And you thought the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness line-up was good? Just wait until you see what’s playing as part of their Vanguard programme, which takes audiences on a sensory rollercoaster ride with boundary-pushing international works that are bold and bodacious. Curated by international programmer Colin Geddes, this lineup brings the best in genre and arthouse together for a cinematic odyssey that eludes conventional definition.
“From revenge and ruin to sex, drugs and taxation, this programme challenges audiences to go places that no audience has gone before,” said Geddes. “Where Midnight Madness opens up audiences to a world of fear and fantasy, Vanguard plunges them into a confrontational and unnerving one that sometimes comes a bit too close to reality for comfort.”
The Vanguard roster features a provocative partnership between Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) and Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever), the darkly comic and esoteric Jeremy Saulnier (Murder Party), the ironic social commentary of Alex van Warmerdam (The Last Days of Emma Blank, Ober), the daring French duo of Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani (Amer), and horror master Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension, Piranha 3D, The Hills Have Eyes).
Jeremy Saulnier, USA North American Premiere
A classic American revenge story, Blue Ruin follows a mysterious outsider whose quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Finding himself in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family, he proves to be an amateur assassin. Starring Macon Blair.
Alex van Warmerdam, The Netherlands/Belgium/Denmark North American Premiere
Borgman is the central character in Alex van Warmerdam’s dark, malevolent fable. Is he a dream or a demon, a twisted allegory or an all-too-real embodiment of our fears? Borgman is a sinister arrival in the sealed-off streets of modern suburbia. His presence unleashes a crowing gallery of distortion around the careful façade constructed by an arrogant, comfortable couple, their three children and nanny. Starring Jan Bijoet, Jeroen Perceval and Hadewych Minis.
Alexandre Aja, USA World Premiere
Horns, a supernatural thriller driven by dark comedy, mystery and romance follows Ignatius Perrish as he awakens after a hard night of drinking to find he has grown a pair of horns. In addition to his devilish appearance, the horns cause people to fall into a trance and voice their most unspeakable thoughts, an effective tool in Ig’s quest to discover the truth of his girlfriend’s murder. Starring Juno Temple and Daniel Radcliffe.
Zack Parker, USA World Premiere
While walking home from her latest OB appointment, a very pregnant Esther Woodhouse is brutally attacked and disfigured by a hooded assailant. This horrible event seems to be a blessing in disguise when Esther finds consolation in a support group. Her life of sadness and solitude is opened up to friendship, understanding, and even acceptance. However, friendship and understanding can be very dangerous things when accepted by the wrong people.
Ti West, USA North American Premiere
From acclaimed writer/director Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) and horror master Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever, The Last Exorcism), The Sacrament follows two Vice media correspondents as they set out to document their friend’s search to find his missing sister. They travel outside of the United States to an undisclosed location where they are welcomed into the world of “Eden Parish,” a self-sustained rural utopia comprised of nearly 200 members. At the centre of this small, religious, socialist community is a mysterious leader known only as “Father.” As their friend reunites with his sister, it becomes apparent to the newcomers that this paradise may not be as it seems. What started as just another documentary shoot soon becomes a race to escape with their lives. Starring Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Kentucker Audley, Amy Seimetz and Gene Jones.
Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, Belgium/France/Luxembourg North American Premiere
A woman vanishes. Her husband inquires into the strange circumstances of her disappearance. Did she leave him? Is she dead? As he continues his search, he plunges into a world of nightmare and violence… Starring Klaus Tange, Jean-Michel Vovk, Sylvia Camarda, Sam Louwyck and Anna D’Annunzio.