The great thing about Fantasia is the variety of films that are selected and curated. Sure, it’s primarily genre films for genre lovers, but with the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic there’s been a boon of experimental films that have opened up (or even re-opened) the collective way in which we can experience genre films. It’s created a new creative renaissance.

With isolation has come some new perspectives and using tools like Zoom, Skype, and social media platforms to heighten anxiety and terror, three films have risen to the top of this year’s festival in terms of using these tools to open up new ways to express narratives and in turn heighten our sense of dread…in a good way of course.

“We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” is the story of an online game that takes some unexpected turns for our lead, Casey. The World’s Fair Challenge seems like any other online challenge, but throws some curveballs you don’t quite seem coming. The world of the Internet can be a scary and lonely place, whether is CreepyPasta lore, ASMR oddness, or just randomly meeting strangers online, it’s an weird world to find yourself in all alone with only your thoughts. But following Casey through her melancholy trip through the Internet challenge is shocking, namely one scene in particular, and probably all too relatable.

In the film “#Blue_Whale” we find ourselves in the darkest corners of online horror; a game where the end goal is to alienate and ultimately kill yourself. It’s a twisted journey based on actual events that may have lead to over 100 deaths across Eastern Europe. The film uses social media, live streaming, and our private chats like a butcher knife to cut into your brain and hopefully scare the shit out of you. In the vein of other films like “Searching” and “Unfriended,” “Whale” may come off like a gimmick film, but it gets under your skins and stays there.

As if we don’t have enough problems to worry about with online suicide pacts, creeps in chat rooms, and just the constant doom-scrolling of our own creation, now we have to worry about monsters. Well, capsule monsters that is, so it’s not as bad.

“The 12 Day Tale of the Monster That Died in 8” is what I would call a Japanese fairy tale about the loneliness of our time in lockdown and isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic and how a few people decided to be idealistic and have a little hope that kaiju would descend upon our current Hellscape and save us. “Tale” is a slice of life that is both silly, but all together sweet and sentimental. There is hope beyond the despair of being in lockdown and away from the people we love. It just makes you feel good, even if you hate how hopefully people can be. Hope is all we have sometimes. Hope and monsters with wings that is.

While the global pandemic has truly been a bummer, the fact that we’ve been able to reset our creative minds and use what’s around us to create art that doesn’t rely on a $100+ Million budget is a breath of fresh air.

Want to see what I’m going on about? Check out the links below:

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

#Blue_Whale

The 12 Day Tale of the Monster That Died in 8

Fantasia Fest 2021 runs this year from August 5th to the 25th.

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