The biggest strength of Toronto After Dark is, and always has been, the importance given to short films. Shorts are given their own programs, but they also play before features. Due to genre cinema’s specific limitations, shorts are both useful as a way to make a name for oneself and as a storytelling medium. As such, it’s important to look at what is happening in that world. Let’s take a look at the good, the…
Enhanced (DIR. James Mark) The idea of a low budget superhero film is an undeniably commendable one. Superheroes are incredibly generic, and there is nothing that necessitates the bloated budgets that they tend to cost, so the idea of telling those stories with less waste should be celebrated. Unfortunately, the films that come out of this practice tend to be underwhelming. Case in point: James Mark’s Enhanced.
8 (DIR. Harold Holscher) Horror can be found just about anywhere, however not all horror is equal. This is why films that incorporate real-life horrors must be particularly aware of how they incorporate the various elements. Former TAD presentation Under the Shadow is a great example of how to do this correctly. But, this is why Harold Holscher’s 8 is so conflicting. It doesn’t really have much to say about its source events, creating a final product…
Midsommar, the sophomore feature from Ari Aster (Hereditary), is a head-trip on multiple levels and a full flex of what cinema is capable of.
When Robert Eggers appeared on the cinematic scene with The Witch at 2015’s Sundance Film Festival, he exposed untold new ways to tell horror stories. So, what can someone who has already reinvented a genre do to follow up such a work? Eggers decided to use a similar formula—mainly the research of authentic historical documents that went into the screenplay’s creation of horror—to tell a brand-new story. The results are great.
The Furies (DIR. Tony D’Aquino) So, there are these seven women and seven monsters. The women are tasked with staying alive, while the monsters attempt to kill them. This plot could either be attached to a self-aware bit of amazing cinematic trash, or it could take itself too seriously and fail. Tony D’Aquino’s The Furies falls firmly into the latter category.
Ghosts are just ordinary people who have died. Surely, that means they are all around us, right? Extra Ordinary starts with this quirky concept and adds satanism, post-domestic abuse, and driving school experience to turn the weirdness up to eleven. The film’s weirdness isn’t its only trick, however, because Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman’s film is roaringly funny despite that.
James vs. His Future Self (DIR. Jeremy LaLonde) Jeremy LaLonde’s recent movies have truly owned their genre in a unique way. The Go-Getters was a gleefully foul play on the traditional buddy formula, and How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town was a charming sex comedy. With James vs. His Future Self, LaLonde takes a swing at crossing science fiction with a romance – it’s a sweet success.
The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale (DIR. Lee Min-jae) The zombie genre has always managed to survive because zombies, as a monster, are wholly dependent on the zeitgeist of the time. Since they are brainless creatures, their existence can generally be justified by the anxieties of the time (military industrial complex, consumerism, conformity, racism, etc.). While that is an advantage to sub-genre, most zombie films follow the same template. The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale is no…
The intersection of comedy and thriller do not often mix well, especially in survivalist narratives. But Harpoon, even with its familiar survivalist tropes on display, evenly balances the two in an intense, frequently unpleasant, but endlessly watchable nightmare-at-sea.