October 28, 2014

Toronto After Dark Capsule Review: The Babadook


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Wake in fright...

The last place you'd expect to find terror lurking is within the pages of a children's bedtime story. But sometimes the horror movies that elicit the most fear are those that draw from the most unlikely of sources. Such is the case with The Babadook, the spine-tingling debut from Australian writer/director Jennifer Kent. In it, Kent expands upon her own 2005 short, Monster, to tell the story of a widow (Essie Davis) and her six-year-old son (Noah Wiseman) who find themselves plagued by a malignant supernatural force. The question is, which is more sinister — the entity, or what it represents?

October 26, 2014

Toronto After Dark Capsule Review: Let Us Prey


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Judgment night...

Halloween has its roots in Ireland, but the country itself has seldom been known as a hotbed of horror filmmaking. So when a movie like Let Us Prey, which so colorfully wears its genre inspirations on its sleeve, comes along, you can't help but take notice. The Irish-Scottish co-production and debut feature from Ireland's own Brian O'Malley brings terror — in the intimidating form of Game of Thrones' Liam Cunningham — to a sleepy Scottish community with its simple yet effective story: a supernatural tale of reckoning, in which a few unlucky souls see their misdeeds finally catch up with them.

October 24, 2014

Toronto After Dark Capsule Review: The Town That Dreaded Sundown


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Murder in the moonlight...

A couple pull their vehicle into a secluded wooded area, looking to steal some time alone together. A masked stranger emerges from the darkness, brandishing a large hunting knife. He orders the young lovers out of the car, forces the boy onto the ground, then repeatedly plunges the blade into his back, while the girl flees screaming into the night. It's the kind of scene that ought to be familiar to fans of the slasher genre, but this isn't just any old slasher film. This is The Town That Dreaded Sundown — 2014 edition — not a sequel, not a remake, but a metafictional homage, if you will.

Eagle-Eyed Film Review: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)


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The phoenix rises...

How do you begin to describe Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)? Part fantastic fable, part redemption tale, this dark comedy from acclaimed filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, 21 Grams) is unlike anything in the director's previous repertoire. It's also being hailed as the second coming of its star, Michael Keaton. The actor — best known for his turn as Bruce Wayne/Batman twenty-five years ago — has been on a bit of a comeback streak lately, and Birdman may just be the crowning achievement of his career.

The Backbeat of a Film Review: Whiplash


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Bang the drum (not so) slowly...

Drive. Perseverance. Commitment. This is the stuff that turns dreams into reality. And Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) has got it in spades. Motivated by a single purpose — to be one of jazz music's greats — he pushes himself to his physical and mental limits, sacrificing relationships and even his own well-being, all for the sake of perfecting his craft. But how far is too far? Under the intense tutelage of wily-eyed music professor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) — maestro and masochist extraordinaire — Andrew will discover the answer.