The Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2012 continues with day #2 of the fest featuring a psychological romance thriller, a superhero lasagna commercial and English hillbilly survival horror!
“The Captured Bird,” the opening short which played prior to Crave was the first miss of the fest. First time director Jovanka Vuckovic’s movie is an absolutely terrible and amateurish attempt at “poetic horror”. Featuring some of the worst child acting I’ve seen and CGI left over from the ’90s, this short was an aimless, boring and barely watchable mess. Coupled with some terrible sound design and a complete lack of any actual style or horror, rather than a moving or interesting experience the short plays more as a showcase of poor film-making techniques. It’s definitely not worth tracking down.
The first feature of the night was the surprisingly complex, sometimes light-hearted, sometimes dark psychological thriller Crave, directed by Charles de Lauzirika. The film follows a crime scene photographer as he falls into an existential crisis about the morality of life and his place in the world. We follow him through his problems with love, money and an ever growing struggle between reality and fantasy. The film constantly creates indistinct lines between the two, often using fun fake outs to mislead, and it all builds up to a truly compelling on-screen conflict.
The lead is well played by Josh Lawson who manages to pull off the endearing childish sides of the character just as well as the insane and menacing ones. Ron Perlman is his ever-entertaining self and adds a nice break from the tension throughout the film. Emma Lung is equally good, despite playing a somewhat clichéd role.
The film also features a strong aesthetic sense with shallow focus and bokeh paralleling the emotional states of the protagonist throughout the film. I heard an audience member at the end describe it “as if (500) Days of Summer was a crime thriller,” and it’s an apt comparison. That said, the film does have some problems with pacing and drags at times. The multiple tones that the film juggles are sometimes fumbled and it can seem inconsistent rather than complex.
Overall, though, it’s definitely entertaining with its powerhouse acting, strong sense of tension and compelling script. It’s a true thriller and character drama and a film to check out. See the trailer for Crave below:
Our good friend Martin Kessler joined us for the 2nd half of the night and wrote the following review for Inbred:
Before the film began we were treated to the very funny short “Garlic Bread Man vs. Lasagna Man” directed by Daryl Shaw. It’s five minutes of over-the-top absurd insanity that is definitely worth tracking down.
I suppose with Inbred it makes sense to start with the bad. Inbred takes a long time to find its legs, roughly half the movie. The first half of the film largely consists of filler material with the worthwhile moments few and far between. Inbred is also frequently inconsistent in its acting, shooting, editing and even colour correction. Inbred’s tone is a bit difficult to decipher at first too, with mixed messages about the seriousness of the film.
There is a certain point where it becomes clear that the film is meant to shock while being fun. And it is very fun. What comes with the second half really does make it all worthwhile. The victimized band of teens and their caretakers are often insufferable, but it doesn’t really matter since the hillbillies themselves are the real stars of the show. From their blackface-wearing leader to the chainsaw-wielding Pudge, the hillbillies are wonderfully shocking and a constant pleasure to watch on screen. They also have a surprisingly catchy theme song. The violence in the film is imaginative and over-the-top and undoubtedly a real pleasure for gorehounds. There are also some really excellent details, like an audience of hillbillies using 3D glasses as splatter goggles. Inbred also very effectively subverts expectations, and builds up to an ending that is as unexpected as it is satisfying.
Despite its initial tedium and rougher qualities, Inbred makes for a worthwhile and entertaining piece of dark comedy.
That’s all for the 2nd night folks. Check back tomorrow for our intensive coverage of Saturday and as always see here for a full festival schedule and tickets.