Review – 8 (2019) : Fantasia International Film Festival!

by Vincent Leblanc

My first film on Day 10 of the Fantasia International Film Festival was the World Premiere of the South African drama/folkloric horror film 8. The film is part of the Cheval Noir Competition, “Fantasia’s flagship juried competition, a global selection of varied genre works from new and established, groundbreaking and unconventional auteurs.”

The film was written and directed by Harold Hölscher, his first feature film. It stars Tshamano Sebe, Keita Luna, Garth Breytenbach, Inge Beckmann and Chris April.  

The host for the festival welcomed director Hölscher to the stage. Hölscher said he was extremely nervous to be there but very happy at the same time. He talked a little bit about how hard genre filmmaking is in South Africa. He mentioned he wrote the first draft of the script of 8 in 2008 and he finally shot the film in 2018. He hoped we would like the film and said he’d be back after for a Q&A.

Read the following synopsis if you want to know more about “8” (copied from the Fantasia website):


“William Zeil is returning to his old family farm that he inherited from his father after suffering a crippling bankruptcy. With him he brings his wife Sarah and their young adopted daughter, Mary, hoping for a fresh start. They soon meet Lazarus, an old farmhand who looked after William’s father, who takes an immediate, almost paternal liking to Mary. It becomes evident that the local tribal leader has a considerable problem with Lazarus, as do many in the community. On his end, Lazarus has no shortage of his own problems — his wife having died in childbirth, his daughter later perishing in a fire, he is tormented in this terrible place of wounding memories and unrestful souls. Lonely… but, as the Zeil family will soon discover, never alone.”

When the film was revealed to be part of this year’s edition of the festival, out of curiosity, I checked out the trailer you see below. If you decide to watch it for yourself, you will see that it teases many “scary” scenes. These scenes are in the film. However, the film is actually much more slow and mystical than what the trailer sells. It is not a Hollywood movie with jump scares around every corner. 

But there is a very good movie in there. There is a great atmosphere throughout the film and the film is beautifully shot. Like I wrote, it’s a slow-paced drama that has a great touch of mysticism that was intriguing and interesting. I liked the story that uses some folkloric elements of this region of the world. I guess there’s a deeper meaning to this film but I’m not so good at analyzing that. 

South African actor Tshamano Sebe, who plays Lazarus the farmhand, was great. He is both fragile and intense depending on the situation. 11-year-old actress Keita Luna is also great in her first role. Like my friend wrote in his review, her eyes almost speak as much as her mouth. The rest of the cast offers great support.

Being the World Premiere, the film will probably continue its run of film festivals. Check it out if it’s released in your area.      

I am giving 8 a 3.5 out of 5 Hairpieces!

Here’s a trailer that shows way too much in my opinion and also that sells a movie that isn’t exactly what I saw. 

#Fantasia2019 #FantasiaFest

#Fantasia2019 #FantasiaFest #8

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