It’s that time of the year again! Although set as mostly a virtual event, the 25th edition of Montreal’s International Film Festival is looking like a sure winner for event of the year, at least from my very, very biased opinion. This time the opening film will be Julian Knafo’s BRAIN FREEZE world premiere. The films as well as panels and workshops will take advantage of the virtual platform created by Festival Scope and Shift72 we all became familiar with last year. The focus this year will be Japanese cinema. You can see the full announcement as well as the first wave of films listed in the official Fantasia site. Here’s some highlights from the first wave.

THE LAST THING MARY SAW is a period drama with an occult theme set in an isolated setting (never go anywhere isolated, period) back in 1843, as written and directed by Edoardo Vitaletti. After a mysterious death in the family, a young woman is under suspicion. With an already scary setting and what has been called a “hypnotic nightmare vision” we’re hoping for strangeness all around.

KAKEGURUI 2: ULTIMATE RUSSIAN ROULETTE was written and directed by Tsutomu Hanabusa and brings us back to the Hyakkaoh Academy from the first film, KAKEGURUI, which also was featured in Fantasia and was one of my guilty pleasures. As anime adaptations go, the first film was very entertaining. The stakes are raised now with life or death stakes. When you have a deathmatch card game and a tournament arc in one, you bet I need to see this one.

REMAIN IN TWILIGHT is the latest feature from Daigo Masui, another Fantasia regular. A group of friends from high school reconnect after a long time for a wedding. Something is awry in this story full of comedy, friend drama and supernatural elements.

ALL THE MOONS brings us a vampire story starting in Spain of 1876 where a young girl is saved by a mysterious woman after her orphanage is bombed. Directory Igor Legarrata brings us a story of eternal life, death and damnation with the talents of Haizea Carneros and Itziar Ituño.

CAUTION, HAZARDOUS WIFE is not new premise, and there’s already a tv series behind it but you know that it’s all about the execution. Toya Sato brings us the story of a seemingly regular housewife with the perfect life starts remembering her past life. It’s an action comedy with a fight choreography and the performances of Haruka Ayase and Hidetoshi Nishijima.

HELLBENDER is the newest creation from the Adams. These dynamic family trio of John Adams, Toby Poser and Zelda Adams is well-remembered from last year’s amazing THE DEEPER YOU DIG. Now they’re back with a coming of age story with Zelda Adams playing a lonely teenage girl seeking herself in the family’s hidden occult past. This one goes on the wishlist right now.

KRATT comes to us from Estonia via director Rasmus Merivoo. Two kids, played by Ramus’ children Nora and Harri, are trying to escape their chores at the farm. Unfortunately, they bring about the rage of The Kratt, a legendary demon that needs work to be done to be appeased. Comedy, fantasy and political meta commentary are the order of the day.

You can find a lot more goodies in the full press release at the Fantasia official site. Meanwhile, enjoy the summer and come August prepare for some frights and delights at the 25th Montreal Fantasia International Film Festival. Bon cinema!

That will do for now.