There is one Toronto film festival that is eagerly anticipated by Torontonians every year, and it isn’t that big flashy one that you’ll be hearing more about in September. Now in its fifth year, the Toronto After Dark Film Festival bills itself as “8 thrilling nights of cinema.” The festival has made its name showcasing science fiction and horror cult films and a year has yet to pass where a gem or two of a film hasn’t been shown.
MONDAY, AUG. 16
Toronto After Dark plays host to its first ever red carpet premiere tonight. “The Last Exorcism” is the sophomore feature from German director Daniel Stamm. A disenchanted priest decides to videotape his last exorcism on a girl in order to expose the practice as a sham. Lucky for us, this exorcism doesn’t go as planned since it seems an honest-to-goodness demon has set up shop inside the girl in question, played by Ashley Bell. Producer Eli Roth and stars Ashley Bell and Patrick Fabian will be attending and participating in a Q&A after the screening. Advance tickets have already sold out, but a limited amount of tickets will be available at the box office of the Bloor Theatre starting at 6 p.m.
If you are lucky enough to get tickets for “The Last Exorcism” — and even if you aren’t — make sure to stick around for the last film of the night: “Alien vs. Ninja.” The title of this Japanese film pretty much says it all. You likely won’t see this winning any Oscars anytime soon, but fans of ninjas, aliens, gore, fighting and zombies will get a kick out of this fully-loaded film.
TUESDAY, AUG. 17
“Phobia 2” from Thailand leads the double bill tonight. It is indeed a sequel, but you won’t need to see the first one to enjoy it. The film is comprised of five short films each taking cues from different elements of the horror genre, including Raimi-esque humour. “Phobia 2” was an official selection at the Montreal Fantasia Film Festival and has been generating enough buzz to make it worth checking out.
The big event for the evening, however, is the screening of Josh Grannell’s “All About Evil.” Some of you may know the director better by his stage name, Peaches Christ, under which he performs his popular San Francisco-based drag show. Grannell will be in attendance and doing a Q&A and will help to judge a costume contest for goriest attendee. The film itself has a novel concept. Natasha Lyonne plays the proprietor of a movie theatre who, in a fit of rage, kills someone. Unbeknown to her the murder is being projected on the screen to a full audience. The theatre reacts enthusiastically to what they believe is a short film, and this encourages Lyonne’s character to keep producing her snuff films.
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 18
“Centurion” was described in a somewhat tongue-in-check manner by our peers over at Cinematical as “300 without all the boring bits.” Quite the recommendation! Michael Fassbender stars as a centurion sent with his legion to quell a vicious Celtic tribe in England. Not all goes according to plan (ie: the legion gets their asses handed to them by the Celts) and Fassbender’s Centurion is forced to lead the survivors back to the frontier all the while being pursued by a vicious Celt warrior-woman, played by Olga Kyrylenko. Yet another well reviewed movie and an official selection at South by Southwest this year, this should be an exhilarating ride for anyone not adverse to a little hardcore action.
The second film marks Phillip Ridley’s return to directing after a 14-year absence. In “Heartless,” Jim Sturgess plays a disfigured young photographer who discovers the gangs that terrorize East London are not-quite-human. He becomes involved with these street demons and ends up battling for the ultimate prize: his soul.
All films screen at the Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor St. W). For festival times, go to www.torontoafterdark.com. Check back for more previews, plus reviews of some of the films. And you can follow me on Twitter for Toronto After Dark updates!
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