A DARK FOE – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

A Dark Foe follows FBI Agent Tony Cruz whose obsessive dedication to his work life is thwarted by childhood trauma and a chronic case of nyctophobia (fear of the dark). Haunted by the murder of his mother and the abduction of his sister when she was only a child, as revealed early in the film, as an adult his paths cross with the man responsible for his own tragic losses, which are simultaneously linked to a stream of vicious serial killings and a sex trafficking ring.

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GEORAMA BOY, PANORAMA GIRL (Fantasia 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Tokyo-born director/writer Natsuki Seta adds to her growing list of feature film credits that she has steadily helmed since 2011 with her latest, Georama Boy, Panorama Girl. The smell of teen spirit here is decidedly wholesome in this romantic coming-of-age tale that fluctuates between that of a love triangle and the story of (maybe) star-crossed lovers.

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KING CAR (Fantasia 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

King Car is fluffy fun. Outside of some tonally inconsistent sex scenes between the minor character of Mercedes – an erotic performance artist – and the central sentient car of the film’s title, this could otherwise quite easily pass as a contemporary riff on the old after school specials. There are heavy boys’ adventure tale vibes here, given a modern angle by basically combining elements of Knight Rider and Christine, pushing it all through a rather explicit socialist lens and adding a good dollop of environmental didacticism for good measure.

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WOMEN AT MONTREAL’S 2021 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – Report by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Mixing on demand and in-person screenings, the 25th edition of Fantasia International Film Festival (August 5 to 25) offers a smorgasbord of genre film treats, particularly for those of us with an interest in women-made and women-centred cinema. North America’s largest genre fest has been called “the most important and prestigious genre film festival on this continent” by Quentin Tarantino, while Guillermo del Toro has called it “a shrine”. The women’s names associated with this year’s festival may not be as big as these cult film rock stars, don’t let that fool you – women are out here in full force, both in front and behind the camera.

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A LITTLE MORE FLESH II – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

I am not the only woman film critic – indeed, not the only woman – who flinches when those seemingly unavoidable cloying, clingy self-identifying Male Feminists™ start brandishing their liberated gender political credentials at you like they are applying for a job. A Little More Flesh II is a scathing, searing and unrestrained examination of men in the film industry by men in the film industry about what monumental creeps they can be.

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MY DOG IS SICK – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

If more filmmakers had even a skerrick of the courage and creativity of director Sapna Bhavnani, the cultural landscape – not just in India, but beyond – would be all the richer for it. My Dog is Sick will not be for everyone and is to be celebrated for it. This is its strength. These are the voices that need amplification; the ones that shock us, the ones that move us, the ones that confuse us, and the ones that dazzle us.

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KAALI KHUHI – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Kaali Khuhi is a horror delight for those willing to open their mind to genre entries that fall outside typical Western fare. Starring an impressive Riva Arora as Shivangi, she is a young child at the heart of the film’s drama and its unlikely heroine. The film begins as her grandmother falls ill, her distraught father taking Shivangi and her unimpressed mother to the small village where the old woman lies ill. Almost instantly, through her newfound best friend Shivangi discovers that the village is riddled with dark secrets, all of which lead to a mysterious, spooky room on the top floor of her grandmother’s home, marked by the presence of the ghostly, ghastly spectre of a girl around her own age marked by a signature red dress.

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BROADCAST SIGNAL INTRUSION – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

While perhaps a footnote to the broader Max Headroom success story, the still-chilling signal hijacking in Chicago in 1987 where a Headroom look-alike took over two Chicago television stations remains one of the most notorious instances of video piracy of all time. These videos can be found on YouTube and still have a genuinely eerie quality to them, heightened only further by the fact that those responsible for the act were never identified.

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AT NIGHT COMES WOLVES – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Writer/director Tj Marine’s low-budget At Night Comes Wolves is a fascinating addition to what here should perhaps be recognized more formally as a subgenre of sorts, combining male domestic violence against women – here, primarily psychological and sexual – in a fascinating and quite ambitious way with the misogyny that drives religious or spiritual cults and cult-think.

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COLD WIND BLOWING – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

2020 was a cruel year for film’s planning to release during the pandemic, and even crueler for low-budget indies that had just started what is an already challenging journey in gaining visibility in a market where the bigger named and bigger funded projects will always be a default setting for the limelight. Dionne Copland’s Cold Wind Blowing is a case in point; initially getting positive response from one of the biggest indie fests in the US, the unparalleled shake up the film industry faced in 2020 saw this film almost fall off the radar.

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