This year’s line-up of Canadian short films included inter-dimensional portals, grim reapers, and father/son relationships. Here is my rundown of the Canada After Dark line-up.
Portal to Hell!!!
This review was originally written as part of my coverage of TIFF15
A grumpy superintendent finds out that a couple of tenants have performed a ritual in the basement and opened a portal to the ancient city of R’lyeh, awakening slumbering god Cthulhu. In what turned out to be the final acting role for late wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Portal to Hell!!! ends up being a hilariously fun horror-comedy, with gory tentacled action. There is a feature film version of Portal to Hell!!! in the works and I wonder how the filmmakers are going to address Roddy Piper’s death, since his involvement is really what make this short work. Altogether, I absolutely ended up loving Portal to Hell!!!, which just makes me more sad that “Rowdy” Roddy Piper is no longer with us.
(Full Disclosure: I was a contributer to Portal to Hell‘s Indiegogo campaign)
A man (Steven McCarthy) finds a way to get blood for his girlfriend (Alyx Melone). Featuring zero dialogue, O Negative is a short that visual tells its story and lets the audience figure out what exactly is going on. Things definitely do get a bit bloody in this one.
A woman working in an office experiences a dream world that quickly turns into a nightmare. Nihil features some very impressive animation, which almost looks like a rotoscoped painting. This is indeed a visual beautiful short, even though things do get a bit dark.
The grim reaper (Oliver Bradette) finds itself on the run following a sting operation. Chasing Death is a funny and creative little short, which even gets a little touching towards the end. Also, the design of the grim reaper was quite excellent.
Armando (Edwin Perez) is a man with outstanding debts who finds himself drugged and forced to wrestle for his life against the monstrous luchador Gigante (David Forts). Lucha libre meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in this sadistic short, which turns wrestling into torture porn. While El Gigante is a well-produced short, which is deservingly getting a feature film adaptation, it is far from a pleasant watch.
IBOP (International Brotherhood of Pancakes)
Denmarkis (Mitch Boudreau) is show a prime piece of real estate by his cousin Seymourg (Shawn Kosmerly), which happens to be home to a pancake-loving cult. To put it bluntly, IBOP is an incredibly weird short full of pancakes and proverbs. Not really sure what to think about this one.
An odd man named Milo (Matt Fentimen) is interrogated by an agent (William Marchant) about the murder of a woman named Mary (Jess Smith). From Out is science fiction tinged short, focusing on the very odd central protagonist of Milo, who is from out of town. While, it’s not exactly surprising how this short turns out, it is still a well done little story.
Gordon (Robert Nolan) takes his son to meet a stranger and indulge in a secret passion. Heir is a tense short filled with some icky body horror. There are definitely a few visual metaphors going on in this short, which suggests the undercurrents of what’s going on with this meeting. Altogether, Heir is a pretty well-done short.
Charlie (Aaron Poole) is asked by Jack (Aaron Douglas) for assistance.doing a job. The Orchard is a thriller dealing with vigilantism and the complicated relationship between these two men. The short dark, both figuratively and literally, and features some fine performances from the central characters.
A woman (Sarah Robbins) describes a nightmare that she has. Sleep Monster is a very atmospheric short, which seems to deal with some themes similar to sleep paralysis, particularly the pretense of a shadowy figure. Sleep Monster is very well produced, even if it builds up to an ending that is little more than a punchline.
Let Me Down Easy
A group of young people in a village go on a coming of age journey to a river that is considered to be evil. Let Me Down Easy is a heavily religiously-themed short, which has these young people doing various acts that would supposedly lead them to sin. This is most definitely a short that is full of metaphors.
Home Sweet Home
An old man wakes up in his home in the middle of the night and finds monsters in the halls. Described as a psychological monster movies with senior citizens, Home Sweet Home can be seen a bit as a metaphor for the disorientation that sets in with old age. This is particularly apparent in the way this short resolves itself.
I Am Coming to Paris to Kill You
A woman (Laurence Strelka) overcomes the odds to retrieve the one she loves. I Am Going to Paris to Kill You is a neo-noir built around the titular folk song. With a loathsome kidnapper, a kind stranger, and a cute ending, this is pretty well done little short.
Out of the Mold
Two women try to have a baby, while mold grows in the washroom. Out of the Mold is a messed up little fairy tale of a short, which will likely remind many people of the film Motivational Growth.
This Home is Not Empty
A story of a fire is told with cardboard models. A mix of photographs and models, This Home is Not Empty is a short, but effective example of silent storytelling.
Ellie (Sharon Belle) and Joseph (Alexander Plouffe) are friends with benefits, whose relationship with each other gets very complicated very fast. Combining sex comedy with some very twisted body horror, F**K Buddies is one crazy and insane film, which goes into the complications of casual sexual relationships. This is an incredibly fun watch and I really enjoyed myself with this one.
A boxing champ on death row has his last wish. This is a clever little short that combine the hype around a boxing match with an execution in a prison. I though this was quite well executed, pardon the pun.
Point of View
A woman performing an autopsy is terrorized by the corpse, which moves when she looks away. Inspired by an episode of Doctor Who, Point of View takes a very simple concept and turns it into a fairly suspenseful short.
On the final broadcast at a radio station, thing to awry when a fan comes by and as the DJ to play his record. Dead Air is a short with a bit of a 70s feel to it, complete with a synthesizer based soundtrack. The plot of the short is OK enough, even though it only really seems to play into the punchline that appears before the credits.