Fantasia 2015: JeruZalem, Raiders!, Assassination Classroom

“JeruZalem” (Yoav and Doron Paz; Israel, 2015)

The Fantasia program refers to Yoav and Doron Paz’s “JeruZalem” as “terrifying,” and – during the festival’s live introduction to the film – it was suggested that the directors’ intent was to “scare the f*ck out of us.” Unfortunately, the programmers must have seen a different film than the one I did. I saw a playful comedy: good, but sadly not great. Nearly an hour of the fright-less film had passed before it struck me that I ought to have been geared for humor, rather than terror.

Furthermore, while I tend to be a sucker for shaky-cam cinema, the conceit behind “JeruZalem” is that the Biblical apocalypse is being viewed through Google Glass, which – despite being a funny concept – ends up meaning that one almost never gets to see the woman behind the glasses. This, of course, is rather problematic, as it is difficult to identify with someone you seldom see.  All that said, the hell creatures are quite impressive, and allowing the audience, briefly, to see the end-of-times through the eyes of one of the creatures – was truly a hilarious touch.

“JeruZalem” received its world premiere at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival on July 22.

“Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made” (Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen; USA, 2015)

In 1982, three 11-year old kids began a shot-for-shot remake of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” After seven years, they parted ways, having completed all but one scene. (Shot out of sequence, the kids get older, younger and older again throughout the film.) Now, nearly 25 years after hanging up their storyboards, the team is back together in an attempt to finish the film. And since doing so involves blowing up an airplane, the cost of that final scene far, far exceeds what it cost them to make the rest of the film.

Charming, moving and incredibly frightening by turns, this documentary follows the team as they struggle to finish what they started more than 30 years earlier.  It also allows the amateur filmmakers, their families and friends to reminisce about their many ups and downs. The son of the now grown-up director gets in the very best line, however, when he remarks: “I think it’s amazing that Steven Spielberg needed $20 million to make “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and my dad only needed his allowance.”

“Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made” received its Canadian premiere at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival on July 19.

“Assassination Classroom” (Eiichiro Hasumi, Japan, 2015)

Director Eiichiro Hasumi’s film was simply not made for me. I could have been able to guess this in advance, judging by the large number of fathers arriving for the movie with their teenaged sons in tow, but I remained oblivious, and found myself eager to exit the cinema a mere 45 minutes into the film… one minute for every year I felt “too old” to properly appreciate the movie.

An alien arrives in Japan. He has destroyed the moon and is scheduled to destroy the earth in a matter of months as well. In the meantime, being a peculiarly sporting fellow, he agrees to take employment as a schoolteacher to a class of underperforming misfits. Not only will he teach these kids all of the necessary fundamentals, but he will also allow them to try their best to kill him.  And he has graciously promised not to allow any harm to come to any of them.

Unfortunately, this annoying alien seems impossible to kill, largely due to his ability to move out of the way of attacks faster than the speed of light. It is also helpful that he is able to regenerate limbs. But wait, did I mention that he’s a goofy, animated octopus in an otherwise live action world? Look… just watch the online trailer for the film. If you dig it, you will likely enjoy the movie. But… if there’s a single element in the trailer that gives you pause, then it’s a safe bet that you should feel free to take a pass:

“Assassination Classroom” received its International premiere at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival on July 17.

The festival runs through August 5. For further information go to