Wylie Writes at Toronto After Dark: ABCs of Death 2

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By: Addison Wylie

With recent horror anthologies, it seems as though the first instalment serves as an extreme experimental period.  There’s a foreboding feeling of failure when making a project that draws in different visions from all over a filmmaking pallet, but horror nuts who are true to their craft will let their audacious attitudes plow through anything resembling an obstacle.

This was a clear example for the V/H/S series – an easy comparison to the ABCs of Death films.  V/H/S had problems stringing together its short films, and figuring out ways to skip redundant exposition.  The creators received the feedback, ironed out their format, and along came the much more successful and scary V/H/S/2.

The ABCs of Death was a swift scattershot flick and a real mixed bag.  For every home run, there would be a tasteless mess to counter it.  It lacked a producer’s voice of reason to sort out the crudities, but this also allowed filmmakers to let their imaginations run wild.  The anthology was neither good or bad.  It was an interesting experiment that had brighter prospects if a sequel came along. Continue reading

Eternity: The Movie

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Not everything in Eternity: The Movie works.  However, filmmaker Ian Thorpe shows audiences that clean comedy leads to the best kind of laughs with this lo-fi send-up to the 1980′s.

Barrett Crake plays Todd Lucas, because – I suppose – Jon Heder had a busy schedule.  Lucas is new to the Californian lifestyle.  Instead of one-night stands with bodacious babes, he wishes to escape the business and get to know a girl by sparking conversations.  He’s weepy when someone dumps him, and he’s sensitive to a point where crying doves would roll their eyes.

Myko Olivier plays B.J. Fairchild, because – I suppose – the film couldn’t afford Paul Rudd.  Fairchild isn’t rude or crude, but he’s all for free love.  When he’s not blaring TV theme songs on his saxophone, he’s trying to score.  While the opposite sex doesn’t find him threatening or intimidating, they would rather steer clear of his dorky hormones altogether. Continue reading

Wylie Writes at Toronto After Dark ’14: Time Lapse

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By: Addison Wylie

The manipulation of time can lend itself to enticing stories and conflicted characters.  Time Lapse would’ve delivered on both of those, but filmmaker Bradley King’s melodramatic presentation robs the audience of anything intriguing.

Time Lapse wisely keeps its narrative between three leads.  Those roles are filled out by Matt O’Leary, Danielle Panabaker, and George Finn who all appear and act as if their characters should be a few years older.  Those close-knit friends stumble upon a machine that provides a special photograph every day.  It’s a look into the future. Continue reading

Wylie Writes at Toronto After Dark ’14: Wolves

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By: Addison Wylie

It’s funny to see Entertainment One attached to Wolves.  It almost acts as an apology to werewolf fanatics who may have been bothered by the studio’s Twilight series.

Even though Wolves wipes our memories of Taylor Lautner and his chiseled abs sprinting through the woods, David Hayter’s toothy flick isn’t anything too special.  It’s a serviceable film with pop-up gems.

Cayden is at that usual stage a young man hits in his teens: he’s misunderstood and has the urge to transform into a wolf when provoked.  When an incident during a football game and an accident at home send him into a confused state, Cayden hits the road and becomes a drifter.  Soon, he’s befriended by an unusual barfly named Wild Joe (played by John Pyper-Ferguson) and told to head to Lupine Ridge for answers regarding his killer condition. Continue reading

The Guest

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By: Addison Wylie

Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett are two filmmakers who love the horror genre.  Furthermore, they’re filmmakers who understand the genre.  They deserve a ton of success and praise.  I hope The Guest finally gets them there.

You might say, “Addison!  What’re you talking about?  These two have made a name for themselves already!”  Sure, they have; I agree that the duo have established themselves in moviemaking, but Wingard and Barrett are only notably popular within the genre.  You’ve only heard of them because your a big fan of scary movies.  They’ve built that solid niche with contributions to the V/H/S series as well as with their brewing cult flick You’re Next.

Before The Guest turns itself into a really tense film in the same way a horror film would, the methodically planned project starts as a drama with hints of an action movie.  These two love to draw influences from haunted classics, but I felt more of a Terminator vibe with its bulletproof leading male and the young hero. Continue reading

Best Night Ever

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By: Addison Wylie

The suspiciously released comedy Best Night Ever could easily be retitled Wedding Movie. Or, Hangover Movie or Bridesmaids Movie to be a bit more on the nose.

The reason why the film doesn’t go by those titles is because (A.) those suggestions are terrible and (B.) the directorial duo are most likely trying to distance themselves away from schlocky spoof movies.  That duo: Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer.

Friedberg and Seltzer need no introduction, but scrolling through their filmography allows me time to stall from talking about Best Night Ever. Continue reading

Citizen Marc

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By: Addison Wylie

We’re only a few minutes into Citizen Marc, and the audience is already aware of how polarizing pot activist Marc Emery can be.

Emery’s button-pushing tactics to challenge the Canadian government can be seen as either courageous or just plain obnoxious.  His outspokenness may be a little of column A and B, but documentarian Roger Evan Larry uses this film to portray Emery as real as possible.  That image being a passionate, confident speaker who could effortlessly strategize through life.

Through much archival footage and Larry’s own interviews with Marc, movie goers see the ‘Prince of Pot’ as someone who can never stop being entertaining.  He’s always “on”, and he’s a guy who can tell you his whole life story at the drop of a hat. Continue reading

Watchers of the Sky

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By: Addison Wylie

Edet Belzberg’s Watchers of the Sky is built on perseverance.  It’s the film’s bread and butter.

The doc has stories about those who refuse to give up fighting for change.  But, the glue holding these stories together is Raphael Lemkin’s unstoppable mission to invent the word “genocide” and give it a meaning.  His sweat and tears worked hard to urge the UN to consider the heinous act of ethnic cleansing as an unlawful decision worthy of punishment.  Lemkin had others admiring his determination, and worried for his questionable wellbeing.  He had dedicated so much time to it, he often forgot to tend to his own needs.

Lemkin’s hard work has inspired others throughout history.  His actions influenced the conception of the Nuremberg trials, as well as recent work with Rwandan refugees.  We see that impacting influence carry over as the film shoots back-and-forth over time.  Along with all of the content and tenacity, the film incorporates insightful and fascinating interviews with Samantha Power, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book A Problem From Hell. Continue reading

Wylie Writes at Toronto After Dark ’14: Suburban Gothic

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By: Addison Wylie

Suburban Gothic is…weird.  And, not that good kind of “weird” that Toronto After Dark joyfully uncovers through obscure titles.  It’s a movie that makes you ask questions.  Questions like:

What is Suburban Gothic?  Better yet, what genre is Suburban Gothic?  Is it a comedy?  Is it a horror?  Better yet, is it a horror/comedy?  If so, how can it be a comedy when it’s this stupefyingly unfunny?  How can it be a horror when the scares have been so cheaply derived?

Who stars in Suburban Gothic?  Who’s Matthew Gray Gubler?  He’s on Criminal Minds, right?  Where else have I seen him before?  Wasn’t he an intern on Steve Zissou’s revengeful expedition?  Why did he emote more in that movie than in this one? Continue reading

Sharknado 2: The Second One

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The Asylum and SyFy hit a cult goldmine with Sharknado, a television event with an inane premise and flat production values that point all blame towards budgetary reasonings and its small screen platform. With a solid social media campaign and successful PR, the stars aligned, and out popped a hit! A hit that was “so bad, it’s good”, but a hit nonetheless.

I don’t belong in that fanbase. I caught Sharknado after the hype had died down, and walked away disappointed. It wasn’t because my expectations were high. I was let down because it was really embarrassing.

Sharknado was a scrappy TV movie with terrible performances and logic so outlandish, that it became hard for me accept the movie as popcorn entertainment. The backlot work was obvious, the effects were poorly rendered, and the formula suggested everyone was here to simply cash a paycheque. Continue reading