Toronto After Dark 2013 Journal: Day 5 – Odd Thomas / Solo

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The 2013 Edition of Toronto After Dark Film Festival has now passed the halfway mark. Generally, Monday night is a bit lighter because folks are exhausted from the last four nights of missing sleep, drinking, and trying to talk over loud music and people at the pub. However, last night featured a solid pair of films, and the auditorium over at the Scotiabank Theater was packed.

Things kicked off with Programmer Justin McConnell (who also directed the excellent Skullworld) introducing the first short and feature film of the evening. As usual, he kept it to the point, but he still had significant enthusiasm for the films.

The first short, Down Bob, also had a brief intro from its writer/director/star, Adam Schafer. The film was one of the longer shorts of the festival – clocking in at eleven minutes – but it was also one of the most enjoyable. It focuses on an odd character named Bob Down who’s mission in life is to help people. One day, he meets a girl and they fall for each other, and eventually, he takes his need to protect her to the extreme. The obvious comparison that most will probably have for the short is with Napoleon Dynamite because, honestly, that’s the kind of vibe the movie gives off. But, that’s not a bad thing, and the short was goofy fun and had a nice score. I would wholeheartedly recommend seeking it out, if you get a chance.

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Next up was the first feature of the night, Odd Thomas. The movie, which was adapted from Dean Koontz’s novel(s) of the same name by Writer/Director Stephen Sommers (Deep Rising, The Mummy, etc), is a sort of modernized film noir about a young man man, Odd Thomas (played by Anton Yelchin) with supernatural abilities who helps the local police force solve mysterious crimes. For a large budgeted, well made movie with a known Director, the film has had a tough time finding distribution in the States, and honestly, after watching it, I can kind of see why; and it’s not a quality issue. Though there are quite a few fantastical things at play in the movie, there is a central plot point that may hit a little too close to home for some Americans who still want to blame violence in everyday life on movies. It’s kind of ballsy that the movie goes there, but overall it’s sufficiently entertaining, and I hope that it makes its way to US audiences soon because I think people would really enjoy it. I know I did. Check out the trailer below. Read James’ review of the film here.

Next up was a break, and we all shuffled into the lobby to line up for the second film pairing of the night. As always, the line was filled with movie fans who were happy to chat about the movies they have seen, and we had some great conversation about Odd Thomas and other features we’ve seen. This is one of my favorite things about TADFF, and it’s a huge part of the reason that I keep coming back every year.

After they let us head back in to the auditorium, we grabbed seats and Programmer Stephen Landry introduced the next pair of films; the first of which was the Canadian-made short film, The Hunt. The short was a simple story of a father and son bonding while hunting in the woods. Of course, being that this is TADFF, you know there are probably more fantastical elements at play, but I don’t want to spoil those in case you are able to check out the film for yourself.

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Next up was the night’s final feature, the Toronto Premiere of Solo. I knew almost nothing about this film going in, aside from that it had something to do with a girl who is sent to a secluded island for a two-night solo camping trip. Honestly, I’m glad that was the case, because Solo ended up being a pretty solid thriller where the less you know about it, the more effective it is. For that reason, I won’t say much more about it plot-wise. I will tell you, however, that it was beautifully shot, with vibrant colors and lush woodland cinematography. Apparently, some people were completely amped because the star, Annie Clark, is from the Canadian teen drama show, Degrassi: The Next Generation. Director Isaac Cravit and pretty much all of the film’s main cast were in attendance for the screening and came up for a Q&A after the movie. All in all, I really enjoyed Solo, and while it doesn’t break new ground, it is an entertaining thriller, and I definitely would recommend checking it out. I believe that, as of the time of this writing, Solo is available for rent/purchase via iTunes and various VOD  outlets, courtesy of its distributor, Shock Till You Drop.

Well, that about wraps it for my quick thoughts on Day 5 of TADFF 2013. Overall, it was a solid night of films, and after the movies were over, I was able to get a lengthy interview with Don Thacker, the director of the previous night’s film, Motivational Growth. It’s a very fun discussion, so keep your eyes here on the Liberal Dead because I will be publishing it as a podcast episode in the near future.

Tuesday night is “Sci-Fi Night” and features the films Last Days On Mars and The Machine; neither of which I know much about. Check back tomorrow for another full update on the films.

Until then… Stay Undead!

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