Today at Fantasia

Reviews of an eerie account of a teen suicide cult in South Wales and a fresh kung-fu/crime thriller mash-up.




The following films are screening as part of the Fantasia Film Festival, on through Aug. 4.



Bridgend is a small borough in South Wales where about 79 teenagers killed themselves, mostly by hanging, between 2007 and 2012. The story became a tabloid sensation with British media flocking to the small town and splashing photos of the young victims, often girls, on their front pages, as well as spreading rumours of Internet suicide cults and the like. Unlike the 2013 documentary of the same name, Danish filmmaker Jeppe Ronde’s Bridgend strays from the facts to create a dark, surreal and gorgeous fiction film loosely based on these events.

It follows Sara (Game of Thrones‘ Hannah Murray), a doe-eyed teen who moves to South Wales with her single dad (Steven Waddington), a cop investigating the suicides. When the locals befriend her, it comes off as some kind of strange recruitment. Naive and excited, she follows them as they run to the lake, strip down and jump in the water, floating naked like pale corpses. They then walk through a forest to howl their recently deceased friend’s name, like a pack of desperate wolves.As Sara becomes more entangled with her new friends and enamoured with the handsome, brooding Jamie (Josh O’Connor), two more teens are found hanging and Ronde’s film turns into a tormented thriller as we wonder: ‘Will she, or won’t she?’

Cast in a different light, this could have been just another film about misunderstood, angsty and bored teens living in a small town. They drink, fuck, fight and loot a shop. Yet Ronde injects such an underlying malaise that even a scene showing the teens dancing in a pub explodes with seething violence, as if they’re each about to burst. The gang also uses an Internet message board to draw cute pastel-coloured tributes to their fallen friends, but then a chat box pops up to show vulgar, creepy messages, as we see each teen typing away in their dark bedrooms, with only the light from their screens illuminating their dead-eyed faces.

It all leads to quite an eerie, mysterious finale, which definitely won’t answer any questions regarding the very real suicides of real teenagers, but will simply leave you slightly uncomfortable and reinforce the notion that Wales doesn’t seem like a particularly interesting vacation destination. (Roxane Hudon)

Bridgend screens at the J.A. de Sève Cinema (1400 de Maisonneuve W.) today, Wednesday, July 15, 9:15 p.m. and on Friday, July 17, 2:45 p.m.




Donnie Yen


Kung-Fu Killer

Once you’ve seen a kung-fu flick, have you seen them all? There are some sub-genres, but they’re pretty quick to cover: the classics of the ’70s and ’80s, the wuxias and the stunt orgies that made Jackie Chan’s reputation. What’s left beyond that? Mixing genres the way that Kung-Fu Killer does might be the answer.

Hohou Mo (martial arts superstar Donnie Yen) is a kung-fu master and police instructor who ends up in jail after turning himself in for killing an opponent in a fight. While he spends three years behind bars meditating on his wrongdoings, a mysterious serial killer appears in China. His MO is targetting kung-fu legends and murdering them using their own field of expertise (punching, kicking, weaponry etc.) Learning about the first murder on television, Houho is convinced that he knows how the killer thinks and who his next target will be. He then contacts detective Luk Yue-Sum (Charlie Young) and tries to help her stop the vicious slaughter.

What ensues is an hour and a half of meticulously choreographed fight sequences intertwined with scenes of the police investigation. Those two genres coexist quite well on the screen, the action sequences never being too long or repetitive and the police thriller parts of the film giving us time to breathe between the acrobatics orchestrated by Donnie Yen (who’s credited as the film’s action director).

One of the most interesting ideas in Kung-Fu Killer is Hohou’s reconstruction of crime scenes and events in his mind, an ability connected to his knowledge of martial arts. It’s a cool twist on the CSI or Hannibal style of tying clues together. Like all good thrillers, Kung-Fu Killer brings a healthy dose of twists to the story. Nothing too mind-blowing, but enough to keep the audience involved.

Kung-Fu Killer is a fresh take on the martial arts genre and a solid entry in the thriller genre. It’s well constructed and entertaining, never too flashy or unrealistic and doesn’t indulge in overzealous grit like many action flicks nowadays. Don’t expect a kung-fued-up version of Seven, but rather a smarter version of Game of Death. (Emmanuel Delacour)
Kung-Fu Killer screens at the Hall Theatre (1455 de Maisonneuve W.) today, Wednesday, July 15, 7:15 p.m.


Fantasia tickets can be purchased at Concordia’s Hall building (1455 de Maisonneuve W.) for $10 each, or online ($11 each), here.