Ramping up the action and excitement, last night’s showings were a double bill with Exit Humanity and Father’s Day, two excellent Canadian features each filling a different category of awesome.
Alice Quinn posing with diapers they handed out prior to the 2nd screening.
The short that played before the first film was entitled Prick. Following a serial killer’s psychotic descent into further madness, the film takes a close, almost first-person perspective on his daily perceptions, questioning what’s real and what’s not. It’s a very ambiguous story where we’re not sure whether he is just crazy or the world around him is really as deranged as it appears.
The short is beautifully shot and focuses on minimalism and simplicity, conveying its psychological story without a single word being uttered. That being said, it does suffer from an often incoherent obsession with rack focusing and extreme closeups, sometimes moving past ambiguity and diving straight into confusion and messy filmmaking. Overall an interesting piece and definitely worth checking out if you come across it. Check out the trailer below.
Exit Humanity itself was an absolute treat. Rather than the hilarious gorefests which usually make up the bulk of zombie films, Exit Humanity opts for the personal, emotional and dramatic perspective, and pulls it off very well. The film is structured around the journal of Edward Young, a soldier during the American Civil War who has to deal with the rise of a zombie apocalypse in 1860s Tennessee. It’s very much styled around a classical western revenge plot and follows Young’s search for retribution after the death of his child and wife.
Much of the film’s success can be traced to the stellar performance of Mark Gibson, who brings an intense portrayal of the struggles of a grieving father from the get-go and doesn’t let up until the credits roll. This performance is matched with an equally authentic aesthetic, convincingly pulling off the period piece and also containing a really stunning set of animations to punctuate key passages in the narrative.
The first half of the film is an excellent and solid experience, but it gives way to some awkward editing and inconsistent pacing in the second half. In addition, some of the dialogue gets a tad over the top and there is a bit to much bad slow-mo, making us laugh at times when we should really be emotionally engaged. Overall though it’s rare to have a film which pairs zombies and an emotional journey in such a refined way. It’s an all-Canadian production directed by John Geddes and produced by the same people who brought us Monster Brawl last night.
The second short last night was the adorable gross-out love comedy My Main Squeeze by After Dark’s own Chris Nash. The short starts out extremely cute and simple but very rapidly takes a turn for the hilarious, awkward, and then perversely disgusting–in the best way possible. An immensely satisfying and hilarious short film, which matches Nash’s already awesome bumpers which have played before films both this year and last. Nash also has a short involved in the “ABCs of Death” contest called T is for Thread. I highly recommend everyone check it out here and vote for him if it’s to your liking.
Following the cute and quirky short was the main event which everyone was waiting for, the absolutely fucking fantastic Canadian feature Father’s Day. Adam Lopez (the director of After Dark) introduced this film by saying that it “makes Hobo with a Shotgun look tame”, and it does. Father’s Day does everything Hobo With a Shotgun did amazingly well and does it better, harder, funnier and on a fraction of the budget. The film pushes sexual perversion and gore to a level I haven’t scene since the true exploitation films of the ’70s and ’80s.
The film follows the bearded, one-eyed Ahab as he attempts to hunt down the disgustingly fat father-rapist known as the Fuckman. To attempt to whittle down any more of the plot to words doesn’t do it justice; it’s a rather complex story traveling between strip clubs, cultist rituals, drug trips, and even hell and yet the film manages to remain surprisingly cohesive. Outside of the harsh lighting and gritty aesthetic it’s also very well polished. The creature makeup and gore effects are fantastic and it even features a rather lengthy set of stop-frame animated backdrops and monsters which work beautifully with the rest of the visuals.
With the addition of some subtle (or sometimes overt) references and incredibly hammy (in the best way) dialogue, this film has all the material necessary for a classic cult experience. The film was written and directed by the lead actors and they do all their own stunts, makeup, effects, and camera work. It’s clearly a labour of love and appreciation for the ’80s VHS classics which the guys over at Astron-6 are working with.
The film really defies explanation with all the action, sex, gore, rape and everything else you could want from an After Dark slasher film. I can’t possibly recommend Father’s Day enough, and considering this was its premiere you should stay tuned to see what festival it will play at next because its definitely got a long run ahead. You can check out the trailer for Father’s Day below.
That’s it for the second night of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2011. Check back tomorrow for a roundup of the 3rd day’s awesome lineup. If you want some more details on upcoming films or for some reason haven’t bought tickets yet you can check out more information at torontoafterdark.com.