The highly anticipated Fantasia International Film Festival is back, ready to impress Montreal with its thrilling lineup of genre films. As the festival celebrates its 27th year, get ready to immerse yourself in a world of horror, science fiction, fantasy, action, and cult cinema. Can’t attend the festival? No worries. The Straight Chilling Podcast is all set to be your eyes and ears this year, bringing you nonstop coverage from this prestigious event. Here are ten films from the festival we are anticipating this year:

1. New Normal by Jung Bum-Shik (South Korea)

Fans of cinematic chaos with little regard for political correctness, NEW NORMAL, directed and written by Jung Bum-shik, delivers a heavy dose of dark humour, gleeful gags that will raise more than a few eyebrows, and brutal, unpredictable murders, all with a strong flavour of unabashed cynicism. Six short, interrelated stories with multiple references to classic films unfold before one’s astonished eyes in a jubilant crescendo culminating in a hilarious finale, a kind of Machiavellian therapy for anyone who has ever worked in customer service and had their life ruined by annoying customers. Now let's try to piece it all together into a more or less coherent narrative.


2. Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls by Andrew Bowser (USA)

Marcus J. Trillbury (Andrew Bowser) is a wannabe Satanist and man-child calling himself “Onyx the Fortuitous,” who still lives with his mom (Barbara Crampton) and stepfather, with a dead-end job at Marty’s Meat Hut. Salvation from the drudgery of his life arrives in the form of an invitation to Briardale Manor, where occult master Bartok the Great (Jeffrey Combs) promises to lead him and four other followers in rituals that will “renew” them as disciples of the ancient god Abaddon. Of course, Bartok has nefarious ulterior motives involving the power-granting Talisman of Souls, and Onyx and his friends are soon threatened by demons, sacrificial daggers and (yuck) cobwebs. Only by discovering his true fortitude can Onyx save himself, his friends, and probably the world.


3. Talk to Me by Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou (Australia)

Wracked with grief over her mother’s death and unable to handle watching her father languish in depression, 17-year-old Mia (Sophie Wilde) begins to stay at her best friend’s house. A Snapchat video of a demonic possession goes viral in their school, capturing the fascination of everyone in Mia’s orbit, leading them to explore conjurings around an embalmed ceramic hand made from the severed arm of a psychic. Through holding hands with it and uttering the phrase “talk to me”, a user can rip the high of a lifetime by allowing themselves to become temporarily possessed, tripping in ecstasy as otherworldly forces invade their body. The only rule is to never, under any circumstances, be left to hold the grip longer than 90 seconds. The rush is unbelievable. Indescribable. Mia becomes hooked. Soon, doors into the spirit world will be opened that can’t be closed.


4. My Animal by Jacqueline Castel (Canada)

Heather (Bobbie Salvör Menuez) isn’t like other girls. It’s not because she wants to be a goalie on an all-male hockey team in her small town; it isn’t because she’s queer, either. The awkward and quiet red-headed teen is kept under watch by her alcoholic mother, Patti (Heidi von Palleske, DEAD RINGERS), because Heather has a hereditary ailment, lycanthropy, passed down to her by her father, Henry (Stephen McHattie, PONTYPOOL, WATCHMEN). Every full moon, she’s chained to her bed — for the safety of herself and those around her. She’s set her sights on Jonny (Amandla Stenberg, BODIES, BODIES, BODIES, THE HATE U GIVE), a beautiful figure skater dealing with a nasty boyfriend and overbearing father seeking fame and fortune with his daughter’s talent. Finding love with Jonny is too hard to resist, and Heather finally embraces her desires at the risk of revealing her shape-shifting secret.


5. Birth/Rebirth by Laura Moss (USA)

Rose (Marin Ireland, THE DARK AND THE WICKED) is a morgue technician with little patience for the living. Brilliant and obsessively driven, she also has a personal side-project that’s consumed much of her waking energies: The reversing of physical death. Celine (Judy Reyes, SCRUBS) is a hardworking maternity nurse who gives her all to patients shift after shift, the emotional intensity of her work only finding reprieve when she comes home to her effervescent six-year-old daughter, Lila (A.J. Lister). Fates take a horrific turn that smashes the lives of both women into each other, dropping them down a gruesome rabbit hole of desperate choices and ascending moral compromise that will shake you to your core.


6. The Night Owl by An Tae-jin (South Korea)

Kyungsoo may be blind, but his skills as an acupuncturist have earned him an opportunity to serve at the Joseon royal court, a big step up for a mere commoner. His arrival there coincides with the return of Crown Prince Sohyeon after eight years as a hostage of the powerful Qing rulers in China, whose encroachment on its peninsular neighbour are a cause for worry. The heir to the throne, in poor health, and the sightless physician take a liking to one another, but elsewhere in the corridors of the palace, whispers carry the seeds of a political crisis. Matters escalate when the prince dies under suspicious circumstances. Kyungsoo, who perceives more than others might think, is witness to this dire event, and what he now knows puts his own life at terrible risk.


7. Les Chambres rouges by Pascal Plante (Canada)

The high-profile case of serial killer Ludovic Chevalier (Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, STANLEYVILLE), accused of murdering three young girls and streaming their brutal deaths in the "red rooms" of the Dark Web, has just gone to trial and Kelly-Anne (Juliette Gariépy, BOOST) is obsessed. Every morning she makes her way from her luxurious condo in downtown Montreal to the gates of the Palais de Justice. Snuff: what was once urban legend is now a sordid reality that captures the province’s imagination and inspires a group of devoted, conspiratorial admirers. When reality blurs with her fantasies, Kelly-Anne goes down a dark path to obtain the final piece of the case’s puzzle.


8. Where the Devil Roams by John Adams, Zelda Adams, Toby Poser (USA)

“While the body rots to dust and bones, there’s a tear in the heart, where the devil roams.” Maggie, Seven and Eve (Toby Poser, John Adams, Zelda Adams) are a traveling family of performers, driving town-to-town through the tough, dying carnival circuit of Depression-era America. It’s a time of desperation in a climate steeped in superstition and distrust. And engulfed, for better or worse, in actual occult magic. The family’s creative collaborations bond them in special ways. As do their crimes, and the mounting bodies left in their wake. One day, an ominous carny, Mr. Tibbs (Sam Rodd), catches young Eve’s attention with a sensationally gruesome act that can only be performed with assistance from the shadow realm. Eve can’t resist but to steal his magic. Darkest prayers will be answered, in sawdust and sacrilege, as a damning devil’s dance is set in motion.


9. Raging Grace by Paris Zarcilla (UK)

Joy (Max Eigenmann) is an undocumented Filipina immigrant living in London. She has a feisty daughter named Grace (Jaeden Paige Boadilla), whom she is determined to provide for, and the only work she can find within her situation is housecleaning. She’s saving to buy a visa to stay in England, but the road to the endgame is a long one since she must endure wealthy, white employers who are typically offensive with the usual affronts — insulting Joy’s intelligence, indulging blatant racism and casually exploiting her.


10. Pandemonium by Quarxx (France)

Nathan (Hugo Dillon) considers himself a good man, a good friend, a good husband to his late wife. All of this is challenged when he wakes up on the cold tarmac of an isolated mountain road, unable to remember how he got there. He’s not alone though. There is another man, Daniel (Arben Bajraktaraj), a cyclist, who is full of wild stories — stories about death, stories about horrific accidents — all of which are unsettling but only the start of Nathan’s troubles. It soon becomes clear that he has no other choice but to continue his journey by stepping through the mysterious door that suddenly appears in front of them, as if out of nowhere. Some of the souls he finds littered along the way are too far gone, their stories too monstrous to suggest there’s any going back for them. The question is, is Nathan one of them, or has it all been a big mistake like he seems to think?

Take a look at the full Fantasia program and let us know if there is anything special you would like us to cover this year.