Here are my thoughts on the Canadian short films that preceded the features during Toronto After Dark.
A film for the people who like The Simpsons and snuff films. Astron-6 member Connor Sweeney re-teams with co-director Milos Mitrovic (Imitations) for a very dark and disturbing film portrayed as a snuff film involving Homer, Bart, and Milhouse. Despite Connor Sweeney’s involvement, this is not the typical Astron-6 fare and in fact the extreme content might make viewers feel quite a bit uncomfortable.
A hacker has a technological weapon placed in her memory banks. Breaker is a sleek short film featuring a mix of science fiction and action. It’s well produced, if not very memorable.
After their landlord delivers an old fridge to their apartment, two young women are stalked by an icy creature. Freeze is a pretty well-executed short with some decent gore effects.
Actors at a theatre are stalked by a mask killer. While Masks is a well-produced film, with some decent kills, it does come off as little more than a proof-of-concept for a potential feature.
A boy obsessed with Arnold Schwarzenegger, a teenage boy receives a prize item in the mail. Featuring much homoeroticism and a quite messed up dream sequence, Schwartzy is definitely interesting to say the least.
A Dark Bedtime
A man is fearful of a recurring dream he has. A Dark Bedtime has some beautiful black and white cinematography and premise that builds to a twisted punchline. This is definitely a well done short.
While waiting for their pizza delivery, Casey and Shay gossip about the recent string of Chain Mail Murders. FWD is a short built around the urban legend that if you don’t forward an e-mail about a serial killer, you will become the killer’s next victim. For its relatively short running time, FWD is quite well executed, has a great looking killer, and even features one hell of a great resolution.
While at a cottage with her baby, a young dance choreographer accidentally awakens a fairy in the woods. Featuring some impressive dance choreography and a well-designed creature, Latched is a twisted little modern fairy tale.
The Good Samaritan
When a man helps a woman at the side of the road, he ends up getting more than he bargained for. It isn’t too hard to guess where The Good Samaritan is going, but the film still has a decent execution.
Nil: No Blood for Coffee
A soldier goes on the hunt for coffee. Nil: No Blood for Coffee has some interesting animation, though it’s ultimately just about the punchline.
Bonefire – A Tragedy in Three Acts
Reality is distorted as performance and rehearsal crisscross with each other. For his latest short film, Nate Wilson (F**K Buddies) crafts a very meta story that swaps between the rehearsal and performance of a folk story. With a blurring of reality and a mesmerizing mix of music and editing, Bonefire is definitely one of the most unique short films in this year’s Toronto After Dark line-up.
Two security guards try to locate their key card before it is too late. Dead House is a relatively simple tale of two men trying to escape a building filled with ghosts and monsters. While it’s indeed atmospheric, there’s not too much to this one.
A man calls to report the sound of a drowning man on his relaxation tape. No Wave has a simple yet effective premise of a man who is sure he heard a man drowning on his relaxation tape. While it’s not too difficult to guess where this one ends up, it is still an effective Twilight Zone-like short.
One Hell of a Party
Two girls preparing for a party accidentally summon a demon and have to choose a pure soul to sacrifice to hell. Featuring some great animation and darkly humorous plot, One Hell of a Party is one hell of a short film.
While going home of Christmas Eve, a mafia man named Pooch runs over a boy. A case of mistaken identity turns to blackmail in Stray Dog, which focuses on the increasingly volatile interaction between a mafioso and the young man he accidentally ran over. This short will definitely have you rethinking life in Woodbridge.
The Drop In
The owner of a salon receives a last minute customer. The Drop In is a very interesting short film that comments somewhat on refugees, while also having elements of action and science fiction. This would be a story that I wouldn’t mind seeing developed into a feature.
A doctor exams feet with missing toes. File this short under the WTF column.
This review was originally published as part of my coverage of Blood in the Snow 2016
A man acquires a haunted chair, which gives those who sit in it suicidal thoughts. It seems like haunted objects is a trend in horror over the course of the last few years. Studded Nightmare has a relatively simple story, but it’s well executed with some decent gory visuals.
Blood and Honey
A possible sexual predator takes in a crying girl, but gets more than he bargained for. Blood and Honey is a simple rape revenge story with a bit a supernatural twist to it.