Sunday, October 19, 2014

TADFF14: Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

dead_snow_2Director Tommy Wirkola returns with the sequel to his 2009 Nazi zombie comedy.  Beginning immediately following the first film’s conclusion, sole survivor Martin (Vegar Hoel) narrowly escapes the clutches of the Nazi zombie commander Herzog (Ørjan Gamst), however he finds himself charged with the deaths of his friends.  To make matters worse, Herzog’s severed arm was attached to Martin’s body in hospital, giving him superhuman strength and an uncontrollable desire for violence.  With Herzog creating new zombie forces to do his bidding, Martin recruits the American Zombie Squad of Daniel (Martin Starr), Monica (Jocelyn DeBoer), and Blake (Ingrid Haas) and puts forth a plan to stop Herzog, which includes reanimating an opposing army of Soviet soldiers.

TADFF14: Zombeavers

ZombeaversThree friends, Mary (Rachel Melvin), Jenn (Lexi Atkins) and Zoe (Cortney Palm), travel up to Mary’s cousin’s cottage for a weekend getaway. Jenn recently found out that her boyfriend Sam (Hutch Dano) cheated on her, which makes it incredibly awkward when he and, Mary and Zoe’s boyfriends, Tommy (Jake Weary) and Buck (Peter Gilroy) crash the party.  However, relationship issues become less of a concern when it is discovered that a toxic waste spill at a nearby beaver dam and mutated the beavers into vicious zombies. The six friends now must fend for their lives, if they ever expect to leave the lake alive.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

TADFF14: ABCs of Death 2

ABCs-of-death-2Once again, 26 filmmakers present 26 ways to die in the horror anthology ABCs of Death 2.  As with the first film, each of the filmmakers were given creative freedom to create a short segment corresponding to the letter of the alphabet they were assigned, with each ending in a highly creative and often gory death.  Some of the filmmakers contributing to the second volume of the ABCS of Death include Rodney Ascher (Room 237), Alexandre Bustillo (Inside), Julian Gilbey (A Lonely Place to Die), E.L. Katz (Cheap Thrills), Aharon Keshales (Big Bad Wolves), Steven Kostanski (Manborg), Juan Martínez Moreno (Game of Werewolves), Vincenzo Natali (Cube), Jerome Sable (Stage Fright), and Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary).

TADFF14: Hellmouth

HellmouthFrom director John Geddes (Exit Humanity) and writer Tony Burgess (Pontypool) comes this surreal thriller about a gravekeeper venturing into the depths of hell.  Charlie Baker (Stephen McHattie) is the constantly harassed groundskeeper at a cemetery, who is looking forward to his retirement at the end of the week.  However, Charlie is told by his boss, under the threat of the loss of his pension, to travel to the Forks of Heaven Cemetery to replace the existing groundskeeper, who has gone AWOL.  It turns out that this cemetery is right by a gate to hell and Charlie must help prevent the contents from passing through, with the help of a mysterious woman named Faye (Siobhan Murphy).

Friday, October 17, 2014

TADFF14: Suburban Gothic

suburban-gothicUnable to find a job after graduating from business school, Raymond (Matthew Gray Gubler) is forced to move back in with his parents Donald (Ray Wise) and Eve (Barbara Niven).  As a kid, Raymond was plagued with the ability to see ghosts, though the visions stopped after he moved away.  Shortly after moving back home, Raymond begins to experience hauntings again, which seem to be connected to a body discovered in the backyard of Raymond’s parent’s house.  Together with bartender Becca (Kat Dennings), Raymond sets out to investigate who is the ghost that is haunting him and what he can do to make it go away.

TADFF14: Housebound

HouseboundKylie Bucknell (Morgana O'Reilly) is a young delinquent, who is arrested after trying to rob an ATM machine.  Instead of the recommended sentence of time at a treatment facility, the judge instead sentences Kylie to move back in with her mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) for eight months of home detention.  However, the house arrest turns out to be anything but stable, since Miriam adamantly believes that the house is haunted.  While Kylie initially believes that her mom is crazy, she too begins to experience strange happenings. As Kylie subsequently learns more about the grisly history of the house, she tries to decipher who is haunting the house and what it wants.

My Thoughts on The Guest

TheGuestThe writer-director duo of Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard (You’re Next) return with this action-thriller about a mysterious visitor, who is not all that he seems.  One day, the Peterson family is visited by a man named David (Dan Stevens), who claims to be a friend of their deceased soldier son Caleb.  While Caleb’s parents and brother Luke (Brendan Meyer) welcome David into their lives, Annie Peterson (Maika Monroe) becomes suspicious of this guest in their home.  As it quickly turns out, there is much more to David than meets the eye.

After the crowd-pleasing success of the home invasion thriller You’re Next, Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard go in a different direction with their follow-up.  The Guest is an action/horror hybrid, which comes across as a mix between The Terminator and John Carpenter’s Halloween.  The John Carpenter-vibe of the film is assisted greatly with the The Guest’s excellent synthesizer-based score, which gives the film a real 1980s vibe to it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Thoughts on Mommy

MommyFrom Xavier Dolan (Laurence Anyways, Tom at the Farm) comes this drama about a single mother struggling to raise her violent son.  Diane Després (Anne Dorval) is a widowed woman, whose troubled teenage son Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) has recently moved back home.  Steve is an emotionally unstable boy, who is prone to violent outbursts when he gets angry.  Diane befriends her neighbour Kyla (Suzanne Clément), a shy teacher with a speech impediment, currently taking a sabbatical from her career.  Kyla begins tutoring Steve and hopefully her positive influence would help him to improve his life.

Having only been directing films for five years, Xavier Dolan has quickly become one of Canada’s highest rising filmmakers.  Indeed, Mommy has been getting raves since it premiered at Cannes, where it won the July Prize.  In addition, the film has also recently been announced as Canada’s submission this year for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

RIFF 2014: Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty


The opening film of the 2014 Reel Indie Film Festival tells the story of legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter.  Performing since he was fifteen years old, Winter catapulted to fame after being featured on the cover of Rolling Stone in December of 1968, where he became known as the “whitest blues guitarist in history” (in reference to his albinism).  Despite his fame, Winter suffered from a substance abuse problem, which nearly ended his life and career. Having conquered his demons, Johnny Winter experiences a late-career revival.

Monday, October 13, 2014

On five years attending Toronto After Dark

Only three days remain before the start of the 2014 edition of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival!  This year will be a bit of a milestone for me, since it will mark my fifth year attending Toronto After Dark.  In those five years, I’ve progressed from seeing a single screening on a very stormy August night to providing full in-depth coverage of the festival.  Doing the math, I’ve been attending Toronto After Dark for a little over half of its nine year existence.  Before I jump into my coverage of the festival later this week, I thought that I would write a retrospective post about my personal history attending Toronto After Dark.