Toronto After Dark 2016: ‘The Master Cleanse’ and ‘The Rezort’

The Master Cleanse (DIR. Bobby Miller)

The Master Cleanse is such a small film, it’s easy to see why it would slip under someone’s radar.  It’s 79 minutes long, contains a seemingly underdeveloped plot, and the film doesn’t seem to provide much in way of cultural presence.  This is why Bobby Miller’s movie was such a pleasant surprise – it was so endearing.

This film follows a group of people who join a part-Scientology-esque-part-new age group (charismatic leader, as well as “the Master” moniker) which promises to help them reach personal purity.  This process involves going into the woods, drinking specialized concoctions, and following along with the collective’s convoluted processes.  To say anything more in detail would spoil the experience.  Instead, know that there are creatures and things that do not turn out the way you expect them to.

The Master Cleanse utilizes a limited ensemble cast, which includes knockout performances from Oliver Platt, Anjelica Huston and Kevin J. O’Connor.  Writer/director Miller also uses surprisingly adorable creatures as a way to create a dialogue on mental health and the unattainable human struggle for perfection.  Unfortunately, the ending – in a roundabout way – negates its earlier intentions, while also convoluting its basic concept.  Add a pair of characters who are only present to service a particular plot turn, and you have the only disappointments in an otherwise tight, somewhat subversive film.

You may leave somewhat frustrated, but you should still seek out The Master Cleanse for its handling of cute creature feature aesthetics, its take on mental health, and for the post-film discussions you’ll surely have with other viewers.

– Shahbaz Khayambashi 


The Rezort (DIR. Steve Barker)

The Rezort is an efficient, breezy action/thriller with hordes of zombies to satisfy any horror hound.

What I admire the most about Steve Barker’s flick is the utilization of different undead creatures.  After a security breach, audiences learn slow and fast zombies coexist at The Rezort, an exclusive getaway that allows vacationers to execute the walking dead who have been infected by a recent outbreak.  Audiences receive a copy of a similar scenario used in Jurassic Park along with typical characters (a duplicate of Bryce Dallas Howard’s cold supervisor from Jurassic World, a muscle who is only present to be a handsome crack shot), but Barker and screenwriter Paul Gerstenberger redirect the story enough in a different direction where they can still capture the satisfying panic of this survival story, as well as pitch new and exciting fights and chases.

The Rezort is also very competent when building an alternative reality using various open environments in Spain, and knowing when to shrink its visual scope when the zombies are closing in around our protagonists.  The Rezort is a movie that makes you feel trapped….and you’ll like it.

– Addison Wylie


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Toronto After Dark: @TADFilmFest
Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam
Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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