Toronto After Dark Film Festival Event Report: Day 6

Tonight’s screening of The Divide is a sell-out. Audiences were treated to the appearances of such genre favorites, Michael Biehn (Terminator & Aliens) and Milo Ventimiglia (“Heroes”). So far, this was the most enthusiastic crowd response at this year’s Toronto After Dark.

BLIND SPOT

A single take 6-minute short about a guy so caught up with settling an issue with a travel agent, he doesn’t realize some serious shit is going down all around him. While the film lacks a punchy ending, the visual effects are pretty impressive.

3.5/5 Skulls

THE DIVIDE

As of late, audiences have been treated to a seemingly never-ending stream of post-apocalyptic titles such as, I Am Legend, The Road and The Book Of Eli, to name a few. The Divide is yet another entry. I came into this film with minimal expectations. The opening moments of mass destruction soon changed all that. Director, Xavier Gens (Frontier(s) & Hitman) brings us a vision that’s both equally beautiful and horrifying. After enduring a nuclear attack, the barricaded survivors face a more dangerous threat…one another. This is when The Divide begins to set itself apart from the rest of the lot. As their rations continue to get sparser so does their humanity. The depth of unflinching depravity these characters sink into is difficult to witness. Gens masterfully presents a bleak and keenly observant look at mankind’s destructive, animalistic potential once order is removed out of the equation. Gens and his committed ensemble boldly take the film and its characters into some of the darkest, most unsettlingly places ever put to film. Thankfully, elements of the story and characters stay ambiguous. There are sprinkles of info throughout via the writing and subtleties in the acting that adds yet another layer to the film. After two views of this film, I’m still discovering new things about these wonderfully complex characters. The fearless cast is nothing short of astonishing. There is no vanity on display here. Michael Biehn has never been better. Milo Ventimiglia, in particular, delivers a game-changing performance that’ll certainly change people’s perception of him forever. The acting in The Divide is as good as it gets.

This is certainly not an easy film to sit through. It gets more claustrophobic by the minute. The Divide manages to make The Mist look positively upbeat in comparison. Despite all that, The Divide is powerful, undeniably alive experience that’ll take your breath away. It’s a masterpiece I won’t soon forget…even if I wanted to. Easily, one of the best films of 2011.

5/5 Skulls

ETHEREAL CHRYSALIS

An extremely surreal 10-minute short about…beats the hell out of me. The fantastical images, effects-work and epic score is what it’s all about.

3/5 Skulls

MANBORG

Astron-6′s second film at this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival (first one being Father’s Day) is an ode to bad 80′s sci-fi/action pictures. The plot dealing with a dead soldier turned cybernetic killing machine reads like every other movie I was renting at my local mom and pop video store. It’s loaded to the brim with low-fi but extremely dense visual effects. The cinematography has the stench of an abused VHS copy. Oh yes, Manborg is completely ridiculous…and I devoured every minute of it.

It’s one fast, violent, ultra-funny ride that revels in its own cheesiness. Like their body of work, Astron-6 doesn’t just nod to its influences; they take it one step further by injecting their own brand of goofy charm. The imagination on display is truly inspiring. If you’re feeling Z-grade movie neglect, Manborg will definitely fill that void…and then some.

4/5 Skulls

 
Source: Toronto After Dark