Thursday, 27 October 2011

Toronto After Dark Film Festival Day 7 - Wednesday October 26, 2011


We are nearing close to the end of the festival and I'm starting to get sad as there are just a few films left to enjoy. I'm also really feeling the tiredness kicking in, even with only chilling at the pub on one of the nights so far - which was tons of fun and I always want to go but I need that much needed sleep and writing time. I did make it to the pub on Day 6 so at least I got out for one night! Perhaps, that is what made me so tired for Day 7. Amazing how there might be a connection there... anyhow, Day 7 was a big indie spirit day with the Canadian cabin the woods (and in winter to boot!) science fiction-esqure thriller The Corridor followed by the World Premiere of VS where superheroes are put to the ultimate test. Both films left me thinking a lot about choices and friendships, as well as the powerful choice of to letting the audience get to decide how they want to fill in some of the blanks. Pretty engaging stuff going on!

Rather watch than read? Check out my Day 7 Vlog!

Animal Control
Dir: Kire Paputts
Canada, 17 minutes

Animal Control follows a man working at an animal shelter, who oddly doesn't have any connection to animals. Well, at least not a connection to *living* animals. I loved the emotional journey in the film which has a beautiful story to it that touches on loneliness, connection and loss in a gently paced way that builds up and creeps in slowly but surely to your heart. It might be a little gruesome for some viewers, but I was very thankful to see the 'No Animals We Harmed' notation in the credits. It was also a joy to see Julian Richings, whom many fans of genre and/or Canadian films will recognize from various films & shows from Hard Core Logo to The Last Casino to 'Supernatural'.


The Corridor
Dir: Evan Kelly
Cast: Stephen Chambers, Matthew Amyotte, Nigel Bennett, David Patrick Flemming, James Gilbert, Glen Matthews, Mary-Colin Chisholm

Set in the dead of winter in a cabin in the woods, The Corridor lends itself well to the themes of isolation, mental stability and the oddities that can occur if things are left to their own devices. Given those themes you add to the mix a slightly resistant reunion of high school buddies who are now well into their adult lives and most are in various stages of non-fulfillment and when together again make for assortment of reactions for nostalgia to old habits to creating & maintaining the bonds of friendship. Hearing that, it's probably a surprize to know it's a subtle science fiction thriller that blurs so very interesting lines on power, friendship as well as different reactionary takes on what people would do if they encountered something unexplainable and pretty freaking scary. I was really impressed by the effects in The Corridor, often in lower-budget science fiction films the can look not so great and throw you out of the film but here we visuals that genuinely reflect the oddness of the phenomena and also a great pairing with the sound to create a very believable spectacle. I also really enjoyed the powerful performance of Stephen Chambers whose character goes through one well of an emotional ordeal. The Corridor really made me think about interesting concepts and ideas that kept my mind very engaged during, as well as after seeing it.

See more at The Corridor's Official Film Site, Trailer & IMDb Page

The Corridor lead actor Stephen Chambers, writer Josh MacDonald and director Evan Kelly

The Corridor producer Craig Cameron, lead actor Stephen Chambers, writer Josh MacDonald and director Evan Kelly

How to Rid Your Lover of a Negative Emotion Caused By You
Dir: Nadia Litz
Canada, 16 minutes

I love to see when a short can cross different boundaries, and How to Rid Your Lover of a Negative Emotion Caused By You does just that because it's a dark comedic look at relationships, specifically the problem with problem solving and trying to solve everything yourself. I takes an interesting look at fixing things, and pushes it to the max which plays so very well with the great performances of the actors who play the couple in the film. It holds a very light tone in contrast to the dark concept but the actors really pull it off, and it played really well to the crowd. Fun times.


VS **World Premiere**
Writer/Dir: Jason Trost
Cast: Jason Trost, Lucas Till, James Remar, Sophie Merkley, Sean Whalen, Lee Valmassy

We've seen a huge up rise in superhero films in the past few years from the re-envisioning of classic superheroes, to grittier take of regular folk being superheroes to actual documentary on real life superheroes and just when I though we could run out of energy on the genre, here comes VS smashing up expectations left, right and centre kicking us back into place with an old skool take of with over the top villains and high stakes scenarios. With the set up of superheroes vs. evil villain in a race against time with hapless, rigged-to-explosive victims it's easy to try and cram the film into a Saw shaped box painted with Joker colours, but VS is so much more. The film really looks at both the power of choice and the role that we play in our lives, and also looks at even if we have a choice about that role. Do we work with it, or against it? What happens if more than 1 person wants the same role? And, is it even possible to be anyone but who you really are and even if you stay true, can that still create inner conflict? I really appreciated the fresh take on a classic superhero story full with moral dilemmas, rivals & friendships plus battles of brains & brawn. I also really enjoyed the performances of the cast especially lead actor/director/writer Jason Trost as the quietly-heroic & reluctant leader as well as from Lucas Till (X-Men: First Class) who continues to shine in everything he is in and I anticipate seeing many more great performances from him in the future. VS is the only film this year in the festival where I really had to sit and think on it as opposed to having an initial gut reaction of YAY! or BOO!, I wasn't confused about what happened in the film but I was continuing to sort out my reaction to the film because although the genre is familiar, it’s doing something different. Huge kudos to the filmmaker for taking a bold and brave move in a genre that has exploded but often offered us the same dark and dismal look at the world. Who knew this indie gem out would re-light the fire of tried and true heroes. I didn’t, but I’m happy it did. I highly recommend kicking back old school checking out VS.

See more at the VS's Facebook Page and IMDb Page

VS World Premiere with director/writer/lead actor Jason Trost and Toronto After Dark Film Festival Founder and Director Adam Lopez

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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