Toronto After Dark 2012: In Their Skin Review (Robert Harding)

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2012

In Their Skin (2012)

Starring Selma Blair, Joshua Close and James D’Arcy

Directed by Jeremy Power Regimbal

Home invasion is never an easy subject. The thought of someone entering your house and stealing stuff is bad enough but thinking it could happen when you’re home is truly frightening.  Thoughts of being tied up, property stolen and the house being damaged are just the beginning as you never know the full intentions of the invaders.

After the accidental death of their young daughter, Mark (Josh Close) and Mary (Selma Blair), along with their young son, decide to drive to their family’s very large isolated vacation home in order to spend some quality family time together and help cope with their loss. Not long after their arrival they meet up with what appear to be overly friendly neighbours only to find out that Bobby (James D’Arcy), Jane (Rachl Miner) and their son Jared Sykorski are not entirely who they seem to be.

First time Director Jeremy Power Regimbal has managed to put together an amazing first feature. The audience at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival made their thoughts known during the screening of the film as they winced, cringed and gasped in unison during multiple moments in the film.

Getting this great cast together was possibly the best thing to happen to this film. Everyone involved does a fantastic job of conveying their various psychoses and neuroses. Without these marvelous performances In Their Skin could have come across as a campy low budget horror flick rather than the convincing thriller it is. As suspense movies go, In Their Skin does a very good job of controlling tension through pacing and the hard to master skill of foreshadowing.

Despite all that is good about In Their Skin, I still had a few problems with it. I didn’t quite connect with the attitude of Mark and Mary at the beginning of the film. I realize they are supposed to be affected by the death of their daughter but I wasn’t sure exactly what emotions they were feeling. Were they supposed to hate each other? Were they simply distant? It was never really clear. The end result is that the viewer is never truly able to connect with them as the victims. The other problem I had came from the way the film ended.  The film spends so much time building tension and suspense but when it came to the conclusion, things seemed to end rather quickly and without much thought or creativity.  While the ending wasn’t as dark as I would have enjoyed, I would have been just as happy with an ending that felt fresh and showed a little more development.

There is a lot of talent coming out of Canada lately when it comes to genre filmmakers and I’d put Jeremy Power Regimbal among them. He has a good grasp of pacing, camera angles and story concept and while he hasn’t created a masterpiece with In Their Skin, he has managed to put together a film that gets under your skin, even if only for a short period of time.

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Fantasia 2012 – Top 10 (11) Films of the Festival

I’ve had about one week to marinate on everything that happened during Fantasia 2012. I was no stranger to the festival scene, but in no way was I prepared for a festival the size of Fantasia, particularly the social aspect. I assumed that I would watch 3-4 movies a day and then write up 2-3 reviews each morning. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only did my lower back start to give out after about 10 days, limiting the number of movies I could comfortably sit through in a day, but my sleep time was sliced in half by nightly trips to the Irish Embassy, Fantasia’s festival bar of choice. Each night would see debates about movies that screened that day and encouraging recommendations for movies that I had missed. Also, some very real friendships were made and I have no doubt that anyone who fully immerses themselves in Fantasia will have a nearly identical experience. An experience that no true movie buff  should be without. However, the social aspect aside, film festivals are about the movies.

I knocked back about 60 screenings, but this was still only a sampling of the 160+ film program. I saw a few stinkers, and a fair share of mediocre films (as is true about ANY festival), but I also witness some GREAT ones. I’ve managed to compile a numbered list of what I feel are the top 11 movies that I saw at Fantasia. Any film that appears on this list is definitely worth a watch, while the ones towards the bottom are a must see! I also want to thank everyone at Fantasia for having me and to all the wonderful cinephiles that I met throughout my stay. I’m already counting down for next year.

11. Replicas

Review

Replicas displayed some fresh dialogue and screenwriting at the tail end of the festival and I was very thankful for the experience. The beginning is stellar, while the rest of the film falls victim to some rather generic plotting. However, the entire movie features some gorgeous photography and some excellent directing.

10. Resolution

Review

Resolution was one of the few horror movies on display at Fantasia, largely do to the number of quality horror titles available this year. However, Resolution is included on this list, not as a nod at the horror genre, but purely based on its own merits. Some great performances from the lead actors and very original screenwriting highlight the film.

9. Black’s Game

Review

The drug trade is not of much interest to me, but cold snowy settings are. I’m very happy that I chose to check out this Icelandic thriller as it was possibly the movie with the best pacing out of the entire festival.

8. Game of Werewolves

Review

Game of Werewolves starts out as a funny film, but has multiple scenes that are an absolute riot. Add to this director Moreno’s masterful understanding of what made horror movies fun in the 80’s and you end up with an incredibly enjoyable movie with nothing but practical effects. A very accessible horror/comedy for true fans and the masses alike.

7. Dead Sushi

Review

Want to immerse yourself in a J-splatter movie and learn something in the process? If so, then Dead Sushi is for you as it features the most sushi violence out of any movie in the last 100 years! Also, you will learn proper sushi etiquette and some secret tips to make your sushi infinitely more delicious. Dead Sushi was a riot with an audience. Danger!

6. Cold Steel

Review

Cold Steel is a great sniper movie with a heart of gold. Exciting, funny, and at times emotionally gripping, this is not to be missed by fans of Asian cinema, although I would strongly recommend it to anyone.

5. Jackpot

Amateur crime gone horrible wrong. Buckets of blood are spilled accidentally in this hilarious crime/comedy about a few relatively normal guys hoping to get rich quick. Despite some one-dimensional characters there are some fabulous performances which you’ll remember for years. Pling!

4. Wrong

Review

Hands down the weirdest movie at the festival, although it manages to feel logical by the end of it. Another very funny film that deserves to be seen by everyone, regardless of your taste. Words will not do it justice.

3. Grabbers

Another great horror/comedy with some amazing laughs, a great script, CGI and practical effects, and just an all-around good night out at the movies.

2. Afro Tanaka

Review

I walked into Afro Tanaka to kill some time, but it wound up being my second favourite movie of the festival. Funny how that works. Afro is pretty much a Bro-mantic comedy, but has some incredible facial acting combined with some laughs which will catch anyone off-guard. Highly recommended!

1. Crave

Review

I have been a champion of Crave since the moment the credits started to roll. A great movie with intriguing characters, a great story, and some very original and professional use of classic cinematic devices. Also it’s a directorial feature debut that succeeds wonderfully. What’s not to like?

Did I make good choices? Awful ones? Leave a comment and let me know.

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