Fantasia 2021 movie reviews: Alien on Stage and Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It are huge surprises

Images from Alien on Stage and Sweetie You Won't Believe
Images from Alien on Stage and Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It. Pic credit: Fool For Love Films/Festagent

Fantasia 2021 has been an intriguing experience so far, and the movies discussed in this article are no exception. Alien on Stage and Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It are two very different but equally delightful films.

While Alien on Stage is a heartwarming look at what it takes to make the transition from screen to stage successfully, Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It is worth your time if you’re looking for laughter and a little bit of violence (or a little bit of violent laughter).

Both Alien on Stage and Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It accomplish what they set out to accomplish, and manage to take the viewers along with them while doing so.

Here is our review of both films from Fantasia Fest 2021.

Alien on Stage review

Alien on Stage is a joyful experience watching a group of bus drivers put together a stage show of Ridley Scott’s Alien.

The documentary directed by Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer documents a year that these workers who formed an amateur theater group decided to take on the ambitious task of adapting such a beloved cinematic work to the stage.

As the documentary conveys, trying to make things as realistic as they were in the film is virtually impossible. But anyone involved in either film productions or stage productions knows if the right team is behind it, none of that matters.

The Dorset Bus crew who formed Paranoid Dramatics are shown in the film to have a family-like relationship. Almost as if when they leave work they all have family barbecues with one another.

A group shot of Alien stage play cast members.
A group shot of Alien stage play cast members. Pic credit: Fool For Love Films

One of the crewmembers, Pete, is the sole individual in charge of making the xenomorph costume and face-huggers. This man was a delight to watch the entire documentary as he relished in making all his practical stage effects come to life.

And as they begin extensive work on making Alien become the experience it is meant to be on a theater stage, as silly as the make-up, sets, prosthetics, and effects are, it’s all handled out of friendship and love.

This makes the final reveal of the show all the more compelling and inspiring. The stage show depiction of Alien does not require perfection but just a passionate crew and a fondness for the material. And as the documentary depicts, if both things are true, then the audience will love the creation.

Overall, Alien on Stage is an inspiring and heartwarming documentary about an unlikely, but talented, group of bus drivers making a sci-fi classic become a theater gem. It’s a documentary that proves if the artwork is greeted with love, dedication, and heart, then people will respond with the same warmth, no matter how small the budget.

If festival attendees are looking for a great documentary, Alien on Stage should not be missed at Fantasia Fest 2021.

Gangsters from Sweetie You Won't Believe It.
Gangsters from Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It. Pic credit: Festagent

Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It (Zhanym, ty ne poverish) review

Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It (or Zhanym, ty ne poverish) is one of the biggest surprises for Fantasia attendees so far. The Russian film centers on three men– Dastan, Arman, and Murat– who decide to go on a fishing trip. The main character Dastan does so against his pregnant wife’s wishes because he is seeking a break from his contentious marriage.

But once they leave for the trip, nothing goes according to plan. In fact, things become weird, wacky, and extremely violent. The first problem to arise is they become targets of the world’s most amateurish gang of criminals who themselves become the target of a hermit who happens to be a ruthless murdering psychopath.

The best way to describe Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It is to imagine if The Hangover was directed by The Coen Brothers.

The characters are portrayed similarly to a Coen Brothers comedy such as Burn After Reading– where things continue to escalate in the midst of wrong place and wrong time moments (RIP Brad Pitt in the closet). Not to mention, the criminals are extremely stupid and are in over their heads, just like the three main leads.

The violence is also played for laughs with deaths being wildly unpredictable and over-the-top. This makes their innocent fishing trip all the more hilarious as each violent scenario becomes more dangerous and absurd.

The movie also has a tremendous set of needle drops that add more character to the ridiculous narrative. None of the tracks sound familiar but it’s an inspired playlist this writer hopes to seek out.

Director, Yernar Nurgaliyev, truly made a fun and energetic comedic thriller here that should not be overlooked.

Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It is one of the biggest, and most pleasant, surprises at Fantasia Fest 2021. Combining elements of Todd Phillips and The Coen Brothers, this is a violent and dark comedy that will keep viewers entertained.

With a lovable central cast, a catchy soundtrack, and a brisk and fun pace, Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It is a viciously fun time.

Be sure and read our other review from Fantasia Fest 2021 Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break, and our review from SXSW 2021 of Broadcast Signal Intrusion, which will make its Canadian premiere at Fantasia.

Stay tuned for more Fantasia Fest 2021 coverage at Monsters & Critics.

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