Fantasia Film Festival 2014: Dys- (2014) and I am Monster (short 2013)

Entering into the last weekend of Fantasia Festival, I start it on Friday evening with a cozy showing of Dys-, a French-Canadian/Quebec production from right here in Montreal, set in Montreal and actually filmed in my friend’s condo building.  That made it feel even more at home.  I’ve been increasingly interested in Quebec film mostly because once you escape from the drama genre, it actually has some pretty decent films that I’ve seen.  Nothing perfect yet but I’ve had a few surprises.  For this one, its not in French but rather in English and has the leading lady with a US actress, Shannon Lark.

Dys was featured with a short at the beginning called I am Monster also starring Shannon Lark as the main actress (also co-director for this).

I am Monster

I am Monster is a short film at about 17 minutes about a necrophiliac called Vivienne who ventures into the morgue to violate the corpses and doesn’t really care about them.  Except tonight, she meets Jason, a new corpse in the morgue who starts conversing with her.  Seriously, this is a really awesome short! It was a bit weird in the beginning because its pretty funny to watch people in the audience reacting to her sex and arousal with the corpses.  There’s a bit of dark humor and sexy stuff.  It really is an outstanding short. If you get a chance to check it out, please do!

Moving right along, we have our main feature, Dys-!

Before you start, think about whether you know what the title,  “Dys-” stands for.  I figured it out and you will have the answer right at the beginning of the movie but I’m curious what thoughts you have about it. Leave me what you think it is in the comments 🙂

Dys-Director (& Writer): Maude Michaud

Cast: Shannon Lark, Alex Goldrich, Dega Lazare, Lynn Lowry

A couple, Eva (Shannon Lark) and Sam (Alex Goldrich) have suffered loss due to a miscarriage.  Eva has been trying to pull herself up while pushing away Sam from the process.  However, when the city is forced to shut down due an unknown virus plaguing the entire city, they are left to face each other in their own home.  Except, they may have escaped the terrors outside but are they ready to face each other?

There is no doubt that Dys- is a.  What makes it refreshing is that in situations like this, w would look at the terrors going on outside and I’m not saying, we don’t.  Except as we see the city shutdown, Eva and Sam also show their own change as the story unfolds.  We see flashbacks of the past: their relationship, life, career, family, and the secrets.  We get a good look at how they become who they are now and how they evolve.


The best way to go to see Dys- is with the least amount of knowledge possible.  There are shocks and thrills along the way.  Although the setting is really in a condo space, it still has quite the desirable cinematic quality.  Plus, they have a building intensity sort of atmosphere here as well as a brilliant soundtrack to match it. These things all contribute to how Dys- is a good movie experience.  However, Dys- is full of questions from start to finish.  Sometimes, you get the answers and at the end, I walked out of there thinking it was a bit on the peculiar side.  The way I’d describe it would be ambitious and ambiguous.  The ending and the course of events is subject to a lot of interpretation.


Why do I say ambiguous? Because to me, the plot is really not clear cut.  I don’t know what the initial intentions were but there are theories that pop up and then I thought about it again and realized that it really wasn’t that because something else proves it.  In the end, I think what comes into play is whether they are infected or simply who is infected because there is a lack of information and we never truly see what the virus will do.  At the same time, it could also be their personalities going out of whack from everything going on.  Maybe its the pressure of being with the other person who seem to have secrets and not sure how to react to each other.  Maybe sometimes being alone is better or just being inside for too long is not a good thing. It might sound like I’m hating on the movie or just confused but seriously, after a few days to let it all sink it, I hold true that this one had some pretty great moments: at least gory/bloody/extreme but still it packs a good amount punch. Its not your random gory movie.  Everything does happen for a reason once you sit back and let your nerves calm down from the crazy that escalates to the end.  I’m going to say this, the ending still has me a bit mind-boggled but it does partially  support one of my theories (which would spoil the movie if I talked about it here).


Lets take a look at the cast themselves.  The characters created was rather complex.  Our two main leads especially had the roles of a deeper and darker roles.  Most of the characters have their own baggage and its some pretty ugly stuff.  I’m perfectly okay with flawed humans though as it brings on a level of reality. Shannon Lark has the leading lady role of Eva, a model who lost her baby and wants to move on to something else.  Eva gives off a weird vibe and its one that she’s really fake and sporadic.  She bottles up a lot inside her and she will blow a fuse after a while.  Alex Goldrich, playing her husband Sam is along the same lines.  Except he wants to find a way to make their relationship work again.  However, he isn’t a perfect person either and there are moments you can see that he’s actually pretty selfish as well.  The question we start asking is how these two ended up with each other.  Love and hate really are opposite of the spectrums and sometimes, things can get out of hand.  These characters are a bit extreme in their portrayals and at times there seems a lack of continuity but I feel like it requires some of the reading beyond the lines that these two along with a third character, James (a neighbor and friend of Sam’s) of what these characters are all about. Touching a little on the supporting role of James by Dega Lazare (or Joseph Lazare), I really liked that character because although the role was small, he was also something of a lingering effect throughout.


Dys- is definitely ambitious.  However, I won’t say that its a perfect horror film.  There are some pretty intense moments but the story is a little on the messy/convoluted side where there’s a lot that the audience has to fill in the blanks or make your own assumptions.  The characters could benefit from being developed a little bit better maybe.  I’m not saying I disliked it though.  I think that this movie being the director Maude Michaud’s first feature film shows us that there is a lot of promise.  The atmosphere, the background music, the effects, good use of silence, the soundtrack and the premise of this story is spot on.  It just needs a little work in better execution to not allow it be so confusing.  Except, I sit here and wonder whether that is a hint at what the characters are: confused and lost and maybe a little unbalanced. However, I hold true that she put some pretty gory and impressively disgusting scenes in there.  Sure, I walked out of this a bit lost but there was some enjoyment to be had. Although, I wouldn’t particularly recommend this if you’re all about a great clear cut story, I do think that you should give it a chance.  There is definitely something here that’s worth checking out 🙂

I would give this a second viewing all on my own when I don’t have other people laughing at parts I didn’t particularly find funny.  It would give me a chance to better understand it.

Whether you decide to see Dys- or not, I do highly recommend the short I Am Monster.  If you ever land on it, give it 20 minutes of your time.  Its pretty great! 🙂

Have you heard of Dys-? Did you have a guess as to why the title is like this? Have you seen any other Quebec horror movies?

Fantasia Film Festival & My Line-up!

Fantasia Film Festival starts this week in Montreal. It runs from July 17th to August 6th.

Last year, I lost track of when it started and ended up catching 2 movies.  Sad and pathetic, yeah, I know.  In my defense, I was super sick and was on antibiotics.

This year, I amended my old ways and tracked the event and waited for the schedule to go up and then chose my movies and was ready to pounce at those tickets the first moment they went online.

My plan is to see 10 movies and as this goes up, I’m still hoping that one of them will open up because I don’t quite understand what “restricted availability” is but I have a few backups, I that I can choose from. I’ll tell you which one in a little bit.

No rambling on today.  We’re going straight to business.  This is my line up in order of when I’ll see them.


Open Windows is one I’m not completely sure about.  Sasha Grey isn’t all that convincing to me but then I’m guessing she’ll strip so there’s a appeal to people who like that but my reason is that Elijah Wood has been on a crazy streak of horror movies and they’ve all been received well.  I haven’t seen Maniac or Grand Piano yet but the trailers for those looked good as does this one.  I’ll try to squeeze in Maniac before I go, just to get an idea of Elijah Wood in horror movies, but no guarantees 😉

2) JULY 19: I ORIGINS/USA/2014

I Origins is probably one of the most anticipated movies in 2014 for me.  Brit Marling has been doing amazing movies with Another Earth and The East. She is unstoppable and this one is loaded with cast that I love.  This one was squeezed on a not very good day with another one that I’ll talk about in the end that I had to miss because of my friend’s wedding.  This one cuts into hers just a little but I’ll only be 20 minutes late max.  It should be okay, right? I just couldn’t give it up…what else can I say?


Somehow Youtube didn’t have a trailer for this one but they have a trailer if you follow the link the festival’s page 🙂

Cybernatural is one of the last decisions that I made when compiling this list.  I gave my boyfriend a few choices since he’s going to see some of the weekend movies with me (especially horror).  This one was the final choice.  It looks like it has a pretty intriguing setup and seems to touch on various social issues in the process.


In English, the title is called Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart.

Last year, I saw a few animated movies from France and the style just charmed me so much that when I saw this one and the trailer, I knew I had to see it.  I like the whole dark Gothic style and the original idea of having a boy with a cuckoo clock as his heart.  I’m really excited for this one.

5) JULY 27: HAL/JAPAN/2013

Back to back days of animation.  How can I go to Fantasia and not see something from Japan? I almost wanted to choose a Korean one but it didn’t really work for me other than the cute characters and this one seems to have a more intriguing storyline whether its love or maybe something more. Plus, its only 60 minutes and the animation looks really nice.


I already had Into the Storm in my anticipated movies for 2014 but seeing as this showed up in Fantasia Film Festival, I’m guessing it might not make it to the theatre near me.  Plus, I get advance viewing from everyone else in Montreal whose not seeing this on July 28th? Who needs perks anyways? I just want to see Richard Armitage in a leading role and I love disaster movies.  This one could hit the over the top area but sometimes, it works well 🙂 I’m staying optimistic for this one!


I’m usually not running towards Quebec productions and no, that should say Canada because as much as Quebec wants to believe its unique and not part of Canada, it is.  Just so no one bans me from the movie for saying that, I’m going to shut up about that part.  This movie is weirdly in English (take that, Quebec :P) and its shot in my friend’s condo building.  I recognized the hallways.  Plus, it has a creepy vibe to it.  Its the only horror that I will be going to see by myself, unless some friend decides to join me.


Last year, I wanted to check out Antisocial, which looked mad gory but it had some messed up time where I was always at work.  I know a few of you of reviewed it.   The Drownsman is done by the same team, I believe I read that somewhere.  Confession time: I can’t make it through the trailer? My boyfriend watched it for me and gave it a thumbs up for scary and potentially awesome and he laughed because he doesn’t know how I’ll get through the movie if I can’t get through the trailer.  I don’t know either but I’ll figure it out when I’m sitting in the theatre…


Thats right! August 2nd is a double feature for us.  We have back to back movies with a little time slot in the middle to eat dinner (hopefully). I wasn’t so sure about Time Lapse until I saw the trailer and then I was sold.  Time Lapse looks intense and pretty intense.  The question with these sci-fi time travel-esque movies is whether it makes sense.  I’m confident that it will but I’m also curious to see how this pans out 🙂

Thats what I’ve bought so far!

The movie I believe slipped out of my grasp is also the one I expected to also: the special screening of Guardians of the Galaxy.  I don’t really mind too much.  I’ll still end up seeing it opening weekend, I’m pretty sure.  One of my friends seem pretty hyped up about it.

BUT, that means to complete my 10 movie run, I need to choose one more.

I have to miss Suburban Gothic (and the chance to see Matthew Gray Gubler) because of my friend’s wedding but here’s the trailer:

This just looks so good.  But I had to make a choice and I have prior commitments.  Lets see other options…

There is one that made me laugh called 3D Naked Ambition, a Hong Kong movie at 11:55pm.  Red light flashing on it possibly being in the porn department since its like at midnight.  As I was trying to find the trailer, I actually found the full movie on Youtube so nope, especially since I won’t have public transport to go home either.

Honeymoon also looks pretty good, but I’m not too fond of watching too many horrors on my own.

As interesting as this is, its also a pass.

Now, I could go on because there’s a few action movies that looked decent as well but I came to the final conclusion that it doesn’t feel right to give up the chance to watch a Hong Kong movie on the big screen.  They have one, From Vegas to Macau which I actually bought when I went to Hong Kong earlier and I will review it during this festival time (if I find time for it).

The final choice goes to That Demon Within.  Its somewhat of a horror action flick, if that even exists.

Nick Cheung has been churning out hit after hit and he’s just been out of control.  Daniel Wu is also one of my favorite actors.  The more I watch this trailer, the more I’m convinced this is going to be epic.  On top of that, its a crime thriller and I just can’t resist them.

Thats it for Fantasia Film Festival for now! I’ll be back with reviews in a little bit 🙂 I’ll try to get them out as soon as possible but with the movies mostly at night, I might have a few days delay depending on my schedule.  Things will stay as normal as possible here.  For sure, the focus will be geared towards movie reviews but I still remember that I have the Hong Kong trip that I have a few posts to put up also at the very least.

What movies peak your interest? Have you been to the Fantasia Film Festival? If you are going, what are you seeing?