Toronto After Dark 2016: Shahbaz on Short Films Part 2 – Final Festival Thoughts

Readers from last year may have remembered my disdain for the Canadian short films featured at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.  This year, out of a wide array of great shorts preceding each feature, the programming won me back.

Here are a few of my favourites from this year’s festival:

Paranormal Radio (DIR. Andrew Jeffrey)

This short film is based on an infamous call into a radio show (search for it on YouTube by looking up “area 51 call”).  Paranormal Radio is a simple but effective film, relying on voice acting and suggestion more than any actual visual proof of aliens.  At the very least, Andrew Jeffrey skillfully shows that big scares can come from small places.

Boy Toys (DIR. Trevor Kristjanson)

Two vain, stiff, surprisingly prolific young men are sitting at a table having a discussion when it becomes apparent that they are under the control of an all powerful deity.  The actors do a good job at conveying natural emotions, and the presented visuals are colourful enough to make viewers believe that a horrorshow ending won’t happen.  You’ll have to see this one to believe it.

It’s All in Your Head (DIR. Greg Jeffs)

It’s All in Your Head is a nice twist on a nursery rhyme.  This family friendly short tells the story of a young girl’s encounter with a scary monster.  But, who is the real terror in this story?  The sudden turn of perspective truly ties this cute short together.

Olga (DIR. Olaf Svenson)

A young woman with a grudge enters a mafia establishment and makes her grievances known.  Olaf Svenson’s resonating work in Olga makes one believe that this story could pop up as an extended feature film in the future – there’s lots of potential here for the filmmaker.  The short is beautifully choreographed with just the right amount of bloodlust.

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That’s a wrap on this year’s festival coverage.  Addison Wylie and I have had a great time reviewing this year’s selection, and we want to thank the team at Toronto After Dark for inviting Wylie Writes to yet another awesome fest.  As for the readers, we hope these reviews have alerted you to look out for specific flicks when they receive theatrical, VOD, or digital distribution.
Here are my final two cents on this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival (click the titles for more info):
The Good

Features: Under the Shadow, The Lure, War on Everyone

International Shorts: The Call, Vitamins for Life, Greener Grass

Canadian Shorts: Boy Toys, Olga, It’s All in Your Head

The action sequences in Train to Busan

The performances in Trash Fire, Antibirth and Bark

Whenever Jumpy the Dog appeared in Ti West’s In a Valley of Violence

The insanity of As the Gods Will

The production design of Antibirth, Curve and The Void

The creatures from The Master Cleanse

The Bad

Features: Bed of the Dead, Let Her Out, From a House on Willow Street

International Shorts: When Susurrus Stirs, Shutter

Canadian Shorts: Wizardly Wickedly Weeping, Pyotr495

The endings of Trash Fire and I Am Not a Serial Killer

Sentimentalism in Train to Busan

Most of Kill Command

The Ugly

The low representation of woman filmmakers (one feature and five shorts directed by women)

The inadvertent homophobia and (possibly advertent) sexism in Pyotr495, a film about the dangers of dehumanizing queer individuals which does exactly that

The fact that the bed in Bed of the Dead was not actually the killer for the most part (plus the strange time travel implication)

Having to say good things about Ti West and Mel Gibson

Continuing my streak of missing at least one film at the festival (I’m sorry, Stake Land 2!)

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Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Toronto After Dark: @TADFilmFest
Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam

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