This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, none of the Fantasia Film Festival films being covered here would exist.
It’s the most wonderful time of the summer genre film festival season. Fantasia Film Festival is rapidly approaching, which means genre fans are getting a little slice of everything: adventure, romance, sci-fi, and – most especially – horror. This year’s line-up is bursting at the seams with a variety of different horror. From Frankenstein reimaginings to smart houses to murderous sideshow performers, the selections this year at Fantasia Film Festival run the gamut of fun viewing possibilities.
Needless to say, it was incredibly difficult to narrow down our top choices for the horror films world premiering at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. In no particular order, here are our top five horror film world premieres you need to add to your Fantasia Film Festival viewing list, stat!
Writer/Director Larry Fessenden tackles one of my personal favorite mythological creatures in his latest feature film, BLACKOUT. Starring Alex Hurt, we follow the trajectory of a man who fully believes he is a werewolf. Hopped up on this presumed delusion, every time a full moon comes, the guy gets his wolf on and terrorizes his town. A film that completes Fessenden’s journey in hoping to create his own werewolf film, BLACKOUT aims to explore the humanity of a man that hopes to control his own fate. That’s something we can all relate to.
Lovely, Dark, and Deep
The woods can mess with the mind with its mysteries and neverending expanse. In Teresa Sutherland’s feature debut, LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP, we see how sometimes trying to uncover the mysteries of nature leads to terrifying results. Starring Georgina Campbell as Lennon, we watch as the young woman lands a prime-time position as a park ranger. Her motivations, though, come into direct conflict with what the woods crave. A mind-bending spiral of a time, Sutherland blends a tale that dives deep into the psyche and leans into conspiracy that will satisfy viewers.
Of all the films on this list, ROMI arguably is the wildcard of the pack in this World Premiere line-up of ours. Coming from Canadian’s equivalent of Stephen King, Robert Cuffley, ROMI features a smart house AI scenario that is ripe for horror. With AI being the hot button topic of the age – for better or worse – there are loads of things that can go wrong with this technology. Throw in a protagonist that has to be forced into hiding by her mother to save face, and you have the recipe for a lot of tension and chaos here.
The Sacrifice Game
We all love a little horror set at Christmastime. After a bit of an absence, director/producer Jenn Wexler is back with THE SACRIFICE GAME. Combining the 70s with a boarding school, some psychotic killers, and the supernatural, the film synopsis honestly sounds like a wild time. Most exciting is seeing Mena Massoud leading this pack of killers in a role that completely goes against type for him. If the name sounds familiar, he was Aladdin in, well, Aladdin. A horror set at Christmastime with the most outrageous of shenanigans boasted on the page, THE SACRIFICE GAME seems like a film to immediately add to your list.
Where the Devil Roams
The Adams Family has been a bonafide Fantasia Film Festival staple in recent years. Following up on The Deeper You Dig and Hellbender, they are now back with their Depression-era flick, WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS. Focusing on a traveling band of sideshow performers in Depression-era America, you know that this is going to be a wildly rich time. Honestly, they had me at Depression-era sideshow performers. Enriched in the occult and the darkest of magics, within the depths of the story may lie a cautionary tale.
Of course, there are not all the films that are premiering at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. Frankly, there are so many intriguing films that our list could go on forever (or at least until we ran out of the films featured in Fantasia’s line-up). Make sure to check out their entire slate of movies. There is plenty for genre lovers to enjoy. Be on the lookout for our reviews too as we get ready to dive into this fest.
The Fantasia International Film Festival will be celebrating its 27th edition with a whiplashing program of screenings, workshops, and launch events running from July 20 through August 9, 2023.
- [Giveaway] THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER – Win a Ticket to Advanced LA Screening - September 27, 2023
- [Exclusive Clip] THE JESSICA CABIN – Sorry, You Didn’t Make It! - September 27, 2023
- [News] THE MILL Trailer Reminds of the Horror of the Grind - September 27, 2023