Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2011 Day 5: Monday October 24, 2011

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Day 5 held for a creepy night for film fans with the supernatural themed sister tale of Absentia (you can image that as I co-host a paranormal TV podcast with my own sister that this one holds a special place in my heart) and then we led straight into the chilling action/thriller A Lonely Place to Die which had me shivering in my seat from the mountaineering alone. I forgot I was afraid of heights, let along all the mayhem that followed. Both films were a little different than I expected with Absentia being creepy but not blood-curdlingly scary and A Lonely Place To Die truly being an action-thriller, when I thought it would be more survivalist. But, expectations ain't everything and I really enjoyed both films which made Day 5 turn into one heck of a solid night.

Rather watch than read? ? Check out my Day 5 Vlog! See also videos from festival Intros and Q&A's over at the Movie Moxie Facebook FanPage.

Nowhere Elsewhere
Dir: Annick Blanc
Canada, 15 minutes

I really enjoyed this short which has a strange and slightly off atmosphere, leaving the audience continually curious about what was real and what has not real, and if we - or anyone- was seeing what was happening. There was a really beautiful fluidity to the short that ebbed and flowed in a very stream of conscious way, unspinning a tale that was unnerving from beginning to end.

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Absentia (2011)
Writer/Dir: Mike Flanagan
Cast: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon
USA

Supernatural films are always on the top of my to see lists and Absentia is certainly the heaviest supernatural film of the festival so far, and it goes for drama as much as scares as it follows the story Tricia, whose husband disappeared 7 years ago and she is in the process of declaring him dead in absentia. To help her though the troubling time, her kid sister Callie shows up to help with the practical and emotional transition. I'm a big fan of supernatural films and I have 2 sisters and a brother myself so this one really hit home for me, the emotional journey reads strongly and it has an interesting over arching theme of questions how well people know each other even if they are apart - either by choice or by supernatural means. I thought it was scary both conceptually and experientially, but as it's more a drama there maybe aren't as many scares as I felt the audience was expecting. I certainly shrunk in my seat several times when the film was creeping me out and I also was extremely unnerved by the concepts it presented. The production values and acting are also very strong and cohesive for a smaller production, I really enjoyed all the performances from the main and supporting cast and was quite unnerved by the there/not-there creepy supernatural moments. It certainly adds to the ranks of the films from this year’s festival that I already can't wait to see again. Absentia has a great, original story with a nice blending of tension and drama. A fun film to get creeped out to.

See more at Absentia's Official Film Site, Trailer, IMDb Page

The Incident
Dir: Jules Saulnier
Canada, 7 minutes

Wow, this short really brought me back to my theatre days as it plays like a series of vignettes that are obtuse and bizarre yet somehow feel like yes...yes, they do or at least could mean something. I loved the bizarre play between directness and indirectness that always made it feel like what they were telling you mean everything, yet also ... possibly... nothing.

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A Lonely Place To Die
Dir: Julian Gilbey
Cast: Melissa George, Ed Speleers, Eamonn Walker, Sean Harris, Karel Roden
UK

A Lonely Place To Die was one of my most anticipated films of the festival, I watched mere seconds of the trailer ages ago and I knew I wanted to see this mountain thriller. I was surprize that it kept being referred to as an action film though, that totally wasn't the sense I got before seeing it but it certainly plays a strong part in the adrenaline-pumping, tension-filled thrill-ride that had me holding my breath and scared to look away for the majority of the film. It's amazing the sustained tension that is created throughout the film, it wasn't exactly what I was expecting but I didn't even have time to process that as you are pretty much strapped into a roller coaster ride where any turn could take you on a completely different course into the depths of the human psyche be it for good, or for bad. I loved the seeing the mountaineering and wide open spaces of great outdoors and I easily connected with the characters, feeling their fears, their strengths and their weaknesses which all play a part in both the fragility and strength of the human spirit and the drive to keep pushing forward even through the most challenging and frightening situations. I was also thrilled to see that creaked open the screen super wide as seeing it large and on the big screen is exactly the best way to experience A Lonely Place To Die. It's definitely in the running as one of the best of the fest.

See more at A Lonely Place To Die's Official Facebook Page, Trailer, IMDb Page

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A Lonely Place To Die's writer Will Gilbey with programmer Peter Kuplowsky

The 6th Annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs for 8 Nights of Horror, Sci-Fi, Action and Cult Movies at the Toronto Underground Cinema in Toronto, Ontario, Canada from October 20-27, 2011.

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