Well, folks, Day 9 has come and gone, which means only one thing – Toronto After Dark 2012 is officially on the book. As I write this from my hotel room, while packing my things for my return trip home, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I know it will hit me in a couple hours when, instead of lining up at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, I’m crossing the border back into the US… But, enough about that for now; let’s focus on the fun of last night!
The night began with the Canadian short, Birthday Pictures. The film is an ironic take on a first date where a young man convinces his lady-friend to take a picture of him on his birthday to send to his grandmother. Of course, there’s a bit of a twist, but I won’t spoil that for you… If you get the chance, you will want to check this one out.
Next up was the latest film from the UK to star Simon Pegg, A Fantastic Fear of Everything. At its heart, the film deals with the mental struggles of a children’s author as he tries to write a novel on serial killers while overcoming his many phobias. Writer/Director Crispian Mills (also of the UK band Kula Shaker) puts some very creative (and slightly insane) visuals on screen, and Simon Pegg carries the film excellently. This is a huge credit to Pegg – whose recorded intro before the film was nothing short of hilarious – as he is literally in almost every minute of the movie. While the humor is very abstract at times, and the story is super weird throughout, it never once lost my attention. Unlike the previous night’s film, Wrong – whose deadpan weirdness I felt was unfunny for the most part – Fantastic Fear managed to walk the line between the bizarre and the macabre very well. It also featured one of the craziest stop-motion animation sequences that I’ve seen in a while. Though it is certainly not going to be for everyone, I loved A Fantastic Fear of Everything. Pegg fans, especially, are in for a real treat, and I can’t wait to see what Mills brings us next. He was also on-hand for a Q&A, which I recorded and will make available to everyone in the near future. For more on the film, use the link above to visit its official TADFF page.
The last Canadian short of the festival was titled Game, and it tells the story of a young woman who is on the run from some hillbilly captors. Of course, there is a lot more to the story than just that, but saying much else would spoil things. This was a great lead in to the next film, and I loved the black humor on display here. It was directed by Josh MacDonald, who wrote the TADFF 2011 film, The Corridor, and fans of Jason Eisner will be interested to know that he edited the short (That man is super busy these days!). If you can find it, give it a watch, and be sure to sit through the credits.
And, sadly, this brings us to the last film of TADFF 2012, the creature feature Game of Werewolves. While I still think the English title is awful – something that the Director himself seemed to concur with during our interview with him on our first live podcast from the pub earlier in the week – I’m happy to report that I loved the movie. Essentially, it’s about a young writer who returns home to the small village that he grew up in and discovers that not only does he have a part in an age-old curse, but the village is also under attack by werewolves. I had my reservations at first, but Game of Werewolves’ practical effects, sly humor, and undeniable fun factor made this the perfect closing night film. The audience seemed to agree as they were cheering throughout. The werewolves looked awesome and unique, and Director Juan Martínez Moreno kept his promise by keeping the CGI to a minimum. Don’t let it’s trailer mislead you, Game of Werewolves is a perfect example of how to blend horror, humor, and action, and I can’t wait to watch it again. At the moment, it doesn’t have any US or Canadian distribution lined-up, so here’s hoping that changes very soon! Moreno – who, it’s worth noting, is the nicest guy ever – also hung around for a Q&A after the film, which I recorded; so be on the lookout for that soon. For more on the film, use the above link to visit its official TADFF page.
After the last film was over, and my last vote was cast for the festival, I headed over to the pub to meet up with all of my Canadian film festival friends. As luck would have it, even though the place was packed and the drinks were flowing, I managed to secure a table in the back corner of the downstairs seating area, where I recorded a final live podcast episode. It’s a tad shorter (pun intended) than the last one, but it features more candid filmmaker interviews, discussion of the festival as a whole, and we even got almost all of the main players behind the festival on the podcast for the final minutes. Things literally ended with the pub security shutting us down, which should be fun to hear. You really won’t want to miss this one, as there are some exclusive announcements on the show. Keep your eyes here, as I will be posting it in the next few days.
All said and done, it was a wonderful night that ended with me a couple of my favorite people having breakfast at 6:30am before shuffling off to my hotel room to get a couple hours of sleep. I’ll probably post a final report in a day or two, once I’ve gotten home, unpacked, and had some much-needed rest, but it’s safe to say that TADFF 2012 was a huge success. As always, the festival staff was amazing, the festival-goers were welcoming, and this year was a standout with all of the wonderfully friendly filmmakers that were in attendance. As usual, my “TADFF family” grew significantly, and many friendships were made that I’m sure will carry on through the coming years. I really can’t stress enough how wonderful this festival is, and even though there are larger festivals with more films each year, Toronto After Dark will always be the one that I choose when faced with the option of only attending one. Much like this site, TADFF is a festival that is run by genuine folks who are fans of the genre first and foremost, and everything they do is for the fans who attend. I urge everyone out there who can make the trip to do so, and when you do, be sure to find me and say hello. You won’t regret it.
Anyhow, as I said, make sure to keep checking back, as there will be more reviews and festival-related content coming your way once I get back home. In the meantime, for more info on TADFF, be sure to visit their Official Website, and don’t forget to read all of our other coverage of 2012’s festival.
To all of the TADFF staff and volunteers, thank you so much for putting on another kick-ass festival.
To all of my Canadian friends and fellow filmgoers, it was great seeing you again, and I miss you guys already. See you all again in 2013!
And to everyone reading this, I hope you’re enjoying this coverage, and I’ll see you After Dark!