In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Toronto After Dark, I will be revisiting one film from each year of the festival. Please be aware that these discussions may include SPOILERS.
Because of renovations going on at The Bloor Cinema, Toronto After Dark moved to the Toronto Underground Cinema for its 2011 edition, which also saw the festival return to October, after two years taking place in the summer. The headliners of the 2011 festival included the opening film Monster Brawl, the closing film The Innkeepers, and the thriller A Lonely Place to Die. The festival also played both Manborg and Father’s Day, which were both the debut feature films for the Winnipeg-based film collective Astron-6. Father’s Day ended up winning the 2011 audience award and will be the film that I revisit today.
Astron-6 is made up of the Winnipeg-based trio of Adam Brooks, Matt Kennedy, and Conor Sweeney and Toronto-based duo of Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski. Astron-6 started off by directing various short films, such as Inferno of the Dead and Lazer Ghosts 2: Return to Lazer Cove, with both Father’s Day and Manborg being feature-length expansions of earlier short films.
Father’s Day is a film that is inspired by the 1970s grindhouse aesthetic, complete with film scratches. The film centres upon the eye patched vigilante Ahab (Adam Brooks), who is out for revenge against a deranged cannibalistic serial killer, who specifically targets fathers. Ahab is assisted on this quest by Father John Sullivan (Matt Kennedy), and male prostitute Twink (Conor Sweeney).
Even though Father’s Day is the first Astron-6 film to be released, I didn’t see it for the first time until just last year. Despite the fact that all of Astron-6’s films have a dark tongue-in-cheek humour, Father’s Day is probably the most horrific and disturbing of their films. Much of this has to do with the lead antagonist, whose somewhat profane name I will not repeat here, who brutally rapes and eats his victims. There is also much cringe-inducing and somewhat controversial content in Father’s Day, including a incestuous sex scene.
A nice little touch to Father’s Day is the fact that the film is presented as a late night TV movie. This includes the film taking a commercial break halfway through to play the trailer for the science fiction film that would be playing following the feature. Father’s Day was also produced in conjunction with Troma Entertainment and features a notable cameo by Lloyd Kaufman, who plays both God and the Devil, who happen to be the same person.
Astron-6 followed up Father’s Day and Manborg with last year’s The Editor, which demonstrates some improved production values and a cast that includes Paz de la Huerta and Udo Kier. In addition, Astron-6 member Steven Kostanski has been doing his own thing, which includes a segment in ABCs of Death 2 and the upcoming horror film The Void.
While Father’s Day is probably my third favourite of Astron-6’s feature films, it is still a solid revenge thriller.