TADFF 2021: The Free Fall (2021)

The Free Fall (2021)

Director: Adam Stilwell

Cast: Andrea Londo, Shawn Ashmore, Jane Badler, Michael Berry Jr., Elizabeth Cappuccino, Dominic Hoffman

After attempting to take her own life, a young woman must wrestle with an overbearing husband. – IMDB

The big finale for my coverage of Toronto After Dark Film Festival is also the high point of the entire festival with this clever, thrilling and tense psychological horror film. There is so much to love about it and yet, what really pulls it together is its fantastic twist that gives this movie such a unique concept that pulls together the whole film in a way that hasn’t been done before (at least in my film experience). I don’t want to dive into the details as that will definitely ruin what makes this so cleverly structured and written. With any film which relies heavily on the ending being able to pull all its pieces together in a rewarding way for its audience, it also comes with a lot of mysteries and questions built out throughout that will definitely be very mindboggling and confusing. However, trust me on this one, if you stick it out, the ending is well worth it.

Moving away from the element that I can’t talk about, there’s a lot of other things that make this film pretty well-executed. The first has to be its one setting. One setting films are really quite fun as it works well to use its space efficiently, having spaces left to be explored and in this case, with a main character suffering from amnesia also brings in going into spaces that may or may not bring in new memories and create different atmospheres.

The atmosphere is also built up pretty well especially when it comes to the imagery and visuals. The house itself having a lot to do with how some shots are set up in an appealing way. The atmosphere also changes with the fluctuation of the main character Sara as she struggles with what she is seeing in reality or her imagination. It brings in a lot of darker and sinister moments that create the horror lurking in the background whether its through reflections or dark spaces. At the same time, there’s a nice control of how to use some of the scenes repeatedly but also expanding on them to add more to the story as it progresses.

A lot of credit does have to go to the cast here. Andrea Londo as Sara does a great job right from the start as she experiences the trauma that drags her into this situation where she struggles with recovering from amnesia and dealing with all the odd and suspicious things that seems to be happening in her home. Andrea Londo has a good control over her role which is ever so important here as it makes sure there isn’t any overacting. Much like Shawn Ashmore who also delivers a good performance as the husband Nick. Nick’s character is suspicious right at the beginning and in some ways, its meant to have that feeling especially when amnesia and suspicious husband roles come into play as they are estranged characters that haven’t been introduced until that moment. His character develops and changes over the course of the film especially in its character’s intensity and calmness that delivers a different layer.

Overall, The Free Fall is an outstanding psychological horror film. Thrillers are so hard to do great and this one manages to make the ending so rewarding and gives such a unique angle to the horror subgenre that its tackling. The writer Kent Harper deserves a lot of credit. The cast, the cinematography, the writing are all really well-executed, making this film well worth a watch.

TADFF 2021: Ditched (2021)

Ditched (2021)

Director (and writer): Christopher Donaldson

Cast: Marika Silas, Mackenzie Gray, Kris Loranger, Declan O’Reilly, Lara Taillon, Shawna Pliva McGill, Reamonn Joshee, Lee Lopez, Michelle Molineux, J. Lindsay Robinson

After a routine prison transfer crashes in the forest, young Inuit paramedic Melina finds herself surrounded by murderers with a mere 100 feet to climb out of a ditch to escape. When they are attacked by an unseen force in the forest, Melina’s short journey to safety becomes the ultimate contest of wills. – IMDB

Ditched is a 2021 Canadian survival horror film where it almost feelings like Panic Room but in an isolated country road but instead of an actual panic room, its the insides of an overturned ambulance. As the people involved in the accident both in the police car and the ambulance wakes up, they start to realize that there is a group of brutal killers outside waiting to kill each one of them one by one.

The isolated ditch in the middle of nowhere at night is a wonderful horror/thriller setting. It brings in the helplessness and the fear even more as the unknowns lie in the dark. The mystery also comes from why this group has targeted them specifically: Is it for the prisoners that are being transferred or is it just for the hunt itself? The questions that build up do get answered gradually towards the middle which does feel like the reveal is a little bit early at times as this leads into this long face-off period which loses steam as the final confrontation is also drawn out as it faces down to almost monologue moment that also feels a little tedious. This is definitely a pacing issue with the script itself as perhaps the entire plot was structured a little straightforward in the beginning that there isn’t as many angles to play with in execution.

With that said, the tension that is built in the first act is done really well and does trail into a good portion of the second act. A lot of it also comes down to some well-structured kills as they go through them one by one while they try to survive in their own way. Its a rather psychological battle for the most part as well as a battle of the wits in the final act. While there are quite a few characters in these interactions, the main few do focus around Melina the paramedic, the strapped down manipulative prisoner as well some other paramedics that make it out. As they use the resources in their tight ambulance space to survive, it does make for some nice fight back moments.

The main element with Ditched is that where it works and doesn’t work is in its plot. Where is doesn’t work is in how it seems to get to the reveal point of what the goal is as mentioned before. However, it also works in the plot as it creates this more conflicted view towards people in general where it makes the audience think about whether the killers are actually bad and the survivors are actually good. In more simple terms, the gray area gets explored here in human nature and probably how some people aren’t exactly what meets the eye completely while also leaving some room at the end for a little further contemplation about whether what is done as the big finale is actually justified.

Overall, Ditched is a decent horror thriller. It does show a lot of low budget elements. It also does feel like it has a lot of influences in terms how certain moments are treated. The director’s message at the beginning does talk about his intentions of creating something that feels like it been the missing 80s film that no one ever saw before but finally get a 4K release and in many moments, it definitely feels like an 80s film whether in dialogue or the effects or how certain scenes are structured.

TADFF 2021: Nightshooters (2018)

Nightshooters (2018)

Director (and writer): Marc Price

Cast: Adam McNab, Nicky Evans, Rosanna Hoult, Jean-Paul Ly, Richard Sandling, Kaitlyn Riordan, Mica Proctor, Nicholas Aaron, Ben Shafik, Doug Allen

An action thriller about a group of filmmakers who find themselves on the run from a violent horde of criminals after witnessing a brutal gangland execution. Unable to flee the derelict building they have been shooting in, the hapless film crew must use their technical skill and cinematic knowledge to defend themselves. The stunt man is a martial arts master, the special effects guru disregards safety and sets lethal traps, and the sound department strategically lay radio mics to detect when the hoodlums are on their way. Cue lots of thrills in a cat and mouse game of survival. – IMDB

For fans of The Raid and Snatch, there’s a lot to love about Nightshooters, a low budget action thriller that takes place in one location, a soon-to-be demolished building which almost feels like some kind of the real situation being reflected in a more fictional setting but similar as the story also features a group of filmmakers making a low budget film in a soon to be demolished building with a few hours countdown. This right away sets up this urgency that this will come into play as the two groups goes up against each other. While there is not actual counter, its a little detail that really does bring the setting as a constant reminder.

When the crew ends up witnessing a crime execution in the other side of the way and the criminals goes after them in this building, its all a great set-up in the first act which sets the tone especially in terms of the dark comedy and the characters involved and their basic characters and abilities. Much like how it naturally flows into some fantastic action sequences and choreography when it gets into the criminals against filmmakers running and hiding through this building which is both dangerous as it already has all its demolishment explosives in place which could easily be triggered but also the criminals being rather a wide group of characters and lethal in their own ways as well.

Talking about the characters, there’s so much to love about them as well especially when it comes to the film crew themselves. This group is definitely the characters which are meant for the audience to connect to a lot more. Their different roles and their abilities and know-how come into play as they try to survive the chase from the other criminals. With a lot of the action sequences powered by a fantastic action choreography and sequences with Donnie played by Jean-Paul Ly (also, could the name be a nod to Donnie Yen?), there’s some exceptional moments here through these fight scenes.

However, not only their more professional fight sequences are great to watch but also a moment where the more amateur fight moments like one with the character Kim (Mica Proctor) which was a lot of fun but the other character encounters also leading to some creative death sequences as they defeated the criminals one by one. There are some really cool effects executed there. The stand-out characters has to be the three girls of the film crew as they are very resourceful especially Ellie (Rosanna Hoult) who has some foreshadowing in what she will use at the beginning but also a lot of other know-hows that effectively come into play. Of course, for much more personal reasons, Kim is a character I rooted for (considering I’m also a Kim and she kind of reminded me of myself).

Overall, Nightshooters is a really entertaining low budget action thriller. Its effective in what it achieves as the setting and the tone is used really well. There are definitely nods to other films throughout that are rather apparent but also fit incredibly well and adds to the film itself. There’s a cast of characters that have their own value and personality which adds contrast and makes them all stand-out and fun to watch. Nightshooters has a very straightforward plot which works well with what they are trying to do.

*Nightshooters is available on Toronto After Dark Film Festival from October 13th to 17th on their virtual platform. You check it out HERE*

TADFF 2021: Post Mortem (2020)

Post Mortem (2020)

Director (and co-writer): Peter Bergendy

Cast: Viktor Klem, Fruzsina Hais, Judit Schell, Andrea Ladanyi, Zsolt Anger

A post mortem photographer and a little girl confront ghosts in a haunted village after the First World War. – IMDB

This year’s Toronto After Dark is definitely new experiences coming one after another. Post Mortem is a Hungary horror film. Being someone who hasn’t seen a Hungary film before, this is a completely new territory to explore. Horror movies especially revolving ghosts and hauntings are the creepiest types of horror in my personal opinion so this one was right up my alley.

Port Mortem is set during the times of World War I and after that and the Spanish Flu and centred around a photographer Tomas (Viktor Klem) that has survived a near death experience during the war to come out afterwards selling his craft as a post mortem photography. A little girl Anna (Fruzsina Hais) shows up one day from a neighboring village and asks him to help with her own town’s hauntings. Packed with part skepticism and curiosity, he goes to the town as weird things start happening as he helps the recently deceased and their families with their post mortem photographs.

The story overall is pretty good. The whole investigation and a stranger going into a small village brings in a lot of suspense as he is discovering what’s going on along with the audience. Plus, ghost stories are rather appealing overall especially when it involves hauntings where this one is executed rather well in terms of plot. The film does almost reach 2 hours in length so in the middle it does seem to drag out a little. The setting and time period adds a certain level of atmosphere which makes almost like a gray filter over the screen and adds a very gloomy feeling.

The idea of post mortem photographs in itself is a pretty creepy thing in general. A lot of the unsettling horror moments do involve the actual post mortem photography as Tomas sets up his shots and works with the different bodies. A lot of unexplained things happen creating some great scary and unsettling moments. There are also other rather mysterious and sinister things that happen creating a good part of the horror and bringing in the ghost element a little bit more as Tomas and Anna try to find out why this is happening and what it wants. Some other horror elements include some possession going on which has a rather scary sequence with a little boy involved at one point while in contrast, there’s a part in the final act which sees a lot of people being pulled up levitating in the air that feels a little overdone.

In terms of characters, its main focus is on Tomas and Anna who are really good characters overall. They do have their own little stories through conversations which shed some light on the village itself. At the same time, there is a deeper meaning to Tomas for agreeing to do this for an unknown little girl which also builds up on their dynamic as they investigate together. The older character and the younger girl does have this protective element to it especially putting in contrast their reactions to the scary events happening. I’d like to say that Anna, played by Fruzsina Hais is absolutely fantastic. She is such a charming character despite her age.

Overall, Post Mortem is a pretty effective ghost haunting horror film. There are some moments which feel a little stretched out and some horror elements feel a tad overused losing its effect and actually having an oddly comedic feeling to it. However, its core element of photography and recording technology in that time and era is incorporated well, much like using the post mortem photography as an effective horror element. Its definitely one worth checking out!\

*Post Mortem is currently available from October 13th to 17th on Toronto After Dark Film Festival’s virtual platform. You can find all the info HERE!*

TADFF 2021: Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It (2020)

Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It (2020)

Director (and co-writer): Yernar Nurgaliyev

Cast: Daniar Alshinov, Asel Kaliyeva, Azamat Marklenov, Yerlan Primbetov, Dulyga Akmolda, Almat Sakatov, Rustem Zhaniyamanov, Yerkebulan Daiyrov, Bekaris Akhetov

Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It is a 2020 Kazakhstan horror comedy that tells the story of Dastan (Daniar Alshinov), a husband awaiting the birth of his child. As his wife Zhanna (Asel Kaliyeva) hounds him over the name for their first child, he suddenly decides to take a day trip to escape with his two friends, Arman (Azamat Marklenov) and Murat (Yerlan Primbetov) to go fishing on the countryside. As they start their fishing, they end up seeing something that they shouldn’t have and from then on, their fishing trip takes a dangerous turn as they need to run for their lives to not get caught and get out of this predicament alive.

First off, let’s go on the record that this is definitely the first Kazakhstan film that I’ve ever seen. Being completely new to country’s offerings, this was a really great first film experience. The film starts off setting the tone pretty well with a lot of comedy between the couple quarrelling over their newborn baby and the name that they should give it. From the reactions to the facial expressions to the whole interaction, it gives a good idea of the main character Dastan right away and also sets up the comedy tone right away. The film is not about this couple though because shortly after, Dastan runs off for a fishing trip with his two buddies. During the car ride, it reveals a lot about these three guys and the ridiculousness and in turn, the hilarity that will ensue especially when the truck is full of sex dolls that ends up being turned into a makeshift raft when these three going on a fishing trip and know nothing about fishing.

At the same time, the film also focuses on a group of mobs/psychopaths living in the area that is bringing their hostage to settle some issues with them when they end up angering a killer in the vicinity who goes after them one by one. As this group crosses with Dastan’s group and they witness something that they shouldn’t, the mob ends up chasing their group as the one-eyed killer goes after them and then all three get tangled with each other. Thing is, the film’s horror comes from the one-eyed killer hunting down them and the different ways that he kills them right up to the end. At the same time, it mixes in these hilariously ridiculous moments that are so over the top that its hard to not find it funny even if some of it is so silly and absurd. And yet, somehow it works so well and creates a fantastic balance between the comedy and the “horror”.

The film does have really good pacing. Its executed really well as it does pick up as it moves along especially when these guys are all chasing after one and another. Right down to some pretty well-choreographed action sequence in the final act as they all reconvene in a tight space trying to get out of this. There are some other moments where this feels very apparent with their action sequences. It almost feels a little comedic like one moment where one of the friends flies through the window and then ends up coming back through the other window on the other side almost feeling like a cartoon.

Overall, Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It is this fun little slice of life horror comedy especially for these friends as they experience this whole predicament which feels too ridiculous to believe. As usual, comedy is a rather subjective thing so perhaps this feel might feel dumb to some people but I’m a big fan of over the top absurdities and this film is a absolute trip, an awesome one at that!

*Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It is available to stream across Canada on Toronto After Dark Film Festival’s virtual platform throughout the festival from October 13th to 17th. You can check it out HERE along with the rest of the schedule.*

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?

What’s Up 2019: Week 43

Tranquil Dreams (46)

A crazy week has gone by! Its made blogging very abnormal and made it essentially impossible to get back into the Halloween marathon. Luckily, there’s Toronto After Dark and that was 95% horror and I had angled some horror stuff to go up. Either way, lets see whats up the past week!

READING

Murder in Montague Falls

  • Murder in Montague Falls by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hutton & Patrick Thomas

Currently reading: Legends of Exile

Its seems I have been in a phase of multistories in books as Murder in Montague Falls ended and my review goes up next week which was three stories set in this location. The book currently being read is also somewhat like that with a setting and four stories in Legends of Exile. I literally just started it so too early to say too much about it.

PLAYING

case 23

  • Cube Escape: Case 23 (Review)

Currently playing: Cube Escape: The Mill

I am working on the next Mobile Games Roundup and the second half of Cube Escape series right now. I am a tad stuck with Cube Escape: The Mill, which was one that I had trouble with the first time I played it also. However, I am trying to do these without any help or walkthroughs and just figure it out so definitely get back. Although, I have my eye on the release of Afterparty as its highly considered as the next review podcast for Game Warp. We will see!

WATCHING

Untitled design (5)

Toronto After Dark Short Films

  • Ocimokw!! (Go Away!!) (Review)
  • Grave Sight (Review)
  • Down the Rabbit Hole (Review)
  • Hearth (Foyer, Review)
  • Barabara-Anne (Review)
  • Kakatshat (Review)
  • Schism (Review)
  • A Noise That Carries (Review)
  • Eilid + Damh
  • Dead Before Dawn: Convoy (Review)
  • Patterns (Review)
  • The Changeling (Review)
  • The Haunted Swordsman (Review)
  • Canadian Shorts After Dark: Imagine A World, Plainsong (Melopee), Moment, Alaska, No One Will Ever Believe You, Best Friends Forever (Review)

Since I was watching all shorts except for one film from the week before that I realized that I forgot to add in, I did banner of my faves. Toronto After Dark has some great short films. The majority are impressive and very fun. Its also very diverse in topics and angles sometimes into sci-fi, even had superheroes plus all kinds of horror. I always appreciate creativity and great cinematography and a lot of these had those elements in spade and some projects that I would hope will expand to some feature films on their great premise.

BINGING

fated to love you

  • Gilmore Girls (Season 2, Rewatch) Review
  • Fated to Love You (2007, Rewatch)

Currently binging: Soft Memory, When I Grow Up, Relation Ship, Creepshow, Bromance, Super Nova Games 2

When I’m busy with work and overtime, my main focus drops to rewatching stuff so that its more background noise than requiring much of my own focus. Hence why Gilmore Girls has popped by on the radar (not that it really needs a reason for a rewatch other than its pure satisfaction and fun times). I’ve been trying to also go through my unreviewed TV series from the past year and decided to give Fated to Love You a rewatch as well. This viewing has actually brought to continue the Taiwanese series catch-up and went on to start Bromance which I happen to watch on my downtime when all the other series I’m currently watching, airing weekly is out of the way.

Along with that new beginning, I also started up Super Nova Games 2, which is a season 2 for this sports competition done by Tencent for its up and coming talent (singers, idols, actors, hosts, etc.).

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

TADFF 2019 Shorts:Barbara-Anne/Kakatshat/Schism/A Noise That Comes

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Barbara-Anne (2019)

barbara-anne

Director: Kat Webber

Cast: Emily Coutts, Philip Riccio, Katelyn McCulloch

Starting off as a light-hearted little dancing housewife through the kitchen as she prepares a full course meal for her husband, the story takes an obvious turn stylistically as well as in atmosphere when her husband who stays in the much more modern living room with his gadgets like wireless earphones and goes to do his workout when his wife has something much darker in the plans.

Barbara-Anne is a nice blend of classic Hollywood style with a modern contrast that works so well. The wife here while being the typical blonde beauty also delivers up a clever act that turns her into quite the femme fatale which pretty much happens all to the audience’s knowledge and not to her unsuspecting husband who expects her to be the wife that waits for his attention when he wants to give it to her. Of course, nothing is as you expect and Barbara-Anne has some tricks up its sleeve that gives it that dark twist while serving up some dark comedy as well. Fantastically done short!

Kakatshat (2018)

Kakatshat

Director: Eve Ringuette

Cast: Therese Vollant, Philippe St-Arnault

Starting the short in 1829 when a son abandons his mother in the forest who in turn curses his family and all the descendants to pay for his disrespect, it continues to the present where a father and son bond on a camping trip to where the woman was abandoned and the curse follows them.

Filmed in Sept-Iles in Quebec,  Kakatshat takes a rather atmospheric build here as it moves from the past to the present, not only contrasting the neglect from a grown-up son to a parent versus a young boy and his father, who talks about being neglected by his own father and generally not wanting to be like that. It also takes a sinister turn when the curse follows them in the forest which gives a tense dark atmosphere that builds up to a truly effective jump scare. To have that effect in 8 minutes is a great feat and also shares a bit about the culture of what is shown in the beginning as well. Kakatshat is a short well worth watching if you get the chance.

Schism (2019)

Schism 2019

Director: Andrew Todd & Johnny Hall

Schism is a 3 minute black and white short that is essentially no narrative and splits the screen into two as the main character is a man that has been split into two and negotiating with himself to become whole again. What is intriguing to note here is that Schism was made during the 48 Hours 2019, which definitely shows the creativity here at work especially for something put together in such a short time frame.

While the short is a bit odd and very abstract in what it is trying to do, there is a rather cool use of how the screen is split into two and how effective it is for the execution of this short as the one person split into two is almost like two sides of his personality compromising each other. One is much more wild and sinister while the other is serious and a bit worried about being split into two. At the same time, the soundtrack it uses really adds to the entire experience and the black and white gives it a nice style.

A Noise That Carries (2019)

A Noise That Carries

Director: Guillermo de la Rosa

Cast: Paul Payne, Lee Lawson, Meredith Heinrich

A Noise That Carries is a 15 minute short about a recently divorced man who wakes up to the sound of creaking floorboards which sounds like someone stops right outside his bedroom door and suspects that someone is has broken in during the night and decides to investigate this with a neighbor that drops by with similar concerns.

Pulling in at 15 minutes, A Noise That Carries is more fleshed out just by it being slightly longer. However, it takes no time to get its story set up with the basic knowledge of its situation and starts setting up the unsettling home invasion atmosphere immediately. Its takes its time to give the quiet a chance to do its work especially when subtle noises are the elements that are creating this horror element until it turns around with the big reveal and then things still play more on the quiet evasion rather than any intense chase scene and that works so much better. A Noise That Carries lets “less is more” do its work and it works incredibly well here leaving me at the edge of my seat and wondering whether there would be a jumpscare/surprise around every corner. Great home invasion stories usually have that effect.

 

 

 

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.

 

What’s Up 2019: Week 42

Tranquil Dreams (1)

Another week as passed. Festival du Nouveau Cinema is now behind us and having a sudden drop of a little remote coverage for Toronto After Dark (which is ongoing currently) for short films, we’re still in a heavy watching action. Of course, Toronto After Dark also is mostly horror films so that fits with the Halloween marathon. A lot of other stuff was going on at the same time so lets see what happened!

READING

Hope

  • Hope by Terry Tyler (Review)

Currently reading: Murder of Montague Falls

Slowly getting back into the reading vibe! There’s a few blog tours coming up and other reading commitments. I was pretty close to deadline for Hope but it all worked out and actually was a really nice thrilling read. Right now, I’m in the first of 3 novellas in the Murder of Montague Falls novel. So far, its pretty neat and very matching to the Halloween horror sort of vibe so thats coming up as well.

PLAYING

cube escape: Harvey's Box

  • Cube Escape: Seasons
  • Cube Escape: The Lake
  • Cube Escape: Arles
  • Cube Escape: Harvey’s Box

I’ve been revisiting the Cube Escape series in an attempt to review them. The best way I’ve figured out is to just go at it through the Mobile Games Round-ups which keeps them fairly contained, almost capsule reviews, style and still share some of them in case some of you haven’t checked it out and are looking for something fun. At the same time, I also wanted to play their latest one which I happened to have backed on Kickstarter and never got around to playing so I wanted to replay it from the beginning to piece together the story again. Four games in so far (Cube Escape series) but there’s still a good deal of not only Cube Escape but also the full games on Steam.

WATCHING

Mickey and the Bear

Festival du Nouveau Cinema 2019 Films:

  • Sole (2019, Review)
  • J’ai Perdu Mon Corps (2019, Review)
  • Mickey and the Bear (2019, Review)
  • A White, White Day (2019, Review)
  • Dirty God (2019)

Toronto After Dark Short Films:

  • Turbo Killer (2016 short, Review)
  • Far Horizon (2019, Review)
  • Flip (2019, Review)
  • We Three Queens (2019 short, Review)
  • Eyes Open (2019 short, Review)
  • Make Me A Sandwich (2019 short, Review)
  • International Shorts After Dark: Maggie May, Puzzle, Eject, La Noria, Your Last Day On Earth, Place

Crazy long list this time! Its why I decided to separate them by full features and short films and which festival they belong to. In terms of Festival du Nouveau Cinema, the story that touched me the most is Mickey and the Bear! Hands down, the one that hit me the hardest and it being a directorial debut really shows the power of new eyes in cinema coming up on the scene to look out for. At the same time, J’ai Perdu Mon Corps and Sole are two that I liked a lot also. The former will be landing on Netflix as an Original film so that’s pretty exciting (especially if you like French animation).

As for short films, my fave probably would go to We Three Queens for the holiday horror element that hasn’t been looked at before (at least I haven’t seen it), Turbo Killer for its exciting visually stunning, fantastic music video style creative sci-fi story and well as for horror drama-ish with tons of creativity, La Noria takes that one without any doubt.

BINGING

dream space 2

  • Well-Intended Love (2019)
  • Dream Space 2 (2019)

Currently binging: Soft Memory, When I Grow Up, Relation Ship, Creepshow

Feeling quite nice nowadays as the whole TV binging thing has been much more toned down at a normal level. I wrapped up Well-Intended Love, which I felt was a few episodes too long and really did lack a lot of the whole chemistry and whatnot that I would have liked. I didn’t really hate it but just slightly indifferent about it, I guess. We’ll see where Season 2 goes, I suppose as that’s in filming now. However, my choice goes to Dream Space 2 which definitely had its up and downs. Its not quite as entertaining as the other shows of the same style (or even its first season) but I had some participants that I was really liking a lot so hoping that their whole leaving the show together will result in some happy ending in the future.

As for currently binging, I let the husband choose the next show to binge together and he went for Creepshow on Shudder. We’re three episodes in, which is 6 stories and I have to say that while its relatively fun to watch, its a lot of hit and miss but I think it all dials down to what type of horror you enjoy more of.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
Its been a crazy busy week with one more of the same to go as well as wrapping up the final few bits of Halloween month!
What have you been reading/watching/binging/playing?