Ruth Bradley, Richard Coyle and Russell Tovey grab your attention in fest opener Grabbers.
TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL at the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor West), from today (Thursday, October 18) to October 26. $14, double feature $24, all-access pass $168. torontoafterdark.com. See times.
Get set for blood, beasts and beer.
The 7th Toronto After Dark Film Festival returns to the Bloor (now a licensed venue) for nine nights of monsters, madness and twisted comedy.
This year the fest has scored a trio of Canadian premieres: Cockneys Vs. Zombies, haunted asylum shocker Grave Encounters 2 and lunatic medical flick American Mary, whose directors, the Soska sisters, aka Twisted Twins, will be on hand.
Teeth and tentacles figure prominently in the opening-night gala, Grabbers (October 18, 6:45 pm; rating: NNN), in which something nasty falls from the sky to chow down on the inhabitants of an isolated Irish Island.
Alcohol is poison for the creature, so the islanders' defence is to gather in the pub and get tanked. Not a problem for our hero, local cop Ciarán, but a big one for his new partner, Lisa, a tea-totaler from Dublin, played by Ruth Bradley who does the movie's best funny drunk.
Grabbers strikes a good balance between shocks and laughs and delivers a scary creature and tense climax.
American Mary (October 18, 9:45 pm; rating: NNNN) gives a disturbing twist to the old idea of a good doctor going bad.
Promising young surgical student Mary Mason discovers she can make the money she desperately needs by performing illicit body modifications - think split tongue. The work sickens her at first, but after she uses her skills in a gruesome act of revenge, she develops a taste for it, and a fetishy wardrobe.
Katharine Isabelle delivers a Mary who is initially very likeable, then terrifying as she grows increasingly icy, then savage. Dark humour and ample gore provide the thrills, but it's the vivid verbal descriptions that chill to the bone.
In Wrong (October 25, 9:45 pm; rating: NNN), director Quentin Dupieux plays comic metafictional games with pseudo-spiritual feel-good flicks and their creators the way he skewered genre movies and their audiences in his last outing, Rubber.
Dolph is so frantic over his dog's disappearance that he's losing his mind. The mysterious Master Chang has something to do with it, but that doesn't explain the perpetual rain in Dolph's office, the replacement of his backyard palm tree with a full-grown fir, or the stranger who leaves her husband to move in with him.