One very cool thing about Toronto is its numerous film festivals. And for those of us who enjoy horror films, especially independent ones, the Toronto After Dark (TAD) film festival is an amazing opportunity to enjoy plenty of those. I can't remember how it was last year, but this year's festival included a broad range of films and that made it super interesting. In fact, whereas we had been watching between 2 and 4 films at other editions of TAD, this year we saw a total of SEVEN!
The first night (well, it was the festival's third night, but it was OUR first) we saw a series of shorts: Baby I love you; My father is a bird (from Israel); Invocation; Don't move; Sequence; North Bay; Rope a Dope; C; Kick-Heart. Some were OK, some not even that, but on the other hand I really liked Don't move (about a group of young people who seem to have conjured a demon that eviscerates any of them who move), Sequence (where everybody in the world has the same disturbing nightmare about an unsuspecting person) and Kick-Heart (which seemed slightly out of place, with a very manga-ish look and even slightly erotic touch, plus tons of craziness).
Afterwards, as part of Zombie Appreciation Night. We watched The Battery. Have you watched the TV series Walking Dead? I'd say this film had a certain influence from it. Similar sense of desolation, isolation, impending danger, the living others being as dangerous as the undead others... Thumbs up.
Our second night (the festival's 6th) was Sci-Fi Night, and we saw Last Days on Mars. Actually, this could have easily been part of zombie night! Nice twist, hey? A zombie film, set on Mars! So you add to the terror of transformed dead people the terror of the hostile environment of Mars. It was really good, and it's nice to see that the zombie genre has matured to a point where people can start exploring other variations on it, and even with quality. Good!
That would have been our only film, but it's presenter talked really well about the next one, and did remark that the trailer for next film was not a trailer, but just a bit of the film. I actually had chosen not to watch the film because the "trailer" had seemed rather meh, but the presenter was so passionate about it that after Last Days on Mars ended I rushed out, bought tickets, and lined up again for The Machine!
And watching The Machine was a great choice. Blade-Runner-esque. Well done. And who doesn't like Sci-Fi where a new race of cyborgs takes over? If you can, look for it. It's worth it!
Our third night (the festival's eighth) was Gory Night. Well, if I had forgotten what gore was all about, Evil Feed took good care in refreshing my memory. It's not a good film per se (it's hard to concentrate on good acting and story when your main attraction are effects, action and gore), but it was a crazy one to watch anyhow: martial artists are kidnapped to fight to the death and be served as food in a special restaurant. Comedy, body parts, sex, action, mutilation. What a combination!
Our fifth night (the festival's ninth and closing) was, well, disturbing. Wow. First, we watched Cheap Thrills. What happens when a wealthy couple decides, for the fun of it, to pick up two losers at a drinking hole and offer them ever more money for doing ever crazier stuff? You get a very unsettling, very violent, very shocking film. Ugh.
Fortunately, after Cheap Thrills we say Big Bad Wolves (מי מפחד מהזאב הרע), from Israel. It was obvious why it was chosen to close the festival. The music was beautiful and perfect, played by an orchestra. It was a visually very beautiful film. Extremely well done. It was horrifying, with wall doses of comedy. Somewhat Hitchcockian. And about seeking revenge and answers from a murderer... or was he indeed the murderer? Gripping, to the very end. Wow, what a way to end the night!