Backtrack (DIR. Michael Petroni)
By: Shahbaz Khayambashi
Michael Petroni’s Backtrack contains a villain that does not often end up in horror films: guilt. Adrien Brody portrays a psychiatrist, still seeing patients as he is being torn apart inside by the death of his young daughter. It is at this juncture of his life where he realizes that he needs to come to terms with a traumatic accident that he witnessed, and inadvertently caused, as a child. It is this sensation of guilt which sets in motion one of the greatest and most satisfying horror mystery films I have ever witnessed.
It may be best to avoid any more plot points, except to say that there are supernatural elements that avoid becoming cliché (while still retaining a classic horror cinema feel); the film is full of surprises and viewers may want to go in almost fully blind. Instead, I will let you know all the other reasons to watch this incredible film. Adrien Brody’s performance shows once again why he once won an Oscar, Sam Neill unleashes the insanity that only he is capable of and has not been properly seen for quite some time (perhaps not since Possession), and the other performers in the cast still manage to stand out. Furthermore, the film is beautifully shot and scored, giving the viewer aesthetic pleasures, while still scaring them.
Backtrack is horrifying and is exceedingly strong with all kinds of scares: jump scares, unsettling imagery, psychological distress and subtle details in the sight and sound find themselves sprinkled throughout the film. The way they are held together, as well as the way that none of the scary elements overstay their welcome, is absolutely masterful. Backtrack is an intelligent film about learning to let go of one’s past and yet, after finishing the film, I wanted to get back into the theatre and give the past another chance.
Patchwork (DIR. Tyler MacIntyre)
By: Addison Wylie
I feel every eclectic film festival has a bizarre film like Patchwork. Just two years ago, Toronto After Dark audiences devoured Evil Feed and the Blood in the Snow Film Festival cut a rug with Discopath. Both were a lot of fun, but ultimately fell by the wayside. No one knows why, but the wild, undefinable nature of the rowdy flicks may have something to do with it. I hope Patchwork doesn’t claim the same fate. It’s a rambunctious and clever comedy that deserves the spotlight.
Tyler MacIntyre and Chris Lee Hill have created a screenplay that basically expands on Chris Kattan’s twisted portion in Monkeybone. Only this time, three girls are inhabiting one shabbily-strewn corpse. Jennifer, Ellie, and Madeleine (played by Tory Stolper, Tracey Fairaway, and Maria Blasucci in that order) have been mysteriously murdered and wake up to find bits and pieces of them have been stitched and stapled together. They recount their night and fight for control of the body, all while they plan revenge.
Stolper portrays the Frankensteined experiment, and her performance is some kind of incredible. Through various ways, she’s able to convince the audience that she’s suffering from an internal struggle and wrestling with three minds. Her abnormalities are hilariously spastic and her run-on sentences channel all three characters unusually well. Director MacIntyre and his crew have also added little details that make big differences, such as shiny staples tangled up in hair, gruesome make-up, and gross cracks and crunches from Stolper’s sudden movements.
MacIntyre and Hill’s staggered narrative is hard to succumb to; especially when its been told through abrupt, theatrical chapters. However, this storytelling eventually pays off by the halfway mark as unsuspecting twists are revealed.
Patchwork is one of the films concluding this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival – it’s a fitting pick. The film will send its audience away satisfied and anticipating next year.
Patchwork screens at Toronto After Dark on:
Friday, October 23 at 7:00 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre
For more information on the festival, visit the official TAD webpage here.
Buy tickets here.
Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple: