TORONTO AFTER DARK 2015: NIGHT 6

 

1 Star

Backtrack (screened with the short film Home Sweet Home)

Backtrack is going to divide audiences. Those who have consumed a lot of what cinema has to offer are going to see the ending coming from a mile away, and those who dabble in thrillers and generally stay away from horror might actually be entertained by this very tired archetype. Although I would be remiss to disclose much of the plot because it is a very standard story that has been done many times in the past, it follows a psychologist played by Adrian Brody who dealt with a severe trauma in his teen years, and again when he lost his daughter in a car accident. He meets a young, strange girl named Elizabeth, who gives him vague, cryptic messages, which give him a clue into his own past. This movie is very polished looking and capably acted (although Brody does swing in and out of his accent), but it is such an overdone story that it becomes hard to want to sit down and watch. It is also severely guilty of only relying on jump scares to frighten the audience, instead of working to create any atmosphere that would make it worthwhile.

In rhythm to how this festival has been going so far (even though all of my most-anticipated films are in the coming days so there is a light at the end of the tunnel), the shorts program has been extremely impressive, and Home Sweet Home is undoubtedly one of the most cohesive and well-made shorts in an already fantastic bunch. It follows an old man and his loving wife who takes care of him when he gets a little forgetful in his old age. One night he wakes up and wanders into the hall, where he is immediately in a nightmarish labyrinth and unable to find his wife again. This short is a touching and heartbreakingly beautiful depiction of mental deterioration and accomplishes so much in such a short amount of time.

Home Sweet Home

0.5 Star

Gridlocked (screened with the short film I am Coming to Paris to Kill You)

The use of clichés in genre movies is almost inherently going to happen, but the quality of the film will always depend on how the screenwriter spins them. So, when the director of Gridlocked introduced his film as a self-proclaimed love letter to Die Hard, I remained hopeful. The film follows a former SWAT leader named David Hendrix (Dominic Purcell), who has been given the task of keeping party-boy celebrity Brody Walker around as a part of his punishment for beating someone up at a party. They visit a police training facility, which is then almost immediately under siege by mercenaries. Although some movies can be argued out of their clichés because of whatever genre they fall in, Gridlocked is guilty of being such a mediocre attempt at an action script that it instead reads like a super-cut of every other action movie that’s ever been made, which doesn’t necessarily make it irritating to watch, but instead just extremely boring. What is irritating about Gridlocked is its one female character played by Trish Stratus, who is first introduced to the screen sexily pulling up her work pants in the locker room and continues to be an object instead of anything interesting. Her bland, flat character is at least in good company, with everything else about this movie being equally dull. The only worthwhile moment of Gridlocked is the opportunity to see Danny Glover grace the screen once again, but even that is pandering.

When one woman is pushed to her ends after her friend is kidnapped, she hijacks a family’s RV and forces them to drive to where she can find the kidnapper and kill that person. Apart from having a goddamn great title, I am Coming to Paris to Kill You is a funny and interesting little piece that is equipped with a feeling like the filmmakers really enjoyed their process. Although it does feel a little amateur in execution (shaky acting, decent cinematography), its fun script makes it worthwhile.

I am Coming to Paris to Kill You 3.5 Stars

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