Thursday 30 October 2014

Canada After Dark 2014

In addition to feature films, Toronto After Dark showcases short films from all over. Preceding each feature is a Canadian short, selected for its thematic similarities (the festival includes Shorts After Dark, a screening of international short films). Admittedly, I don't always go out of my way to see shorts so I'm always pleased with the opportunity TAD provides for interested but lazy filmgoer to catch some short genre films.

This year's crop of shorts ran the gamut from brilliant to not-really-my-taste. Because I had to miss out on a handful of features I also missed a few of the short films as well. But anyway.

Foxed (played with Housebound)

I loved it! A young girl has been kidnapped by foxes and forced to work in a mine. She escapes and discovers, to her horror, that a fox has replaced her at home. Foxed is four wonderful minutes of claymation and reminded me of a song on a Cabbage Patch Kids cassette tape I had as a kid.

Young Blood (played with Suburban Gothic)

A boy is forced to spend a few hours with his deadbeat uncle on is birthday. During his visit, thugs break into his uncle's apartment and the kid witnesses the violence that takes place. This one didn't really speak to me. It's a bit slow to start, but the kid grows up fast when the thugs turn up.

Lumberjacked (played with ABCs of Death 2)

An animated music video with a story to tell. A lumberjack living happily in the woods, at one with nature, watches in horror as his beautiful forest transforms into an urban wasteland. Really liked this one. Watch it here.

Day 40 (played with Zombeavers)

Another one that wasn't really me. In this animated short, we're privy to the terrible things that went down on Noah's ark once it became clear to the animals they were in for a long ride. I did appreciate the end, which I won't spoil.

Period Piece (played with Dead Snow 2)

I'm torn on this one. I liked it, although I wasn't surprised by the turn it takes toward the end. A film crew is madly racing to finish shooting their movie before it gets dark. There's some disagreement about how it should end but after a brief skirmish the director is encouraged to shoot the ending she wants because it's "what the world needs." Why? Check out the preview. The filmmakers are hoping to turn it into a feature.

Rose in Bloom (played with Wolves)

Told by her mom to play outside, Rose peeks in on her sister and father in the garage then hides in the van, hoping to surprise them. Instead, she's the one in for a surprise when she finds out where they're going. Also, it's her birthday. While I can appreciate the story here, I couldn't tell if the film's awkwardness was intentional.

Dead Hearts (played with Late Phases)

This was delightful. So good! A kind of love story between a boy and a girl. Quirky in a Wes Anderson sort of way. Funny and heartfelt. Also, zombies.

The Monitor (played with Open Windows)

Based on a weird story about a hacked baby monitor, a woman is woken up by a phone call from a man claiming to be the nursery. It reminded me, in a good way, of a similar short film by Fewdio, which I also really liked.

Migration (played with Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter)

This was absolutely wonderful, if maybe a touch sad. But sad in a good way. A creature drops to earth and journeys across the country, where it finds other creatures like it falling from the sky. The whole thing looks like it was shot on 8mm and the creature animation is brilliant.

Lazy Boyz (played with Wyrmwood)

True story; I have a script I was going to produce about a killer couch. And now I can't because someone beat me to it. Lazy Boyz is about two hosers who bring home a couch that eats people. It's hilarious.

Satan's Dolls (played with The Town that Dreaded Sundown)

This was great. A sleazy, seventies-era nun movie about a criminal who escapes the cops by hiding in a convent. Lots of over-the-top drama and intrigue with just the right balance of seriousness and humour.

Intruders (played with The Babadook)

Watching this I thought it was too disconnected, like the two stories being told had nothing to do with one another. Turns out, the short was inspired by two different indie comics. The film's well made and looks great and all, but there's no reason the two storylines should occupy the same space. One is about a boy who lives alone in a house with the desiccated corpse of his caregiver. The other, which I really enjoyed is only a couple minutes long and is about a guy who spies on his neighbours and sees something awful.

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