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Toronto After Dark Film Festival Event Report: Day 5

Promised chills, is the focus of tonight’s double bill. Hell, we even got official Toronto After Dark diapers with a ratings system attached to it. Both films are rated 5 out of 5 diapers!


Beautiful cinematography is the standout in this haunting 15-minute short about a woman coming to grips about having to face her ailing mother.

3.5/5 Skulls ABSENTIA

Absentia is being touted as one of the scariest things out there. It isn’t. The film does spooky effectively…it just won’t have you shaking in your boots. That’s not a knock against it in the slightest. Expectations should be kept in check. What Absentia can claim to offer is a far richer, more engaging experience than the majority we see coming out of the supernatural horror genre. It focus’ on a woman, her sister and a mysterious tunnel where people seem to be disappearing into…one of the missing just happens to be her husband.

The film has enough depth to appeal to even folks outside of the horror market which is a rare quality indeed. The story plays out realistically and the characters are some of the most appealing and beautifully developed I’ve ever witnessed in genre title. The two siblings’ relationship, exceptionally well-acted by unknowns, Katie Parker and Courtney Bell, contains all the ups and downs we see in everyday life. That level of believability makes Absentia stand out from among the crowd. As a result, the film is much more tension-filled. I’m appreciated and relived that writer/director, Mike Flanagan wisely leaves the supernatural element up to the viewer’s imagination. There are little hints in exposition, a quick, obscured flash of image here and there to help us devise our own mental image of whatever it may be. Way too many supernatural movies blow it in this department by revealing the entity/creature which almost always disappoints. Chock that as one of many pluses that make Absentia one of the most refreshing and emotionally-involving genre titles around.

4/5 Skulls


Not sure what this 7-minute absurdist short is all about. Who cares, it’s laugh-out-loud funny.

4/5 Skulls


A group of mountaineers stumble upon young Serbian girl buried in a small chamber in the middle of the woods. Of course, it isn’t too long before whoever left her there begin an unrelenting mission to get her back. A Lonely Place To Die is a gritty survivalist thriller that lands somewhere between The River Wild and Deliverance. Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as satisfying as either one of them. For the first hour, I was totally with it. The filmmakers wisely stick to keeping it as real as possible. The characters are nicely established and once the threat kicks in, there is some genuine tension. The antagonists are merciless. When people start to get disposed, they do so in brutal, unflinching fashion. Director, Julian Gilbey thankfully relies on good old-fashioned stunt work to realize those moments. The cast is game especially the always good, Melissa George who conveys a completely believable heroine. The character never becomes a superwoman by the end of it which is a relief.

While serviceable enough, I was underwhelmed by the climax. Once A Lonely Place To Die leaves the forest setting, it becomes another movie…a far lesser, more generic one. The film never quite took it to the next level which is disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, A Lonely Place To Die is a perfectly solid action picture and one I would still recommend. It just won’t have me return to it in the foreseeable future.

3/5 Skulls



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