This will be my fourth year attending Toronto After Dark Film Festival. TADFF is where I broke my proverbial festival cherry and it holds a really special place in my heart. The organizers are an amazing bunch of guys and gals who put on a top notch party, TADFF is the birth place for Row Three, all the coolest movie bloggers and fans in Toronto seem to congregate over the many pints and as an extra bonus the festival provides the audience with the chance to see some of the best new genre films. I do not expect this year to be any different and can’t wait for the festival to start on October 18th.
This year’s fest consists of 20 feature films and 29 short films. Here is the quick list of the feature films American Mary, Cockneys vs Zombies, My Amityville Horror, Crave, Inbred, Grave Encounters 2, Citadel, Game of Werewolves, In Their Skin, Resolution, After, Rec 3: Genesis, Grabbers, A Fantastic Fear of Everything, Dead Sushi, Lloyd the Conqueror, Doomsday Book, Sushi Girl, Wrong, and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. And here is the list of short films Adjust Tracking, Alchemy And Other Imperfections, Annie And The Dog, Bio-Cop, Birthday Pictures, Bydlo, The Captured Bird, Children Of The Dark, Do Not Erase, Eviction, Frost, Game, Garlic Bread Man Vs. Superbo Lasagna Man, Malody, The Myth Of Robo Wonder Kid, Not Till We’re Married, A Pretty Funny Story, Sandwich Crazy, Trudy, We Ate The Children Last, Bobby Yeah, Caterwaul, Decapoda Shock, Dialogue, Family Nightmare, Henri, Numbers, Odokuro, and Vicki.
A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING (UK)
TADFF Synopsis: A dark and quirky comedy about a very nervous writer played by fan favourite Simon Pegg (SHUAN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ, STAR TREK, SPACED) struggling with a slew of mental demons while working on a new novel about Victorian serial killers.
My Thoughts: I love dark British humour. I am hoping for a somewhat cynical bitter movie that makes me feel really bad for loving it.
AFTER (USA) Canadian Premiere!
TADFF Synopsis: In this fascinating dark fantasy with shades of SILENT HILL and THE MIST, two bus crash survivors awake to find themselves the only people left in a deserted small town. Even worse, they only have a limited number of days left to solve the mystery of their predicament, as a dark black cloud is advancing from all sides, and within its mist are some hostile creatures!
My Thoughts: I loved The Mist except for the ending which I hated. While Silent Hill is not the best movie it is pretty creepy and good at invoking a disturbing atmosphere. If we can get a movie that combines well in to a dark fantasy it should be something that I love. Hopefully it all plays out well.
AMERICAN MARY (Canada) Canadian Premiere!
TADFF Synopsis: In this new festival circuit sensation from Jen and Sylva Soska aka The Twisted Twins, a disillusioned medical student (GINGER SNAPS star Katherine Isabelle in a standout performance) decides to ply her trade in the shady underworld of unregulated surgeries and body modification with horrifying
My Thoughts: Just over a year ago I had the pleasure of being called a lot of nasty names (ie a Misogynist) when Dark Bridges screened The Twisted Twins first movie Dead Hooker in a Trunk. I stand by my choice to screen their first movie as I believed at the time that the Soska sisters were going to have a long career as movie makers. Now is the time to see if I was correct. Everything I have heard about American Mary have so far convinced me that I was not far off with my prediction. I am hoping for a more mature well developed story that is still a lot of fun. I’m also hoping that the twins can make it out to TADFF as I’m sure a Q&A with them would be really interesting.
TADFF Synopsis: Following an unprovoked attack by a mysterious group of hooded thugs, a young father finds himself paralyzed by fear and unable to leave his home. To compound his nightmare, the local priest warns him that the hoodies will be back one day to claim the child. A terrifying film, dripping in palpable fear, CITADEL was a deserved winner of the Midnighters Audience Award at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.
COCKNEYS vs ZOMBIES (UK) Canadian Premiere!
TADFF Synopsis: When a bunch of East End bank robbers find themselves caught in the middle an outbreak of the undead on the streets of London, it’s every gangster for himself. One part SHAUN OF THE DEAD, one part SNATCH, and loaded with outrageous zombie kills, the latest hit zombie comedy from Britain is a shotgun blast of fun from start to finish!
My Thoughts: Cockney’s vs Zombies could either be really fun or it could totally be just another zombie movie that is relying on the audience being full of zombie lovers. I have a bad feeling it might be the latter but hopefully I am wrong.
TADFF Synopsis: With echoes of TAXI DRIVER and FIGHT CLUB, this award-winning directorial debut film from BLADE RUNNER Special Edition producer Charles de Lauzirika sees a mentally unstable crime scene photographer spiraling into darkness, madness and violent vigilantism on the gritty streets of Detroit. Also features a fantastic supporting turn from Ron Perlman (HELLBOY) as a grizzled cop whose seen more than one murder too many.
My Thoughts: I somehow missed hearing anything about this one. The concept sounds pretty interesting and it has Ron Perlman in so count me there. My biggest worry is that this is just a Dexter rip off.
DEAD SUSHI (Japan)
TADFF Synopsis: A vacation resort faces an attack of killer sushi in this outrageous horror comedy from the same deliciously deranged Japanese filmmakers who brought you MACHINE GIRL and TOKYO GORE POLICE!
My Thoughts: Of all the movies playing at TADFF this year this may very well be the only one that I decide to bail on. I am usually willing to give any movie the benefit of the doubt but after seeing the same joke played out over and over again in all the Japanese splatter gore sex comedy horrors these past few years I am pretty much done. Perhaps I am wrong but I am getting tired of waiting for the exception. If you are a fan of this style of movie I’m sure enjoy it. I should say the one thing that might get me out is the introduction and Q&A session which could have something interesting happen if the fest gets Noboru out.
DOOMSDAY BOOK (Korea)
TADFF Synopsis: Winner of Fantasia Film Festival’s Best Film Award, this trio of apocalyptic tales features the rise of sentient robots, a zombie virus outbreak and an asteroid on a fatal collision course with earth. Co-directed by acclaimed Korean filmmaker Jee-woon Kim (I SAW THE DEVIL, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, A TALE OF TWO SISTERS)
My Thoughts: I was just thinking of how we haven’t seen enough really good Asian movies at TADFF. Perhaps I’m overplaying the whole Dead Sushi style movies but I really miss the days of Alone and Nightmare Detective. While this may not be a straight up horror flick I am really looking forward to this. Jee-woon Kim has three amazing films under his belt and I can’t wait for his part.
GAME OF WEREWOLVES (Spain)
TADFF Synopsis: When a struggling young writer returns to his remote village home after years away in the city, he’s shocked to discover it’s become cursed by werewolves and also that he might just be the only one who can stop them. Fantastic old school effects, great werewolf fight scenes and kills, and an endearing misfit hero makes multiple Audience Award winner GAME OF WEREWOLVES an absolute delight for fans at every festival it plays!
My Thoughts: The reviews have told me that this is good. I wanted it for Dark Bridges but was not able to get it in time for the last festival. My fear which I don’t believe to be the case is that it is just a genre flick that relies on fan love to be accepted. I don’t believe this is the case and I’m really looking forward to finally getting a chance to see it.
TADFF Synopsis: In this Sundance audience crowd-pleaser in the mould of TREMORS, when a small Irish town is invaded by bloodsucking tentacled aliens, the locals discover that getting drunk may be their only way to survive as it gives them some resistance to the creatures!
My Thoughts: Please be smart and funny… please…
GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2 (Canada/USA) Canadian Premiere!
TADFF Synopsis: Chilling found footage of a TV crew being haunted to their apparent deaths by supernatural forces inside an abandoned mental institute made the original GRAVE ENCOUNTERS a youtube sensation. In this even scarier follow-up, a young documentary filmmaker obsessed with finding out what really took place at the institute persuades a group of his friends to help him break into the building at night and record whatever they find.
My Thoughts: Found footage is either hit or miss for me. I really hope that I don’t hear about a whole bunch of people walking away with headaches after the camera shakes.
IN THEIR SKIN formerly known as REPLICAS (Canada)
TADFF Synopsis: In this intense, dark home invasion thriller that drew glowing reviews from the Tribeca Film Festival, a young husband and wife (HELLBOY’S Selma Blair in a standout performance) and their son find themselves in a fight for their lives with another similar aged family who have taken them captive at their vacation home.
My Thoughts: Tribeca has pretty good taste when it comes to horror. I’m hoping for a horror movie that is part psychological and part terror.
TADFF Synopsis: With nods to the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and DELIVERANCE, this over-the-top gory British horror film finds a group of inner-city kids and their counsellors on a field trip fall prey to a rural village’s inbreds and their uniquely violent form of hospitality. Warning: not for the weak of stomach!
My Thoughts: This is another movie that I had a lot of festival programmers tell me that I needed to see and screen at Dark Bridges. It hasn’t panned out yet but if it is as good and nasty as I believe it to be I’ll be looking at showing it once I do get the chance.
LLOYD THE CONQUEROR (Canada)
TADFF Synopsis: A crowd-pleasing fantasy comedy about three male college students who are roped into battle with Derek the Unholy, a dark wizard who is determined to hold onto his title as champion of the Larpers. Co-stars Mike Smith (aka “Bubbles” from PARK BOYS), Harland Williams (DUMB & DUMBER) and Brian Posehn (SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM).
My Thoughts: I’ve been Larping on and off for the past 7 years. I hope this is a loving funny look at it and not just a film to make fun of geeks. From what I have heard it is genuinely funny and comedic love letter to the hobby.
MY AMITYVILLE HORROR (USA)
TADFF Synopsis: In this genuinely chilling and disturbing new documentary, almost 40 years after the most infamous alleged haunting in American history, Daniel Lutz who was just a young boy at the time, finally breaks his silence and tells his side of the story of the supernatural events that took place in his family’s Amityville home.
My Thoughts: I’m not the biggest fan of documentaries but I’m definitely willing to give it a chance. My guess is that it will be an afternoon screening since it is a documentary.
REC 3: GENESIS (Spain) Canadian Premiere!
TADFF Synopsis: An official selection of the SXSW Film Festival, the latest instalment of the hit Spanish zombie movie series relocates the action to a lavish wedding where the guests – including the bride wielding a chainsaw – try to survive a terrifying outbreak of the undead!
My Thoughts: I have already seen this and I’d like to encourage you to see it also. The one thing I will tell you is to do not go in expecting something similar to the original two movies. Rec 3 plays much more like a standard zombie flick as opposed to a found footage video. It has enough blood and guts with some good laughs to make it a really fun straight up zombie genre flick.
TADFF Synopsis: Any attempt to describe this film would in too much detail would be to spoil it: Creepy photographs, bizarre found films, mysterious caves, possibly supernatural forces at work, and too many twists and turns to mention. If you like watching unique films unlike any you’ve seen before, then look no further than RESOLUTION, a one-of-a-kind horror movie that took the Tribeca Film Festival this year by storm. Just come see it and be equally blown away!
My Thoughts: I love genre flicks that try to challenge the audience and try to do more than just be about blood and gore. While I was programming Dark Bridges this spring I had several programmers from other festivals tell me that I need to look at this one. It unfortunately did not pan out for DBFF. This is one of movies I am looking forward to most.
SUSHI GIRL (USA)
TADFF Synopsis: A reunion dinner for a gang of vicious criminals reopens old wounds with deadly consequences. This stylish, ultraviolent crime film in the mould of Tarantino’s RESERVOIR DOGS features a genre cast to die for including Tony Todd (CANDYMAN), Michael Biehn (TERMINATOR), Danny Trejo (MACHETE), Sonny Chiba (KILL BILL) and Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill!
My Thoughts: I have heard enough about this one to know that I will likely dislike it a lot but what the heck, I used to love all the Tarantino rip off flicks no matter how bad they might be. Perhaps my low expectations will mean that I come away liking it.
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING (USA) Canadian Premiere!
TADFF Synopsis: Action legends Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme reunite in the latest bone-crunching chapter of the popular Universal Soldier sci-fi action movie series. Joining them is Scott Adkins (EXPENDABLES 2). This time to survive, the Unisols must battle anarchy amongst their order, weeding out the weak, and testing their strongest warriors in brutal, life-or-death combat!
My Thoughts: Normally, I would be shaking my head and saying why but I have heard through the grapevine that US: DoR almost made it into TIFF Midnight Madness and partial reviews that I have caught have piqued my interest. I am not expecting a deep story on this one but I do hope to see some good bloody action. I also do not plan on watching any of the previous direct to video sequels although I may just finally sit down with the very first Univeral Soldier on the flight out to Toronto.
TADFF Synopsis: A hit at Sundance, fans of David Lynch and the Coen Brothers will delight in this latest cinematic oddity from the deranged mind of Quentin Dupieux (RUBBER): an absurd crime thriller about a man and the very strange things that happen to him as he tries to track down his kidnapped dog.
My Thoughts: Due to my appreciation for Rubber, I have decided to go into Wrong completely blind. I know nothing about this one but I can’t wait to see it.