Canada After Dark – Toronto After Dark 2014


DeadHearts Preceding every feature film screening, this year’s Canada After Dark short film line-up featured everything from stop motion thrillers to surreal romances to exploitation homages.  Here is is a rundown of all nineteen Canadian short films. Foxed!
This stop motion short involves a girl forced into labour by a group of foxes.  Even though it has a running time of only four minutes, Foxed! is still quite an enjoyable little short.  For an animated short, there is a pretty dark ending to Foxed! and I would almost like to see this story expanded in feature film form.
 9 | REALLY LIKED IT Young Blood
On his 12th birthday, a boy named Ben visits his uncle Jake, who has to fight off a gang of goons.  This short is a pretty enjoyable little action film, with some stark black and white photography.  I also have to say that I thought that Young Blood has a pretty great final shot.
8 | LIKED IT Pupa
An animated short about a child in a world full of monsters.  Pupa has some great looking cell animation and fun little premise, with the reasoning for the title not coming to light until the very end.  I enjoyed it.
8 | LIKED IT Lumberjacked
A lumberjack fights back against buildings destroying a forest.  Part animated music video and part video game, Lumberjacked is pretty fun to watch, with some messages against deforestation.
8 | LIKED IT Day 40
A reinterpretation of the biblical story of Noah’s Arc.  With dry humour and an interesting twist at the end, this comedic animated short has its moments.
7 | FAIR  Period Piece
A filmmaker is trying to finish a period romance in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.  Period Piece is a very smart and humorous film about a director, who refuses to let something like a zombie attack ruin her movie.  The film moves back and forth between the gritty real life action and the bright and colourful world of the film-with-the-film.  Those two world’s eventually merge for something that is quite spectacular to watch.  Apparently the filmmakers are hoping to expand this short to feature length and it is most definitely a film that I would check out.
10 | LOVED IT   Kismet
Following a recent break-up, a girl named Jill meets a new boy named Alex at a party.  However, this new kinship is tested when they go into an abandoned house.  Kismet is a short that is really all about the end, though it also has some pretty good tension and a scene that is lit nearly entirely by flashlight.  Overall, it is a well-made short.
8 | LIKED IT Rose In Bloom
On the day of her birthday, a girl named Rose accompanies her farther and sister on an errand.  Rose in Bloom is a somewhat vague film, with an ending that is open to interpretation. That said, it is still an OK enough short.
7 | FAIR  Dead Hearts
The story of child mortician Milton Mulberry and his romance with a blind girl named Lola Littleton.  Dead Hearts is a wonderful little surreal short, which is very cute and enjoyable.  While the story does go on a little longer than it should, there are some great moments within the short, particularly Lola dressed as little red riding hood and having martial art fights against bullies dressed as wolves.
 9 | REALLY LIKED IT The Monitor
A woman puts her baby to sleep with a webcam-based baby monitor.  However, in the middle of the night, she reveals a threatening phone call from a man claiming to be in the baby’s room.  A short about the perils of modern technology, The Monitor is quite well executed, with a pretty shocking twist.
8 | LIKED IT Migration
A large white creature goes on a journey.  Having the appearance of a Super-8 home movie, Migration is meditative little short with some wonderful imagery.
8 | LIKED IT What Doesn’t Kill You
Following a car accident, a man is convinced his friend will come back to life if killed.  What Doesn’t Kill You is an effective little thriller about the possible moral consequences of believing in instant reincarnation.  I thought this was quite well done.
8 | LIKED IT Honor Code
Corporate rivalries with a samurai twist.  Honor Code is a quite fun to watch short, which transports the code of the samurai into the corporate world.  It’s completely surreal seeing how everyone just happens to be carrying a samurai sword and I thought that it was pretty well executed.
8 | LIKED IT Monster Island
After quitting his job and breaking up with his girlfriend, a man named Doug travels to Monster Island to find himself.  Monster Island is a short that features quite a lot of build-up, including a great monologue by Doug’s mother.  However, the short just ends without resolution, making Monster Island seem more like a proof-of-concept for a feature film than something that can stand on its own.  I’d watch a feature if there was one, but as a short Monster Island is somewhat lagging.
6 | WATCHABLE Lazy Boyz
A couple of stoners find a couch in the middle of the road, which turns out to be a man-eating monster.  Lazy Boyz strays the line between being a very stupid stoner comedy and pretty fun creature feature.  The short gets quite enjoyable in the second half, which includes some pretty well done practical effects.  A mild recommendation.
7 | FAIR  Satan’s Dolls
A mob assassin named Suzy decides to hide out from the police in a nunnery, however it quickly turns out to be a very unholy place.  Featuring a 1970s exploitation style, with some obvious giallo homages, Satan’s Dolls is an absolute blast to watch.  It’s almost funny that this short comes out around the same time as Astron-6’s feature The Editor, since they both feature some of the same tropes, including badly overdubbed dialogue.  In fact, Satan’s Dolls would end up being a great companion with The Editor for a giallo-influenced double feature.  Undoubtedly, this was my favourite short of the bunch.
10 | LOVED IT   Last Breath
A group of women find themselves attacked by a cult.  This was an OK enough short, even though there was not really much explanation why these three women were attacked.  Perhaps the short is trying to say something, since the girls have a conversation about women being misrepresented in film.  However, any meaning the short had kind of went over my head.
7 | FAIR  Little Matthew
A private investigator named Jeff is asked by priests to recover a boy named Matthew, however it turns out there is something not right about him.  Little Matthew is a dark, but well done, short with some interesting twists and turns.
8 | LIKED IT Intruders
Three instances of paranormal activity.  Intruders is a creepy little short divided into three segments.  It is hard to divulge whether these three segments are connected, other than the fact that they involve ghostly activity.  While, Intruders is effectively creepy, particularly right at the end, it could have been better executed.
7 | FAIR 

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.