I can’t forget the little guys. As always, each feature of Toronto After Dark was preceded by one of 19 Canadian short films. In addition, there were 9 international shorts shown as part of the Shorts After Dark showcase. Now is the time that I will go back and give my brief thoughts on all the shorts that played during the festival. Canada After Dark Kin
I have to admit that the first short of the festival played off a bit like a music video, with some mellow dance music in the background. There is also a lot of slow motion running and giant birds. I guess it was an OK short, even though I didn’t truly understand what it was about.
7 | FAIR L’étranger
This short had a bit of a western vibe, as a stranger enters a bar and gets into a series of fights with the various patrons. This was overall a fun short and it had a great ironic ending.
8 | LIKED IT The Last Video Store
If you like films like Manborg, you would love this ode to the lost era of bad VHS movies. Taking place at a time when independent video stores have all but vanished, The Last Video Store is a great little sci-fi action short, which features many fun surprises. I definitely had a blast watching this.
10 | LOVED IT Bless You
There is nothing really much to this animated short, which features one of longest sneezes in the world, strong enough to rip the skin from your bones. However, the way the short ends is priceless.
8 | LIKED IT Montreal Zombies
This is funny little found-footage style film about the attempts of a household to fight off a zombie attack. I liked the VHS effects throughout and it was an overall enjoyable short.
8 | LIKED IT Just Ella
This is a haunting short about a girl, who takes a break in a shelter and finds herself haunted by the ghost of her sister. It’s a simple short, but effective.
8 | LIKED IT The Guest
Other than it involving and man and a disembodied voice, I honestly can’t really remember much about this short. That’s not usually a good sign.
6 | WATCHABLE Under the Neon Lights
This is a very weird short, which involves a cross-dressing man, who is in love with a mannequin. This was definitely one of the more messed up shorts that were seen this year. However, there is still a certain charm with this short, especially with the different ethnic stereotypes for each of the characters. This one gets a minor pass.
7 | FAIR Mood Killer
This a very clever short about a guy, who comes up with multiple monstrous excuses for why he broke up with his ex-girlfriends, after his current girlfriend finds his “little black book” of past relationships. This was definitely an enjoyable short, with interesting metaphors about commitment issues and the dumb reasons relationships end.
8 | LIKED IT Down Bob
This short can be best described as a much more foul-mouthed and crude version of Napoleon Dynamite. The film was delightfully weird and quite enjoyable.
8 | LIKED IT The Hunt
In this short, a hunter and his son find themselves under attack by a monster in the middle of the night. This film is delightful in its irony, as the arrogant hunter, who is all about “showing them who’s boss,” ends up becoming the hunted himself.
8 | LIKED IT The Vehicle
In this cryptic short, a man meets up with a woman and reveals that he has come back in time to be with her. This short does not really explain the reasons for the time travel, other than the man saying that they “don’t have much time.” The short is interesting, but I could’ve have used a bit more information.
7 | FAIR Night Giant
This black and white short features the odd plot of a man, who finds himself chased by a giant. Much of the plot is played for humour and never really takes itself too seriously. I would say that it was OK enough.
7 | FAIR Liebe (Love)
This short tells two ironic stories of love. This short is built around the very macabre counter-narration that takes up the second half. I’ll admit that it was sort of humorous.
7 | FAIR Beasts of the Real Word
This is a highly enjoyable film, which starts out as a sort of “found footage” film in a sushi restaurant, only to flashback to a series of weird events from the point of view of a blobfish, which is about to be chopped up. The short features everything from giant robots to skeletons to animated fighting food and was really fun to watch. Also, I have to say that the blobfish is a really weird looking fish.
9 | REALLY LIKED IT The Lamp
In this short, the first date between a couple who met online quickly becomes creepy and stalkerish. This short definitely plays into the fears about online dating, which many are still not so sure about. Even though the short does feature quite a bit of creepiness, it kind of falls flat with a somewhat weird ending.
7 | FAIR Master
A man comes home with mind amnesia and tries to find happened to his wife and dog. This short is built around its reveal at the end, which I have to say is more than a little messed up. This man was definitely into some weird activities before getting a blow to the head.
7 | FAIR Remember Me
A man finds out that he will disappear unless people are thinking of him at every waking moment, so he does some increasingly extreme acts to get attention from strangers. I thought this was very enjoyable, yet somewhat disturbing, darkly comic short.
9 | REALLY LIKED IT Corvus
This is a very artsy, film noir-style, black and white short about a detective pondering what happened to a woman. The film features a lot of slow motion shots and arguably more credits than plot. Also there were ravens involved with the plot, which somewhat confused me. This short looks pretty, but didn’t have too much substance.
7 | FAIR Shorts After Dark Baby, I Love You
This is a weird animated short involving an animated girl and increasingly messed up imagery. There’s not really all that much plot to this one, but I suppose it was OK enough.
7 | FAIR My Father is a Bird
As you can guess from the title, this short is about a boy, who’s father is a giant bird, who looks like something the Jim Henson company would have created. If this wasn’t weird enough, a plot develops the boy hitting puberty and…certain activities endangering the father’s life. I have to say that this was a cute short and I enjoyed it.
8 | LIKED IT Invocation
This live action/stop motion hybrid involves a video camera, a teddy bear, and a whole lot of bloody weirdness. I can say I enjoyed it.
8 | LIKED IT Don’t Move
In this short, a group of people are tormented by a group of evil spirits, who kill anyone that moves. This short has great tension, a lot of gore, and a great ending. I liked this one very much.
9 | REALLY LIKED IT Sequence
This short involves a man who wakes to find that everyone, including his girlfriend, is scared of him because of something they dreamed about. This short has a very Twilight Zone-ish plot and a very interesting twist at the end.
8 | LIKED IT North Bay
This short focuses on a fringe scientist, who has been living in isolation for 17 years trying to prove a theory he has. When he encounters a girl camping at his test site, some of the pieces finally begin falling together. There’s not all that much to this short, but I thought it came together in a somewhat interesting way.
7 | FAIR C (299, 792 KM per second)
This short moves back and forth between a TV science documentary about civilisation and sci-fi story about a mutiny aboard a starship. Both halves of the story relate to each other, but doesn’t really fully meld. The short probably would have been better if it just told the starship story. However, it was still OK enough.
7 | FAIR Rope-A-Dope
This was an incredibly fun Groundhog Day-style short, which involves a dopy guy who constantly repeats a day, where he is beat up by a group of thugs. Of course, that is until he begins teaching himself martial arts, in order to fight back. I definitely had a blast watching this short and was definitely my favourite of the Shorts After Dark line-up.
10 | LOVED IT Kick-Heart
I had heightened expectations about this Japanese animated short, since it was one of the most hyped of the line-up. However, I did not really respond well to its crude animation and style and not-too-interesting wrestling plot. It’s perfectly watchable, but not really for me.
6 | WATCHABLE Well, that wraps up my rundown of the shorts at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.