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)


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)


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)


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.

SK Olympics – Omertà review – Montreal, Canada

Check out my review of Omerta for Screenkicker’s Olympics blogathon to represent Montreal 🙂 You should check out all the entries already up and follow the awesome blog run by the very cool Mikey so that you can check out not only his reviews but the other entries. A chance to check out films from all over the world and know some wonderful bloggers!


ObscCTLINGURE references FTWure Obscure wrestling references FTW!

Finally a chance for me to use some of the French I learned at school, as it’s my pleasure to introduce a review of French Canadian film Omertà. It’s brought to you by the amazing Kim from her Tranquil Dreams blog. It’s the place to go for fitness, films, and fancy cakes (I enjoy two of these things and hate the other, guess which!). Bonjour Kim, j’adore le review. That’s all the French I can remember at the minute. Merde!

Screenkicker Olympics – Montreal, Canada
Omertà review by Tranquil Dreams


Director: Luc Dionne

Cast: Michel Côté, Patrick Huard, Stéphane Rousseau, Rachelle Lefevre, René Angelil


Ex-cop Pierre Gauthier (Michel Côté), currently head of a private security agency called Pulsar International, is hired by his former boss Gilbert Tanguay to investigate an early released 2nd degree murder/psychopath, Sam Cohen (Stéphane Rousseau).  For this, Pierre hires ex-Canada Secret…

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Halloween Marathon: 5150 Rue Des Ormes/5150 Elm’s Way (2009)

I’ve been craving to get a non-Hollywood/American movie review up! I just recently bought this French-Canadian psychological “horror” thriller called 5150 Elm’s Way. Its based on a French-Canadian novel by a renowned Quebec author called Patrick Senecal.  I realized that as I was watching the credits, which is also the man who is the spokesperson of the Fear Depot that I had posted about HERE! I am about to buy the novel for this one and see how I feel about it.  I am an extremely slow reader when it comes to French so I just hope that I will feel the full impact because of that.  Apparently, he believes in the horror in human nature more than the mythical creatures.  This is my first time exposed to his work so lets start with a little synopsis.

5150 rue des ormes posterDirector: Eric Tessier

Cast: Marc-Andre Grondin, Normand D’Amour, Sonia Vachon, Mylene St-Sauveur, Elodie Lariviere

Yannick Berube (Marc-Andre Grondin) is a guy with a bright future in front of him. He just received his acceptance into film school and moved to a new neighborhood.  As he was exploring and taking down the new area, he wanders onto Elm’s Way.  However, he gets caught in an accident and falls off his bike.  Heading to the nearest residence, he knocks on the door of the Beaulieu family to ask for assistance to help him get home and to use their phone.  There, he discovers the plans of Mr. Beaulieu (Normand D’Amour) and his family and they take him captive.  The only way Beaulieu will let him out is to beat him at a game of chess.

**If you want a further description, you can head to IMDB but I never like to expose too much of the plot or else it ruins the fun when (and if) you get a chance to see it. I even think the trailer reveals a bit too much also**

5150 rue des ormes 1

5150 Rue Des Ormes is mostly a psychological thriller and less of a horror.  The horror itself is in the people involved: their nature, beliefs and their values.  Being based on a novel, I’m guessing that the characters themselves were portrayed in a pretty detailed and somewhat twisted way to begin with.  This movie is about the horrors of being overly obsessed with different things and discovering a lot about our inner fears.  The story itself is quite intriguing and keeps us guessing between the characters as they challenge not only each other but their inner selves.  Its not only between Yannick and the Beaulieu but also between each member of the Beaulieus as well. The story itself is slow and the key is in the emotions and the interaction throughout their dialogue.

5150 rue des ormes yannick

One of the key elements itself is the characters themselves. Just a note that I haven’t seen any of this cast in other movies before however, I think a good place to start is our main character, Yannick Berube, played by Marc-Andre Grondin (first image above).  He shows the greatest growth in character and we connect with his character the most as he is the one that is kidnapped and locked away.  We can sense is desperation and eventually his shift in character as he slowly shows the subconscious that surfaces as Beaulieu challenges him repeatedly and as he learns more about the situation around him.

5150 rue des ormes beaulieu

The main confrontation is between Yannick and Beaulieu, played by Normand D’Amour.  As impressive as I found Yannick’s character portrayal, the most outstanding performance has to be Normand D’Amour’s portrayal of Beaulieu.  One thing you will realize very soon in the movie is that Beaulieu is an extremely righteous man.  He believes the world is a game of good versus evil.  This is his obsession and he carries that into interpreting the actions he has with his track record of never being beaten in one game of chess.  Right away, we can tell this man is obviously not quite all there mentally.  He makes us question his goals and eventually his bigger plans and the extremity of his beliefs.  There’s also a part where we wonder what he will do with Yannick because Beaulieu aims to be hospitable to him, however doing what he can to protect his family.  Its a struggle for him as well to choose the right thing to do.

5150 rue des ormes michelle

This movie does come with some faults.  As much as the two main characters are detailed and interesting, the side characters being the other members of the Beaulieu family are not given as much time.  One of the most significant being the daughter, Michelle.  She has a deep role in the development of the plot and on screen, Michelle, played by Mylene St. Sauveur, does an impressive job. I just felt that there was so much more that her character could of done but she left me with a lot of question marks floating around my head at the end.  These somewhat lack of development for the supporting characters also left there to be little plot holes here and there and might take away from the overall experience.

5150 rue des ormes maude

Overall, 5150 Elm’s Way is an impressive slow-paced psychological thriller.  It gives you some good twists and a very intriguing story that will make you think about the concept of obsession and freedom; inner fears; good versus evil, etc.  It wraps up into a game of human nature and what drives certain people to do what they do.  It builds up some good tension and slowly pulls you in.  This is definitely one that I’d recommend especially if you are into the sort of movie like Hard Candy.  Its a lot of dialogue and at times, we shift between a person’s inner world and the real one.  The more I think about it, the more I find it awesome 🙂 Especially with that ending (even though a bit predictable), still has to me thinking about it

I’m going to check out the novel  and hope that the supporting characters there will be explained better 😉

Are you into psychological thrillers? Does this sound like something you’d be interested to watch?