FANTASIA 2021 CAPSULE REVIEWS: ‘Stanleyville’ (2021) and ‘Don’t Say Its Name’ (2021)

There have been many exciting films that have made their debut at Fantasia Festival this year, several of which Flip Screen has covered. Two of the festival’s most recent offerings are Stanleyville (2021, dir. Maxwell McCabe-Lokos) and Don’t Say Its Name (2021, dir. Rueben Martell). After having had the chance to screen both of these films during the festival, here is what audiences can expect from them.

Image courtesy of Fantasia Film Festival

Stanleyville (2021)

The main premise of Maxwell McCabe-Lokos’ film Stanleyville seems pedestrian enough: five strangers compete against one another in a series of challenges as they attempt to win a new car. But when Maria Barbizan (Susanne Wuest) is approached by an odd man who calls himself Homunculus (Julian Richings) and told she’s been selected to join, she soon finds herself living under bizarre new circumstances. As the contestants advance further into the competition, things progressively take a weirder— and darker— turn. With its quirky cast of characters and creative story, Stanleyville is a unique film that manages to both entertain and disturb while also raising questions about the human condition.

An Indigenous woman stands outside against a wall. She looks alert, wearing an army-style coat and carrying a shotgun.
Image courtesy of Fantasia Film Festival

Don’t Say Its Name (2021)

In Rueben Martell’s Indigenous thriller Don’t Say Its Name, several people end up getting mysteriously killed on a Canadian reserve following the death of environmental activist Kharis Redwater (Sheena Kain). As tribal officer Betty (Madison Walsh) attempts to get to the bottom of these brutal murders, she enlists the help of army veteran Stacey (Sera-Lys McArthur). While the film operates as a standard procedural drama in many ways, its use of horror elements and Indigenous culture make it something altogether more interesting. Don’t Say Its Name is effective in its execution, providing the suspense the audience is looking for while showing the importance of the relationships between its characters.