TORONTO REEL ASIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL at multiple venues, from tonight (November 6) to November 16. $12-$20, limited passes available. reelasian.com/festival
There’s a strong genre flavour to this year’s Reel Asian Film Festival, starting with its opening-night gala, Fruit Chan’s The Midnight After (Thursday, November 6, 7 pm, Isabel Bader rating: NNN).
Based on a serialized web novel about bus commuters who arrive in Hong Kong’s Taipo district to find themselves the only people in existence, it begins as an effective riff on Stephen King creepers like The Mist and The Langoliers, but by the second hour it’s clear that Chan is just throwing random stuff at the characters to see what happens.
Far more satisfying is the hour-long feature Awesome Asian Bad Guys (Friday, November 7, 7 pm, Royal rating: NNNN). It began as a web series, which explains its brief running time and charmingly ridiculous concept, in which two American filmmakers recruit the actors they grew up worshiping to take on a Mob boss. If you ever smiled at Al Leong’s impulsive theft of a candy bar before a firefight in Die Hard, you’ll know exactly what they’re going for if not, check it out anyway. It’s hysterical.
And though it might seem like another generic K-horror effort about a teenager who can see the dead, Oh In-chun’s Mourning Grave (Saturday, November 8, 9:15 pm, Royal rating: NNN) turns out to be a little different. Oh plays on our expectations of the Asian ghost story, his teenage hero (Kang Ha-neul) making a surprisingly delicate connection with a female spectre (Kim So-eun).