BITS 2019: Happy Face (2018)

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Happy Face (2018)

Happy Face 2018

Director (and co-writer): Alexandre Franchi

Cast: Robin L’Houmeau, Debbie Lynch-White, David Roche, E.R. Ruiz, Alison Midstokke, Noemie Kocher, Cyndy Nicholsen

Desperate to become less shallow, a handsome teenage boy deforms his face with bandages and attends a support group for disfigured people. – IMDB

Happy Face is a unique film.  Its brave to make the choice to find a cast with facial differences that plays fictional characters facing a world that is beauty-obsessed. Most view physical differences on obesity or even being overweight (which also used in this story) and facing societal expectations of what someone should look and weigh. However, physical differences that bring judgement and ridicule sometimes are permanent damages. In a year where this is gradually becoming a familiar topic (for example, Dirty God also tackles this topic), its all about the character growth and development and creating intriguing characters that grow alongside the main character Stan (Robin L’Houmeau) who might be “handsome” but has his own shortcomings and motives on a more “inner beauty” level.

Happy Face

Happy Face aims at its authentic and raw experience. Its characters are not linear. Its not because they have facial differences or physical differences that make them deep down fantastic people. In fact, these characters are also flawed in their own ways. However, that just makes them more real as they also have their own dreams and their own bridges to mend and relationships to face. While Stan is the focal character here, somehow his story falls further in the backdrop to the characters in the support group. Its an empowerment story for its characters: all of which having their own issues and sometimes its a much deeper issues than just their facial differences, giving each of them their own depth to reveal as they embrace those moments and get to the final moments to face their own demons and seek out their own answers. At the same time, it challenges  its viewers of their acceptance of these characters just like the steps of therapy that Stan teaches the group about challenging those who judge their differences. 

Happy Face

There are some issues with Happy Face like the story feels slightly disjointed as it addresses all these different characters. Stan’s story feels very lightly touched as its all just insinuating his actual story and how much of it is the truth with snapshots and flashbacks to fill in the pieces that his mother is about to be faced with the difficulties like the support group he has become involved in. And while the story ends in a relatively decent wrap-up, the final act goes into some mind-boggling choices that I’m personally struggling to grasp its entire reason and meaning (particularly one scene). One of the bigger issues here is language. The group itself is all in English with French-accented English with some of the characters while Stan himself interacts with his family with French (English subtitled). It sounds like an odd choice but in the demographic of where they are, it feels like a more authentic experience might be to do it in French and then subtitle it in English. That is not so much a criticism as a personal preference that might feel more natural (but of course, perhaps there are elements here like other cast members in the consideration and viewer convenience that I’m not aware of).

Happy Face

Happy Face is not an easy movie to watch in the beginning. Its also hard to evaluate a film like this because its a careful territory to tread on. The topic here is touchy to say the very least. Its heart is in the right place. There’s a lot to appreciate about this film that deserves a viewing just from its authenticity and the message its trying to send out.

*Happy Face has a screening at Blood in the Snow Festival on November 22nd at 7pm. You can find the info HERE for the festival.*

What’s Up: Week 46 Blood in the Snow Festival is right around the corner…

Tranquil Dreams (48)

A week of vacation is upon us and the recap of it actually is surprisingly not quite a lot, especially since we just had a stay-cation so still around our home quite a bit. However, a lot of it was in the relaxing state so all doing things that I wanted to do while catching on a few little errands and eating good food and you know, the having fun not in the house variety. I’ll share those adventures at the end of the month in the November Adventures post. For now, lets look at the week!

READING

Proximity

  • Proximity by Jem Tugwell

Currently reading: Love, Potions & Other Calamities

And we are done with Proximity! Its a pretty clever little mystery and suspense thriller which plays on a future that could happen if technology were to control our lives or due to the overdependence of it in the future. A premise that definitely applies very well to questioning certain elements of a technology-filled world and how it applies to the investigation. I’ll talk more about it in the upcoming review. As for now, I just started reading Love, Potions & Other Calamities. Its too early to say anything yet but I have great hope that it will be great as this author Charlie Laidlaw has released some solid novels.

PLAYING

Afterparty

Currently playing: Afterparty & Cube Escape: Paradox

An hour down and a bunch more to go for Afterparty but its a start. Afterparty is a game that I’ve been anticipating since its announcement so I’m working hard to get some hours into it. Only thing hindering it is that whole Cube Escape: Paradox that I started but never got around to finishing it as its very difficult. I’m going to wrap that up before continuing on with Afterparty.

WATCHING

As the final festival of 2019 is among us, yet again the watching section will be split between two sections. The normal viewings and the festival viewing. The festival hasn’t actually started BUT remote coverage means some reviews can start going up as it approaches so if you are in the Toronto area, you can always go and catch it during this festival run.

Murder on Orient Express

  • Creepshow 2 (1987) Friday Film Club
  • Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
  • The Ice Storm (1997)

If only I had a 2007 then I’d have watched films ending with 7s over 3 decades. It wasn’t intended until I noticed the pattern here. Either way, Creepshow 2 was my pick for the Friday Film Club and I’ve shared the link up there. However, the movie that caught my attention the most was Murder on Orient Express which finally landed on Netflix so I jumped right on it during vacation week to catch up and it did not disappoint. As for The Ice Storm, its part of the Movies and Tea new season which is starting up soon with Ang Lee’s filmography.

Blood in the Snow Festival 2019 (Remote coverage)

Puppet Killer

  • Puppet Killer (2019)
  • Liaison (short 2019) Review
  • Housekreeping (short 2019) Review
  • Happy Face (2018)
  • Copenhagen Road (short 2019) Review

I’m slowly getting into the Blood in the Snow Festival screeners day by day and working out a nice schedule to get the writing done. Its been a lot of procrastinating and pondering. Hopefully by the time this gets out, the review for Puppet Killer will be listed as done above. I spent a few days thinking about it and putting together the review and its really growing on me.

BINGING

Wait My Youth

  • Wait, My Youth (2019)
  • Nailed It! France (Season 1, 2019)

Currently binging: Lipstick Prince (Season 2), Relation Ship, Green Eggs and Ham, Chase Me, Who’s the Murderer (Season 5), Viva La Romance (Season 3)

Go ahead! Tell me to pick my favorites this week! Not an easy task. Everything I watched was really awesome. Wait My Youth was the TV series that I chose as the series to watch during my week off and it was a ton of fun. I’m a huge fan of the male lead, a young actor with a lot of potential. Nailed It! France was hilarious to watch as well. The husband and I has pretty much pinpointed that understanding the language does help in the enjoyment of these things but this host also seems more in line with our type of humor than the other foreign version we saw, I think it was Nailed It! Mexico (review). I’ll probably do a TV binge on Nailed It! France soon!

Even my currently binging stuff, which is more currently playing, except for Green Eggs and Ham, has been pretty entertaining. All the variety shows and reality shows and whatnot have just been a blast to watch. I sometimes play the episode in the background when I’m writing to watch again. Its rare that I do that usually. Unfortunately a lot of them don’t have subtitles. But then, I’m translating the 90% of Chase Me, which is a celebrity Ultimate Beastmaster tag concept game on Zhejiang TV (on Youtube), for my husband as he also finds it very amusing to watch. Not to mention Season 5 of Who’s The Murderer is set on a cruise ship so its awesome plus it has Boran Jing (who I like a lot) as one of the participants. Viva La Romance Season 3 also started (and I just realized that I never finished Season 2..oops) and it has Miriam Yeung and I never knew a lot about her after she got married so its a fun little wife’s trip. So far, its been pretty cool. Lots of a great shows!

That’s it for this What’s Up!
Week 46 already of 2019! Its crazy!
But then, we have started setting up for Christmas..so I guess its not that crazy, right?

What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

BITS 2019: Puppet Killer (2019)

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Puppet Killer (2019)

Puppet Killer

Director: Lisa Ovies

Cast: Aleks Paunovic, Lee Majdoub, Lisa Durupt, Richard Harmon, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Kyle Cassie, Geoff Gustafson

While celebrating Christmas at a cabin in the woods, a group of high school students are stalked by a psychotic killer obsessed with horror movie icons. – IMDB

A lot of indie film concepts grow from wanting to make their own take while paying tribute to some great horror film that the team loves. In some ways, Puppet Killer is a film that like. Its script and scene choices put a lot of heart into having a killer that loves horror movies and is using them to execute and chase after this group of teenagers. We’ll be talking about the odd casting choices soon because that’s one of the head-scratchers here. Let’s not let the title mislead you though, Puppet Killer is the literal term that probably would have worked better as “Killer Puppet”, but it does somehow give it a little room for questioning whether the puppet was controlled by an actual human or not.

puppet Killer 2019

Just like creepy kids, puppets (or things in the same category like dolls) being alive can also be rather unnerving. As much as this is a horror comedy, there are some serious moments of tension and very effect atmosphere built up to make the scene pretty creepy. Its a bit crazy to think that a pink puppet that looks like The Muppets is scary because of its tiny size and its very catchy color but its the misleading elements of childhood and innocence that makes it even creepier to watch and not to mention the color contrast on screen that also gives it a lot of style. How the puppet moves and the way its revealed one step at a time to give it much more fleshed out kill scenes: all this is done with a lot of care and it all works very well.

Puppet Killer 2019

Now, we’re at the casting choice. While the acting itself is pretty decent, plus it has The 100‘s Richard Harmon in a supporting role and the Mexican-Canadian director & actress Gigi Saul Guerrero in a acting role, the casting choices are very odd as the characters themselves, especially the main character is a much older actor playing a teenager. There’s a whole inner debate of whether this was deliberate or its just working with what is available within the budget of this film. As much as that is a hurdle to get through in the school scenes at the beginning, the acting was done pretty well and along with the Puppet Killer executing the movie in a way that shifts over to the cabin in the woods rather quickly, its easy to gradually forget that this is a group of teenagers and when the horror hits, the whole set up and atmosphere places the initial “confusion” even more in the background.

Puppet Killer 2019

Puppet Killer is a fun little horror comedy romp. It has some well-executed scenes and definitely should appeal to those who can catch all its iconic horror movie moments. If you don’t, it might feel a little more random but as this film does build fairly good atmosphere, more and more so after its climax, its easy to overlook a few of its shortcomings. Plus, its an alternate Christmas movie choice and we can never have enough of those.

Puppet Killer has a screening in Blood in the Snow Festival on November 21st at 9:30pm. You can find more info HERE.

TADFF 2019: Canadian Shorts After Dark

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Imagine a World (2019)

Imagine A World

Director (and writer): Joanna Tsanis

Cast: Gina O. James, Tevin Wolfe, Rob Notman

Imagine A World tells the story of a brother and sister who lets in a door to door salesman hoping to offer them a plan for a new internet and phone service much faster than the current on they have to find that he will not take no for an answer.

Imagine A World works in a few folds. The first is the horror which is set on the mysterious salesman who is very persistent. While he does feel a bit bizarre through the whole conversation, which will be revealed to be within reason, the horror it brings is of letting in a stranger into too much of the personal information and letting them into the house and the disadvantage of overinformation as a cautionary tale. At the same time, the other side of the spectrum works as to how technology has powered a good part of our life and the necessity of it even the neglect of the importance of having a functional phone signal in a world where actual communication is neglected in the majority of the other non-urgent parts of our lives. Packed with some gory bits and a rather psychological atmospheric build-up, Imagine A World works to help build a tense situation of having a stranger and their persistence being the central focus of giving a sense of fear and possible danger noticed a little too late.

Plainsong (Melopée) (2019)

Plainsong

Director: Alexis Fortier-Gauthier

Cast: Antoine DesRochers, Rosalie Fortier, Antoine L’Ecuyer

Plainsong, originally titles Melopée, is a French-Canadian short film about three friends who go out to a beach house to celebrate St. Jean Baptiste Day when one of them summons a sea creature with a song.

Plainsong is done really well. It goes for about 16 minutes long and pads out quite a decent bit of intrigue although in the heart of French-Canadian cinema also adds in some romance which doesn’t end up having much drama. The short actually works really well and executes its suspense very well probably until the creature reveal which probably could have been done with better poise with a better budget and that ruins the illusion a little. However, using sound as a trigger and having one of the three friends being deaf is a rather common blend as there’s one person that is rather unsure about what is going on while the other one will be disturbed a little more. What does carry here and makes it work is the atmosphere that it gives. For its length, its a little less straightforward than it should be but then, if this were to be expanded into a full feature, this would be a nice concept short film to show an idea that could very well work with much more time to explore these three friends and the sea creature that is summoned. As a short, it lacks a little on both ends whether its the romantic bit or the creature feature bit. A lot of good elements here but put together, its a bit fragmented making the story less effective than it could be.

Moment (2019)

Moment

Director (and writer): Geoffrey Uloth

Cast: Emelia Hellman, Patrick Abellard, Dayane Ntibarikure, Jonathan Bedard, Allan Chou, Jonathan Silver

Moment is about a homeless girl, Charli who is attacked by three masked hoodlums on her way home from a Halloween party when two masked superheroes stop time and help her devise a plan when she wakes up to save herself.

Moment is a spectacular little short. Running at over 20 minutes (which a rarity in shorts that I’ve seen before), this one shows off a fantastic story. Charli is a young adult who lives on the streets with her boyfriend. She’s plays music to pass the time and yet, there’s a hint of the life that she’s left behind and how she struggles with it. Its her own story in this short as she takes the moment in her own hands and saves herself. Not only is it a story about her but its a fun little idea with superheroes that can stop time but can’t change anything, making them break the illusion of the all-powerful, can do everything sort of superhero but one that is honestly there to help but everything still remains in her hands to work with what the moment presents to her. There’s a subtext of what could happen as a follow-up as she also takes that one moment to reflect on the different parts of her life. Moment is a fantastic short and done so very well.

Alaska (2019)

Alaska

Director: Gwynne Phillips, Briana Templeton, Chris Wilson

Cast: Chris Wilson, Gwynne Phillips, Briana Templeton, Paul Beer, Sharjil Rasool, Chris Sandiford

Alaska is a horror comedy about a couple arriving to their friend’s dinner party late and due to his suspicion of being disliked, starts to believe that he is being poisoned.

The charm and stellar points of this short has to go to its script. Although by the last thing before its reveal, its quite obvious what it wants to do, there is such a charm to how dangerous our minds can be especially when one choice can cause everything to spiral out of control. There is also a good group of characters here which are alright and they work well enough, some more deliberately fillers as a means to an end. Still, a fun little short set in Alaska which remembers to bring it into the equation.

No One Will Believe You (2019)

No One Will Ever Believe You

Director (and writer): Frédéric Chalté

Cast: Mandy St-Jacques Turpin, Emilie Lovitt, Maryline Chery

Most kids believed that they had monsters under their bed at one point or another (or in their closet). No One Will Ever Believe You is a horror short that tells the story of a sister who wants to scare her sister on Halloween and when she prepares for it, she notices that there is a monster under the bed planning the same thing.

There’s always this haunting element to using childhood beliefs as the catalyst of any horror event. With this one, the monster under the bed and the whole atmosphere behind it was done really well. Its not that we haven’t quite seen but as something from a third perspective of one character watching another, the whole idea behind it works. Its a bit cheesy at bits and the final part with that one final line was where it breaks the immersion as its not completely necessary. Some things are better left to the audience to deduct which would have given it a much more powerful ending.

Best Friends Forever (2019)

Best Friends Forever

Director: Emily Gagne & Josh Korngut

Cast: Michelle Coburn, Addison Holley, Katelyn Wells, Nicole Samantha Huff, Jen Pogue

Best Friends Forever is a horror short set in 1996 with a group of girls telling the story of Nancy, an outcast in 1970s that was tricked at a party and is now a vengeful spirit haunting teenage girls to find a friend, anyone who lets her into the house. While they were trying to use it as a prank on their friends, it turns out that Nancy actually does exist.

Using legends that come true is rather normal to see in horror stories. Best Friends Forever plays on this with some familiar premise and gathers up a group of girls who share different characteristics. Although this is a short so it quite expands on these characters but it does take the time to give them all different murders each time and keeps it fairly off-screen which also keeps the appearance of Nancy a secret and keeps her appearances rather creepy. They use a tint of neon pink throughout which contrasts well with the dark atmosphere. Best Friends Forever isn’t quite unique but then a lot of its execution is pretty good.

TADFF 2019 Shorts #1: We Three Queens/Eyes Open/Make Me A Sandwich

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Much to our surprise, we are going to be covering Toronto After Dark Film Festival remotely for its short films selections. The festival itself runs from October 17 to 25th this year at the Scotiabank Theatre. If you happen to be in Toronto, do head over to check out this festival with its great line-up of feature films. You can find all the info HERE.

Over the next few days throughout the duration of TADFF, I will be looking at these in various categories and pre-feature shorts will be batched in 3 (or 4) films. Most of these will be paired with their screening times. These three to kick-off the first batch of pre-feature shorts are paired with screenings from October 17th and 18th.

We Three Queens (2018)

We Three Queens

Director: Chris Agoston

Cast: Erin Margurite Carter, Soma Chhaya, Emma Hunter, Rachel Wilson

*Screens with Extra Ordinary at TADFF 2019*

Beard (Erin Margurite Carter), Charlotte (Soma Chhaya) and Janet (Emma Hunter) are an all-star carolling group called We Three Queens. As they go to pick up their vests from their seamstress, they end up waking up kidnapped in her basement. With Christmas just around the corner, they need to find a way to convince Shelly (Rachel Wilson) to release them before midnight so that they can finish their carolling.

Christmas horror is always a welcome idea. Carolling has probably (at least to my knowledge) never been used in the context of a horror film. In a premise like this one, carolling definitely seems like quite the competitive world although who doesn’t want to be a part of something important or get noticed by the people that they enjoy watching, right? Running at almost 9 minutes, We Three Queens is a fun little Christmas horror short that adds a little comedy to the situation. Its not hard to see where the story goes as there is some foreshadowing but the actresses here are also quite entertaining to watch especially with their dialogue. Something about having a lot of red on screen not only makes it have the feeling of holiday but also have this more troubling situation at hand that we never know how Shelly would react to their responses to her requests.

Straight-forward and fairly unique in its premise of carollers being the central focus, We Three Queens is a fun Christmas horror short to check out.

Eyes Open (2019)

Eyes Open

Director (and writer): Jawed J.S.

Cast: Angela Bell

*Screens with Witches in the Woods*

Eyes Open is a 2019 horror short about a girl who goes for a walk in the woods to soon find out that she is haunted by an unseen presence both physically and psychologically.

Horror set in the woods has become increasingly used. Its a great choice for a setting because of its emptiness and isolation. With Eyes Open, its (almost) 6 minutes is a huge difference from where it starts to where it ends. The horror actually builds in its moments. While there were some oddities to this one, it still works overall especially as the unseen presence that haunts the single character in Eyes Open shows what it is doing: attacking when she closes her eyes. There are some odd low-budget effects but still, for its progression of horror, it does a pretty decent job at making it intriguing.

Make Me A Sandwich (2019)

Make Me A Sandwich

Director: Denman Hatch

Cast: Anne Shepherd, Peter Hodgins

*Screens with James vs. His Future Self*

Make Me  A Sandwich is a 2019 horror short (and its very short) about a wife who is constantly being asked by her husband to make him a sandwich.

Nothing is quite defining of a short film than one that runs for 3 minutes and keeps things as simple as a wife constantly being asked to make her husband a sandwich. And yet, those 3 minutes say a lot with just the wife’s reaction to each aggressive demand. Anne Shepherd as the wife does a great job at using those little facial expressions to show her lack of patience each time and how she retaliates. At the same time, what seems simple and straight forward as this story has a very startling twist at the end. Deranged might be the way to say that twist ending and actually makes you think a little more about the whole situation here and what we just watched. Its rather unsettling to watch and yet its hard to not laugh at a little of the dark humor here (perhaps its dark humor..I’m not sure anymore). If satisfying unsettling is a term that works, then this might apply to Make Me  A Sandwich.

 

Wine Recap – June 2019

Half a year has gone by and we’re going to look back at June’s drinks that I’ve tried out! With long weekends and Battles of Ingredients as well as the summer weather, we usually like to have a little something with our meals.

Check it out!

Lost Craft Apple Cider

Lost Canoe Cider

Producer: Lost Craft
Alcohol Content: 5%
Location: Ontario, Canada
Taste Tag: N/A

Lost Craft is very similar to most apple ciders. Its a tad more on the dry side especially in comparison to the two that I try out below. Its less in my palette range since I am more a fan of sweet than dry.

L’Orpailleur Ice Wine 2016

L'Orpailleur

Producer: Vignoble de l’Orpailleur
Alcohol Content: 10%
Location: Quebec, Canada
Taste Tag: Fruity and Extra Sweet

I’m not sure if we had written about this before but we definitely did buy an L’Orpailleur ice cider before from the Festival des Vendanges. You can see the event we visited a few years ago HERE. L’Orpailleur was great the first time we tasted it and this time (probably a different year) also is very good. Its fruitiness and sweetness has this really smooth balance.

D’ont Poke the Bear Cider

Don't Poke the Bear

Producer: Generations Wine Company
Alcohol Content: 5.6%
Location: Ontario, Canada
Taste Tag: Medium-Sweet & Fruity

Add this one onto not only a great cider name but also a delicious one as well. I am finding a lot of Ontario ciders. D’ont Poke The Bear is a really good one. Its the first time I have tried Medium-Sweet taste tag for ciders and with the alcohol content not even a percent higher than the usual, it really isn’t too apparent. It doesn’t feel so much like drinking apple juice because it isn’t as sweet but still has a little tartness and a little dryness that still balances out the sweetness pretty good.

Farmed & Dangerous Cider

Farmed and Dangerous

Producer: North American Craft Agency
Alcohol Content: 6.5%
Location: Ontario, Canada
Taste Tag: Dry & Fruity

Completely awesome name for a cider plus the can looks great! Farmed and Dangerous is actually less dry than it categorizes itself as. For me, I actually thought it was alright. Something that took a few sips to really get into but I think, it has to do with the fact that its more in the higher alcohol content in terms of ciders than usual so the drier feeling came with that. To be honest, it really did grow on me afterwards.

That’s it for this Wine recap (which is more a cider recap…)!
Some new discoveries here!
Next time, we should get back into some more Quebec wines!

Book Review: Osgoode As Gold (Toronto Comics #5)

Yonge at Heart (Toronto Comics #4)

Osgoode As Gold (Toronto Comics #5)
By: Stephanie Cooke

Osgoode As Gold

In a city of competitive wizard barristas, nervous werewolves and scoundrel Trash Pandas, you’ll find some of the best upcoming comic creators! We’re back again with twenty-four fresh comics from local indie veterans and first-time creators.

From the strange giants that prowl Kensington at midnight, the vengeful Pacific Mall dance mafia, or the dragon-hunting wannabes working Queen Street, we’ve got stories inspired by every part of the city we love. – Goodreads

The 4th comic anthology revolving around Toronto in Toronto Comics is called Osgoode For Gold. If you have read these anthologies before, you already know that while the central focus is set in Toronto, the stories all vary and can be set in fantasy or reality or past, present or future. There are no limits in these stories and yet once again, the creativity and the themes addressed here are truly great to read. They shed light on the people and culture in the city and have stories for everyone. At the same time, the art also changes with each story as well as the color palette. Its what makes them unique.

There are 23 stories while it ends with an additional 4 which are thoughtful one page art. It would be crazy to talk about each of them, however, I will choose a few that I personally like.

They are the following:

  • Catnap Cafe: When a newly immigrated girl moves to Toronto, she goes to Catnap Cafe for the experience where she turns into a cat and befriends another cat who guides her back to apartment in hopes of being able to turn back into human. Lets just say, cat cafes and cat related stories are things that I love so this one also had the perk of the whole details and such that I really liked.
  • Leave it to Leo: More of a comedic offering in a vibrant colors and art set in 1940s, Leave it to Leo talks about comic book artists who want to be compensated for their worth and play a trick on their editor.
  • Mirrored: Nothing like a little imagination of interdimension fantasy, Mirrored tells the story of a subway entrance to another dimension for magical battles with a little twist ending parallel to reality.
  • FinalMIX! Difficulty Expert! : Set in Pacific Mall in Markham and structured around a video game dance battle, this story is about as relatable as they get for me.
  • Cenotaph: Set in a future Toronto, we look at ghosts who are looking back at the city that was when they were alive and how the destroying and building has changed it in the present.
  • The Part-Time Knight: Wrapping up the anthology is this story about a stable kid who hears a dastardly plan to murder the king and finds a way to bring the message as knights would do.

Here are a few that I like and of course, all the stories were pretty great whether it was the different art styles or the time frame they chose to use or the realistic or fantastical angle. It shows off the talent and the stories that any place and experience can inspire. Sometimes they are predictable but the majority times, they aren’t.

Thats it for the review of Osgoode For Gold.
Have you read any comics from Toronto Comics?
Have you read/seen comics inspired by a city?

Blood in the Snow Festival: The Whistler (Short, 2018)

The Whistler (2018)

The Whistler

Director (and writer): Jennifer Nicole Stang

Cast: Karis Cameron, Baya Ipatowicz, Nelson Leis, Alison Wandzura, John Emmet Tracy

Lindsey is forced to babysit her sister, Becky, one night, when, after innocently falling asleep, wakes up to find her sister gone. Someone has taken Becky and could be after her as well. – Blood in the Snow Festival

The Whistler is a short film that definitely feels very polished from the acting to the setting to the screenplay itself. While it only runs 11 minutes, the short film takes on quite a few memorable bits. One of the fun parts is its playful mentions of various iconic horror movies, for example a clever mention of Crystal Lake. The other one is having The Whistler start as a fairy tale or lore of sorts and build it from there, making us wonder on not only whether it is real or not but also how it ends.

As the movie brings in those elements of the fairy tale becoming a reality, the pieces fall into place and it all comes down to Lindsey who witnesses it all. The atmosphere and the music and sound effects here play a big part in making it all bring in a lot of the sinister feeling. Adding in some of the effects like how the eyes change and whatnot in the film that work just well enough for its purpose. At the same time, there keeps a creepy feeling that keeps us on the edge. At the same time, the cast of young actresses here do a great job in each of their roles.

There is still a sense of The Whistler being an indie film. However, whether we are talking about the acting and the cast or the story and the execution and all the effects, there is a lot to love here. It builds a nice atmosphere and its a fun little movie to watch. There is a nice twist of whether this is a fairy tale or the reality and the ending also brings in a bit of a question which can be interpreted from what was talked about previously in the film. Some of the bits here are slightly predictable but the sum of its parts definitely makes this one a short that I’d recommend.

The Whistler was a part of the Bloody Bits Showcase Part 2 at the Blood in the Snow Festival 2018.

BITS 2018: Fugue (2018)

Fugue (2018)

Fugue

Director (and writer): Tomas Street

Cast: Jack Foley, Laura Tremblay, Mike Donis, Kristen Da Silva, Michael Lipka, Evan Siemann

Amnesiac Malcolm struggles to put the pieces of his life back together and begins questioning those closest to him in this puzzle of memory and identity. – IMDB

Fugue might be one of the hardest ones to write about because of how easy it is to jump into spoiler territory. It also kight be the hardest to search up because to my surprise, there are a lot of movies released as Fugue this year. Not sure how the other ones are but this Fugue is one of the highlights of BITS 2018. There is a great level of craftmanship and execution and pacing that plays so well together along with a small enough cast for us to care and feel involved with. There are so many questions right from the start. At the same time, the timeline is a little scrambled but never confusing to follow and is all in the attentiveness of the details. It is those clues here and the questions there that build up this mystery and have all kinds of thrills.

Malcolm (Jack Foley) is an intriguing character and it has to do with a contrast that is presented to us in the first and second acts which is where the questions come up. Then the character remains a mystery because of all the questions surrounding him. Jack Foley was a supporting character in Lifechanger (review) at Fantasia Festival and delivered a great role but there is no denying that he has a lot more to offer especially after seeing Fugue. Malcolm is a role with a very big contrast in just the first two acts and he is able to handle it convincingly. The cast here is small but they all grasp their role really well. Its hard to dive into each character without spoiling the movie.

Fugue benefits from a lot other than its characters and its puzzling mystery plot. It uses an isolated one location setting. Its smart because it gives it a much more narrow scope. It never needs to share unnecessary information of its characters, keeping them simple but never feeling like they lack depth either. Its a true challenge that not a lot of films are able to achieve and this one does a great job at executing it. I highly recommend this one.

BITS 2018: Deadsight (2018)

Deadsight (2018)

Deadsight

Director: Jesse Thomas Cook

Cast: Liv Collins (co-writer), Adam Seybold, Ry Barrett

A man with partial blindness and a young pregnant police officer must work together to escape from a deadly virus that has spread across Grey County. – IMDB

Zombie movies are a dime a dozen these days. So many of them pop up and disappear but then every once in a while, we see some that add their own twist either with their characters or their plot. Deadsight takes the route of having two rather weaker protagonists who end up meeting and fighting for survival together. Its a refreshing idea  not only for choosing not really less competent characters but characters both with physical weaknesses or hindrances to their health temporarily to have to fight together but also the fact that the reason behind why all this happened and how this deadly virus has caused this zombie apocalypse of sorts.

Deadsight

With that said, its important to take a look at these two main characters. Ben (Adam Seybold) who is partially blind gives the fear because the audience can see his attackers before he can, creating a lot of fast-paced tense moments. On the other hand, Mara (Liv Collins) who is pregnant has the obvious disadvantage of having less physical capacity as she obviously has because she is a police officer and that makes her a strong character because she is quite resourceful. As much as these two have their weaknesses, they also never dwell on them and because stronger and more capable roles because of it. Another nice part here that cuts out a lot of any drama is making these two strictly staying in line with surviving, and what makes this executed well is that while we never learn too much about these character’s backgrounds, it is their actions during this situation they are thrown in and crafts their true nature and personality and makes us want them to make it out of this ordeal alive.

Deadsight

Aside from well-crafted characters, Deadsight also is well-paced. That is linked to a previous comment about keeping it less about drama and more about survival which a lot of horror films forget about. At the same time, there might not be a whole lot of dialogue between the characters but there is a decent bit of zombie attacks, escapes and encounters to make it an intense and fast-paced work. A part of this has to do with the camera work and how it delivers each of these scenes and the other part has to do with having an impressive soundtrack that is subtle but also creates the proper atmosphere. Not to mention the zombies are also designed really well.

Deadsight

If there is one little thing to criticize about Deadsight, it would have to be that all the characters have this incredible desire to throw out their weapons after one use. That doesn’t mean guns but rather axes or things that can be used over and over again. However, that can be overlooked since many films do happen to do that. One thing that lift this film is its camaraderie between the characters despite being strangers, especially in the final at when they complement each other’s weaknesses  to be a stronger team. The whole movie is done well but the final act has some great elements as it works itself to end on an intense note. Deadsight is a well-executed zombie film that you should watch.

Deadsight is screening its world premiere on November 25th at 4:30pm at The Royal Cinema for Blood in the Snow Festival.