TADFF 2019 Shorts 2: Ocimokw!!/Grave Sight/Down the Rabbit Hole/Hearth

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Ocimokw!! (Go Away!!, 2017)

ocimokw!!

Director: Mathis Ottawa

Running at less than 3 minutes, Ocimokw is made in Manawan, Quebec and shows the start of a zombie invasion and two guys who run away to be saved by a car passing by.

Its a bit goofy with the zombies and its not exactly a convincing portrayal of what we’ve been accustomed to, however, Ocimokw!! is pretty fun in a horror comedy sort of way while blending in some fairly nice dark color palette with atmospheric background music. Its not a lot of dialogue and really, the only person that talks is the radio warning them about the zombies and to run away. Its very basic and yet there’s no fault with that.

Grave Sight (2019)

Grave Sight

Directors (and co-writer): Walter Forsyth & Angus Swantee

Cast: Holly Stevens, Craig Gunn, Dale Bellefontaine

A couple goes to rob a grave which turns out to belong to a witch. As they open it, it releases a demon.

Running at about 7 minutes, this short actually is done pretty well. There are some rather comedic effects and probably done for that purpose. It plays on its low budget and yet, the demon itself is done really well. The couple actually do work although it plays on them being one braver than the other and finding their courage to fight back or save the other but also on the obvious clumsy act which amounts to whole deed being a loss at the end of the day. There’s some nice ideas here and the premise is pretty good as well.

Down the Rabbit Hole (2019)

Down the Rabbit Hole

Director (and writer): Ali Froggatt

Cast: Ali Froggatt, Jeff Gladstone, Darion Trotman, Lucia Forward, Charlie Kerr

Down the Rabbit Hole is a short about a woman who falls in love and cuts out their heart afterwards until one day, she suffers heartache. Its hard to pinpoint exactly what all of it means as the really lovely cinematography here actually hides a lot of it off screen and leaves it for our own imagination. No doubt one of the more polished and artistic shorts so far, the story itself has no narration and only has atmospheric background music and non-verbal exchanges whether facial expressions or actions as a means of directing the story forward. While its an abstract sort of storyline, it leaves a lot of space for its own interpretation which is quite fun. Not to mention, the effects here are done really well and there’s a deep sense of build-up for the leading lady as she goes from one rendez-vous to the next until that final turning point which is rather shocking on how it all works.

Its one those stories that leave enough space that it could be interesting to see what this could be with more space to develop the story and what direction it can take as there seems to definitely be a bigger picture here to understand and explore.

Hearth (2019)

foyer le film

Director: Sophie B Jacques

Cast: Marilyn Castonguay, Joel Marin, Marianne Farley, Guy Richer

Paralleled with reality to the past events of an Airbnb owner coming home after renting out her home to a couple, the story follows the reading of the man of the letter he leaves after their departure (or maybe the note in the guestbook, something like that). As she goes through the house, she is pleased by its appearance while its contrasted with how the events of the night the couple rented went and it was much more sinister in nature.

Using dim lighting and a very clever use of camera as it moves from one room to the next and blending in the past and the present, Hearth is an outstanding telling of the horror stories behind the unknowns of renting out a house, taking the opposite side of the spectrum when most people will talk about the owners being the one with the questionable motives, the renters can also be the ones that are the unknown factor here and can be involved in some suspicious activity. Its a clever little script that works really well and perfectly paced for this 10 minute experience.

With Airbnb and such services becoming such a hit, it was only a matter of time before horror took its direction there and gave everyone the warning of what could happen with their tenants. Its definitely a territory to explore in the future of horror and suspense.

 

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.

Horror Short Film: Goodnight, Gracie

Who would have thought I’d be dropping by again today, right? No review yet but here’s a quick share for a scary short to look at. Goodnight, Gracie is a horror short which is premiering exclusively on Alter today.

Goodnight, Gracie (2017)

goodnight gracie

Director (and writer): Stellan Kendrick

Cast: Caige Coulter, Courtney Gains, Zoe Simpson Dean, Brad Goodman

I looked at this short a little while back. You can check out my thoughts HERE.

The Final Act of Joey Jumbler (Short 2018)

The Final Act of Joey Jumbler (Short 2018)

the final act of joey jumbler

Director (and writer): Harley Chamandy

A party clown must fight to keep his smile on. – IMDB

Have you ever wondered about the facades of the people you meet every single day? From the random passerby to the bus driver that you see everyday. Everyone greets and has all their polite moments, but the stories behind those smiles are sometimes the ones that we never expect. Its why we shouldn’t judge someone by what they do or who they are because everyone has hidden struggles that others do not know about. The Final Act of Joey Jumbler is exactly that. This short film takes us on a day in the life of Joey Jumbler as we see him start his day, go for his job as a clown/entertainer at a party and then back to his personal life, which is him trying to be happy and strong for his little girl.

There is a lot to love in The Final Act of Joey Jumbler. It runs at about 10 minutes and gives us appropriate pacing in telling this story. It hits some moments but never dwells on it for too long. In just a few locations and a few acts, we get the idea of the life and feelings that Joey Jumbler has. Part of this is for the main character, Alain Boucher as Joey Jumbler who delivers a great role. “In Memory Of” at the beginning of the credits also reveals that the story is inspired by Boucher’s real life story, who Chamandy previously worked with in his debut short, Mirage.  At the same time, the credit goes to this 18 year old young filmmaker, Harley Chamandy who directed and wrote this short film, as well as cinematographer, Stephanie Weber Biron, in their collaboration and knowing when to use close ups and frame the shots. Its delivers the emotions and struggles in a heartfelt way.

Everyone has their own story and no matter their profession, deserves their respect. That is one of the messages here. There are a variety of messages that Harley Chamandy’s short film is telling. Be it the difference of social ranking from the scene with Joey Jumbler ridiculed for doing his job but seemingly offending the rich adults of the party or the idea that having money doesn’t make you a better person as both the spoiled kids and the adults were obnoxious. If you look at Making Of this film, it talks about this scene relating to the divisive feelings and conflicts reflecting the Quebec Anglophone and Francophone community and the Quebec. While I do live in the community, perhaps I saw it more of a generalized view of the differences between just wealth and disrespect being the central issue. While that angle will give it more of a personal angle, it also creates a box for the audience it can reach because this is a more regional issue. Touchy issues are good to use however, in this case, Quebec Sovereignty and the obnoxious wealthy Anglophone only makes this movie pin a judgemental view of the two groups represented by only a few individuals. Living in Quebec personally, its one that is deeply rooted and deserves more than a simple one scene to reflect on, perhaps if this issue is one that holds so close to Chamandy’s heart, it is a potential next project but one to be treaded very carefully as with most political films.

At eighteen years old, Harley Chamandy shows a lot of promise in the storytelling depth. It will be interesting to see where this filmmaker will take his voice into a full-length film and what he will deliver next.

The Final Act of Joey Jumbler is currently available to view on Vimeo. Check it out HERE.

Shorts Triple Feature: The Substitute/I Want You Inside Me/The Stylist

We hopped back into Shudder and since there was quite a few movies still backlogged for review, I decided to check out some of the short films instead.

The Subsitute (2015)

the substitute

Director: Nathan Hughes-Berry

Cast: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, David Bamber, Ben Kerfoot, Haruka Abe, Alfie Stewart, Anna Hogarth

A young teacher takes a job at an unusual private school where the boys have a sinister power over the girls. – IMDB

The Substitute is a sinister and psychological short. It takes a dark and suspenseful tone of this private school with peculiar rules that most teachers are able to adapt to hence why they have hired a substitute. Not only are the classes structured weird but also the behavior of everyone is also. Particularly when there is a mysterious locked door at the end of the room that no one talks about but when there is bad behavior, it is where the student exit the class. The movie gives the viewers lots of questions and hits them with a few answers. Being a short film, it does a great job of keeping the mystery of the locked door. Its impossible to not think throughout the film of what is actually going on here and especially is what behind the locked door.

Its been a long time since I’ve felt this amount of suspense and thrills that has honestly been on my mind for a few days lingering on the movie stirring up some deep emotions about the connotations of this short and honestly, hoping that this was a full length film because it would give more answers. Of course, that is only a hope and looking at IMDB, it doesn’t seem like its in the works but I still highly recommend this short film.

I Want You Inside Me (2016)

i want you inside me

Director: Alice Shindelar

Cast: Abigail Wahl, Kiley Juckel, Nate Bucsko, Ezekiel Ashamu, Malik Johnson

A tale of all-consuming desire. – IMDB

A young girl losing her virginity is already quite the scary thing but think about not even remembering what happened and also finding that the boyfriend as disappeared as well when she wakes up, that is nothing short of confusing and heartbreaking. I Want You Inside Me is a intriguing one. While the tone of the film lies in the mystery of what happen and the reveal feels odd, it also does have this weird vibe throughout the film that works and doesn’t at the same time. Perhaps its because a short film doesn’t give the viewer enough time to bond with the main character here and she doesn’t exactly hang around with a crowd that makes it easier to like her more. Whatever it is, they do drop one hint of sorts in the film and if the viewer catches that, the ending might seem a little more apparent. It is a little out there but not something completely unique and unexpected. Actually, it is slightly goofy and disturbing all at the same time.

The Stylist (2016)

the stylist

Director (and writer): Jill Gevargizian

Cast: Najarra Townsend, Jennifer Plas, Angela Dupuie

Claire is a lonely hairstylist with an unnerving desire to escape her disappointing reality. When her final client of the evening arrives with the request to look perfect, Claire has plans of her own. – IMDB

I’m not up to date with a lot of short films. However, The Stylist has been on my radar since it had hit the festival circuit. I remember some other blogger writing about it and seemed incredibly intriguing. The Stylist is a solo journey for this young woman who stays late at her job to take care of her last customer at the salon. As the movie proceeds, we learn more through her actions and emotions about who she is. There might not be a ton of dialogue but her expressions will get you a trip into her world. Somehow it strikes a chord easily on the idea of wanting to be someone else. However, the short did remind me of a few films as it was going on that it lacked the originality it needed to really make it very suspenseful. It definitely still had the psychological aspect because The Stylist herself, played by Najarra Townsend does  a great job in interpreting the main character Claire and showing all the right emotions .

The Stylist had all the right tones and an outstanding performance with a mysterious character however, the layout of the story lacked a bit of intrigue. It is still done very well and for just looking at the snippet of Claire’s world is as deep as 15 minutes can get you.

This wrap up the triple feature for these short films!
A very suspenseful and psychological thriller collection of three shorts! 🙂 

Fantasia Film Festival 2014: Hal (2013) & Sonny Boy and Dewdrop Girl (short 2013)

As my friends would say, seeing anime at Fantasia is where the roots are at.  I don’t remember what the roots are of Fantasia.  In my book, if a film festival offers good movies, I don’t really care what genre we’re looking at.  Maybe thats what makes me passionate about movies and diving into that new world.  Regardless, I was intrigued by this North American premiere one in particular called Hal (Haru for the Japan title). Its a short little one hour long movie and was accompanied by a short called Sonny Boy and Dewdrop Girl to start things off.  Plus, we had the trailer/gameplay of Rainbox Six Siege which was pretty cool.  You can actually find that trailer on Youtube.

First of all, I feel like I should talk a little about the short: Sonny Boy and Dewdrop Girl.

Sonny Boy and Dewdrop Girl

This is just a cute little story about a boy who has a crush on a girl in his class and then she announces that she has to move away for whatever reason so he has to find the courage to tell her how he feels.  Its silly, fun, cute, innocent and so funny to watch.  A lot of people (if not everyone) had a good laugh with this short.  Sonny Boy was just hilarious in how clumsy he was and then the animation and imagination was totally adorable. It was a beautiful way to start off before the actual movie.

Now for a little synopsis for Hal 🙂

Hal 2013Director: Ryoutarou Makihara

Cast: Yoshimasa Hosoya, Yoko Hikasa, Mamoru Miyano

In a future world in Japan, technology has been advanced to the point where robots can behave completely like humans.  Hal’s sudden death took away Kurumi’s will to live and that is when her family sends in a robot who looks like Hal to remind her what living is.  While Hal tries to fulfill her wishes and help her step back into society as herself, he struggles to understand what it is like to be human and how to feel.

Hal is quick and to the point anime at around 60 minutes.  I haven’t dived into the world of anime in a long time and other than Miyazaki’s world, I’m pretty much new to this side of it.  Whether its original or not, I don’t know.  However, this love story between Hal and Kurumi and just how she rehabilitates after the loss of Hal is a touching one.  For one, its definitely not easy to watch and actually leans on the heavy side.  There are some heartwarming moments and some funny ones because not only is Kurumi’s actions awkward at times, Hal is a robot and he also has his funny moments when he learns the little things that humans only learn over time.  Everything is new to him and he has to learn to live also.

Hal 2013

Hal is quite interesting and it all comes down to whether you like how they end this.  There is a twist in this one and I think the appreciation for it comes down to how predictable you felt it was.  I personally was shocked by it and actually thought it was pretty clever.  Along with the fact that everything is very nicely animated and there is a cute meaning behind it, I had a good time watching this.  A girl two seats down from me was bawling her eyes out because she was so touched but no, I didn’t hit that territory.  I felt like the premise was good and they had a good layout but somehow the execution could have been a little bit better.  Maybe its because it was so short that I didn’t get time to really connect with any of the characters and then it ended. I haven’t really pinpointed it yet.

Don’t get me wrong though. I’d definitely watch this again some time but it does lean on the heavy side with themes of life and death being in the front seat. Despite my little complaints, I really don’t see a lot of problems with this.  The characters are done well and it keeps us guessing because if you saw the trailer, it pretty much points to the question of whether Hal was really such a great guy.  I won’t say more because then its going to hit spoiler territory and I want to avoid that.

I have no recommendations but at such a short runtime, I’d say that Hal is worth it.  Maybe it’ll tug at your heartstrings a little more than me but it did have some touching moments along with a handful of awkward and funny ones.  All in all, its a good movie experience and the background music is pretty sweet also.  Plus, I put the end theme song up there and I like it a lot! Its no Hayao Miyazaki story or Joe Hisaishi music but I’d say it still has its charm.

Are you an anime fan? Have you seen or heard of it?

The Other Side of Yesterday…

I don’t usually do these single video posts but I was really touched with this one. Wong Fu Productions sometimes has these pretty awesome videos.  I had posted early early in my blogging world one called Who What When Where Why The Last.  Till today, I still think that was one of the best videos they’ve done and I go back to watch it.

The Other Side of Yesterday doesn’t quite top that one but I really like it a lot.  The meaning behind it is pretty positive.

Everything is impossible until you experience it.

Some people choose to live in the past, and others can escape their fear of the future, and some of just simply lost.

No one is ever really gone.  As long as they are remembered, they live on…

We’re all time travelers.  Even though our paths are unique and the challenges presented.  One truth remains constant. Whats to come tomorrow. Whats left behind in yesterday. Its all determined in what we do today.

Isn’t it really awesome? I liked it a lot. Did you?