The seventh annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival began this week, bringing a lineup chock full of horror delights just in time for Halloween season. TAD might be one of the smaller genre festivals around, but its importance is undeniable in indie genre cinema.
Showing 20 films over the course of a week, the hometown Toronto crowd is treated to some of the year’s most anticipated horror films. My coverage below consists of mini-reviews for what I’ve seen thus far.
Inbred, directed by Alex Chandon, is a British splatstick comedy that explores deranged country hillbillies and all their violent tendencies. The film follows a group of troubled youth and their caretakers who venture into a town full of inbred hicks for a bonding weekend. Unfortunately, the hicks don’t take too kindly to new folk. The film is loaded with crude humor, fecal matter, gore, and snaggletoothed grins.
While there’s much potential behind the idea of troubled city kids fighting off a group of inbred country locals, it’s all lost in a lack of effort to offer any sort of characterization. Instead what you get is a frustrating plot packed with obscenely gory kills. Inbred delivers on the laugh factor, but the city kids react so nonsensically in almost every situation they’re faced with. SPOILER One of the kids is a self-proclaimed professional arsonist, but when it comes time for him to shine, he doesn’t notice that the liquor he’s about to set fire to is actually water. One would think a troubled British city kid who was sent to juvy for burning down his school would know the taste of alcohol.
Inbred has its charms, particularly the quirky the horror pastiche on racism and minstrel shows. The kills are fun, and the inbred copy of Leatherface makes this film worth a watch alone. But it’s void of any emotion and plot, making Inbred ultimately pointless.
Crave is a thriller comedy mashup up flick that manages to play on every genre you could imagine, yet it’s like nothing I’ve seen before. Aiden, a crime scene photojournalist, is overtaken by delusions of grandeur as he attempts to cope with his growing hatred for humanity. Sick of being a gutless loser, Aiden takes it upon himself to make the world, or his world, a better place. This comes in the form of a gun, a detective (Ron Perlman), and a new girlfriend who is way out of his league. Charles de Lauzirika delivers an exceptional flick with the help of lead actor Josh Lawson who combines the tragedy of Travis Bickle with the antics of Larry David.
While Crave starts off rather slowly, de Lauzirikia shows poise by not rushing into heavy action. Aiden’s character is constructed, making his mental deterioration all the more amusing. Aiden is an awkward, disturbed, single 35-year-old dude who doesn’t notice his own cries for help. Crave has many aspects of a twisted romantic comedy that some may find a bit too sugary, but the breaking of the 4th wall and Aiden’s violent daydreams create an enjoyable absurdity.
I’m shocked this flick isn’t making more of a splash on the indie scene. It’s simply a great film with captivating on-screen performances from Josh Lawson and Ron Perlman. The cinematography is gorgeous, helping to make Aiden’s sad situation feel all the more whimsical. Unlike many films that deal with a delusional protagonist that end in tragedy, Crave manages to leave you feeling oddly uplifted.