BITS 2019: Dark Visions Shorts Program

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The last shorts program to be presented at Blood in the Snow Festival 2019 is Dark Visions which features 10 Canadian short films which are dark, scary, moody and intense. 9 of which I was able to check out remotely.

BITS 2019 Dark Visions

Romi (2019)

Romi

Director: Robert Cuffley

Cast: Camille Sullivan

Romi is a 10 minute short about a woman who is terrorized by her virtual assistant Romi after it keeps refusing to let go of her past. This short is fantastically well-executed. In terms of building up the horror of technology and meshing somewhat with the paranormal to add it all together to make it a scary world when technology manages every aspect of everyday life that its malfunction or abnormality will cause uncontrollable consequences. Romi also shot really well with each frame capturing so much in it, giving it space to anticipate something that may or may not happen. This short is every bit scary the event of her past starts to reveal itself again as she tries to push it away and forget it.

The Thought of You (2019)

The Thought of You

Director (and writer): Elvis Deane

Cast: Avelyn Graye, Aundreya Thompson, Letréal Farquharson, Aziza Jaffer

A woman tries to move on from the events of a violent night, but finds that it’s not only trauma that comes clawing back. – IMDB

The Thought of You is almost completely filled in the beginning by a monologue that recaps the traumatic event that has happened and fills in the information with news headlines of what happened for a vague idea. On one hand, the distress of the woman is felt from the start but its easy to feel that the second half as the trauma comes back to haunt her that it makes it much more unsettling to watch. The tension built up in the second half of the short definitely seeps through effectively and the ending it chooses is also great for the situation, leaving a little space for imagination.

Abhorrent (2019)

Abhorrent

Director (and co-writer): David Scott

Cast: Stacey Iseman, Garth Wigle, Alex Friesen, Elliott Scott

Abhorrent is a 15 minute short film about a woman who learns about her husband’s sinister secret and decides to take action to prevent her sons from being badly influenced. Abhorrent is very odd. The way the characters talk are rather weird but then maybe its just the emphasis on the odd characters, making them feel more unsettling to watch. The story itself in the big reveal and all the secrets revealed in the 15 minutes are actually pretty decent. The story itself thought probably could have been done in less time. There’s definitely something more to the story and it leaves a little bit of questions at the end from the different elements of what has hinted at but never completely revealed until the end. The ending is more satisfying than the whole process of the short perhaps.

Polar Tour (2019)

Polar Tour

Director (and writer): Dustin McGladrey

Cast: Delphine Menu, Elizabeth Potskin, Matt Paynter, Crow Billy

Three university friends embark on an adventure they hope never to forget. They chose the Arctic to go polar bear sighting. On their first tour, the engine of the bus breaks down. Isolated, cold and in the dark; they wait for rescue. – IMDB

Polar Tour is a simple short film. Its one that shows three friends stuck in a van stalled in the Arctic. Its not exactly quite as refined and is definitely rather expected but somehow, the isolation and how it uses its territory and the dangers that come with it does work to a certain extent. It doesn’t pull anything out of the ordinary but I have seen a film that tries to use polar bears (even though unseen) as a danger horror element and not a lot of films will have friends heading down to the freezing Arctic instead of the beach or something. It definitely has its unique elements but maybe its just a tad short to have enough of the premise fleshed out to make it have more impact.

Pepper (2019)

Pepper

Director: Kate Felix

Cast: Stennie Bell, Jennifer Hardy, Mathew Chenuz

Pepper is a 7 minute short film about Fidelma who is desperately looking for a job and ends up finding one with Weylon’s farm as his assistant to help him out. When she gets sent to do her first task, it turns out that it might be more than she expected. Its an intriguing little short that plays a lot on the unknown. The mystery of finding Pepper is the main basis as she follows the barks throughout the barn and she gradually starts seeing different things that make her (and the viewers) wonder where it is and probably what twist there is (because it gets oddly suspicious).

Foret noire (2018)

foret noire

Director (and writer): Jean-Marc E. Roy & Philippe David Gagné

Cast: Pascale Montpetit, Charli Arcouette-Martineau, Joanie Guérin, Nadia Essadiqi, Fayolle Jean

Foret Noire is a 20 minutes short about the reenactment of a crime scene ordered by a judge in France to clear up inconsistencies in the murder case, bringing back the three women involved to relive the day step by step in detail. This short is definitely longer in length than most shorts produced and because of that it has a lot of depth to every element. The place that its filmed has this sense of isolation. At the same time, the characters themselves and the little details in their moments and reactions as well as what some of the outside characters observing the case and the Judge’s requests of the little details make the inconsistencies stand out and truly highlight what might actually have been the truth behind the situation or at least where the differences may have occurred without actually ever making it crystal clear on what the truth is. Leaving a little bit of mystery adds so much charm to the storytelling here.

Le otto dita della morte (2018)

le otto dita della morte

Director (and writer): Frédéric Chalté

Cast: Rose-Marie Perreault, Pierre Pinchiaroli

An homage to Italian giallo and an affectionate tribute to the genre in the form of a 70s theatrical trailer for a fantasized faux-film from that era with Italian voice-over pastiche. – IMDB

Structured like a music video of sorts and adding a lot of theatre and drama to each of the scenes adds a lot of style to this short film. Le otto dita della morte has a story that might not be wildly clear on what is going on exactly  but for its short length, it lands to a certain extent of what its trying to pay tribute to. While the music itself is not exactly and some of the style here isn’t exactly something that I particularly like, but the story has some nice elements to it.

She Must Vanish (2019)

she must vanish

Director (and writer): Kyle Martellacci

Cast: Anne-Carolyne Binette, Renny Jachowicz, Meri Spencer, Quinn Bennett, Valerie Taller

In a seaside town, residents succumb to the malevolence of a witch, who sets a fury in motion. – IMDB

Tales about witches are always fascinating to see where it can now take its stories and unique spins from the traditional knowledge of their existence. Meshing a bit of the old and new, this witch tale She Must Vanish has some subtleties as well as the first act that gives it a lot of style in how its all executed from its lighting to to the little details on the witch. However, a lot of the follow-up afterwards uses a simple town and normal everyday and meeting some incredibly cryptic woman along the way that ends up leading to a scene that becomes rather unsettling (and was meant to be) to a scene that felt rather set up but ends on quite a high note in how the witch is revealed. This short is somewhat of a wild ride.

Lady in the Shower (2018)

Lady in the Shower

Director (and writer): Chris Borgo

Cast: Laura Woodbeck, Jennifer Swistun, Chris Borgo

A woman with a shady secret is haunted by a mysterious entity, while taking a shower in a historic hotel. – IMDB

Lady in the Shower is one of the more predictable sort of horror shorts in this group. It has the normal tropes in horror films in general from shadows to what the woman’s secret is and the whole deal behind it even up to some of the ending little bit. At the same time, what does stand out in this short is how the cinematography really does help a more familiar sort of horror give it the style it needs to stand out and become visually appealing.

Short not reviewed from this shorts program:

Dreamcatcher (director: Michael Alexander Uccello)

My November Adventures!

November is here and gone! Compared to the crazy October, its much calmer, especially since this year I didn’t even think about NaNoWriMo at all. Its the first year in a long time that I haven’t done it (although last year I didn’t finish it). Either way, there are a few plans scheduled in and a remote coverage for a film festival and well, just preparing for December and other little tidbits.

Let’s check it out!

MTL a Table: Rose Ross

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Coregone, carrot mousseline, beluga lentilles, fennel and basil

First to kick off November is our first spot to check out for MTL a Table. This time was a more half the gang deal as it only appealed to ourselves and Phoebe and her family. Rose Ross is located in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and Rosemont in the Promenade Masson and serves French cuisine but with a lot of the local ingredients available to them. It also has some vegetarian options and even had lactose-free dessert which always wins my heart over. The menu also had an Aeroplan privilege exclusive which was fun. The full recap of the meal is HERE.

MTL a Table: La Classe

La Classe

The second restaurant that the group (except my husband who had to work) went to was La Classe, a restaurant in College Lasalle with their students taking up the various tasks from host to servers to kitchen. Its one that we’ve been to before however they had changed their name this year to La Classe. The food here is always pretty good and its pricing is incredibly worth it for its quality and for French fine dining. You can check out the recap of the meal HERE.

MTL a Table: Taboo Cuisine Rebelle

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Salmon gravlax marinated in lemongrass and ginger oil, Asian sauce, wasabi, pomegrenate, fried capers, shoots

The last restaurant in the MTL a Table this year is a new find for the majority of us which turned out to be fairly disappointing. Its pretty much North American food in a lounge setting with a very prominent small finger foods and drinks. Its price point outside of the MTL a table was pretty high as we looked at their menus so MTL a Table gives a general experience of it. There was a lot left to be desired. You can check out the recap HERE.

The First Snowstorm of the season

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Coinciding with our week off from work, a lovely little staycation, much overdue for myself was the first snowstorm of this winter, well, late autumn to be accurate which brought in about 15cm of snow. Some neighbors told us about how most snow removal service contracts only started on November 15th, which this storm hit November 12th so some companies didn’t come around to remove snow, causing quite a few headaches. Luckily, while the storm did knock some of our road trip plans out, it did let us take our time with shovelling the snow, although we still did it in relatively one go in the morning.

Staycation Day Trip: Ottawa & Shopping Haul

Disney Store Ottawa

Disney: Christmas Eeyore

LCBO Rideau Center

LCBO

T&T Supermarket Ottawa

T&T Supermarket (without hot/cooked food)

Other than the shopping haul and just taking a moment out of town, we went to eat at Fatboys Southern Smokehouse. You can find the recap HERE.

An Afternoon with My Battle of Ingredient Co-Host

Kumamoto

PresoTea

The week of staycation is almost at an end and what vacation would it be without running an errand to the dentist to pick up (very expensive and makes me thankful for benefits) Night Guard and the much more exciting hangout for my good friend and Battle of Ingredients co-host for a lunch at Kumamoto and an afternoon tea at Presotea after she helped me out a great deal with something I’ve been meaning to do for a while (but needed a kick in the pants to do).

MEGA Expo

MEGA MIGS Festival 2019

Finally, to wrap up the staycation week once and for all was heading out to check out MEGA Expo which was held at Le Grand Quai, which is so new that I have never been in before. The venue was nice and we saw some nice games. The recap should be over at Game Warp..but it isn’t because I’ve just been hitting a writing slump and busy with work…Its still happening because there’s so many games that I really want to talk about.

Blood in the Snow Festival 2019

Blood in the Snow Festival took place on November 21 to 26 in Toronto. Of course, I didn’t have time to go but I was lucky enough to get remote coverage and it had almost all the movies available to review. Its a short festival but one that highlights a lot of Canadian genre films and while it had some meh films, there was still a lot to love and some really great stories and premise. The reviews should all be up on the BITS 2019 tab HERE. But as usual, I will do a top 3 (since there was only 8 full feature films).

  • Majic
  • Hunter’s Moon
  • Z

Marche Ephemere EtsyMTL

Black Friday – Shopping Haul

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I actually didn’t think about Black Friday until it was literally the week of as the flyers started coming in. Its been a goal to spend less so I’ve decreased a lot of expenses. With that said, I did take a look at the sales and got a little something here and there. Not a whole lot of physical shopping as I was stuck at work rushing a deadline but here’s the general list.

Amazon

  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • Crawl
  • Greenies Dental Treats (for cats)
  • Car phone holder

Steam

  • Blackwood Crossing
  • Batman: The Enemy Within
  • Yoku’s Island Express

Playstation Store

  • Spider-Man
  • Days Gone
  • God of War

Michael’s (shown above): Wreath and Wreath supplies

Decathlon: Water Pouch (for backpack)

Cute Kitty Pic

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That’s it for this November adventures!
A lot more packed than I expected but it had to do with the last minute vacation.

BITS 2019: Z (2019)

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Z (2019)

Z

Director (and co-writer): Brandon Christensen

Cast: Keegan Connor Tracy, Jett Klyne, Sean Rogerson, Sara Canning, Stephen McHattie, Chandra West

A family find themselves terrorized by their eight-year-old son’s imaginary friend. – IMDB

Coming in a year where Daniel isn’t Real (review) was an outstanding film with an well-crafted evil imaginary friend, Z takes on their own take on what can be done with the imaginary friends premise as well. Taking home the Best Director and Best Feature at the Blood in the Snow Festival this year, this movie does definitely pack quite a punch. 

Its easy nowadays to quickly assume that creepy children and evil actions and the whole lurking camera can bring a lot of general unsettled feeling. Z is a bit different. While it starts off in that familiar way, there is a hint of many great horror films and how it is execute from toning its scene into darker tones inside the house to create the atmosphere and playing with the off-scene sound effects while having the story scripted to progress in a well-paced delivery. These all add up to effective scares and a lot of them are land very well. There are quite a few startling jump scares that are delivered through its atmosphere, lighting and building the tension.

Z

The cast here also delivers some solid performances. The most notable comes from lead actress as Beth played by Keegan Connor Tracy who plays the mother who realizes that her son’s imaginary friend might actually be real and causing him to do troubling things. Beth has a lot of depth and character development and its a fairly subtle performance most of the time with little reactions and expressions running the show until the bigger moments happen. Taking on the creepy child aka the troubled son role as Joshua is Jett Klyne (who we also saw in another BITS 2019 film in Puppet Killer) who definitely delivers on this without any overacting and making it very unsettling. Finally, two actor and actress, Stephen McHattie and Sara Canning respectively, always appears in the most unexpected places and also puts in some great performances as the respective roles of psychiatrist and sister of Beth. 

A family is terrorized by their eight-year-old son's imaginary friend.

Perhaps the one thing to criticize about Z would be that that possibly its budget limited its polish of its effects. In a fire scene, there was some very apparently unreal fire and smoke circling the screen. The appearance of some of the scares while landed really well, also had the after effect of suffering one or two times from having this goofy CGI as well that took about the scare afterwards by a little. This is where we need to talk about creature design of Z, the imaginary friend in question. Z is revealed step by step and there’s a few creepy scenes that works however, there are some moments in close-up or in faster motion that gives it less of the finesse and fear that it should instigate. Luckily, the horror is maintained by how the scene was built up in advance to play up the moment, giving Z’s appearance more of a fleeting jumpscare moment. It is most effective and also frequently, remaining as the unseen presence.

Z

Overall, Z is quite a breath of fresh air. Director Brandon Christensen crafts a movie with very good horror atmosphere. There are some tropes and predictable elements at the beginning but it quickly also increasingly adds in some surprises that startles whether as jump scares or traumatic scenes or simply finding a way to change it to have its own unique elements. Despite some minor CGI effects falling short, this indie horror film takes an innocent imaginary friend concept and breaths a lot of life and builds the tension using its atmosphere and all the surrounding elements as well as great performances by Keegan Connor Tracy and Jett Klyne. A lot of Z’s charm lies in its surprises and unique twists that it takes leading into unexpected territory.

BITS 2019 Shorts: Giltrude’s Dwelling/EXT/The Remnant

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The final batch of pre-feature short films are coming up with the last three! This time, its still some horror but a lot more fantasy and science fiction elements in the first two. The trio in review here is: Giltrude’s Dwelling, EXT, and The Remnant.

Giltrude’s Dwelling (2019)

Giltrude's Dwelling

Director: Jeremy Lutter

Cast: Kacey Rohl, Liam Hughes, Priscilla Faia, Jesse Hutch, Kennedi Clements

Orphaned at the age of 11, Giltrude, an interdimensional shut-in, has waited 15 years for her parents to come home. When a life or death dilemma comes knocking, Giltrude must look beyond her front door and face the outside universe. – IMDB

Giltrude’s Dwelling is a fantasy science fiction short. It is shot beautifully in different locations that centers around a home that literally disappears from a location every night. The color palette in each scene and each location makes the scene very atmospheric. It creates mystery by the unexplored grounds especially the ominous place that the house disapparates to every night, leaving a lot of questions as to what lurks outside or what is the evil that Giltrude’s parents talk about as well as what attacks the boy that shows up at her door. There are a lot of questions and not a lot of answers but perhaps, this story isn’t really about that so much as a story about Giltrude who must find a means to stop her routine and waiting game for her parents but find the courage to step outside to seek her path, despite the possibility of it being dangerous outside in the big unknown world.

*Giltrude’s Dwelling screens with Deep Six on November 25th at 9:30pm in the Blood in the Snow Festival*

EXT (2019)

EXT

Director (and writer): Adrian Bobb

Cast: Cara Gee, Zoe Doyle

200 years after humanity has abandoned the real world for a digital one, the system’s most talented security agent is forced out of retirement to recruit and lead a team of talented warriors to eliminate a threat from a world no one has seen for centuries. The real world. – IMDB

EXT is a futuristic science fiction action short. There’s a beautiful cinematography of this machine-filled world that has now entered into a battle. The visuals of the character and costume design as well as the mechanical designs are done very well. There is a wonderful control on usage of color as well as the snow-covered landscape that the fight is going on that adds a certain mood and tone that matches to its whole atmosphere. The dialogue exchange also is done well, however the story does get a little confusing. The premise though if given more time probably could give a lot of space of development for both the characters and the entire world building. There are already some creative ideas floating around here.

*EXT screens with Deep Six on November 25th at 9:30pm in the Blood in the Snow Festival*

The Remnant (2019)

The Remnant

Director: Navin Ramaswaran

Cast: Peter Keleghan, Kaniehtilo Horn, Grace Lynn Kung, Michael James Regan, Jill Frappier, Jennifer Dale, Joyce Rivera

A team of con artists posing as paranormal investigators steal from the home of an affluent elderly woman, only to find themselves unleashing a dormant malevolent spirit. – IMDB

The Remnant is rather interesting short with a nice twist of using its paranormal investigators as a front for their own business. It adds in how they make the little tricks and effects happen to make it convincing. Of course, the short goes for something with a more sinister turn of events. The reality of the smokes and mirrors that the team puts up gets a little mixed up with what could be happening as part of the actual paranormal ongoings. The characters are rather entertaining to watch and the whole set-up while the winning element is how it wraps up the whole story. Its a fun little short with a little bit of tension and some creepy elements to it.

*The Remnant screens with Z on November 26 at 7pm in Blood in the Snow Festival*

BITS 2019: Emerging Screams Shorts Program

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Emerging Screams Shorts Showcase is a collection of Canadian horror short films featuring either brillian first time directors or the most promising student filmmakers. It features 10 short films over a variety of horror subgenres. There’s a lot f unique visions here whether in script or atmosphere or tension respectively in each of these.

Emerging Screams

Emerging Screams Shorts Showcase is screening at Blood in the Snow Festival on November 24th at 2pm. 

Spectre (2019)

Director: Gabriela Diacon & Mariana Diacon

Cast: Julia Krikorian & Alina Lapteva

Things turn sinister at midnight when Anna realizes a presence in her house. – IMDB

Running at 4 minutes long, Spectre is a very quick short that sets up its atmosphere really well. There are some creepy background details that go on. What is very  nice is how they set up the whole scene of each one, leaving space for the expectation of something to happen to ramp up some dread. Its a bit predictable in how the whole short runs, it uses the off screen and sounds to add to its atmosphere and mood.

Solitude (2019)

Director (and writer): Andrew Fleming

Cast: Andrew Fleming

Solitude is a very short thriller, running at 5 minutes, about a man who disconnects from the city life while campy and canoeing on his own through the Ontario backcountry. What starts out as a calm and mundane trip takes a turn when he discovers something very unsettling. The moment of change from nothing to something takes it off guard. It uses its single tone lurking and building intensity of the soundtrack to fill in the void and quietness and then ends it on a wonderfully clever ending, leaving a lot to the imagination. At the same time, it uses its lighting and darkness to build up the atmosphere and emptiness of being in the wild. Its a wonderfully executed short.

The Acrylic (2019)

The Acrylic

Director (and writer): Daniel Pike

Cast: Athena Kaitlin Trinh, Wendy German, Jarrett Siddall

On the hunt for some new art for her apartment walls, Rosie acquires a bizarre painting from an equally bizarre art collector… – IMDB

The rule of life we can all learn from watching horror movies is to not buy anything too ancient because its probably not going to be too good or something that looks ominous, like a completely blacked out painting. Just like the painting, The Acrylic is rather ominous. There are some very inexplicable things that happen to it throughout the course where as the owner of it probably wouldn’t dismiss like the one in the short. There’s a little leap of imagination to get past that point. However, the great part of this is the creativity in how the story goes and the creativity behind creating the unknown here. There’s some foreshadowing in the dialogue and then it really takes a creepy dark turn and does ramp up the tension very well in how the cinematography works and how each scene is set up to garner its focal point.

Snack Time! (2019)

Director: Kaw Tay Whee School students

Full of hand puppets and made by students from Kaw Tay Whee School which is located in Yellowknife, Snack Time! is all kinds of weird. Running at a mere 4 minutes, its a rather horror comedy sort of deal. There’s flesh-eating puppets with a plan to pretend to be kindergarten kids to find their next snack. Its honestly a bit wild and there are really no words to say about its execution but as a student project, its oddly entertaining. That’s probably the best way to describe it.

Experience Machine (2019)

Experience Machine

Director: Ivana Bittnerova

Cast: Joanna Caplan, Nicholas Koy Santillo, Jonathan Davies

A young mechanic and his family lead comfortable lives in a sleek underground bunker. His life of futuristic luxury begins to deteriorate when the medical device strapped to his wrist is corrupted, revealing the reality of their true dystopian world. – IMDB

Experience Machine is a much more refined short. It has a decent cast with pretty good acting. The story itself builds up the futuristic world that it is set in, giving the setting a background and foundation. The science fiction elements of this future also works with the broken down elements of technology and the luxuries it can bring as well as the escape from reality in the dystopian world. There’s quite a lot to like about the depth in the world created here which leaves a lot of space for its premise to be expanded if ever desired.

Death’s Toll (2019)

Death's Toll

Director (and co-writer): Spencer Hetherington

Cast: Nick Nylen, Rob Hetherington

When the bells toll, the heads roll. A bell tower becomes the harbinger of death at the hands of an ancient creature, Mortuus.

Running at less than 4 minutes, Death’s Toll is a rather peculiar one that doesn’t have much dialogue but lets its own lore to told through the course of events. While I am personally unfamiliar with ancient creature or if Mortuus is a real thing or a figment of the writer’s imagination, the short does achieve a nice cinematography in executing the film to build up on the suspense and the fear. The creature itself is also done rather well. Its a simple and straightforward horror story and there’s a lot of appreciation in creating something without a lot of dialogue.

New Woman (2019)

New Woman

Director: Benjamin Noah

Cast: Rhiannon Morgan, Stephen Oates

New Woman is a gothic tale about a mysterious wealthy woman living in a castle that has recently moved into the area and her invitation to a male pickpocket to her home which ends up into a descent into a labyrinth of terror in 1888.

Definitely one of the more polished short films presented here, this short starts off with a quick note on the whereabouts of the scenario and then follows the woman, their encounter, the invitation, the dinner and then what happens afterwards. The film score is so enchanting and beautiful and a little haunting as well, creating a fantastic atmosphere. At the same time, as the story progresses, there is an edginess and ominous feeling to the beautiful woman and then hints of what she might be. The cinematography of both capturing the beautiful snowy setting all the way to each interaction and focus and when to pull away for the each shot is set up so intricately. This is well-shot, well-executed and well-paced and very mysterious and captivating as a whole.

Trash (2019)

Trash

Director (and co-writer): Suzanna Etheridge

Cast: Ian Etheridge, Suzanne Etheridge, Heather Nice, Michael Russer, Braedan Alexander, Sherri Young

They thought the dump fires were behind them, but something has emerged from the flames. Actions have consequences in this dark fairy tale, reminding you to take care of your trash, before it takes care of you. – IMDB

Starting up a broadcast about the current news and trash and dump fire issues and the focus on missing dog flyers in the area followed by Moonlight Sonata playing, Trash is set in Iqaluit where trash isn’t being taken care by its community well and comes to life to start take action on its kids causing a lot of missing kids. Dark fairy tales are always a welcome sight (in my world). It always anchors itself on a greater issue of the society that calls out for a dark force (that might not be completely right in its execution) and uses its way to share a message. In this case, its about trash and the importance of its being treated and taken care of properly. The Creature here is actually done pretty nice and suitably in shredded garbage bags and such. The quick rundown of the situation is set by its voiceover and the conversations between its members of the community so see the situation. Its a bit disjointed in its execution but the message sent is well worth a watch.

What’s Within (2019)

What's Within

Director (and writer): Haad Bakshi

Cast: Risa Cohen, Kaija Kalev, Vijay Mehta, Ali Shmaisani, Connor Atkins

When everyday problems in a home are seen as routine, Jane, a 16 year old is locked in her room in need of help. Her parents Amelia, and Zach approach her problems as normal teenage behavior. – IMDB

What’s Within takes a clever twist in the dynamic of what is seen as a troublesome teenager daughter behavior and her parents when the expectations or routine of doing wrong causes her to be neglected when she is actually in danger. Call this something of a The Boy Cries Wolf sort of deal but at the same time giving it a lot of suspense to give children the benefit of the doubt. Its a fairly extreme situation presented here and yet its executed with a lot of tension as it lands as a edge of the seat thriller to see how Jane will get out of the situation. A lot of credit goes to how well Risa Cohen does playing Jane as her fear truly comes through. This 7 minute short packs in quite a unexpected experience full of suspense and thrills.

Willa (2019)

willa

Director (and co-writer): Corey Mayne

Cast: Kelsi Mayne, Adrian Jaworski, Bex Carney, Nick Szeman, Gar Reid, Madison Seguin

A classic, haunting ghost story based off of Stephen King’s original tale. – IMDB

Willa is a 15 minute short about a man David who insists on leaving the stalled train in the middle of nowhere to find his fiancee Willa. Stephen King stories are always such great source material to work with. While I’ve never read this short story, Willa is really  nice ghost story. Its about a couple and then about their discovery of the situation on hand. The flow of this short works very well as well as the play of the light and darkness in contrast with the setup of the situation. The little details and the twist in the story all come together. The cinematography of the smoke and how the camera pans over the different scenes adds a lot of depth. Its one well worth watching.

BITS 2019: Dead Dicks (2019)

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Dead Dicks (2019)

Dead Dicks

Director (and writer): Chris Bavota & Lee Paula Springer

Cast: Heston Horwin, Jillian Harris, Matt Keyes, Kristina Sandev

After Becca receives a distressing call from her suicidal brother Richie, she rushes over to his apartment and finds him alive and well – surrounded by copies of his own dead body. – IMDB

Its hard to imagine what experience to expect when you go into a film called Dead Dicks. Is it supposed to be funny and not serious? Or even in general what direction it could all go. As the movie get through its first act, it starts to fit together why its this title, which actually takes a warning in the beginning about seeking help for suicidal thoughts via a hotline and then right away picking up its first opening scene with an intense suicide scene.

Dead Dicks has its dark humor approach to the whole issue while also leaving in some bloody horror, some science fiction and a lot of drama as the siblings both try to get rid of the bodies while dealing with their lack of communication of their feelings towards each other whether its Richie’s suicidal tendencies or his mental illness to Becca’s fear of sharing her successes. The story goes much deeper than is anticipated and gives it a lot to think about by the end. Its easy to expect this as the title is fairly multi-layer from Dick being short for Richard and it having multiple dead Richie’s on the scene as well as the whole layout.

Dead Dicks

Dead Dicks chooses to have a one location setting. The majority of the events happen in his apartment with some starting scenes outside or in the vicinity of it. This gives the apartment a lot of depth in layout and the various places that the different deaths can happen and the bodies. The location has somewhat of a treasure trove element where behind every close door, there is something more to discover that furthers the story. It gives it some twists. Some that are surprising and probably one that felt a tad more predictable. Its one that emphasizes on the details of each scene.

Dead Dicks

The final element that brings the whole film together are the siblings, Becca and Richie played by Jillian Harris and Heston Horwin respectively, who do a fantastic job in each of their roles. Their roles build quite a bit over the course of the film. It has this subtle development as the one night of events brings them both together as they communicate with each other about their own feelings to all come together for a very touching (yes, I said touching and emotional) final act. Its really quite an unexpected moment.

Overall, Dead Dicks is a film that hard to really explain. Its title makes it hard to take it seriously and describing the first part of the film without giving any spoilers also makes it sound rather weird. However, its a movie that is well worth a watch. There’s a lot of appreciation in how it executes the “less in more” in its details, the one location setting, the focus on very little characters of mostly just the sibling relationship which is rather dysfunctional and the effect of mental illness and suicide tendencies. Its rare to call a horror film genuinely emotional and powerful and yet, this one does achieve that. Its not a film for everyone but if you aren’t sensitive to the two elements mentioned above, this one has a lot of unexpectedness to it that really comes together in a subtle way.

BITS 2019: Funny Frights (Shorts Program)

bits funny frights

Funny Frights is the first BITS 2019 Shorts Program to kick off these collection of premieres of Canadian genre shorts. In this case, its a look at shorts on the lighter side of horror. The showcase includes 10 shorts which we have the opportunity to look at 9 of these.

The Video Store Commercial (2019)

The Video Store Commercial

Director: Cody Kennedy & Tim Rutherford

Cast: Joshua Lenner, Kevin Martin, Jesse Nash, Tim Rutherford

A desperate video store owner hires a crew to shoot a commercial in his shop. But when they accidentally destroy a cursed VHS, suddenly, all their lives are in danger.- and worse yet, the commercial may never get finished. – IMDB

The Video Store Commercial is a fun little horror comedy is all its best moments. It has some of the fantastic VHS static that builds up the film. It also has an over the top performance of the owner doing the commercial which is pretty entertaining in itself. The whole situation plays on what the viewer knows will go wrong and does in the form of something like a VHS monster of sorts which while looked low budget, actually fit into the whole shorts style and aesthetics really well. Its a satisfying short and one that fits perfectly in the horror comedy style with just enough quirk oddities to make it unique and memorable.

Video Vengeance (2019)

Video Vengeance

Director: Nada Cosovic

Cast: Madison Graves, Caitlin Nellist, Ty Hawley

Video Vengeance is a short about two stylish girls on the graveyard shift at a video store when an obnoxious customer enters to rent a movie. Just like the two female leads here, this short is full of visual style. It has fantastic color palette that highlights the more sinister bits. There’s also a great amount of quirk going on especially with the whole pause and play functions in between the scenes which adds a lot to the scenes itself. Plus, the obnoxious customer that comes in is fairly unlikable making it rather funny to watch the whole interaction go down.

Long Pig (2019)

Long Pig

Director: Nikolas Benn

Cast: Dave Walpole, Tommy Power, Mike Piwerka

Long Pig is a 7 minute short about an ex-con who lands an interview for a respectable well-paid job which takes a turn into something he didn’t quite expect. This short is one that focuses heavily on connecting with the dark humor that its using. The interview being a rather stressful experience and reflecting on how the ex-con in the hot seat is actually committing a lot of the faux-pas, the interview ramps up in its tension a little with the unsettling moments added in. Its not hard to imagine where it wants to go but having the interviewer role done so well to lead the short into some great territory while coyly keeping who and what this interview is for under wraps. There’s a great deal of finding the balance between subtlety and sudden over the top moments that make this short work very well.

Be Good (Sois Sage, 2019)

Sois Sage

Director: Anik Jean

Cast: Sandrine Bisson, Nathan Jean-Huard, Anik Jean, Jean-Nicolas Verreault

Sois Sage is a French-Canadian short about Nathan, a six year old boy with a lot of imagination. He is constantly in costumes of everything from superheroes to werewolves. In his world of grown-ups, he longs for someone to play with and this time, he chooses it to be the new babysitter. Kids are always fun little additions to horror pieces as they can have that creepy and unsettling edge done rather well because of the contrast to their innocent expectations. The same applies to Nathan which adds the whole mystery of the extremities he takes his little play time with the nanny, not to mention that he is more clever than the grown-ups around him expect of him. Well-executed, properly unsettling and a great set of characters and dynamic set up between Nathan and his babysitter.

Docking (2019)

Docking

Director: Trevor Anderson

Docking is about Trevor’s reflection on his fear of dating. The picture above pretty much sums up the short, just think of it in a more sexual context…in space. Filming wise, its done pretty well. Context wise, its not clear exactly what it was about and the humor behind it (if it was intended) so we’ll just move on to the next short and let you all experience it when you get a chance.

Don’t Sneeze (2019)

Director: Ryan LaPlante

Don’t Sneeze is a very concise 2 minute short about a guy who sneezes during an inopportune moment and suffers some shocking consequences. Humor is a tricky thing and while this one takes a rather silly approach, the whole dialogue involved is actually rather on point in hitting those funny moments of sometimes there are things that can’t be controlled and then there are things that happen because too much of done. While this has some dumb humor elements (which isn’t exactly my cup of tea), its surprisingly enjoyable.

One Last Last Heist (2019)

One Last Last Heist

Director (and writer): Darrin Rose

Cast: Suresh John, Darrin Rose, Ava Julien, Marito Lopez

The best cure for heartbreak is armed robbery. – IMDB

Its a bit of an odd selection to add to the theme of this shorts showcase but One Last Last Heist is an entertaining one. There are some over the top moments especially some over acting which probably does add to the humor of it all. The story itself aims to surprise in the small twist it has and in turn, takes an actual turn for the more comedic elements of a heist film.

The Trainee (2019)

The Trainee

Director: Ryan Couldrey

Cast: Marcella Young, Brian Quintero, Kira Hall

The Trainee is a 7 minute short about an interrogation of a criminal mastermind by an anti-hero that gets cut when her new trainee arrives on the scene. Shenanigans ensue and boy, are these shenanigans some hilarious time as it plays on the tropes of superheroes and their sidekicks from costume choices to the intimidating voices to the obvious question of whether violence to violence is the right way to do things. All this to bring it to a shocking wrap-up. Its a quick and well-paced short packed in with a ton of fun.

Asking For A Friend (2019)

Asking For A Friend

Director (and writer): Kelsey Bollig

Cast: Victoria Lacoste, Jacqueline Bell

Definitely one of the longer shorts and much more fleshed out, Asking For A Friend runs at 25 minutes and tells the story of two best friend, Blake (Jacqueline Bell) and Q (Victoria Lacoste) who get tangled up in a murder by Q when they were just expecting to enjoy a relaxing night with nachos. Its messy with a body and won’t stop bleeding, drugged up and hallucinations and a crazy night of planning how to get rid of it. When problems come, thats what friends are for: to help without asking any questions. Asking For A Friend has high production value. The scenes are done well and the pacing is great. The two characters and what they go through, for so much blood is rather hilarious in all its graphic goodness. Getting rid of a body for the inexperience is clumsy and messy and they portray all of that so well but never forgetting that this is all a dark comedy of sorts and it delivers on every bit of it.

Not reviewed from this showcase:

Now Is The Printer Of Our Discontent (dir. Michael Peeling)

Funny Frights Shorts Program will be showing at Blood in the Snow Festival on November 23 at 4:30pm. You can find more info HERE