Toronto After Dark

5 films to watch at Toronto After Dark 2013

Toronto After Dark returns this week running from Oct 17-25th. Now hosted at the Scotiabank Cinema, the 8th annual Toronto After Dark includes a whopping 19 feature films (many of which have already won awards and two of which are world premieres) preceded by short films, as well as a dedicated short film showcase with picks from around the globe.

Below are my top picks for this year's Toronto After Dark Film Festival. A rundown of the rest of the lineup can be found online.

SAT OCT 19 @ 9:30 PM: THE BATTERY (USA) Toronto Premiere!

Winner of Best Horror Film prize at the Amsterdam Fantasy Film Festival, this indie gem is about the relationship between two friends in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and puts the focus on the characters, not the zombies. Toronto band Rock Plaza Central sets a wonderfully melancholy tone for the film right off the bat in the trailer and cements this as a must-see for me.

SUN OCT 20 @ 7.00 PM: SEPTIC MAN (CANADA) Canadian Premiere!

Probably one of the grossest films you'll see this year. It's directed by Jesse T. Cook (who directed Monster Brawl which I hated) but is thankfully written by the genius Tony Burgess (who wrote Pontypool, one of my favourite horror thrillers of all time). I'm hedging my bets that great writing and the incomparable acting of Stephen McHattie will make this a horror classic.

SUN OCT 20 @ 9.30 PM: MOTIVATIONAL GROWTH (USA) Canadian Premiere!

You need more of a reason to see a film besides it featuring talking mould? Did I mention the mould is voiced by legendary b-actor, and my personal hero, Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)? No? Well, I just did. This is a story about a hopelessly depressed man whose life, and horrible apartment, fall into a state of decay and mould begins to grow everywhere...and give advice. That's normal, isn't it? Note to self, buy cleaning supplies/gun.

TUES. OCT 22 @ 7.00 PM: THE LAST DAYS ON MARS (UK/ IRELAND) Canadian Premiere!

Fans of hard sci-fi (like myself) will not want to miss this intense space horror thriller about a deadly strain of Martian bacteria that infects the "too-curious-for-their-own-good" astronauts and transforms them into ravenous fiends. I get like that whenever I eat a butter tart that some monster has put raisins in. Why would you do that? Starring Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) and a great cast. Think Ghosts of Mars but written for adults and without family friendly Ice Cube to spout silly catchphrases, mixed with Gravity but without the need for funny glasses and an air sickness bag.

THURS. OCT 24 @ 7.00 PM: WILLOW CREEK (USA) Toronto Premiere!

From unstoppable filmmaker Bobcat "No, I will not do the funny voice" Goldthwait (God Bless America), comes a new take on the exhausted found-footage genre, this time, in pursuit of bigfoot. If you haven't seen Bobcat's earlier work, (no, not Police Academy, you've gone too far back) check out Sleeping Dogs Lie, and World's Greatest Dad. All of the films Bobcat has made to date are dark, funny, and very original. This film was a huge hit at Fantasia this year, which unfortunately I had to miss, so I'm really looking forward to this. Also winner of Best Scare at Fightfest London, and co-presented by Rue Morgue Cinemacabre Movie Nights.


FRI. OCT 25 @ 7.00 PM: CHEAP THRILLS (USA) Toronto Premiere!

An unusual black comedy about a newly unemployed dad who is cajoled into performing a number of "feats" for the entertainment of a sick and twisted benefactor in exchange for dollar bills, y'all. The trailer gives the impression that there are some fun and ridiculous scenes we can laugh at, but hints that those moments are simply there to cushion the dark trauma that we'll be eased into. Really looking forward to this. Winner of the Audience Award at SXSW and Best Feature Director Award at the Boston Underground Film Festival.

FRI. OCT 25 @ 9.30 PM: BIG BAD WOLVES (ISRAEL) Toronto Premiere!

It's hard to ignore all the acclaim this film has received thus far, including Best Film at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. A series of brutal murders puts the lives of three men on a collision course. The father of the latest victim seeks revenge along with a vigilante cop (not Batman), against the main suspect in the killings - a religious studies teacher arrested and released due to police incompetence (surprise). I've heard this is pretty darkly funny, but I didn't get that from the trailer. I'm still intrigued as hell, and it looks like a great closing gala for the fest.

The festival All-Access pass is now on sale, but is almost sold-out at the time of this writing. Passes can be purchased for $143 on the Cineplex website or in person at the Scotiabank Theatre box office, which is still the cheapest option even if you skip a whole bunch of screenings. Single tickets are also now on sale and priced at $13 General/ $12 Student with Valid ID/ $10 Each in Multipack of 2 or More. See the Toronto After Dark or the Cineplex website for complete details.

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