Shauna Henry goes looking for victims in Blood For Irina.
"Art, schlock, indie" is the motto of the Projection Booth cinemas, and it seems particularly relevant this weekend as the Projection Booth East launches the first annual Blood In The Snow Canadian Film Festival, an extension of the Fright Nights horror screenings programmed by Kelly Michael Stewart.
The offerings I watched suggest that Canada's genre directors are having a reflective moment. Gabriel Carrer's In The House Of Flies, which makes its world premiere Saturday (December 1), is nostalgic for the glory days of 2004, when we weren't tired of the Saw gimmick and when the idea of a couple (Lindsay Smith and Ryan Kotack) abducted and forced to play the sadistic games of an unseen mastermind didn't feel instantly played out and derivative.
If you had the chance to experience Panos Cosmatos's weird, fascinating Beyond The Black Rainbow during its brief theatrical run, you know exactly how well it replicates the cerebral minimalism of a certain sort of early 70s sci-fi. Cosmatos's elaborately realized, claustrophobic universe of sinister scientists and confused prisoners might be just a dimension or two away from the worlds of George Lucas's THX-1138 and John Carpenter's Dark Star. (That's a compliment.)
Beyond The Black Rainbow came out on disc earlier this year, so Friday's (November 30) screening is likely to be the last chance you'll have to catch it in a theatre. You might want to take advantage of that.
The festival wraps up Sunday (December 2) with the Canadian premiere of Blood For Irina, the debut feature by Fangoria editor-in-chief Chris Alexander. (Full disclosure: Chris is also a Toronto film critic, and we're friendly.)
Blood For Irina is less a horror movie than a loving recreation of the elliptical, eroticized vampire films made by Jean Rollin and Jesus Franco back in the 70s. Of course, those films were shot in gauzy European locations, and Alexander made this one in distinctly industrial southern Ontario. I'm not sure how many people will be into the dialogue-free mood piece, which is largely made up of shots of its winsome lead (Shauna Henry) wandering through deserted spaces, but it definitely scratched an itch for me.