Sunday, 23 August 2009

Toronto After Dark: Motherhood Scares Chris L. and donna g Says "It's A Wrap"

I really wanted to go to the closing night gala for the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD), but no way could I bring myself to see a movie about a blood-craving baby and its devoted mother. Lucky for me, Chris L. was available. Thank you Chris for being my horror drama proxy, and being plucky enough to see GRACE.

Chris L.: I'd become rather blasé about horror films over the past few days, having seen more suspense and horror comedies than anything else at TAD (my schedule didn't always match TAD's screening of horror dramas) and then I saw GRACE. I will never underestimate the creepiness of the closing gala film any more. GRACE was... unsettling, or as one girl remarked on the way out, "a little nasty". (No wonder I couldn't convince donna g and many of my friends to come with me! They must have sensed something I didn't.)

Kudos to the filmmakers! The picture is actually fairly restrained in terms of violence and blood. Its effectiveness lies in the gradual introduction of disturbing moments and images (got milk anyone?) as the film unfolds; subtly at first, until things end both madly and badly. The film works well because it takes the wholesomeness of motherhood and clean living and thoroughly perverts it by focusing on the obsessive qualities of mothers in providing for their children and on the vegan mission for food purity. I felt itchy all over at the end of the film. I even itched when I handed in my film rating ballot (4 out of 5, by the way). Who can forget that one-liner ending! Thanks After Dark, but I'm seriously
"horrored out" right now. Signing off.

It's a Wrap for Toronto After Dark
Yea, Chris, you're right. What I "sensed" about GRACE was the poster showing a baby bottle filled with blood! As I said in my first After Dark post, I go to TAD for the other types of films that are offered...

I thoroughly enjoyed the French/African action/fantasy BLACK, the Nazi zombie comedy DEAD SNOW, and the wonderful Chinese epic, WARLORDS (love Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro, but who knew that Jet Li could really act! Wow!).

I had fun at the Japanese school girl bubble gum battle film, VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRENKENSTEIN GIRL (who can't appreciate a severed arm propeller?),
was enthralled by the production values of Meanwhile City in FRANKLYN (could have done with less screen time for Eva Green, but Ryan Phillippe wasn't bad), and very much appreciated the classic sci-fi end-of-the-world plot of THE DARK HOUR (really should be The Cold Hour since the Spanish title is La hora fría, but I guess "dark" seems more scary).

My Choice for the Audience AwardI'll have to wait until the audience ballots are counted to find out what the favourite film at TAD was, but
my absolute favourite film was the amazing Romanian political vampire movie STRIGOI. I've been going around muttering "strigoi" since I saw the film. I love the sound of the word, and it evokes images of the main character's grandfather reclaiming blood from his grandson ("It's my blood. I gave it to you"). A well-executed tale about the undead, property rights, communism, and endurance. Bravo to the filmmakers (who flew in to spend their anniversary evening at the screening of Strigoi) for making a horror comedy about Romania's lingering past!

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