My favorite film festival here in South Korea, the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BiFan), kicks off its 21st edition this week on Thursday, July 13. The fest runs through July 23 with a slate of more than 200 feature-length and short films from around the world, focusing on horror, science fiction, fantasy, dark comedy, thriller, action, and other genre fare. Trying to choose only about 20-plus of those films to see at BiFan was no easy task, and narrowing the list down to my 10 most anticipated films from this year’s crop was even more difficult. Here, in alphabetical order, are the movies to which I am most looking forward at this year’s BiFan.
78/52: This documentary focuses not on a director, not on a film but on a single scene from a film! Director Alexandre O. Phillipe’s 78/52 examines the iconic shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic shocker Psycho. An absolute wealth of directors, actors, and crew members give their thoughts on this historical horror sequence.
Animals: I avoided learning much more about this Swiss/Austrian/Polish coproduction once I read that it was a surreal shocker that drew comparisons with David Lynch films. I’m sold! A troubled couple hits a sheep with their car during a trip to the country meant to strengthen their relationship. Things allegedly get weird from there.
Better Watch Out: A black comedy thriller about a home invasion during the Christmas holidays. This Australian/U.S. effort is playing practically every major genre film fest this spring; there must be good reason why.
Bloodlands: An Albanian family having generational problems faces far worse matters when a mysterious clan targets them. This shocker is being shown in competition at BiFan, so the programmers must see a lot to like here.
The Endless: Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson are two of my favorite filmmakers, and I have been fortunate enough to see their first two efforts, Resolution (2013) and Spring (2015), at BiFan, including a Q&A with the duo after their debut film. The pair not only write and direct together again for their third film; they star, as well, in a film about two brothers returning to a cult they had escaped from years earlier. Moorhead and Benson are scheduled to appear for a Q&A once again, and The Endless is also being screened in competition.
The Heretics: Canadian director Chad Archibald (The Drownsman , Ejecta ) serves up what looks to be a terrifying occult tale about a young woman who had been kidnapped by a cult whose members killed themselves while she watched. Years later, she finds herself captured by a cult member once again, and is told that she is carrying a demon inside her.
The Night of the Virgin: This Spanish horror comedy is a gory effort about a young man who is desperate to lose his virginity one night. He meets an older woman who has other, more diabolical designs in mind for him.
Psychopaths: I have enjoyed every Mickey Keating film that I have seen. His diversity within horror cinema is impressive. His latest feature focuses on a group of murderers and a serial killer who unleashes a curse at his execution.
Shin Godzilla: Most Gruesome Magazine readers who are interested in seeing this film probably already have, but living in South Korea, it has screened only once before with English subtitles here, and that was on the other side of the country. I have managed to avoid spoilers all these months and can’t wait to see the latest incarnation of the Big Guy from his homeland.
Suddenly in Dark Night: One of my favorite things about going to film festivals here in South Korea is the opportunity to see screenings of older Korean films with English subtitles for what is usually the only time that might be possible. Most of these films will never see home video release in Korea, let alone abroad. In this 1981 horror film, according to BiFan’s program notes, “After finding a creepy doll from her husband’s roll of film, Sun-hee seethes with jealousy over the girl that he brings home, Mi-ok – a shaman’s daughter.”