THE BAY

When it was announced that Barry Levinson was going to be having a film as part of the TIFF Midnight Madness slate, and that it would be a found footage horror piece about infected water, I admit I wasn’t expecting very much. It’d be easy to dismiss this as both a cash-in on the fad […]

AFTERSHOCK

Playing in the Midnight Madness section to a ravenous audience expecting thrills every reel, the fact that Aftershock takes its sweet-ass time to get going feels like a bold move indeed. At the outset, it appears to be another placid film about how cool it is to go clubbing in Chile. We see wine tours […]

KILL LIST

KILL LIST is a strange, unsettling film. More character drama than straight out genre piece, the opening half owes more to Mike Leigh film than to Tobe Hooper. We’re introduced to Jay (Neil Maskell), a hitman that’s between jobs. After his last gig went awry (for reasons unclear at the beginning), he’s struggling to make […]

SMUGGLER

SMUGGLER comes at a pretty challenging phase of any Midnight Madness slate – by the second last night, you’re completely exhausted, trying hard just to get through the next couple days of films with your sanity intact. It into the strange fugue state of mental and physical exhaustion that this crazy, almost madcap horror/comedy/adventure film […]

THE DAY

THE DAY, another in a long, lonnnng line of post-Apocalyptic, us-vs-them films, does something worthy of celebration: It shows us that, indeed, the outskirts of Ottawa need very little manipulation to appear convincingly as an end-of-world locale. It’s always a good sign when a film demonstrates early on that infact anything is possible. Too often […]

LOVELY MOLLY

There’s not a heck of a lot worth saying about LOVELY MOLLY, save that it certainly didn’t live up to the title. Helmed by Eduardo Sánchez, one half of the duo that brought the BLAIR WITCH onslaught to the masses, this film owes more to the much derided sequel. Promising to “reinvent” the found footage […]

SLEEPNESS NIGHT

I can’t think of a film that’s made me more physically uneasy than SLEEPLESS NIGHT, a testament both to its unique setting and the skills of its filmmakers. The film starts with a bang, literally. Gunshots ring out as a car is hijacked for its lucrative shipment. In the mélee, one of the attackers has […]

THE INCIDENT

THE INCIDENT opens with three stoner buddies gathered together to craft some tunes to churn out a record. There’s bickering and gnashing of teeth, then they disband in order to prepare for work the next day. Following this patently useless prologue, we see the same crew don their gear for another day at work – […]

GOD BLESS AMERICA

Bobcat Goldthwait – the name conjures up Muppet-voiced standup comedy and manic turns in a slew of POLICE ACADEMY films. Of late he’s dropped the shtick in favour of directing a bunch of edgy TV shows and the Robin Williams starrer and cheekily named WORLDS GREATEST DAD. Obviously this was his first visit to Midnight […]

LIVID

Few films have confounded me this fest as LIVID – by all measure I should absolutely loathe this film. To call it “deliberate” would do it injustice, this film is slooowww, a single factor that’s usually death for any film at Midnight mid-fest (my seventh film of the day, this was). The film involves witch […]

YOU’RE NEXT

For the first twenty minutes, I was completely dreading YOU’RE NEXT. Having avoided all pre-film synopsis, it seemed pretty clear to me early on that this was going to be a long, dreary slog. A piss-poor pre-credit sequence echoed the worst parts of 80s horror – shock siren effects, coitus interrupted by spooky masked men […]

THE RAID

Over the last decade or so, Midnight Madness audiences have been privileged to encounter some extraordinary events. We were doled out barf bags for the screening of ICHI THE KILLER, and witnessed an unprecedented cinematic onslaught. We were there when ONG BAK took the Uptown by storm, throwing the tired martial arts genre on its […]

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning

Let me be blunt: Ong Bak 2 is an incoherent mess with a narrative that could be politely described as batshit confusing. Save for the title and the style of fighting, this film has nothing whatsoever to do with the first film (it takes places, weirdly, some 600 years before the first one). There were […]

A Town Called Panic (Panique au village)

A crazy jumble of joy, Panic uses dollar store plastic toys, poorly stop motion animated, to tell a tale of, well, uh, stuff. The plot is a bit of a headscratcher, but we’ve got Horse, Cowboy, and Indian coming to save they day after the walls of their unbuilt house are being stollen by frogmen […]

Solomon Kane

Just as Black Hole or the original Battlestar Galactica series saw the light of day after the success of Star Wars, this clearly derivative, post-Lord of the Rings meets Pirates of the Caribbean sword flick is told with so much earnestness that it all appears a bit silly. Drawn from the pages of the comic […]

Bitch Slap

Silly, jiggly, Bitch Slap is a Russ Meyer-wannabe girl gang flick. The plot (do you care?) somehow involves stollen look buried out in the desert. Three girls are on the hunt. Chaos ensues. Stylistically, the film relies heavily on green screen, comic book style flashbacks (think Speed Racer, but with TV-level CGI). Produced and directed […]

Daybreakers

Yup, another Vampire flick. But this one is different – it’s smart, witty, gory, supremely well shot and produced. It has an epic feel, has noir overtones, and some fabulous performances by the likes of Willem Dafoe, Sam Neil and Ethan Hawke. It’s a world where humans are farmed for blood, but the source is […]

Jennifer’s Body

Riding the success of her Oscar turn with Juno and the recent bloodlust for all things vampiric, writer Diablo Cody turned her eye towards the 80s horror genre. Megan Fox is Jennifer, the curvy, bitchy pretty thing at her high school, with her best friend Amanda Seifreid. Things go awry when an out of town […]

Martyrs

The pre-film buzz was audible, this was the first film in French cinema history given the equivalent of an X-rating due to violent imagery instead of sexual content. At the MM screening someone had to leave to vomit. There were stories that at the other screenings some may have passed out. What kind of monstrous […]

Not Quite Hollywood

An exemplary documentary, frantic and kinetic, showing the cars, bombs and tits of “Ozploitation” cinema. Tracing the history of Australian Drive-in Classics, we see clips from a number of films, many of which I’d never heard of (let alone seen). This is an excellent primer of this period of cinematic history, and the participants tell […]

Deadgirl

I have a simple demand for exploitational, genre films like Deadgirl – if you’re going to bother opening the proverbial pandora’s box, you might as well open it up all the away. There’s nothing more frustrating than a half-assed horror flick that thinks it’s scarier and gorier than it actually is, relying on loud noises […]

Detroit Metal City

A mashup of jaunty J-pop and Death Metal drivel, what’s not to love? Based on the celebrated Manga, this is a pitch perfect film that certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously. The music is well made and produced, the situations a mix of hilarious and charming, and the performances almost uniformly excellent. It’s the tale […]

JCVD

This is Dog Day Afternoon meets Double Dragon, a postmodern pastiche that trascends its genre ghetto and provides a compelling, often astonishing viewing experience. Self-reflexive without being trite, beautifully shot and staged, this is a triumphant film, transcending all expectation. The conceit, that the “real” Jean-Claude is caught up in a bank caper and is […]

À l’intérieur

A stylish and gory film, with some very effective moments of horror, A L’intérieur creeps inside your brains and stays with you for days. The woman-attacked-in-a-home trope is elevated here with a pregnant protagonist, chased by a female assailant intent on causing as much ruckuss as possible. For those averse to sheer bloodsport, this certainly […]

Dainipponjin

A surreal, unique monster film, a Man Bites Hulk mockumentary about a hapless individual who is called upon by his nation to be electrocuted on a regular basis. This process causes him to become a giant, fated to fight the enormous monsters that plague Japan, following in the giant footsteps of his father and grandfather. […]

Flash Point

Donnie Yen’s latest film incorporates his newest fighting fetish, the so-called “Ultimate” style. A combination of boxing, kickboxing, Asian martial arts and street-level shit-kickings, this makes for some tremendous fighting moments. Choreographed by Yen himself, the fight scenes are brutal, kinetic and compelling, upping the ante from his previous films and creating some genuine remarkable […]

Sukiyaki Western Django

SWD is a deliriously bent, un-apologetically incoherent blast of a film. This is the disfigured lovechild of Leone’s Western shtick and hyper-gory Hong Kong action tropes, with dialogue performed by some diabolical Berlitz “Lern to Speek Inglish” language tape. For casual viewers, the obvious connection would be to the filmmaker who shows up first on […]

The Mother of Tears

Take a dash of porn acting, add some “After School Special” plotting and excruciating exposition, and coat with about 10 minutes of styilin’ old school gore and you have the mess that you’d expect from the latest Argento oeuvre. The “story” is the third part of the “Mamma” trilogy (as Dario described it), this time […]

Trapped Ashes

A horrible mess of horror movie cliches, set in one of those “old skool” anthology flicks of yore. Saving grace – Ken Russell’s introduction of cannibalistic breasts.

The Abandoned

A weird and wicked tale further emphasizing that you can never go home again, especially if you never lived at home in the first place. Convoluted, yes, but this monster house/ghost story/family redemption film has it all, including some creepy makeup and loud, scary music. It’s not the best MM this year, but it did […]