indie horror

All posts tagged indie horror

The Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival: Why Toronto Horror Fans Need to Go

Published November 8, 2016 by vfdpixie

bits2016_horz_banner

 

This November 24th-27th, the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival kicks off it’s 5th year. Why is this important? Because it’s Toronto’s only festival dedicated to Canadian genre film. And why is that important? Well, Canadian film, while it’s gaining in popularity, generally doesn’t get a lot of focus, often being overshadowed by big ticket blockbusters. Independent genre film gets even less attention. It’s difficult to see Canadian genre film on the big screen, and that’s where the Blood in the Snow comes in. Festival director Kelly Michael Stewart created the event to showcase Canadian horror, genre and underground film to make sure talented filmmakers get a chance to show their original films in a theatre to genre-loving fans.

This year there will be 33 films which is a record number for the festival. With 9 feature films and 24 shorts, you’ll find everything from documentary (another first for BITS!) to the supernatural; sci-fi and silent film to grindhouse (see below for some of titles playing). All of the films will either be a Toronto or world premiere, making the festival the first stop for anyone looking to see fresh or buzzed-about films that you may not see in wide distribution.

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The festival will also be held in a new venue. After several years at the beloved Carlton Cinema, there was a need to accommodate more people after sell out and encore screenings pushed the theatre to capacity. This can now happen at the Cineplex Cinemas-Yonge Dundas with more available seating as well as the same convenience of transit at the theatre’s doorstep.

BITS is there for horror fans of course, but it also serves the very people they showcase. Industry panels on Friday November 25th will bring you experts in the legal, distribution and funding areas of the film industry who will share valuable advice. It will be a day of insight that everyone who is interested in or already involved in the film industry needs to attend. Separate industry passes are available for the panels and will also get you into 3 screenings of your choice.

As a former pass holder (and now BITS programmer), I’ve met the most interesting people who have become friends and colleagues. There will be a chance meet with other festival attendees and staff, plus cast and crew from the films at The Duke’s Refresher & Bar, a nearby pub that will host the 4 nights of schmoozing after screenings.

So why should Toronto genre fans go to the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival? Because you are a genre-loving, discerning bunch celebrating indie horror and genre films by attending screenings and spreading the word. We live in Hollywood North after all, and we need  to make a place for indie film by supporting our local talent.

You can get passes or individual tickets.  The full festival passes come with some great perks (i.e. a fantastic goody bag), and tickets make it easy for you to pick and choose what you want to see, even though you should see every film at the festival. So what are you waiting for?! Get your tickets before they sell out!

Follow this link for your one-stop shop to passes and tickets: http://bloodinthesnow.ca/BITS2016.html

or visit The Cineplex website here (when you go to purchase, you must enter the location “Yonge Dundas”):  https://goo.gl/yy9cTH

A “Throwback” to Bigfoot Down Under

Published June 24, 2015 by vfdpixie

throwback

Throwback (2013, 93 mins.)

Independent filmmakers put their passion, savings, blood, sweat and tears into a film; sometimes having to stop production due to lack of finances, actor schedules or good old Mother Nature.  The last two factors are what Australia’s Travis Bain endured to make his creature feature Throwback.  Named for the throwback horror films from the 40’s and 50’s and also the creature’s evolutionary standing, this film took 2 years to make due to a persistent rainy season and working around the talent’s day jobs.  The end result is an homage to old school monsters and Bain’s childhood horror movie favourites.

Kent (Anthony Ring) and Jack (Shawn Brack) are treasure hunters dreaming of hitting it big in an unexplored tropical forest as they search for the legendary bounty of outlaw Thunderclap Newman.  This expedition has its obstacles with betrayal, a diligent forest ranger named Rhiannon (Melanie Serafin), and a rogue ex-cop McNabb (Vernon Wells) who searches for a killer.  Oh yes, and the legendary Yowie (Warren Clements), Australia’s Bigfoot.  These characters collide as they all try to survive each other and escape the wrath of this mythical creature.

For the budget, the film was beautifully shot.  Interesting camera angles and Yowie point-of-view showcased the beautiful North Queensland jungle/forest setting.  Even though you know it’s a man in a suit, there was creative shooting of the creature himself, with blurry focus reminiscent of classic B-movie Bigfoot footage.

The character set-up in the first half slows the pace a bit but the second half kicks it up with man vs. man vs. Yowie action.  I actually got a bit invested with the characters, because I started to really dislike them and was hoping for the Yowie to come out on top.  There were some moments that will make you chuckle, especially with Mad Max 2‘s Wells as the gnarly but kooky, obsessed ex-cop and Ring’s portrayal of the weasely Kent, but I would have liked some more tongue-in-cheek dialogue and a definitive tone since it morphed between a straight crime caper and horror comedy.

All in all, Bain created a fun low-budget B-movie that shows his love for the horror genre and burgeoning skill as a director.  If you haven’t seen it yet, never fear because this award-winning festival favorite is due for a DVD release in North America on July 21st.

check out the Throwback trailer:

http://www.travisbain.com.au/throwback.htm

http://www.facebook.com/throwbackmovie

His next project, Starspawn, described as “a sci-fi/horror thriller inspired by the films of John Carpenter and the works of cult horror author H.P. Lovecraft” has a Kickstarter campaign well under way.  Starring Vernon Wells once again, the plot revolves around a T.V. journalist who discovers evidence of an alien invasion while interviewing some outback survivalists.  If you would like to contribute, check out this link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/starspawn/starspawn-an-hp-lovecraft-inspired-sci-fi-horror-f

http://www.facebook.com/starspawnmovie

Best of luck to Bain and his next feature!

It Follows: Sex and the Haunted Girl

Published April 4, 2015 by vfdpixie

It Follows

It Follows (2014, 1 hr 40 mins)

It Follows has been the critic’s favourite since late last year, said to be one of the scariest movies in a long time.  Comparisons to John Carpenter, The Ring and 80’s old school horror have been made, and I finally got a chance to draw my own conclusions about this indie horror darling.

Jamie, or Jay (Maika Monroe) is dating handsome Hugh (Jake Weary).  She finally decides to have sex with him and the act puts her in jeopardy as he reveals to her, in a creepy kidnapping, held-hostage kind of way, that he has passed on an evil, relentless entity to her; it will change its form to look like anyone, come after her with methodical determination for the kill, and the only way to get rid of it is by passing it to someone else through sex.  After the initial shock of this strange violation, Jamie enlists the help of her sister Kerry (Lili Sepe), and friends Paul (Kier Gilchrist), Yara (Olivia Luccardi), and Greg (Daniel Zovatto) to defeat this shape shifting, malignant force.

I want to say a lot about this film while trying not to write 5000 words on sex, death and female sexuality, so this will be difficult, but what I will say is that my initial reaction as the credits rolled was “I didn’t like it.”  I don’t know what scares me anymore, but this was definitely not the scariest film in a long time, and I think the sound bites used to promote the film does it a disservice by upping the weight of expectation.  After realizing my perception of the film may have been forming even before I saw it, I looked at it as objectively as I could, and what I saw was a hauntingly beautiful film with an unfinished mythology.

Visually, David Robert Mitchell delivers near perfect framing, deliberate moody lighting, and slow-paced camera work that aside from the slightly over-used 360 panning which made me a little nauseated, was exceptional to create a dream-like atmosphere.  That matched the origins of the film which reportedly came from Mitchell’s childhood nightmares, giving us a slow, dream-like pace as well.  The scoring by Disasterpeace (Rich Vreeland) was as good as everyone has said, creating tension with that 80’s synthesizer feel.  Using Detroit as the setting was probably a choice based on loyalty for the Michigan native, but it also could speak to the nature of the evil entity.  Was it responsible for the decay of the city, set in an indistinct, throwback era, or was it in its natural habitat and fed on condemned souls in what has become a real and unfortunate Hell for some?  Who knows, as the story left too much room for speculation.

The evil entity was really effective because of the lack of a set identity.  It could be anyone at any given time, and that aspect kept you on the edge of your seat, making it my favourite character.  Jay and company, on the other hand, could not hold my empathy for long.  The performances were great, especially Monroe’s, but for some reason I couldn’t get behind them.  Sure, I wanted them to escape the threat, but to what end?  I wanted to know more about them to invest emotionally.  I will say that it is nice to see Gilchrist on the screen again.  I worked key makeup on a short film he was in as a precocious child actor, and I am happy to see him as a young man showing his talent.  I think he has a great career ahead of him.

In terms of the sex equals death equation that everyone has been touching on, Mitchell does take it to another level, creating an interesting concept for a horror trope and making it more complex than what horror fans are used to:  a punishable act as well as a means to an end.  It’s a curse and a cautionary tale, and one can pull many interpretations from it in terms of female sexuality to moral judgements, which is a win for a low-budget horror film based on a nightmare, however some issues with the plot, like the entity’s origin, put me off of the film as a whole.

It Follows is a lesson in ambiguity.  Don’t expect answers, a defined era, pee-your-pants scares, or a linear storyline.  Think ouroboros, but like, caught in the middle.  If you want to see a film with great atmosphere that builds dread instead of terror, a couple of entertaining jump scares and a S.T.D. (sexually transmitted demon) you’ll want to see more of, check out the film, but don’t let the hype drive you to the theatre.

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