National Canadian Film Day-April 20, 2016
It’s that time of year again when we celebrate Canadian Film on National Canadian Film Day! Good old Hollywood North gets a day to say “Hey, we make great films up here!” Of course, being the gal that I am, I’ll concentrate on horror made right here on Canadian soil.
First off is a couple of indie slow burners that really resonated with me. Screened at Toronto After Dark Film Festival and Blood in the Snow Festival last year, these two contributions feature man vs. nature in the most hellish way.
The Interior(2015), directed by Trevor Juras, premiered at Toronto After Dark Film Festival and really needs to be seen on a big screen to experience the overwhelming beauty and psychological terror. James (Patrick McFadden) is bored with his life and dealing with a gnawing ennui. When he has to come to terms with his mortality, he escapes to the wilderness to deal with his issues. He soon realizes a mysterious figure is sharing the forest with him, watching and waiting to strike. See this one for the cinematography and the unravelled performance by McFadden.
White Raven (2015), also premiered last year, but this time at The Blood in the Snow Festival (of which I am now a film programmer! Yay!), also takes place in the wilds of Mother Nature. Four friends take their annual manly camping trip so they can catch up with each other’s lives and bond. They soon realize that one of them isn’t doing so well, and his obsession with a past wrong and a Native legend will change their lives forever. Director Andrew Moxham pulled some really great performances out of the cast. Definitely worth seeing.
Feel like something gory to whet your horror appetite? Then you’ll want a to check out Bite (2015). This festival favourite also screened at BITS and includes all kinds of cringe-worthy splatter. Casey (Elma Begovic) is getting married and goes to Costa Rica for her bachelorette. When she is bitten by a mysterious bugaboo, she returns home only to find the bug bite has gotten worse and her symptoms have become stranger. Director Chad Archibald and the crazy kids at Black Fawn Films really went for it and created a fun gooey body horror classic.
Heir (2015) is a short that left me feeling really uneasy. Gordon (Robert Nolan) suppresses an urge and an ailment that he shares with a supposed old college friend Dennis (Bill Oberst Jr.). He brings his son to meet Dennis, but there is a more sinister reason for their visit. With creepy undertones and some intense performances, this little film directed by Robert Powell will definitely make your skin crawl.
For some classic weirdness, I recommend Pin: A Plastic Nightmare (1988). This gem from bizarro-land directed by Sandor Stern, brings us Leon (David Hewlett), an isolated young man who becomes friends with his father’s (Terry O’Quinn) anatomically correct see-through dummy named Pin, used in his father’s medical practice as an educational tool. This unusual attachment grows as Leon and his sister Ursula (Cynthia Preston), lose their parents in an accident. What ensues is a weird spiral into obsession and insanity. This one you’ll just have to see to believe!
Seiren (2015) is a short that should be a full-length horror, which is what director Kat Threlkeld intends to do at some point. When a model (Sayla Vee) gets bitten on a beach photo shoot, she begins to transform into a vicious version of a well-know legend. Loved this for the special effects and Vee’s blood-thirsty performance.
And They Watched (2015), directed by Vivian Lin, is a short with a strong message. A custodian cleans the execution room of a prison, and disturbs some troubled souls. Lin got the idea for the film after reading testimony of death row inmates. It is chilling and the makeup effects are really, really good.
So there you have it! Get out there and freak yourselves out with some great Canadian horror on National Canadian Film Day! Check out my full reviews of the festival films on Cinema Axis here, and be sure to read about other great Canadian films on Cinema Axis too!