Friday, November 04, 2011

Toronto After Dark Film Festival reviews, part 3

Wednesday, October 26
The Corridor
This film focused on a fellow who'd had a psychotic break after his mother died and who got together with his friends at his mother's cabin in the woods to say goodbye to her and to reconnect with his friends. Things go awry when his friends go as crazy as he did after they discovers this other-worldly corridor. To be honest, the portrayals of mental illness throughout were so well done that they hit a little too close to home for me and I ended up a little uncomfortable watching parts of this film.

One thing I loved about the film is that the purpose and presence of other-worldly corridor and everything connected to it was deliberately left vague. Was that corridor really there? That's up to the viewer. This film was very well-acted and the story and music were quite compelling.

The director was there for a bit of Q&A afterwards and apparently this film was difficult to shoot because they decided to shoot live in the middle of winter in the Nova Scotia. It hadn't occurred to him at the time that once someone walks through the snow, there's no resetting the snow for another take so a lot of the scenes had to be shot in just one take. I thought the film was good before this knowledge, and now I think it's even better.

There is some gore in the film although most of the time the viewer just sees the aftermath of violence and gore. This is a thought-provoking film that I really enjoyed it and I highly recommend it to you.

This film had a fantastic premise: take four super-heroes, deprive them of their super-powers, and set up challenges where they have to choose whether to save themselves or innocent people. Think about that for a second - it sounds really interesting, doesn't it?

Sadly, this was one film that definitely did not live up to its hype or its promise. during the Q&A afterwards, the reason this film was so bad became quite clear. The director was also the writer and all the actors were given their lines along with exactly how to say them. Had someone helped the director/writer by reviewing the lines, they wouldn't have sounded so wooden. Unfortunately, actors can't do much with wooden lines except deliver them woodenly.

This film could have been really good and it turned out to be really bad. Don't waste your time finding or watching this one.

Thursday, October 27
The Woman
I was interested in seeing this film because I'd read the book. I remember thinking that the book felt a little superficial and that it would make a better movie than it would a book. It turns out that I was right: it made a better movie than it did a book. The movie didn't go quite as far in scenes involving sex as did the book but otherwise it stayed completely true to the book. The story is about a cannibal woman who is found by a guy who wants his family to help tame her.

In some ways I felt that maybe it was a little too close to the book because the film held no surprises for me. I wasn't shocked by anything that happened - and believe me, some of what's in that book/film is shocking - and I found that a little disappointing. This film is unsettling in many ways, and not just because it involves cannibals.

With one exception, the acting in the film was really good. That exception was a supporting character and because her acting was so bad she was a distraction. Everything else about the film, from the story to the music to the acting to the editing was very well-done. If you didn't know what was going to happen in advance and you love gory movies, this is a film for you.

The Innkeepers
This, the closing film of the festival, was billed as a super-scary supernatural horror film with non-stop action in its second half. I was really tired by the time this film was shown and I thought about skipping it but decided to see it because it was the last film. I should have skipped it and gone to bed early as it just wasn't that good.

If I wasn't expecting non-stop action in the second half I might have enjoyed this film more than I did. In this film, two amateur paranormal hunter friends are trying to find evidence of ghosts in the hotel at which they work which also happens to be closing the next week. The friends have fun exploring the hotel until the one sees a ghost. Then the chase is on! There was an interesting twist at the end and this was also one of those films that could be interpreted in different ways, which I enjoyed.

Interestingly, during the Q&A the director said that he and his crew stayed at this particular hotel, which really does exist, while filming this and a previous film. He got the idea for this film because weird things kept happening at the hotel - doors opened and closed, there were weird thumping sounds, and other things like that.

The acting was believable, the story was good, and the music and editing were good. If you're not expecting a super-exciting second half like I was, this would be an enjoyable film and one I'd recommend.

Overall Experience
Each main film was also paired with a short film, which I haven't reviewed. The short films were almost all Canadian and almost every one was good. Overall, I enjoyed this film festival. Some of the films were great and others were not at all great but what made the festival especially interesting was that there were so many Q&A sessions with people involved with the films. These sessions gave each of the films more depth and made the films more interesting. I always love insight into the process behind which a film gets made.

I really enjoyed going to this film festival and I had a great time there. I will definitely consider going back to this festival next year. Now I know that if they're promoting something as a "world premiere", it's probably an indie film and probably isn't that great. However, there are enough other good films - including the aforementioned short films - to make it worth attending for at least another year.

It's possible - some might even say likely - that I'll "grow out" of this festival since I'm always looking for bigger, badder, and crazier films. Since my favourites from this festival were originally shown at bigger festivals in Montreal and LA, I can see myself wanting to go to one of those film festivals eventually.

1 comment:

Robin said...

Some of the movies sound great! I like horror as well so it'll be nice to have a new crop to watch :)