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things that go bump in the east

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[Fantasia ’21] ‘Things That Go Bump in the East’ review: Horror anthology will frighten and educate

From monkey mischief to raising the dead, this anthology has something for everyone.

Things That Go Bump in the East is an anthology of eight horror shorts featuring films from Taiwan, Japan, India, The Philippines, and South Korea that capture the immigrant experience. Each film is unique in its perspective, but the anthology is tied together by themes of humanity, culture, and identity. A mix of live action and animation, each story paints a picture of isolation, humor, and the terror in everyday living. 

The anthology kicks off with Mihir Fadnavis’ Chingum. A man texts his girlfriend while ignoring messages from his wife. He is so caught up with planning his next tryst that he barely notices there is someone else on the bus with him. Fadnavis’ directing casts the mysterious creature in the shadows, only slightly illuminated by street traffic. This film sets the tone for stories to come. The man’s need to have the affair is thrown aside by his desire to survive the night. Many of these films deal with a desperation inside all of us to overcome. 

Another notable short Koreatown Ghost Story stars Margaret Cho and Lyrica Okano. Witty and eerie, Cho plays a matriarch desperate to make sure her dead son has everything she has worked for while making a life for themselves in America. This film has particularly gruesome effects and some unnerving use of acupuncture.

Night Bus is an animated short by Joe Hsieh. An evening bus ride brings out the worst in the passengers who seem to lose any sense of compassion when they are inconvenienced. The animation is stylish and you will find yourself siding with a monkey and its need for vengeance. 

[Fantasia '21] 'Things That Go Bump in the East' review: Horror anthology will frighten and educate

Night Bus is an excellent counterpart to Juan (Diablo) Pablo, a short starring the late Bobby Tamayo. Tamayo was a stage actor brutally murdered in his home and this film is dedicated to him. Tamayo plays Juan Diablo, or Juan Pablo as he would like his friends to call him. The setting for this film is gothic in detail. A large home wallpapered in newspaper, houses ornate furniture and a velvet clad devil who tends to the dead. Juan Diablo may have a ghoulish appearance and job, but he is ultimately a compassionate soul who cares about people. 

Things that Go Bump in the East is a stellar collection of stories about origins, mythos, monsters, deities, and all matters fantastic. The various styles of  animation are stunning and contribute to the overall storytelling. Things that Go Bump in the East is currently playing at the Fantasia Film Festival. 

The Fantasia Film Festival takes place in person and online from August 5 – August 25

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