to town up North where weird things are happening. This is a an example where a really good horror film is wrecked by the promotional material which gives it all away and explains what is going on. If you can avoid the promotional material this is solid little film.
JETHICA- two friends reconnect, unfortunately there is something strange going on. This is a killer supernatural tale that isn’t scary so much as just great.
LEGIONS- demonic horror film that takes things into unexpected places. Finding films like this is why Fantaspoa is such a great film.
CATCHING SPIRITS- awesome supernatural dance short about a girl who can capture spirits.
TRUSTING HANDS- seemingly nothing film about a woman and relaxation tape is one of the most disturbing films of the year. This is truly the magic of the movies.
NIGHT SIREN- Not the expected horror film. Yea it has to do with witches but the monsters are people. This transcends genre to be one of the great films of any sort this year (I’m putting it here because it will get eyes on the film more than any other list- this should be on the best of the year list)
FIXATIONS- mind twisting film requires that you stay with it. It’s a film that seems unremarkable until it suddenly makes perfect terrifying sense. This had me talking to the screen
The stand out SCIENCE FICTION films:
SAMARITAN- yes the Stallone film. Move away from the expectations and the clunkiness of some of the plotting and this reveals itself to be a killer superhero film.
VESPER is about a post-apocalyptic world where the environment is dead and the rich live in self-contained communities. This is not where we’ve been before but a world you will want to revisit.
LINOLEUM off kilter story of a man’s life and you really just have to go with this because it’s just Wow
The GENRE FESTS
A few quick word on the great genre festivals I love to cover every year. (I am not including fests like Sundance, New York Asian or Tribeca that have a section for genre films but whole festivals devoted to horror Scifi and other fun things.
Fantasia is the king of the festivals. I blame Ted Geoghegan for getting me hooked. Years ago he sent me an email saying I should be covering the festival and it’s been downhill ever since. Full of the best films from across the globe this is the place to see the BIG international films that will be important. I know some people will argue that Fantastic Fest is THE place, but that fest is simply too small to come close to what Fantasia does. Fantasia screens hundred of films and they are all worth a look. If you want to see the films that matter this is the place to go.
While I’m toting the horn of Mr Geoghegan I have to say that the last few years he has allowed me to get a taste of the fantastic Fantaspoa. This dark festival in Brazil is truly amazing. Every year it programs some of the craziest films that you don’t see anywhere else. It is an absolute bloody delight. I just wish more of the treasures ended up in the US
Closer to home is the Brooklyn Horror Fest. This small little gem of a fest has been growing exponentially every year. Because it falls when I’m broken by the New York Film Festival I tend just taste the fest remotely while other Unseen reporters go to the festival. It’s a wonderful clearing house of the important films of the year still on the festival circuit.
The two best festivals of any sort that I will literally drop everything for and cover are both in Canada.
Blood in the Snow is a glorious annual event that programs a week of cinematic madness every year. The last few years they have co-programmed with The Super Channel so people at home can enjoy some of the madness. I remember wading in the first year and wondering why the hell more people weren’t covering it. These are some of the best films you’ll see all year, and more to the point they are often the BIG films people will be talking about down the road. Many times over the last few years I have been asked by people to cover a film only to tell them I saw it at BITS. It’s a delight. And even if you don’t like something you’ll at least know why it was programmed.
And the best (genre) fest I’ve run across is still Frank Apache’s Cabane a Sang. This ever growing festival is quite simply the best programmed festival of any sort I’ve ever run across. (I am very serious about that) Out of the hundreds of films I’ve seen at the fest there have been maybe two that I didn’t like. Seriously Frank and his programmers know what’s good and they give it to their audiences. There is always something to enjoy about their films, scares, blood, thought provoking ideas, action, really stupid but funny humor. If you watch the films in the order they present them you will have a great time. I mention their ordering because not only do they program great films they put them together so perfectly so as to complement each other. Too many festivals forget that but not Cabane, they make sure you see the best films in the best order. It maybe the best festival of any sort on the planet, period. Yes there are other bigger fests, but as a whole Cabane is the festival I walk out of every year not quibbling and being completely satisfied.