The turnout for the earlier screenings on Day 4 of Toronto After Dark was quite impressive. Today’s line-up is packed with more low-key, potential hidden gems that include Anamnesis, Some Guy Who Kills People, The Theatre Bizarre and much, much more.
Read on for the fourth day at the illustrious Toronto After Dark Film Festival. ANAMNESIS
This 8-minute supernatural/horror short about a women being tormented by her own spirit, does creepy effectively enough. There’s some neat camera tricks considering it was made for a 48-hour film challenge.
SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE
Who would have ever thought the director of Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus could make one of the most endearing dark comedies I’ve ever seen?! Well, Jack Perez has done just that with Some Guy Who Kills People. Fresh out of a mental hospital, the depressed and lonely, Ken Boyd is trying to get through life…by avoiding contact as humanly possible. All of that changes when he’s introduced to his pre-teen daughter and meets a woman who’s attracted to him. Oh…plus, the bullies who tormented him back in high school are suddenly getting dispatched in very violent ways.
Some Guy Who Kills People contains a perfect blend of sharp wit and huge heart without ever feeling forced. Perez handles the film’s many layers with the outmost care and intelligence. Not only does the humor and dramatic elements work, so do the stylishly-executed splatter moments. It helps he’s backed by such an exceptional cast. Playing against type, Barry Bostiwick (The Sheriff) and Karen Black (Ken’s mom) deliver hysterical, not to mention inspired performances. They’ve never been better. As great as everyone is, the soul of this picture is undoubtedly Kevin Corrigan’s committed beautifully understated performance. After a second view, I’m still discovering more and more nuances and layers he’s injected into this character. He shifts through the darker and lighter characteristics of Ken Boyd with such ease. Featured in countless supporting roles, it’s gratifying to witness Corrigan in the starring role. Some Guy Who Kills People is an absolute treasure.
THE WEIGHT OF EMPTINESS
This 13-minute short dealing with a mother not being able to let go of her “gifted” child, creates a lovely, otherworldly atmosphere.
Love is a gorgeously-photographed sci-fi film in the tradition of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Fountain. On a basic level, the film is about an astronaut stranded alone on a space station. On a deeper level, Love deals with the importance of human connection. The themes on display are definitely relevant to our day and age considering how reliant we’ve become on technology as the main source of communication with other people. While the majority of the film deals with the astronaut’s slip into madness, there are alternate stories, one set all the way back to the Civil War era.
Whether it is the production value or storytelling, Love is nothing short of ambitious. I’m still at a loss for words when it was announced in the Q & A that the ISS set was made from scratch on director, William Eubank’s backyard. While I didn’t fully connect to the material as a whole (at least upon a first view), there is so much to admire here. There’s a lot of stunning imagery to take in especially the Phantom camera footage. The score by Angels & Airwaves only helps to heighten the film’s ethereal quality. What Eubank has created with only half a million, is nothing short of staggering. Love is an experience tailor-made for the big screen or at the very least, Blu-Ray. If you’re up for something new, don’t miss it.
This horror/comedy/musical about the hunt of a slasher (with an actual puzzle for a mask), is hands down; the absolute worst thing I’ve seen this year. All 14 excruciating minutes of this disjointed, painfully unfunny, self-satisfied short is obnoxious to the extreme. Poor Ken Russell (director of Altered States) and Rue Morgue magazine founder, Rod Godino make unfortunate appearances here. Unwatchable.
THE THEATRE BIZARRE
I’m equally excited and nervous when it comes to horror anthologies. While there have been some brilliant features such as; Creepshow, Trick R’ Treat and Black Sabbath, there are a hell of a lot more mediocre ones. While the latest offering, The Theatre Bizarre isn’t the worst, it’s yet another mixed bag affair. The overall art-house vibe makes this film stand apart from most anthologies.
The “good” ones: The closest thing to a traditional instalment is Richard Stanley’s (Hardware) long overdue return, The Mother Of Toads. This stylish EC meets Argento short is packed with surreal, creepy imagery. My only beef against it; it feels like a compressed feature.
Buddy Giovinazzo’s (Combat Shock) I Love You is a savage, nihilistic commentary on obsession. It reminds me of the confession scene in Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, only far more subversive. It’s the one that’ll most likely divide people the most.
Hands down, the best of the anthology is Douglas Buck’s (Cutting Moments) beautifully poetic, The Accident. It’s a powerful, existential look at a child learning about death. The Accident sticks out like a sour thumb considering it doesn’t carry any traditional horror elements. Film would have been better served on its own.
The bookend of this collection titled; Theatre Guignol by Jeremy Kasten (The Wizard Of Gore remake) is perfectly decent. Udo Kier is fun, per usual.
The “not so good” ones: Karim Hussein’s (Subconscious Cruelty) Vision Stain contains an intriguing concept; a “method” writer who extracts homeless peoples’ memories through their eyes and injects it into her own. It’s certainly thought-provoking but ultimately hurt by its ridiculous reliance on narration to explain every friggin’ thing we’re watching unfold onto the screen. Epic fail.
Sweets by David Gregory (Plague Town) starts off as a humorous look at the life-sucking control that can happen in a relationship but by the end, I was turned off by its cheesy, over-the-top tone. Not to mention; it’s pretty disgusting and not in a good way.
The “downright awful” one: Tom Savini’s (Night Of The Living Dead remake) Wet Dream is a flat-out embarrassment. The direction and acting is downright ugly. It attempts to be this darkly funny S&M tale but completely misses the mark.
THE ADDER’S BITE
This 10 minute short dealing with a creatures’ bizarre ritual is all about creepy atmosphere…and it does it to good effect.
Just when you thought everything has been said and done with the vampire subgenre, enters Midnight Son. It’s got a vibe reminiscent of Martin, Let The Right One In and Abel Ferrara’s criminally underappreciated, The Addiction. At the same time, it consistently takes us into some dark, uncharted territories, not to mention, intensely more intimate. The film follows Jacob, a young man coming to grips with the fact he is very different from everyone else.
The level of raw intimacy created by writer/director, Scott Leberecht in his feature-length debut, is incredibly unnerving. The characters, exceptionally well-acted, are complex and completely believable. Even while they descend into some very dark places physically and mentally, you are always feeling for them. The relationship between the two leads unravels beautifully. The lower budget and slow-burn pace only helps to draw us that much deeper into its gritty world. This film had me from the start, right up to its haunting final moments. Midnight Son is the most powerful and daring vision of vampires to date. It’s certainly one of the finest too.