The Twitch Guide To Toronto After Dark 2012! And Aloha From The RESOLUTION Boys!

Andrew Mack, Contributing Writer
As the organized chaos of another Toronto After Dark Film Festival descends upon the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, we have taken the time to pull together from our massive collective brain and summarize our feelings about a few of the films that we have caught at other festivals around the world. But don't take our word for it.

And if you're good, perhaps there will be another video from Aaron and Justin from Resolution at the end.

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Guest contributor Alex Koehne caught the opening night film, Irish horror comedy Grabbers, earlier this year. He had this to say in his review. "...Jon Wright's Grabbers scratches the horror-comedy sweet spot in a manner seldom seen since 1990's Tremors. Like that film, Grabbers draws its humor far less from slapstick and gags than character interactions, closely observed quirks of behavior from a cast of characters just slightly larger than life. And, like Tremors, Grabbers manages to ratchet up the tension when desired while also remaining almost entirely bloodless (though that never distracts). This is a film that plays its shocks for entertainment rather than revulsion and it does so remarkably well. For the first half of its run time Grabbers is every thirteen year old geeky kid's perfect film, basically, and while it struggles to sustain itself through the back half of its run time it still remains a thoroughly entertaining romp".

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Rachel Fox caught the Soska sister's follow-up to Dead Hooker in a Trunk. The latest film American Mary has been tearing up the festival circuit and after catching it she had this to say in her review. "...the Soskas offer up a social statement about the potentially disastrous modern perception and preoccupation with physical beauty. Weirdly compelling, interesting, drily amusing yet never mean-spirited, American Mary quietly contains a totally unexpected yet thoughtful commentary that surfaces as a profound, resounding element within the framework of the film... American Mary is certainly not the kind of garden variety, over-the-top, white-knuckle, cheap-thrill bloody gore-fest that some audiences may be expecting due to its unusual subject matter. Rather, the Soskas have crafted an experience that is thoughtfully restrained and refreshingly nuanced enough to leave them thinking, instead".

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Let me just preface this by saying that reviews are largely subjective and though our Josh Chaplinsky may not have been entirely positive in his review of the film Crave you still must go see it and make up your own mind. "And while I don't think Crave is a bad film, I don't think it is a particularly good one, either... I'd put Crave down as a near miss. Unfortunately, a near miss is still a miss. For the film scavenger roaming the scrap yards for a funny scene here and an outrageous gore effect there, there's a decent amount to salvage. Hopefully de Lauzirika will continue to hone his skills. I think he's got something good in him, and I'd be interested to see what he does next".

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The flying Dutchman Ard Vijn caught this British horror film and perhaps was a touch hesitant to recommend it? In his review he wrote, "...Inbred cannot easily be written off as a sickie quickie as it's far too well-made for that. The long buildup to the first killing establishes most of the characters without any bloodshed involved and it speaks volumes that this part of the film is not boring at all. Instead it is funny and sometimes even deliciously wicked, and especially the two coaches and their "treatment" of their young wards are good for laughs and plenty of satire... Awfully mean-spirited and often sickeningly gory, I would normally never recommend the likes of Inbred. But the technical virtues of filmmaking on display here, coupled with a roster of well-played incredible characters, go far in redeeming the film. So if you have the stomach for it I do urge you to check this out. Call it cautiously recommended.."


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So it looks like Zombie Day is on the Saturday this year and as the horde finds their seats at the Bloor they will cast what eyes they have left on the third [REC] film: [REC] 3: Genesis. The Belgian Neils Matthijs had this to say in his review, "Even though the change of setting and camera style may be serious hurdles for fans of the series who aren't flexible enough to let the [rec] films evolve, the biggest shock will come in the form of the comedy elements that are scattered throughout the film. The humor is actually quite fun and introduces some great moments (SpongeJohn and the stealth-knights), but once things get serious Plaza is quick to pick up the pace, avoiding the traps many other horror/comedies fall into. The horror and gore is still top-notch, the comedy scenes are merely interludes to brighten the atmosphere a little". 


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Another one of those 'take it with a grain of salt' reviews as James Marsh was less than thrilled with the end result of Cockneys vs Zombies. In his review James confessed, "Cockneys Vs. Zombies... proves as over-reliant on its high concept premise as its title might suggest, bringing precious little of note to either the urban crime film or shuffling undead sub-genre. The problem at the centre of Cockneys Vs. Zombies is not that the dead are walking the streets of London, but that scriptwriters James Moran and Lucas Roche don't know what to do about it. After establishing two mismatched groups of unlikely heroes, the script bends over backwards to bring them together for an obvious third act climax of indomitable pensioners squaring off against the zombies".


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Anthologies are always a tough sell. And being relegated to the dreaded Sunday afternoon spot sure doesn't help but it you're up for it you'll want to check out Doomsday Book. Josh had this to say in his review, "Although not anything mindblowing, Doomsday Book is a fine anthology for fans of Korean cinema. I'll admit to expecting more WOW! from Jee-woon's segment, but that could be due to expectations built up by The Good, The Bad and The Weird and I Saw The Devil. He was on such a genre roll with those two, the prospect of him making a sci-fi film had too much potential to deliver, especially in the short form. Still, a nice package overall, and a nice apertif for Jee-woon's upcoming Arnold-Schwarzenegger-starring-American-debut-that-can't-possibly-be-good-can-it?".


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We don't think anyone could have predicted that the Universal Soldier films would have found new life these recent years. But here we are and that Limey bastard James Marsh saw this before me and had this to say in his review, "All told, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning delivered enough thrills, bloodshed and jaw-dropping fight scenes to whip up the... crowd into a blood-baying frenzy. It's not perfect by any means - half an hour in I'm sure I wasn't the only one struggling to see where the film was going - but by the end I was grinning ear to ear. Hyams' enthusiasm for expanding this universe, exploring the existential possibilities of his heroes and villains (no, really - the guy cares!) serves to underscore that good science fiction comes from great ideas, rather than huge budgets and visual spectacle".


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Coming out of the Emerald Isle is yet another horror film, Citadel. This time the film is more atmospheric and thick with mood as guest contributor John Jarzemsky explains in his review

"Citadel looks great, with clean, sterile camerawork highlighting Tommy's loneliness and despair in the first half, and frantic, kinetic photography driving home the action-oriented conclusion. The scares are never contrived and always effective, and aside from the inherently confusing and half-baked nature of the demonic children's mythology, the story is unique and fascinating. Yet the entire film never quite gels as an allegory for overcoming one's own fears, even though that goal is readily apparent, as is Foy's immense talent and potential as a filmmaker".


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Well clearly this is not a conflict of interest. Contributing Writer and short film programmer for the festival Peter K had this to say about My Amityville Horror when he saw it this summer. In his review he writes, "My Amityville Horror is primarily concerned with an individual's troubled recollection of a past trauma, and the film does successfully manage to offer up a number of possible psychological catalysts that would have induced and perpetuated such traumatic memories. While I do not think the material is presented elegantly or even as ethically as it should be, I also do not doubt the sincerity of the filmmakers. For a debut feature effort, the film boasts polished aesthetics, some impressive research, bringing compelling new pieces to this supernatural puzzle, and, I stress again, is worthy of any Amityville aficionado's time".

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It is safe to say you're in for a treat if you can catch the defying horror film Resolution. Clearly the filmmakers Justin and Aaron have been having a grand time touring with the film and making intro videos for most of the festivals their film has appeared at (just a little bit further and you can see the for one for TADFF). Our resident dean of cinema Kurt caught the film this summer and had this to say in his review, "Having ably establish likable and flawed characters, for whom you give a damn, the film embarks on what it really is about; namely the audiences own addiction to horror films. The rising tension over the first act and much of the second shifts occasionally hyperreal and positively surreal narrative folding in on itself that is shocking in its effectiveness - thus making it both a critique on the genre, but also a shining example of what it comments upon". Translated. He liked it.

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Another review from the man in the hat, Peter K. This time it is Noboru Iguchi's Dead Sushi. It shouldn't need an introduction but the one in Peter's review says it all, "Noboru Iguchi's latest opus about revenge-seeking-man-eating sushi may not fall under the already infamous Sushi Typhoon label, but it bears many characteristics of the J-splatter studio's usual shtick: high-concept comedy that lampoons Japanese culture, manic scream acting from an ensemble cast, grotesque prosthetics and gallons and giga-bytes of blood. And while I have personally found that recipe a bit distasteful after a few of the genre's latest dishes, Iguchi's Dead Sushi serves up a particular brand of silliness that was hard to resist".

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And we're back to Kurt for his review of Quentin Dupieux's Wrong. It sounds from the review that Wrong is a difficult film to categorize and summarize. Kurt wrote, "With a bigger thematic reach, and a far more episodic structure, Wrong is likely as close as we will ever get to stand-up comedy in cinematic language.  It is an absurdist masterwork, and this is only Mr. Oizo's second feature film. When the film unfolds on screen not so much as narrative, but rather as a 'metaphorical cinematic stand-up routine,' it is actually pretty great".

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Another one of our fine female writers Shelagh chimed in with her review of A Fantastic Fear of Everything starring a very much on his own Simon Pegg. She wrote, "This is not a film about gags, though, or side-splitting laughter; it is a meditative humour, the kind where laughter feels like conspiracy with the devil. The darker the film gets, the better it is. Pegg shows he is much more than just the comic relief (really, what other actor can run around a film in dirty underpants, and make us both feel both laughter and fear, for him and ourselves?) It's the kind of film that, watched in a dark theatre on a rainy day, will leave you wondering just who might be the wolf in sheep's clothing, looking over your shoulder and trying to remember where you left your carving knife".

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And we conclude our tour of the Toronto After Dark schedule with Ard's review of the Spanish werewolf horror comedy Lobos De Arga or Game of Werewolves. He wrote, "It had been a while since I saw a satisfyingly good werewolf film to be honest, but that particular itch got royally scratched with the Spanish horror-comedy Lobos de Arga. Director Juan Martínez Moreno has managed to craft a film which is a wee bit scary, somewhat bloody, very funny and immensely entertaining... and which is featuring many big hairy ravenous werewolves! A cleverly made comedy which features a nice atmosphere, beautiful settings and an army of kick-ass werewolves. What is there not to like?"
Around the Internet:
  • mightyjoeyoung

    "Clearly the filmmakers Justin and Aaron have been having a grand time touring with the film and making intro videos for most of the festivals their film has appeared at"
    Some of them was pretty funny...thanks for the list Mr Mack.

  • nicely done, sir

  • Andrew Mack

    Aye. We've cut a lot of the guess work out for attendees this year. Now to make my way down to the Bloor, kick my feet up, relax, and watch some cinema with our friends.

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