TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL 2014: DAY 6
Predestination (screened with the short film What Doesn't Kill You)
As an avid lover of sci-fi as well as horror, my nerd senses were tingling at the science fiction double bill on the sixth night of Toronto After Dark. From trailers, Predestination seemingly promised to be a convoluted time travel drama that demands the viewer's attention for a substantial payoff, which is exactly what the film turned out to be. Following Ethan Hawke as a time travelling Temporal Agent on his last assignment before retirement, he is faced with the challenge that has continually eluded him all throughout his life.
Writing this review I have typed and back spaced a hundred times trying to decide how much plot is enough to give away. Because it is such a series of twists and turns, it is difficult to censor myself enough to make sure I am as spoiler free as possible. This film is best described by a friend who said, "You watch it, and you totally figure out one part, but then something else happens that is the reason why that one part happened and you're like, 'How did I even get there in the first place?'" It is a subtle and well-acted story that is accompanied with thoughtfully hazy cinematography that does not hit the audience over the head with its science fiction edge. Although the payoff may be somewhat expected for the seasoned film watcher who is adept at catching foreshadowing, it is still an enjoyable and worthy watch.
Not to be confused with another Ethan Hawke film from 2008 with the same title, Predestination screened with the Canadian short, What Doesn't Kill You, which is directed by Rob Grant and written by Grant and his co-writer, Stuart Marks. One of the most enjoyable shorts of the festival, it depicts two bullied teens who have died in a car crash and mysteriously come back to life. With their wounds completely healed, they must decide what to do about their friend who has been paralyzed in the accident. With a simple but tight premise, it effectively creates tension and anxiety on the outcome of the three boys, and could easily be extended to a full length plot.
What Doesn't Kill You:
Time Lapse (screened with the short film Honor Code)
Time Lapse asks the question, "What would you do if you had a camera that took pictures of the future?" and answers it by saying, "You go absolutely full out bonkers after getting crazy rich, duh." Due to the existing clunker episode of The Twilight Zone with the same premise, my expectations started pretty low for this film.
Three young friends are landlords in a small rented community, and after not hearing from an old man who lives across the street, they investigate to find that he not only has died, but has been taking thousands of Polaroid photos of them in their living room. At first perturbed, they quickly realize that the old man was no peeping tom, but rather a scientist who has effectively figured out how to capture photos that are exactly 24 hours into the future. It is a substantially melodramatic tale that falls more and more into absurdity, but due to the fact that it is so profoundly cheesy, it made for an audience full of belly laughs and an overall, "What the hell did we just watch?" feeling leaving the theater. Time Lapse is enjoyable the way that a bad sci-fi movie from the fifties is enjoyable; so be prepared to be baffled.
Preceding was an equally ridiculous short film called Honor Code. Written and directed by Pascal Trottier, this short left me having strange dreams about samurai swords for a few days. It is set in an alternate universe where humans can engage in fights to the death in order to settle scores, where we find our hero who has just been humiliated in public. It is a fun ten minutes that serves exactly the purpose it should: to be absolutely outrageous.
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