Toronto After Dark

The top 5 movies to see at Toronto After Dark 2014

Toronto After Dark 2014 is finally ready to get underway - now that all those establishment Hollywood types have taken their sense of entitlement and gone home, it's time for the real Toronto film festival to begin. Featuring the Toronto premieres of the greatest in horror, sci-fi, action and cult films, this year's After Dark looks to have topped itself in its delivery of vomit-inducing gross-outs, stupidly gratuitous violence and pants-wetting frights.

Also this year, Toronto After Dark features well-known actors and actresses going way against type in their most bizarre roles to date. Highlights include Ethan Hawke as a time-traveling cop who goes undercover as a bartender in Predestination, Kat Dennings as a paranormal investigator who fails to seduce John Waters in Suburban Gothic and Elijah Wood as a voyeur who spies on porn star-turned-mainstream actress Sasha Grey through her webcam in Open Windows.

The festival runs for nine nights (October 16-24) and features 20 films, all screening at the Scotiabank Theatre. You can see all 20 for $149, but if you actually have a life, I'm here to distill the best of the best. for you.

Here are my picks for the top 5 movies to see at Toronto After Dark 2014.

The Babadook
Hands down the scariest, most bone-chilling offering at this year's festival. This debut Australian horror flick from actress-turned-director Jennifer Kent plays on the psychological pull of bizarre tales from our childhood. The film centres on a single mother wondering whether she still loves her troubled child, as both of them deal with the tragic death of his father. A new children's book mysteriously arrives on the shelf, but when the two try to bond over it, the book's main character - The Babadook - begins to haunt their dreams and overtake their lives.

Zombeavers
If you think the world's current obsession with zombies (The Walking Dead, World War Z) has jumped the shark, maybe you shouldn't rush to judgement until you've seen this movie. Taking a page from Sharknado and Piranha 3D, this loose plot sees three hot-bodied twentysomethings enjoying a weekend at the cottage when a radioactive dam virtually ensures they will all be cannibalized by a pack of zombie beavers. With a cast of virtual unknowns (minus a random cameo from John Mayer) you'll be able to enjoy the cheaply-made, mechanized carnage without distraction.

Predestination
Another Australian offering, this is probably the highest profile movie at the festival, thanks to a starring turn by the aforementioned Ethan Hawke. Based on a short story by Starship Troopers creator Robert A. Heinlein and directed by the Spierig brothers (DAYBREAKERS), the film promises a mental Chinese fingertrap a la Looper, thanks to its time-travel premise. In this one, Hawke goes back to the past to stop crimes before they happen, so it's all very Minority Report-esque. Still, the flick is far from derivative and promises a twist worthy of the ticket price.

Hellmouth
Those looking for some classic b-movie horror akin to the Universal Monsters and other drive-in pulp can stop their search. This heavily-stylized black and white romp brings to mind Sin City, but the hard-boiled menace of a heavy-throated Stephen McHattie (Watchmen) is what sets it apart. McHattie plays a dying cemetery groundskeeper who must journey into the hellmouth to save the soul of a beautiful femme fatale. The gravitas he brings to the role has not been seen in this kind of throwback cult film since Rutger Hauer in Hobo with a Shotgun.

The ABCs of Death 2
Twenty-six new directors helm 26 new stories featuring some truly gruesome ways to die. Filmmakers whose origins span from the UK to Nigeria were asked to take on a letter from the alphabet and choose a word to create a story involving death, with deliciously depraved results. There are the kids from the Saturday morning toy commercial who are transported to a real-life, space age war zone featuring their now living action figures, or the shirtless, hairy-chested bear of a man who eats a woman's face off. Honestly, if you're a fan of this festival, you'll bask in every bloody bit of it.

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs from October 16-24 at the Scotiabank Theatre. For tickets and the full film schedule, visit www.torontoafterdark.com.

Writing by Aaron Broverman


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