Howdy folks, Jeff here with another update from up North at the Toronto After Dark 2012 Film Festival! Saturday was the third day of the festival, and as is customary, it was also TADFF’s “Zombie Appreciation Night.” Essentially, the festival programmers put two zombie-related films on the bill for the evening screenings, and they work with the Toronto Zombie Walk to integrate the two events, giving an admission discount to those dressed up as the undead.
First, however, was TADFF’s Shorts After Dark program, which showed during the afternoon and featured nine different shorts from all over the globe. Unlike the shorts that precede most of the feature screenings, these shorts are not solely Canadian-made. As with most short programs, you usually find a mixture of themes, and there are almost always a few that you love, and a few that you really don’t like. This year seemed to be pretty animation heavy. More specifically, it was pretty stop-motion animation heavy.
I think the best made film of the batch was a short flick called HENRi, which was a (mostly) stop-motion animated tale about the computer system of a dying spacecraft giving life to itself via a robotic body that it assembles. It was really well made, and it had some powerful emotion behind it, which surprised me. My second favorite film was VICKI, which turned out to be a very fun parody of Stephen King’s Christine. As I am a fan of both the original novel and the John Carpenter film adaptation, I really loved this short. It was very funny, and it had tons of little homages to both King and Carpenter throughout (at one point, the main character is wearing the “Stephen King Rules” shirt from The Monster Squad, and another time, he is wearing Jack Burton’s samurai shirt from Big Trouble In Little China). Anyhow, it was undeniably having fun with 80’s conventions, and seeing as I’ve been up to my neck in Carpenter for the podcast retrospective series that we are doing on him, this was a very pleasant and unexpected surprise (I never read about the shorts before seeing them). At the bottom of my list was a claymation film titled Bobby Yeah, which was very well made from a technical level, but I found the story to be boring and nonsensical (definitely weird though). Anyhow, for the full list of shorts, with brief synopses of all of them, head over to the Official Shorts After Dark Page.
Zombie Appreciation Night then kicked off, as everyone lined up around the block for the Canadian premiere of REC 3. There were lots of zombified folks in line outside, which was a very fun sight. Before the film kicked off, the Festival Director, Adam Lopez, took the stage to rile up the crowd and thank the festival’s sponsors. One of them was the Heart and Stroke Foundation, who incidentally has recently released a fun little PSA that features zombies in it, which was then screened for us. The PSA is called The Undeading and was actually directed by Vincenzo Natali, the super-talented director behind the films Cube and Splice. It’s a pretty great piece, and I highly recommend you head over to the Official Page for it, which has more info and links to the watch the video.
Next was a short film called We Ate the Children Last. In keeping with the zombie theme of the night, this short was about people getting a procedure that in turn causes them to eat other humans. It was very well made, and if you get the chance, you should check it out.
Rec 3: Genesis then played, and overall, I’d say the crowd loved it. If you are unaware, this third film in the series deals with a couple on their wedding day that finds themselves in the middle of an outbreak where people are turning into evil creatures and attacking and infecting the population. I love the first two Rec films, and though I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about this film – mostly because it takes a very big departure from the others by injecting humor and using a mixture of styles beyond the found footage that was used in those movies – I’m glad to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. From what I could tell, the rest of the crowd felt the same, as there were many instances of cheering and/or clapping throughout. If what you want is more of the same, then this film is probably not going to work for you, but if you’re open to a new spin on the franchise, and you don’t mind it being more self-referential, with some winking humor thrown in, then I wholeheartedly recommend you give Rec 3 a shot. For more on the film, check out its Official TADFF Page and my forthcoming Review of the Film.
Next up was a nice little science fiction short titled D.N.E: Do Not Erase, which humorously tackles the many paradoxes that come with films that employ time travel as a plot device. It was very well executed, and I enjoyed the many homages to various films that were littered throughout. If you get the chance, you should check this one out.
After the short ended, it was time for the UK Zombie Comedy, Cockneys vs. Zombies. The film deals with a group of would-be criminals in the East End of London who find themselves trapped, with hostages, in the middle of a zombie outbreak. I had heard of the film before it was announced for the festival, but honestly, I wasn’t all that fired up for it, as I’ve mostly grown tired of zombie films; especially of the comedic persuasion. However, I’m pleased to say that this film surprised me by being a genuinely fun time with a lot of laughs and some great scenes involving the undead. Cockneys is my first real surprise of the festival, and I can’t recommend it enough. The director of the film, Matthias Hoene, was also on hand for a Q&A session, which I managed to record and will be making available to you all as soon as I get a chance; so be sure to check back. For more on the movie, be sure to visit its Official TADFF Page and my forthcoming Review of the Film.
That wraps my recap of Day Three of Toronto After Dark 2012. For more on the festival and the films playing this year, be sure to visit the Official TADFF Site. That being said, thanks for reading, and be sure to read all of our other TADFF 2012 coverage, which can be found Here.