Blood In The Snow Film Festival 2012: Devil’s Night Review (Kirk Haviland)

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Blood in the Snow 2012

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Devil’s Night (2012)

Starring Danielle Harris, Steve Byers, Shawn Roberts, Robbie Amell and Boyd Banks

Written and Directed by Christopher Harrison

Back in 2007 Director Harrison along with his cast and crew set out to make an indie film that played as a horror homage to the films he grew up watching in the 1980’s. After filming was completed the film’s rough cut was turned into a feature that was edited, marketed and released under the name Left for Dead. After a five year wait while other projects took precedence and the film was shelved for a bit, Harrison has finally delivered his final version of the film, Devil’s Night. Devil’s night made its Toronto theatrical premiere at the Blood In the Snow Canadian Film Festival this past weekend.

The College students of a nondescript Canadian town throw wild parties full of drugs, sex, and lost inhibitions every year on Devil’s Night. But this time, an uninvited guest comes for a visit. A year prior five Frat boys were involved in a terrible accident and made a horrific decision. Now a year later the boys are being stalked by a machete-wielding maniac, and their friends are slowly disappearing one by one. It’s up to Tommy (Byers), his girlfriend Nancy (Harris) and best friend Clark (Roberts) to stop the killer before he exacts revenge on all of them.

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Devil’s Night is a loving homage to the films of the 80’s like Friday the 13th and Night of the Creeps to name a few. Harrison has written a fun script that is content to stay in this little pocket, with its limitations and inherent plausibility issues intact. But it’s because he does stay in this pocket that director Harrison manages to deliver a fun and satisfying film. Byers is passable as the accident prone and paranoid Tommy, he manages to pull you in enough that you can remain invested in his outcome.  Danielle Harris is quite good here and her level of experience shines through in her acting choices. Roberts is sadly not given a lot to do in the obviously doomed best friend role, but he manages to elevate past it enough to deliver a likeable performance. The rest of the cast are mere background players, Boyd playing the way too obvious red herring character of a local serial killer on the loose from the law, but Amell manages some decent time.

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The death sequences are hit and miss here, some of the direct homages work fantastically, a particular sequence based on an iconic Friday the 13th moment involving Roberts and the stunning JaNae Armogan works extremely well. But the opening sequence involving the incident that sets of the actions of the film is less impressive. The ending sequence actually is completely flawed logic as the passage of time is supposed to be a full year, which does not explain a certain character’s appearance. Stylistically the deaths look great and the effects work is sharp. The mask used for our killer, while obviously referencing Halloween’s Michael Myers, is actually really effective as it always appears to have a smirk or grin implying that he is really enjoying his work. And the stringy long hair attached to the mask lends to the aesthetic.

While far from a perfect film, Devil’s Night results in a fun little romp that can be easily digested and retains an inherit re-watchability. Harrison wears his influences all over the screen and we can be very happy for him and ourselves as the audience alike that he has been able to finally bring his vision of Devil’s Night to the screen. Devil’s Night is a recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films, festivals and film related events in Toronto.

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Blood In The Snow Film Festival 2012: In the House of Flies Review (Kirk Haviland)

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Blood In The Snow 2012

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In the House of Flies (2012)

Starring: Lindsay Smith, Ryan Kotack, Henry Rollins and Ryan Barrett

Written by Angus McLellan

Directed by Gabriel Carrer

Making its World Premiere as part of the Inaugural Fright Nights: Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival this past weekend at Toronto’s Projection Booth East cinema is the newest film from Canadian director Gabriel Carrer (Kill, If a Tree Falls), In the House of Flies. The micro budget indie makes use of a small cast and minimal settings to create a suspense thriller about abduction, suffering and sacrifice. But will In the House of Flies be the film to catapult Carrer onto the world stage?

Set in June of 1988 In the House of Flies tells the story of young lovers whose lives are inadvertently changed forever when the couple, Heather (Smith) and Steve (Kotack), suddenly find themselves abducted. Alone, isolated, locked in a basement with only a tiny window as contact to the outside world, Heather and Steve find themselves pawns in the twisted machinations of their diabolical hosts. Surrounded by several mysterious pad-locked suitcases, each containing valuable food and supplies, Heather and Steve must fight to keep their sanity and clutch with blistering hands the last shreds of hope if they want to escape from their abductors (Rollins and Barrett).

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In the House of Flies uses its limited budget to its advantage in producing a grimy, sleazy and claustrophobic story mainly set in the confines of a completely walled in basement with a locked trap door as it only entrance and exit. The film lies solely on the shoulders of Smith and Kotack as they are in every frame of the film and for 90% of it they are the only ones on screen. Rollins is only heard in voice  and Barrett is only seen from the neck down, never close up. The good news is that Smith and Kotack are up to the task. Their performances are solid and they keep you invested throughout. Rollins’ voice is nearly unrecognizable as he serves as tormentor over a phone placed in the cell.

The script uses its surroundings aptly, keeping the action centered in the basement keeps the budget low and production value high. That said this film is not one of action set pieces and momentum. This is a slow methodical devaluing and deconstruction of these characters. This inevitably leaves us with lulls in areas and some stretches of the film do drag. But when these sequences happen, Carrer, McLellan and the cast manage to snap you back into the film with another well placed revelation. In the House of Flies is a film that will need and demand investment from its viewers, and if you are not prepared to give the alert attention required you may be lost along the way.

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One of the most pleasant highlights of the film is the excellent score and soundtrack. There is a screamingly obvious influence from last year’s Drive in the way the music is staged and used in the film, and the song choices follow those of Drive in tone and influence. That said Drive had one of the best soundtracks of the last decade so if you are going to use an influence like this, why not the best? The songs used are killer and would make an excellent companion to the Drive soundtrack on any MP3 player. Sadly I believe the filmmakers missed a great opportunity in not making the soundtrack available to the public after the screening, or if it was it wasn’t advertised strongly enough.

Is In the House of Flies the film that we have been waiting for to launch the ‘new wave’ of Canadian Horror and the careers of people like Carrer? Perhaps it will be, but it’s more than likely another stepping stone to get towards that goal. In the House of Flies is more likely to go down as a film that shows a burgeoning talent make giant steps towards the film that will eventually break him to the world. Either way In the House of Flies is a recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films, festivals and film related events in Toronto.

Follow me directly on twitter @moviejunkieto and by liking my Facebook page at Movie Junkie TO

Email me at moviejunkieto@gmail.com

Fright Nights: The Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival Preview (Nadia Sandhu)

There will be Blood in the Snow and on the big screen at Projection Booth (1035 Gerrard Street East) as the First Annual Fright Nights:  Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival scares up thrills this November 30 to December 2, 2012 in a weekend long celebration of the best in contemporary Canadian horror filmmaking.

Festival Director Kelly Michael Stewart has been a strong supporter of the national horror filmmaking scene, writing about it for Fangoria and Planet Fury, and regularly showcasing these talented filmmakers at the hugely successful Fright Nights at Projection Booth screening series.  “I have noticed an incredible renaissance of horror directors coming out of Canada in the past few years. Southern Ontario in particular has become a hotbed of horror talent. Now the scene has grown large enough and vibrant enough that it warrants a dedicated yearly festival and we’ve been able to pull together an impressive lineup including the world premieres of SICK featuring Canada’s own scream queen Debbie Rochon and In the House of Flies starring Henry Rollins.”

Blood in the Snow kicks off on Friday, November 30 with a zombie infection in SICK at 7pm and critical darling Beyond the Black Rainbow at 9:30pm, and closes on Sunday, December 2 with art house vampire film Blood for Irina at 7pm, a film that also marks the feature directorial debut of Fangoria Editor in Chief Chris Alexander.  

In true rep house style, Saturday will be a late night with psychological thriller In the House of Flies at 6:30pm, classic 80’s style slasher film Devil’s Night starring Danielle Harris at 9pm and old school grind house throwback Famine at 11:45pm.

A retrospective shorts program, Fright Nights: Class of 2012, on Saturday, December 1 at 3pm showcases some of the best genre shorts from the last year of Fright Nights programming, including a personal favorite when it played here as part of the Viscera Film Festival last winter- Doll Parts from Karen Lam.  The retrospective also features a bonus screening- fan fave Cinemall, which documents the yearly pilgrimage of zombie fans to the mall where Romero filmed Dawn of the Dead!

“With films like Hobo With a ShotgunThe CorridorPontypool, and really anything from the guys at Astron 6, the Canadian horror film scene is bursting with creative talent and we are proud to support Kelly and what we truly feel is a killer line up of the next wave of genre directors. These are the ones to watch,” enthuses Jonathan Hlibka, partner at Projection Booth Cinemas.

And I for one am relieved that in this case at least, blood in the snow does not refer to baby seals.

Festival passes and tickets are on sale now and while there won’t be any chick flicks, I won’t completely rule out finding a touchy feely angle to report back on.

You can show your support for Canadian Horror by downloading the Blood in the Snow banner and using it as your Facebook Cover this Black Friday!

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