Monday, October 29, 2012

Toronto After Dark 2012: Short Film Thoughts

Bobby Yeah

In addition to the 20 feature films, there was also 29 short films that screened at Toronto After Dark.  The shorts were divided into two separate programmes: Canada After Dark consisted of 20 Canadian shorts films, which played before each of the features.  Then there was the Shorts After Dark showcase, which screened 9 international shorts.  In this post, I will summarize and give brief opinions on each of the 29 shorts.

Canada After Dark

Not Until We Are Married
This short can be seen as a twisted warning about online dating.  A woman proposes to a man that she met online, only to realize that he hates her guts and has only been acting as a decoy for his ultra-deformed twin brother.  This results in the woman changing her opinions about the man and hilarity ensues.  I have to say that it was definitely a cute and funny little short.
8 | LIKED IT

Trudy
A woman named Trudy goes clubbing when she should have been housesitting and brings a man home with her.  Trudy receives a phone reminder to lock the door and she begins to get paranoid.  It is heavily hinted that Trudy’s paranoia is caused by the ecstasy she injected.  This short had a simple, yet effective, premise and I liked the sinister twist at the end.
8 | LIKED IT

The Captured Bird
Apparently this short was made with the support of Guillermo del Toro.  It involves a girl, who follows a trail of weird liquid to a mansion and encounters the evils within.  One thing that confused me about this short was the meaning of the title, since there is not a single bird to be seen.  Some of the effects were a little wonky, but I thought the short was decent enough.
7 | FAIR 

Garlicbread Man vs Superbo Lasagna Man
This was one crazy short!  Essentially, you can say that the short, which consisted solely of a fight between the two title characters,  was a mix between a superhero film and a nutrition PSA.  I definitely had fun with this one.
 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

We Ate the Children First
An experimental type of heart surgery, which involves inserting pig hearts into people, quickly results in a zombie epidemic.  The short was interesting in it also includes a human rights element, since the people who received the transplants did not want to be treated like animals.  It was an interesting short to say the least.
7 | FAIR 

DNE (Do Not Erase)
A man is on the verge of finishing an equation that will crack time travel.  However, his many different future selves travel back from different timelines to warn him of every single one of the possible consequences. While not entirely original, it was still an entertaining short.
8 | LIKED IT

Frost
In a frozen post-apocalyptic landscape, an Inuit woman goes on a dangerous journey for supplies. Without a doubt, this one of the most well done shorts of the Canada After Dark line-up.  I definitely enjoyed it very much.
 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

Myth of Robo Wonder Kid
This was a cute little animated film about an android kid.  This short is essentially a music video for some heavily autotuned dance music.  It was fun though.
8 | LIKED IT

Biocop
From the makers of Father’s Day and Manborg comes this faux trailer about a reanimated dead cop with a melting face.  The short, which is obviously a Grindhouse-style Robocop parody, was an absolute joy to watch.  In fact, I would almost want to see a full-length Biocop film after watching this short.  This is definitely one of my all-time favourite shorts of the fest.
10 | LOVED IT  

Malody
This short about a sickly girl, which involves visions, telekinesis, and spinning rooms, was a short that I did not entirely get.  I will just say that it was quite odd.
6 | WATCHABLE

Annie and the Dog
A darkly humourous short about a priest that’s about to perform an exorcism on a possessed girl and the conflict he has with the police officer who’s there to assist.  The short gets progressively more dark and it even has a few truly spooky moments.
8 | LIKED IT

Children of the Dark
Two siblings try to cope in a post-apocalyptic world full of terrifying white eyed zombie-like folk.  This was a well done short with a dark ending.
8 | LIKED IT

Eviction
In what is undoubtedly one of the creepiest shorts of the fest, this found footage-style short documents a priest, who tries to perform an exorcism on himself.  It was a very chilling short, which breaks the fourth wall when the processed priest begins speaking directly at the audience.  Definitely not a short to watch late a night.
10 | LOVED IT  

Adjust Tracking
A father is disturbed by the Grindhouse-style film his son is watching, but quickly learns that it’s more than just film.  Definitely an enjoyable and macabre short.
8 | LIKED IT

Bydlo
This is an NFB-produced stop motion short, which involves a wagon and clay people, which morphs up from the ground.  There’s nothing much about this short, other than a mild zombie element, but I thought it was interesting.
7 | FAIR 

Sandwich Crazy
This was a wonderful little short.  A desperate owner of a sandwich shop acquires a super microwave, which prepares the perfect sandwiches.  However, not only do the customers get zombie-like cravings, but the man starts hallucinating that the food is alive (and bleeding).  This was a very enjoyable and darkly humorous short.
 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

Alchemy and Other Imperfections
This short focuses on a estranged couple, who have lost their ability to speak and have each started their own solitary pursuits.  The woman has learned to practice witchcraft, while the man pursues science.  There’s not much else to this short, though there is an interesting twist towards the end.
7 | FAIR 

A Pretty Funny Story
When to comes to the darkly humorous shorts that screened at Toronto After Dark, this is without a doubt the darkest at the bunch.  In this short, a man quickly learns the consequences of mocking the funny dancing of his next door neighbour.  This short does not pull any punches and heads into some very dark places, while retaining its sense of humour.
 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

Birthday Pictures
While on a date, a man asks to have his picture taken to send to his grandmother on his birthday.  It turns out there’s a dark twist.  This is a well-done little short.
8 | LIKED IT

Game
A woman is in the wilderness on the run from a gang of killer hillbillies.  However, it turns out that she can more than cope for herself.  This was an enjoyable short and I liked the clever (and humorous) touch of including the theme for the NFB nature documentaries at the start and end of the short (along with a URL about preserving wetlands).
8 | LIKED IT

Shorts After Dark

Caterwaul
This is a bit of an odd film about a fisherman, who feels sympathy for a lobster he has caught.  The lobster begins as normal sized and grows until it’s portrayed by a puppet.  I have to say that this short was strangely touching.
7 | FAIR 

Decapoda Shock
In this Grindhouse-style sci-fi short, an astronaut gets turned into a lobster and violently goes after the men responsible.  This was an absolute joy to watch.
 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

Dialogue
In this short, but sweet, short, a man ponders why there’s a vagina on his arm.  You read that right.
8 | LIKED IT

Bobby Yeah
This is a very grotesque and macabre stop-motion short.  Running over 20 minutes, the short just got more grotesque and surreal as it proceeded.  My best point of comparison would be music videos of the band Tool, most notably the 1993 video for their song “Sober.”  This was definitely one of the main highlights of the Shorts After Dark programme.
10 | LOVED IT  

Numbers
This was a Korean short about people, who see floating numbers over the heads of others.  The bulk of the short was merely a discussion of the different patterns of numbers that appear.  It was a very simple premise, but it was decent.
8 | LIKED IT

Odokuru
A number of inanimate objects are seen moving by themselves on board a space vessel.  It was an entertaining little short, which had a nice little twist in the end.
8 | LIKED IT

Henri
Without a doubt, this was my favourite short of the Shorts After Dark programme.  The short is an excellent sci-fi piece about an artificial intelligence aboard a spacecraft, which builds a body for itself, so it can decipher what happened to the ship’s crew.  This short just left me awestruck.
10 | LOVED IT  

Vicki
Obviously inspired by Stephen King’s Christine, a bullied nerd buys a car named Vicki, which turns out to be sentient and gets revenge on the bullies.  The short is filled with much 80s cheesiness and it was very enjoyable watch.
 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

Family Nightmare
I previously saw this film when it played at this year’s Hot Docs.  The short takes old home video footage and redubs over it.  It is definitely an odd, yet somewhat entertaining, short.
7 | FAIR 

And that’s my rundown of the 29 shorts that played during Toronto After Dark.