Toronto After Dark Film Festival Wrap-Up – Mini reviews of Love, The Theatre Bizarre, Midnight Son, Absentia, The Corridor and VS

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It’s over! My first time at Toronto After Dark has come to an end, my body is grateful, but the film fan in me isn’t taking it so well. 19 screening in 8 days and complete coverage of the festival was an ambitious goal that I fell somewhat short of. I missed out on two screenings and failed to get a review up for everything, but I’ll be better prepared for next time, perhaps with a guest blogger or two up my sleeve.

Mini-Reviews

Love -A thoughtful and awe-inspiring space adventure that forces the audience to question what exactly it means to be human. Great lead performance by Gunner Wright, and beautiful direction by William Eubank. The film is a bit of a softy in terms of the Sci-fi content, but would be an excellent film to introduce someone to the genre.

The Theatre Bizarre -The horror anthology makes a return with this collection of seven short horror films presented in an abandoned theatre by horror icon Udo Kier. The quality and subject matter of these shorts covers a very wide range, I’m sure everyone will find one to like. For me the best was the Lovecraftian mystery from Richard Stanley, while the food fetish story from David Gregory actually had me looking away from the screen. I actually enjoy eating food and couldn’t risk having some of this imagery stuck in my brain.

Midnight Son -I missed it. I couldn’t watch four movies from 1:30pm – 12:00am on Sunday and I picked the 9:45pm screening of Midnight Son as the one to miss. I screwed up. Multiple fans that I spoke to called this film one of the best of the fest. From what I hear, it is a gritty, realistic, and different take on a vampire film. I also found out that I had been talking to the director, Scott Leberecht, who is a chill, down-to-earth guy. Next time I won’t be taking off any features.

Absentia -A very cool and surprisingly scary low-budget horror film from director Mike Flanagan. Very creative scares and decent acting make this one a pleasure to watch, although the budget does not allow for some of the money-shots that some members of the audience might have been waiting for.

The Corridor -A Sci-fi and horror mash-up that has a lot going for it. Decent writing, acting, and special effects across the board. For some reason the secluded-cabin-in-the-winter theme never seems to get old for me. The intricate relationships between the friends on this winter cabin trip is one of the highlights of The Corridor. The tone of the end of the film may not work well for some, but the film as a whole is certainly worth a watch.

VS -The third and final world premiere at Toronto After Dark. I really wanted to give VS a full review, but simply ran out of energy and time. An amalgamation of superhero and Saw movies, VS really feels like something unique. The film was written and shot quite quickly, but doesn’t come across this way in the visual department. Dark warehouses and junk yards are the environments of VS. Unfortunately the writing comes across as rushed. However, the great performance by James Remar (Dexter) adds some energy to the script. If you feel like a devilishly dark take on the superhero genre, check out VS.

Toronto After Dark Films Earning the Entertainment Maven Seal of Approval (The best of the best)

At TIFF this year I saw roughly 20 films and was ecstatic to find 6 additions for the Seal of Approval page. Toronto After Dark continued the trend as I saw plenty of entertaining films, including 5 remarkable ones. Click on the film titles for my reviews.

Redline

Some Guy Who Kills People

A Lonely Place to Die

The Divide

The Innkeepers

Final Thoughts

I WILL MISS the amazing sense of community at TAD. I found myself alone during a few of the social events, at night after the screenings, that is until I approached a long-time pass holder at TAD named Kirk. Before I knew what was going on, I was being introduced to the whole community, including staff, press, and filmmakers. If you find yourself in my position, make the first move and find a great fan like Kirk.

I WON’T MISS the volume level that some directors think is ideal for their film screening. Turn it down guys.

I WILL MISS the incredibly kind and accommodating people at The Toronto Underground Cinema. Everyone, including Nigel, Charlie and Harvey, did a great job.

I WON’T MISS glass bottles rolling down the length of the floor like clockwork.

Finally, I WILL MISS the films. Genre films don’t often get the respect they deserve, but my god, is there a better type of film on the planet? The variety of themes, characters, environments, writing styles, unlikely heroes, menacing villains, soundtracks, action sequences, etc. that can be found in genre films is absolutely astounding. Toronto is one of the best cities in the world for genre fans, and Toronto After Dark is one of the most dedicated and incredible festivals out there for genre films, and only in their 6th year!

I’ll look forward to seeing everyone next year, and until then, maintain your love of the weird, wicked and wonderful, I’m sure it will be effortless to do.

Seal of Approval Additions from TIFF 2011

About a week ago I surreptitiously put up a new page called ‘Entertainment Maven Seal Approval’. This is the best-of-the-best and the heart of what Entertainment Maven is all about. Post to post, the quality of the products reviewed will vary greatly, but clicking on the seal of approval trims the fat, even very positive reviews are excluded if the product is not GREAT.

Below are my seal of approval additions from TIFF 2011. Also, I realize the irony that the seal of approval does not have an actual visual seal, but I am graphically inept. I will try to change this in the future. Click on the title of the film to be linked to my review.

On to the films!

A Letter to Momo

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An enchanting animated film that was seven years in the making and doesn’t disappoint. The characters feel real and Momo’s animated facial expressions have to be some of the best I have ever seen.

Alois Nebel

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A haunting tale from the Czech Republic. The combination of black-and-white and rotoscope animation creates a gloomy atmosphere will not be easily forgotten by viewers.

Kill List

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One of the most disturbing and shocking films I have ever seen.

The Raid

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The use of a little known martial arts style called Silat provides the genre with a breath of fresh air. Sure to go down as one of the greatest action films ever made.

Sleepless Night

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Cops and robbers all night long in a Parisian night club.

You’re Next

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Scary and funny, always a difficult combination to pull off, but one of the most enjoyable when it is done right. You’re next pushes all the right buttons.

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