Hey , boils and ghouls… Jeff here with another Toronto After Dark 2012 update for you all! Sunday was Day 4 of Toronto After Dark 2012, and as usual, it was longest day of the festival, with four different features and four short films. Usually by Sunday night, folks are hitting what I call the TADFF Wall… You’re tired from several days of back-to-back films, late nights at the pub, and – for those of us who review films and cover the festival – trying to find time to do your writing. This year was no different, and while it wasn’t a bad day of films, I have to say that it was fairly middle-ground; especially for a day with almost 12 hours of back-to-back screenings.
Things kicked off at 1pm with a short film called Frost, which I did not get a chance to see due to some subway delays. I heard the film was pretty crazy though, and I’m hoping to check it out sometime.
Immediately afterwards was Doomsday Book, a Korean anthology film from directors Jee-woon Kim (I Saw the Devil, A Tale of Two Sisters) and Pil-Sung Yim (Hansel & Gretel). The film featured three separate stories; all of which were centered on some event leading to the end of the world. The first story, The New Generation, deals with a zombie outbreak. The second, Heaven’s Creation, is about a robot who achieves self consciousness. The third chapter, Happy Birthday, is about a giant meteor headed towards the Earth. As is usual with anthologies, the enjoyment of the segments varies, although in this case, the first and last were both directed by the same person (Kim). For me, those were also the two that I liked best, as they clearly showed the Director having fun and there were plenty of laughs in the third segment. The second story, however, was a bit too somber, making its tone too jarringly different from the rest of the film. All said and done, Doomsday Book is very well-made, and certainly worth your time, though I’m not overly-anxious to revisit it anytime soon. For more info, follow the link above to its Official TADFF page..
Next was a short titled The Myth of Robo Wonder Kid, which was an anime-styled animation piece about a robot’s creation, destruction, and rebirth. It was neat, but overall, nothing too groundbreaking, and I wasn’t the biggest fan of the music in the short.
The second feature of the day was Lloyd the Conqueror, a film about three underachieving community college students who find that their only chance of maintaining their financial aid is to join their evil professor’s LARPing league and beat him in a competition. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this film going in, and while it wasn’t bad, it really didn’t do a great deal for me. I enjoyed Brian Posehn (The Sarah Silverman Program) and Mike Smith (Trailer Park Boys) in the film, and Harland Williams had a small role that brought the biggest laughs in the movie, but a couple of the main cast were pretty mediocre, and one character in particular was just not funny at all. At the end of the day, for LARPing comedy, I’d rather revisit David Wain’s Role Models before watching this again, but those of you out there with an affinity for D&D, LARPing, or any other sort of Fantasy Role Playing that doesn’t involve handcuffs and whips, may have more fun with it than I did. There was a (pretty disappointing) LARPing exhibition beforehand, and Posehn and one of the film’s producers were onhand for a Q&A after the film. I did manage to get audio of the latter, and it will eventually be available for you all to listen to in the near future. In the meantime, for more info on Lloyd, check out the link above.
Next up was a very fun short from one of the Astron 6 guys entitled Bio-Cop. If you’ve seen any of the collective’s other works, you pretty much know what to expect. Visual effects and lighting right out of an 80s SOV flick, over the top acting, inappropriate comedy, and lots of oozing blood and slime. Personally, I feel that Astron 6 deliver a much better, more fun version of what Troma tries so hard to do. Their shorts and films have been a staple here at TADFF for many years, and it’s always a treat to see something new from them. Find this one and watch it.
After that short, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning was up next. Initially, I was surprised to see this film on the festival schedule, but after hearing buzz from Fantastic Fest last month, I was kind of looking forward to watching it. The story basically is a kind of dark, reinvention of the series, with Scott Adkins playing a man who is hunting down the leader of a group of renegade UniSols that slaughtered his family and put him in a coma for 9 months. As far as the series goes, this is the odd film out, and it is way different in tone and style than what I remember from the previous film. The action here is nothing short of amazing – especially Adkins’ fight scenes – but when there aren’t dudes beating the shit out of other dudes, the film kind of lost me. However, I would recommend the movie solely for the brutal fight scenes and great violence, and I give Director John Hyams credit for taking the franchise in a completely different direction. Quick word of warning though, if you have epilepsy, or are easily bothered by strobing lights, beware… There’s a lot of that here… Anyhow, Hyams was on-hand for a Q&A session after the film, As mentioned above, that will be available for you to hear soon. But, if you can’t wait to hear more about the film, check out the link above for the official TADFF page on the film.
The last short of the evening, Malody, was a very well-shot and weird film. I really can’t describe it other than to say that it involves a sick girl, a diner, people getting covered in batter, and birds getting eaten. Weird shit, indeed. I’ll leave it at that.
Immediately following that was the last film of the evening, After, a dark fantasy tale about two people who are involved in a bus crash and wake up to find that their town is empty, a dark cloud is encroaching upon them, and they may be tied to one another in more ways than they initially know. Maybe it was just that I was burned out a bit already, but After wasn’t the surprise gem that I had heard it might be. Overall, it was definitely watchable, but it felt a bit too much like Silent Hill meets Dreamscape, and I was able to see where some storylines were going pretty early on. It was also a bit slow, which didn’t help it much, seeing as it was the last of 4 features. This is one that would make for good watching on a rainy Sunday afternoon; not necessarily after 9 hours of previous film-watching. Again, you can get more info on the film from following the above link.
All said and done, Sunday felt very long to me; partly because it came right on the heels of another long day, but also because there were more middle-of-the-road films in the lineup, and they weren’t necessarily in optimal order. Still, with almost any festival of this size, there is bound to be a day like that. I am looking forward to Monday, though, as Grave Encounters 2 and Citadel are both on the slate.
As always, for more information on TADFF and the films from this year’s lineup, be sure to visit the Official TADFF Site. You can also find all of our coverage of the festival by using the button on the sidebar of our site, or by going to the TADFF 2012 Category.