23RD FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL FEEDS OFF OF REALITY

"The world is going to more frightening places, and genre films express that worry, anger and devastation," says Mitch Davis, co-director of the beloved Montreal festival, which returns from July 11 to Aug. 1.

If you think the world’s current political climate is scary, wait till you see the latest batch of genre movies that have emerged from it.

The 23rd Fantasia International Film Festival opens Thursday and presents 130 features and over 200 shorts, through Aug. 1. As usual, it’s a mad grab bag of horror, action, thrillers and offbeat comedy, combined with an in-depth survey of the year in Asian cinema.

Pondering the mayhem, Fantasia co-director and director of international programming Mitch Davis noted that this year’s crop boasts a particularly twisted batch of movies, even for a festival as wild as Fantasia.

“The last time we saw genre films that were so anguished goes back to Bush-era 9/11,” he said. “The world is going to more frightening places, and genre films express that worry, anger and devastation, which leads to commentary, discussion and confrontation. That’s when genre is at its most interesting. It’s the only silver lining in horrible times.”

Davis pointed to Lorcan Finnegan’s Vivarium (Friday, 9:30 p.m., Concordia’s Alumni Auditorium), starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots as a young couple trapped in a mysterious suburban development project, which screened as part of Cannes Critics’ Week.

“It’s a black comedy, sci-fi horror film that feels like something out of The Twilight Zone,” he said. “They’re trapped in a new real estate development. Then a child appears and they have to take care of it. It’s an interesting allegory of what home ownership does to young parents, and of the suburbs as a place where people are isolated to be breeders and consumers.”

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