Screening this Saturday at Fantasia

A freaky ghost story, brutal Korean crime caper and a lo-fi DIY debut are our picks for this weekend at Fantasia.

The Fantasia film festival is happening at two cinemas on Concordia University’s downtown campus through Aug. 2. Here are our reviews of films screening over the next few days:

Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch

Here’s a demented ditty bound to charm Fantasia crowds, and by “charm,” I mean freak you out and maybe give you disturbing nightmares.

Rokuroku:The Promise of the Witch introduces you to the yokai, spooky creatures from Japanese folklore, by weaving them in the seemingly mundane story of two women, Izumi and Mika, meeting up for lunch after years of not seeing each other. All kinds of people in their town are encountering all kinds of monsters until the ladies eventually come face to face with the bizarre baddies in a visually-jarring finale that might scare you, amuse you, provoke a bit of an eye-roll, and/or all of the above. Whatever you’re into, it will keep you on your toes, if the rest of the film hasn’t saturated you with shock and horror yet.

Using low-budget effects for original results, director Yudai Yamaguchi sure knows how to keep it weird. One-legged girl, long-necked witch with red eyes, part-metallic beheaded lady, whale-like monster with faces for eyes and hands for teeth, creepy carriages with dead cats that haunt you–welcome to the freak show, ladies and gents. If you scare easy, then I bid you sweet dreams after this one, but for hardcore horror aficionados, this will probably be a tad too cartoonish to require sleeping with the lights on. (Roxane Hudon)

Rokuroku: The Promise of the Witch screens on Saturday, July 21st at 11:30 p.m. in J.A. de Sève (1400 de Maisonneuve W.) and on Tuesday, July 31st at 9:45 in J.A. de Sève.

The Outlaws

Garibong is a Seoul neighborhood with a large Chinese population, charging tensions between the local gangs, but it’s nothing Inspector Ma (Don Lee, who moves like a prize-fighter, quips like an insult comic) can’t handle. Soon, the natural law and order of the borough is shaken by the arrival of the Black Dragons, a ruthless new gang from China lead by Jang Chen (an equally dreamy and menacing Yoon Kye-Sang). The neighborhood has never seen a crime wave like this and Inspector Ma, with his Serious Crimes Unit have only 10 days to shut them down!

In The Outlaws, there’s no criminal “underworld”, only the “world”. Using sarcastic cops and brutal crooks as guides, writer-director Kang Yun-sung visits every stripe of character in the neighborhood, whether it’s put-upon street merchants, overworked policemen or shady hotel managers. They’re just trying to make their living between the lawmen and the criminals fighting over the neighborhood. It’s a crime drama about people and gangs having knife-fights rather than cops looking at pins-and-strings diagrams on a map.

The sizable cast is anchored by Don Lee’s wry presence as Inspector Ma. Along with Yoon Kye-Sang’s brutal Jang Chen, they make our passage through Garibong into an action-packed, hard-boiled trip. (Yannick Belzil)

The Outlaws screens on Saturday, July 21st at 2:15 p.m. in the Hall Theatre (1455 de Maisonneuve W.)


I went into Amiko knowing that Yoko Yamanaka was only 19 years old when she directed it, but I feel like I probably could’ve deduced that myself watching the film. A breezy, spunky tale of adolescent obsession, Amiko bristles with the kind of abandon and disregard for the status quo that defines “young” cinematic movements like the French New Wave. Like a majority of first features, it’s ragged and imperfect, but the DIY aspect manages to charm consistently.

Amiko (Yukino Abe) is a lonely Japanese schoolgirl who develops an all-encompassing crush on Aomi, a pretty boy soccer player from school who has never really given her the time of day – until they spend one evening walking around and sharing their innermost feelings. Amiko never has the nerve to speak to Aomi again, but she continues to pine heavily for him until she learns that he has eloped with a fellow student, which sends her in the kind of emotional tailspin only teenagers with a loose grasp of their own emotions can truly aspire to.

Equal parts Lady Bird and Band of Outsiders, Amiko has a playful quality that goes hand in hand with its slightly cutting view of teenagers. It’s rare that you see someone who’s basically a teenager themselves make a movie about teenagers, and Yamanaka makes her characters true teenagers – that is to say, treats their outsized emotions with nothing even remotely resembling pity. Its lo-fi, cobbled together aesthetic could use some refining – even though the film is only 66 minutes long, it drags quite a bit in the middle – but it’s rare to see a debut with this defined a voice… especially from a 19-year-old. (Alex Rose)

Amiko screens on Saturday, July 21st at 9:30 p.m. in J.A. de Sève (1400 de Maisonneuve W.) and again on Tuesday, July 31st at 3:10 p.m. in J.A. de Sève.


For the complete Fantasia program and ticket details, go to the festival’s website.