HELLBENDER (Fantasia 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Izzy and her mother live an isolated but relatively happy life in the lush mountains, their reclusiveness supposedly because Izzy has a rare autoimmune disease. As Izzy soon learns, however, her mother has kept her squirrelled away from the world because they are both “Hellbenders”, defined as a hybrid of witches, demons and predatory animals. While her mother tells herself she has her powers under control, when Izzy learns that she too has these abilities, a mother-daughter power struggle collides with a supernatural coming of age story that at its heart is also a powerful tale of the maternal bond and that old chestnut, the circle of life. A film embossed with all the ferocity and heart and passion and craft of the most powerful of art, Hellbender is a reminder that when film like this is revealed as possible, we never should settle for less.

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LAKE OF DEATH – Review by Liz Whittemore

Shadow play, things coming and going, visions, all make for an interesting build-up. Add in the guy who has a paranormal podcast, the clueless boyfriend, the dickhead jock, an ex-boyfriend, the girl just trying to help, and the girl who is literally haunted by the death of her twin brother and you’ve got yourself the makings of typical haunted cabin meets local legend scenario.

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