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: The Nights Before Christmas (World Premiere 2019)

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The Nights Before Christmas (2019)

The Nights Before Christmas

Director (and co-writer): Paul Tanter

Cast: Simon Phillips, Sayla de Goede, Keegan Chambers, Meredith Heinrich, Jennifer Willis, Kate Schroder, Michael Coughlan, Anne-Carolyne Binette

The Nights Before Christmas is the sequel of 2017’s Once Upon a Time at Christmas. I have never seen the first movie so there is no comparison or expectations going into this one. Alternate Christmas movies are always a welcome a sight and choosing psycho killers who call themselves Mr. and Mrs. Claus is a pretty decent angle to take. There are some very obvious choices here that feel familiar like Mrs. Claus channels a lot of a character like Harley Quinn. There are some scenes that remind of movies like Silence of the Lamb between Clarice and Hannibal Lecter. And then there are elements that fall in the path a little like Halloween with Loomis. Less refined versions of it. There are some good and some bad in The Nights Before Christmas and it applies to almost every aspect of the film which leaves it less memorable than it probably could have been.

The Nights Before Christmas

Let’s start with the positives. The villainous psycho killers are the definite positives here. Mr. Claus specifically, played by Simon Phillips is a wild character that truly takes the whole crazy killer to a whole new level. His character with his blind eye and even the first scene as she commits his crime in the asylum already shows off the type of killer that the story is about to embrace. There is some character in the film that makes a point about him being equal crazy and equal smart and that very well rounds up the character and adds a little more to the story as the unexpected plan comes into play and what his endgame is or even where it all starts. Mrs. Claus is similar to what Harley Quinn is to Joker, who pales a little to the greatness achieved by Mr. Claus. She has the unsettled character but never seems to command the scene the same way but because her character also is rather crazy, nothing really has to make too much sense.  Other than that, the story and twists here are actually scripted relatively well especially when it concerns the scenes with Mr. and Mrs. Claus on the killing spree.

The Nights Before Christmas

This horror film struggles with depth (as a lot of horror films do). Perhaps its the watching it from the second film where I’m going to give it some benefit of the doubt as this one does go back to the roots of where Mr. and Mrs. Claus seems to have started their killing spree after burning down the asylum and surprisingly, it links back to the Woodridge massacre of the previous film. How the timeline all works is something that is a bit fuzzy. Another issue is the script for everyone else is very flat and sometimes illogical or clunky. There are dialogues that don’t quite fit their role, especially for the rather unconvincing FBI special agent role. It leaves quite a lot to be desired in terms of depth to the character itself. While the survivors of the Woodridge Massacre do come into play here and try to build it back up to something intriguing, they don’t appear quite as often to save it and is supposed to have this twist element that doesn’t quite land as none of the characters seem to have enough depth to care about too much.

Its hard to truly give an accurate review of The Nights Before Christmas mostly because the first film may or may not add to the experience here. There’s a certain level of stand-alone to this one where the first movie is not required to understand the story of this one, but maybe it might help. The story is singular to this story. Dialogue is a really important element in a film and somehow its what broke the experience the majority of the time here. Luckily, the villains do glue this film together and gives it some entertainment value. I may come back to this review and further it after seeing the first one to complete the experience but for now, its a tad lacking.

 

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: 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 Shorts: Sky So Blue/One in Two People/Songs My Mother Taught Me/Break In Break Out

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As we continue the Blood in the Snow Festival coverage, these are the next batch of films that were paired with full feature films screened. This time, we’re taking up four films: Sky So Blue, One in Two People, Songs My Mother Taught Me, Break In Break Out. Four very impressive horror shorts!

Sky So Blue (2019)

Sky So Blue

Director: Tyler Williams

Cast: Jeff Sinasac, Daniel Park

After being attacked and imprisoned in his own home, a man stands accused of creating a strange piece of music that may or may not have the power to kill anyone who hears it. – IMDB

Sky So Blue is a 15 minute short that is a psychologically unsettling and suspenseful interaction between two people: a man being accused of creating a deadly music piece that has gone viral and since then killed a lot of people and the other a man who has lost his family because of it. The interaction leads to a whole did he or did he not do it. Is the accusation right? Is the other one just acting innocent? The questions constantly rise as the man asks him questions to get the reason of why and how he created this music. Its a little bit of a cat and mouse sort of conversation with not a whole lot of resolution but as revenge seems to get stronger between them, its a rather “shocking” sort of ending that still manages to keep it slightly ambiguous. Those types of endings are the best as they can spark up some nice afterthought and reflection.

*Sky So Blue screened at the Blood in the Snow Festival with Dead Dicks on November 23 at 7pm*

One in Two People (2019)

One in Two People

Director: Ali Mashayekhi

Cast: Ashley Leggat, Katie Boland, Karissa Strain, Jade Hassouné, Katie Strain, Adam Tsekhman, Matt Murray

Emily is surrounded by her friends as she reveals her dark secret. – IMDB

One in Two People is a 7 minute short that plays with the unseen and the unknown. This one is executed really well as it leaves a lot of suspense and guesswork that only be deciphered through the conversation between the friends and their different position in Emily’s life and how they view her. It all becomes a question off deciphering both the character of Emily and whether she is to be believed. Of course, being a short film, it wouldn’t possibly be nothing but rather how this something will be presented. One in Two People uses the reactions of entering into this locked and the aftermath that builds up the unsettling horror feeling and giving this well-executed finale that honestly was rather creepy. As an addition, Jade Hassouné who played Meliorn in Shadowhunters plays the boyfriend of Emily in this short which was pretty great.

*One in Two People screens at Blood in the Snow Festival with The Nights Before Christmas on November 23rd at 9:30pm*

Song My Mother Taught Me (2018)

Song My Mother Taught Me

Director (and co-writer): Doug Cook

Cast: Julian Robino, Ace Hicks, Brock Morgan, Jane Moffat, Farid Yazdani, Allison Dawn Doiron, Blake Johnson

After Bobby and Lydia lose their mother to cancer, life becomes a difficult feat, especially for Bobby. In an attempt to cheer up her brother, Lydia throws a Halloween party with a close group of friends. It is on this night that they will discover what they mean to each other and learn an important lesson…the dead should always be left alone. – IMDB 

In some ways, Songs My Mother Taught Me starts in a rather generic rundown especially with the recent overuse of Ouija as a central focus however, this short film takes it for a refreshing new twist as this Ouija channels something very different from the moment that the literal countdown starts. From the first moment of how they present what this group channels that causes from a lot of craziness that ensues. It builds up the tension very well and adds in a different element of surprise of what is actually going on, leaving a bit of mystery of the whole situation. Its a fun, tense and quick-paced spiral of events executed with a lot of heart to give this premise a refreshing take.

* Songs My Mother Taught Me is screening with Majic on November 24th at 4:30pm at the Blood in the Snow Festival.*

Break In Break Out (2019)

Break In Break Out

Director (and writer): Michael Driscoll

Cast: Athena Karkanis, Nick Smyth, James Rejent, Robert Morse, Tara Yelland

Break In Break Out is a 7 minute short about a routine burglary goes terribly wrong. This short is probably the one which is the most daring in its execution as it keeps it silent with no dialogue. Its hyper focused on the actions and the sound effects around the scene to build up the interest. Its a awesome and unique way to present this story as within the few minutes that it is presented, it adds in two surprising twists, flips the typical story that you’d expect around and then adds in so much style to its execution. Its a lot of awesomeness to this one that gives it a wow actor. Its one that shouldn’t be missed!

*Break In Break Out is screening with Hunter’s Moon on November 24 at 9:30pm in the Blood in the Snow Festival.*

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

BITS 2019: Happy Face (2018)

BITS 2019 banner

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.*

My October Adventures!

Weekly Adventures (2)

Welcome to the October Adventures! Its been a crazy month full of lots of things going on. Suffice to say other than cooler weather and some really windy and rainy days where we got some of the closing gardens and other preparing the house for winter thing going on (which I won’t talk about because I’m not sure anyone wants to know about it), it was a clash for festivals. Let’s look back and see what happened!

Hiking: CIME Haut-Richelieu at Mont St-Gregoire

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I’m not sure how many more hikes we can get in before the season is too cold to go, but we’re taking them as we can between festivals and other commitments and getting the house ready for the winter season and whatnot. After a much debated weekend with bad weather looming over our heads, the weather finally changed and we decided to go for a hike a little closer to us and went to the nearby tourism area and found CIME Haut-Richelieu at Mont St-Gregoire which had a very reasonable 4km hike. It was steep and rather quick elevation with lots of steps and stairs and rocks to walk over. We took the panoramic trail and got a pretty nice view of the area around.

Festival Du Nouveau Cinema (October 9 to 20)

Fantasia 2019 (1)

Festival du Nouveau Cinema kicked off on October 9th with the program mostly starting the next day (since press doesn’t access to opening and closing films). With that said, this is the first day doing media to cover this festival so a little of the jitters as this festival has some rather deeper films and a lot of the films themselves are all about taking chances with the synopsis provided as well as having very limited evening timeslots to fit them all in making the scheduling very time-consuming and constantly going through changes during the festival. However, that is behind us now and things went fairly smoothly. I had wanted to do on average one review per day and overall, I managed to achieve it.

Here’s the full list of films if you missed any of them:

  • Little Joe
  • Color Out of Space
  • Family Romance LLC
  • Diner
  • Adoration
  • Sole
  • J’ai Perdu Mon Corps
  • Mickey and the Bear
  • A White, White Day
  • Dirty God
  • Carte Blanches Shorts : Aujourd’hui ou je meurs; Pluie sui tole volée

Highlighted are my top 5 in no specific order. If you want to know my top movie, its Diner. Hands down, no competition because while the other films were great, this one has rewatchability in its favor.

Sherbrooke Met La Table & Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook

Like previous years, we take a day out to the Eastern Townships to go check out a restaurant part of Sherbrooke Met la Table. This time, we decided to go back to one of the first ones we tried called OMG Resto which is actually located in a what used to be a church. We went for the lunch menu but ended up getting the normal.

After that, we headed for a little hike at Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook. We had previously gone at night for Foresta Lumina. Its a nice little family trail although has a lot of steep stairs and slopes.

Toronto After Dark Film Festival (October 17 to 25)

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Overlapping the last few days of Festival du Nouveau Cinema was receiving the approval for remote coverage for Toronto After Dark Film Festival for its short films, which was a lot of them. About 95% of the films were available and I managed to review almost all of those available. All the movies are above and I’m not going to list them all separately but just in how I batched them in the posts and then share my top 5 (which will be hard).

I don’t review a lot of short films over here but this festival’s shorts definitely opened my eyes to some very creative premises and some outstanding stories. With that said, these are my top picks:

  • Turbo Killer
  • Hearth
  • Barbara-Anne
  • La Noria
  • Moment
  • The Haunted Swordsman

Lambcast: Evil Dead Franchise

Nothing like a little last minute podcast call-up to add into festival season. However, it did help binge watch the Evil Dead Franchise to prepare for the Evil Dead discussion over at The Lambcast with a bunch of people with rather interesting opinions about this one. Its always a fun time at Lambcast recording so head over to check out the episode HERE.

Battle of Ingredients

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With the summer and warm weather going away and festivals slowly fading in the background with events and such, we’re back on track with Battle of Ingredients. October Battle of Ingredients is the Fall BBQ. The post is a bit delayed but its currently in the works. Expect it up next week some time.

Other than that, November Battle of Ingredients is always hiatus due to our checking out the MTL a Table event. We will be checking out three restaurants this year if all goes to plan so I’ll be talking about it as it happens!

Game Warp Podcast is Back!

We’ve been on a huge podcast hiatus for Game Warp. While we have been getting back on the blogging side of things, which is always a great start and will continue to be focused on the blog. The podcast is back in our recording schedule. After some changes a few months ago and the festival coverages and such, we have moved ourselves onto Anchor and be an audio podcast from now on. I’m sure I mentioned it before. The episodes will be audio format only available on Youtube as well.

To kick things back into action, and to show our diversity on this whole rebranding thing we’re doing, we start off with something a little different and that is a discussion on Essential Horror Games!

You can check out the episode over on Game Warp HERE.

Halloween Marathon Wrap-up

With all the crazy stuff going on in the final 2 weeks of October, suffice to say that the marathon somewhat didn’t quite happen although Toronto After Dark did work in my favor on that level. I still have one double feature to come out for the marathon and it will be done ASAP. However, in general, things are wrapped up here! Its been a fun month and I actually got quite a bit done in the first half of the month.

Upcoming November Events: MTL a Table, MEGA MTL, Blood in the Snow Festival

Cute Kitty Pic

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That’s it for the October Adventures!
What have you been up to?