Here are my thoughts on the Pre-Feature Shorts from the 2018 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
Echoes in the Ice
A group of men enter an abandoned facility and find a weird well in the lower levels. Echoes in the Ice is a sci-fi tinged short that kind of reminded me a bit of The Thing. While, the film does end when things were getting interesting, it was still a decent effort.
Two men break into an abandoned house and encounter a ghostly force. Deliverance is a film that combines a possibly haunted house with a pseudo-found footage premise that builds up to the final twist. Definitely an interesting take on this type of narrative.
Locomotive 8 – Encore
A music video for the band Locomotive 8’s song “Encore,” this is an animated mix of science fiction and supernatural horror. Despite being a music film, Encore still has a relatively complete narrative to it and the animation is pretty well done.
Jules is one of many lucky people to receive a ticket to board a spaceship hovering over the city. However, it turns out the visitors are not that benevolent. The Ticket is a quite well done science fiction short with some impressive CGI visuals. My only real criticism is that the whole plot seems like set-up for a larger project down the road.
A woman moves into a new house and notices an entity that can only be seen through mirrors. Mirror is a short film with a really simple, yet well executed premise that delivers on the creepiness.
A teacher is marking papers late at night and follows laughter in the hallway. Mimic is well-produced film that builds up to a big scare at the end. Could have used a bit more explanation at what was haunting the teacher, but this is still a fine enough short.
L’Homme et La Poisson
A man going ice fishing gets a surprise. L’Homme et La Poisson is a cute little animated short with clever ending.
An argument between a girl’s parents are visualized by Punch and Judy puppets at the foot of her bed. It’s a big vague what exactly is going on in The Fool, though at the very least it is well produced.
Lisa comes home from her night shift and meets her sister Judy’s apparent date from the previous night. Doors is a short the follows the typical narrative of something not being what it seems. It’s easy to guess where the plot is going, but the filmmakers opted for an ambiguous ending to keep audiences guessing.
When a clown threatens to kill a girl on her twentieth birthday, she sets out to beat him to the punch. Part of the series Josh Saltzman’s Strange Yarns, Clown Killer is a darkly humorous short film that plays up the fact that despite entertaining at kids birthday parties, clowns are completely terrifying. This is one quite enjoyable short.
After the Rain
A young girl encounters a demonic creature that has been taking children during thunderstorms. After the Rain is a very quick short that essentially gives away the entire plot through an exposition-filled news broadcast. Nothing all that deep about this short, other than some pretty decent creature effects.
Baby Blue Canoe
A young woman is picked up by a seemingly friendly turban-wearing man in a canoe. Another episode of Josh Saltzman’s Strange Yarns, Baby Blue Canoe is a relatively straight forward film that gives the message that you shouldn’t enter boats with strangers.
A two piece rock band have to fight back against a very hungry skeleton. Death Van is a very unique stop motion short that centres around a band consisting of a claymation drummer and guitarist played by a human hand. This short was quite a joy to watch.
Don’t Turn Around
A woman chatting on Snapchat gets question about an apparent ghost beside her. Don’t Turn Around takes the typical “ghost in the photograph” premise and adds a social media twist, all building up to the final scare. Altogether, this was a clever short.
Back From It
A man wakes up in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and discovers something about himself. While I don’t usually have anything against short films that act as proof of concepts for larger projects, Back From It really comes off as little more than set-up, ending right as things were starting to get interesting.
A music video in collaboration with Toronto MC Mantis, Toronto singer Glim and UK rapper M9 about intrigue, crime, drugs and violence aboard a space station city in the 31st century. Space Hustler is a rap music video that really looks like it was shot on a bareboned budget. Looking like it takes place on the poor man’s version of the Star Wars cantina, the make-up effects look like they are make with papier-mâché and the song isn’t particularly my thing either.