MIX OF REVENGE AND HIGH SCHOOL HELLRAISERS
Horror thrill-fest Toronto After Dark shares local screens with Indigenous and eco-conscious offerings
Toronto After Dark: Even connoisseurs of movie mayhem can still be awed by films that go to ingenious new extremes. Back for its 12th edition, Toronto After Dark will introduce local thrill-seekers to several such jaw-droppers, including a Korean hit that may be this year’s benchmark for hyperkinetic action cinema. Screening Saturday at the Scotiabank Theatre, The Villainess is a brutal and thrilling woman-centric revenge thriller whose set-pieces range from a first-person-POV opening fight that outdoes Hardcore Henry to a swordfight conducted on speeding motorcycles. It’s all so bold, stylish and exhilarating that it hardly matters that the storyline is an overcomplicated rehash of La Femme Nikita.
Another of the festival’s must-sees thanks to its razor-sharp sense of humour, Tragedy Girls puts an acerbic spin on its teen-slasher-movie sources, trumping countless Scream wan
nabes in the process. A Calgary-bred director and grad of Ryerson’s film school, Tyler MacIntyre delivers the goods with his tale of two high school BFFs who aspire to celebrity-serialkiller status — it plays Oct. 20.
Other noteworthy titles among the festival’s Canadian selections are
Defective (Tuesday), a gritty reminder about the perils facing societies foolish enough to employ cyborgs as police officers, and Poor Agnes (Wednesday), a Thunder Bay-shot thriller about the twisted relationship between a small-town serial killer and her next victim. As for the many international genre-fest faves making Toronto premieres, the Australian twin-themed mind-bender Rabbit (Sunday) and The Endless, a paranormal mystery by the American team behind Resolution and Spring, offer less grisly but equally enticing brands of weirdness. Toronto After Dark runs to Oct. 20 at the Scotiabank Theatre.
imagineNATIVE: The world’s largest presenter of Indigenous screen content, the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival celebrates its 18th year with another busy program of screenings, panels and other events. The strong array of new features and docs begins with Maru, a recent TIFF selection comprised of eight interrelated segments, each directed by a different Maori woman filmmaker — it screens as imagineNATIVE’s opening night gala at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema on Wednesday. The festival runs to Oct. 22 — more highlights in next week’s Projections.
Planet in Focus: The third of this week’s major fall film fests, Planet in Focus begins its 18th-annual edition on Tuesday at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema with a special tribute to Dr. Roberta Bondar, the doctor, photographer, astronaut and author who has also been named the festival’s Canadian Eco Hero this year. Another very admirable woman is the subject of Planet in Focus’ opening-night gala film selection. Screening Oct. 19 at the Royal, Un
fractured is a portrait of Dr. Sandra Steingraber, a scientist and ecoactivist in New York state who fights a fierce battle against fracking while contending with health crises in her own family. Planet in Focus continues to Oct. 22. See next week’s Projections for more picks. Golden Exits with Alex Ross Perry: Smart, witty and very caustic, the films of Alex Ross Perry have won the young American director a fervent cult of devotees but less of the wider attention he deserves. That said, he’s been earning more lately with Golden
Exits, a typically talk-filled relationship comedy that debuted at Sundance. It stars former Beastie Boy Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz and Chloë Sevigny as a bored couple whose marriage is complicated by the arrival of potential paramours played by Emily Browning and Jason Schwartzman. Mary-Louise Parker also stars in the film, which makes its Toronto premiere with Perry in the house in the MDFF Selects series at the Lightbox on Tuesday.
Sidemen: Long Road to Glory: A new music doc with a limited run at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema this week, Sidemen: Long Road to Glory celebrates the achievements and legacies of Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Hubert Sumlin, three under-heralded musicians who backed up Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf on some of their most famous recordings. Marc Maron narrates this film portrait by director Scott D. Rosenbaum, which combines interviews with and performances by the trio of bluesmen, with testimonials by the likes of Keith Richards and Bonnie Raitt. It plays Oct. 16-19.
You still shouldn’t say his name three times but Beetlejuice plays all week at the Carlton.
Cineplex locations citywide host free screenings for Community Day on Oct. 14 — selections range from Trolls to Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates and $2 suggested donations go to WE Charity.
Emerging women directors are the focus for a Share Her Journey edition of Short Cuts at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Oct. 14 — actor-filmmaker Katie Boland and producer Lauren Collins attend to present their new short, Lolz-ita.
On Oct. 18 at the Royal, members of the legendary Italian band Goblin do a post-screening Q&A for a new 4K restoration of Suspiria, the group’s most revered collaboration with director Dario Argento.
The Toronto South African Film Festival returns for its fourth year with a program of six recent features and docs screening Oct. 14 and 15 at TIFF Bell Lightbox — all proceeds go toward supporting Education Without Borders.
Tyler MacIntyre delivers the goods in teen slasher Tragedy Girls, a tale of two high school BFFs who aspire to celebrity-serial-killer rank — it plays Oct. 20.