Welcome back to The Blood Sprayer‘s continuing coverage of Toronto After Dark 2010! Yesterday was Day 6 of the festival, and both films came to us from some prolific British filmmakers. However, that’s where the similarities end, as they were both very different films.
First up was Neil Marshall’s Roman battle epic, Centurion, which was preceded by a strange Canadian short entitled Sock Tease.
What can I say about Sock Tease? Well, it was a story of teenage love and betrayal… with sock puppets…. Oh, and there were some dismemberments thrown in for good measure. Yes… It was that weird. Since the film had its World Premiere at the festival, all that I can find online is a trailer for it. Hopefully that will give you an idea of how strange and humorous the film is. As usual, you can find it below this article.
After that film ended, Centurion started. Now I just want to say from the start that I am a pretty big fan of Neil Marshall‘s previous efforts — like Dog Soldiers, and The Descent — so I had fairly high hopes for Centurion. After all, the advance buzz about the film was that the fight sequences were brutal and featured some hardcore killing. Well, that turned out to be pretty accurate… However, that was about all the movie had going for it.
You see, for me, the biggest crime that a movie can commit is being boring. In short, if the story isn’t well done, or there isn’t something to grab my attention, I quickly find myself struggling to stay awake. So, while I was wide-eyed and entertained when people were getting impaled on the screen, during the non-battle portions of the film — and, yes, there were plenty — I lost all interest. A huge portion of that is probably because there seems to be an abundant lack of story, with the characters seemingly only trying to get from Point A to Point B. So yeah, I didn’t care who got killed or anything like that, which made the film a pretty big letdown for me.
In the end, it wasn’t terrible, but it is certainly not a film that I will be revisiting any time soon; if ever. The theater was packed, though, with barely a single spare seat, and there were a huge amount of applause at the end, so maybe I was in the minority. Oh well, either way, I still didn’t care for it… So, if you need at least some semblance of story to fill the long voids between your action pieces, you may want to skip this one; or at least wait to rent it. Movies like The Expendables can get away with shallow plot, but that’s because they aren’t pretending to have much else going on, and they have almost non-stop explosions and action.
Still shaking my head in frustration, I got back in line for the night’s next film, Heartless, which was directed by Philip Ridley. Again, once we were seated, and the film was introduced, we were treated to another Canadian short. This one was called Chloe and Attie.
Apparently made as part of the Bloodshots Canada 48-Hour Film Challenge, Chloe and Attie features two sisters; one is disabled, and the other cares for her, keeping her out of sight from the rest of the world. I really can’t say much else about the film, or it would spoil the ending, but I can say that it was beautifully shot. The visuals are easily the best part about it, and while there isn’t a clearly explainable story here, you don’t really find yourself caring, as the shots are beautiful, and the music sets a dark, eerie tone. A nice piece of moody filmmaking. Again, the trailer is included below.
Once the short wrapped, Heartless began. Unlike Centurion, I wasn’t really holding out hope for a great film. To be honest, the trailer didn’t grab me much, and I had no real prior knowledge of the film. Luckily for me, I was in for a nice treat, as I genuinely loved the film.
Set in the streets of London, Heartless tells the story of a young, disfigured man who is haunted by demons. While attempting to discover if these demons truly exist or not, he makes a Faustian deal to change his appearance so that he may live a normal life. However, for this he must pay in blood and risk being driven mad…
Heartless managed to grab me from the beginning, and it kept my attention throughout its entire running time. The narrative was fairly straightforward and easy to follow, though it still offered many “mindfuck” elements that allowed a lot of room for interpretation (and, believe me, several discussions were had at the pub afterwards!). There was also a sufficiently creepy atmosphere, some great visuals, and a nice bit of dark humor thrown in for good measure. Highly recommended viewing.
On a side note, it was pretty funny that this was the third film at the festival to feature British actor Noel Clarke. Clarke has previously appeared in the hilariously bloody Doghouse, and he was in Centurion, which screened right before Heartless. I’m guessing that it was not intentional, but it’s still a funny coincidence that was not lost on more than a few people in the audience.
Anyhow, though Day 6 started off pretty shaky with Centurion, Heartless more than made up for things, and I headed to the pub with a feeling of contentment. Speaking of Pub After Dark, there really wasn’t much to report from it last night. I think a lot of people were tired and headed home early. Not only was it the 6th night out in a row for many of us, but tonight and Friday are going to feature some high profile films and parties, so I’m sure people wanted to make sure they got some good rest in.
Well, that about does it for the recap. Tonight we are treated to Christopher Smith‘s (Creep, Severance, Triangle) medieval horror film about witchcraft and plague, Black Death. Still, the main draw for tonight is going to be Steven R. Monroe‘s remake of the sleaze classic, I Spit On Your Grave, which is being co-sponsored by the sick (but awesome) crew over at Rue Morgue magazine. I’m expecting a lot of mixed reactions to that film, since a lot of people seem to cherish the original. Personally, however, I have no issue with the idea of a remake, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.
And, on that note, I will leave you with the trailers for yesterday’s short films, Sock Tease and Chloe and Attie. Remember, if you want to catch up on any past coverage of the festival, you can head over to our Archive. And, for more pictures from Day 6, head over to TAD’s Facebook Page.
See ya tomorrow!
Sock Tease (Trailer):
Chloe and Attie (Trailer)
Tags: Black Death, Centurion, Chloe and Attie, Christopher Smith, Events, Film Festival, Heartless, I Spit On Your Grave, Neil Marshall, Philip Ridley, Premieres, Reviews, Short Films, Sock Tease, Steven R. Monroe, Toronto After Dark