Fantasia: aliens, time travel & suicide

The Fantasia film festival has almost reached its halfway point — the programming can be overwhelming, so the discriminating minds at Cult MTL will help steer you in the right direction.

Robert de Hoog in Love Eternal



First-time writer/director Adam Ciancio brings us this sci-fi drama about Ash (Mark Diaco), a tormented young man who’s cursed with the “gift” of communicating with extraterrestrials. Shady government operatives milk him for info from his communications, which also leave him physically and emotionally drained. The loose plot involves Ash on a wild goose chase to find someone who can help “fix” his gift and finally give him relief.

It sounds pretty cool on paper, but the concept never really gels; most of the film is just Ciancio wandering around looking angstful. The dialogue is often leaden, and the occasionally deployed SFX are pretty cheapo. I like the concept of lo-fi sci-fi a lot — the notion that big ideas can be communicated with simple stories on DIY budgets. But this film is a case of “cool concept, shame about the movie.” (MF)

Vessel plays Sunday, July 28

I’ll Follow You Down

I’ll Follow You Down

Imagine if Back to the Future was a melancholy drama instead of a wacky comedy. That’s essentially the concept behind Canadian writer/director Richie Mehta’s understated sci-fi character study.

Brilliant scientist Gabe (Rufus Sewell) takes off on a work trip one day and never returns, leaving his wife Marika (Gillian Anderson) despondent. Years later, their now grown-up son Erol (former child star Haley Joel Osment) has to deal with his mother’s ongoing depression. But he himself has also grown into a scientific genius. And when his grandfather Sal (Victor Garber) convinces him that Gabe may have disappeared into a time-travel wormhole, Erol is drawn into his father’s dangerous experiment.

Mehta’s script occasionally dips into the melodramatic, but he keeps the intrigue high throughout the film, and his effort to treat this most hackneyed of sci-fi tropes as a serious existential and emotional drama definitely deserves some props. (MF)

I’ll Follow You Down plays Sunday, July 28

Love Eternal

Love Eternal

I wanted to love Brendan Muldowney’s Love Eternal (based on Kei Oishi’s In Love With the Dead), but I struggled with it. Muldowney makes a beautiful film, but that’s all it was: nice to look at.

Love Eternal tells the story of Ian (Robert de Hoog), who has had one-too-many brushes with death. His father dies while playing with him in the woods as a child; also at a young age, he discovers a young girl hanging from a tree — not to mention the death of his mother. These tragedies lead Ian to believe that he’s not like other people. And he isn’t really, as he starts bringing the bodies of girls who’ve committed suicide home and playing house with them.

The film has a snail’s pace and I couldn’t feel for or relate to Ian at all. I felt like his quiet, awkward presence on screen should have stirred something in me, but I just wondered when the wee weirdo would get his shit together. The dialogue is striking at points but I just didn’t feel like I was invested. (KMH)

Love Eternal plays Sunday, July 28

The Fantasia film festival runs until Aug. 7. For the film schedule and locations, head to their website.

By Malcolm Fraser and Kayla Marie Hillier

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