Toronto After Dark 2015 Large

TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL 2015: NIGHT 7

After a rough couple of days for genre fare, I was starting to feel a little exhausted at sitting down for two more movies, but luckily for me the evening started really high, and then ended really, really low.

Nina Forever CoverFivestars

Nina Forever (screened with the short film Out of the Mould)

After enduring the sexist nightmare that is Burying the Ex (why, Joe Dante, why?), I still felt a little burned at the idea of dead ex-girlfriend narratives, but after reading a bit about Nina Forever, it seemed like a far more elaborate story with far more detailed characters to explore a literal metaphor for getting over an ex, and lucky for me, that is exactly what I got. The film follows Holly, a young girl who has an infatuation with the broken and brooding Rob, whom she works with at a supermarket. Rob's backstory (which is well known among the tight-knit work crew) is that after he lost his girlfriend Nina to a car accident, he attempted suicide in his grief. Holly pursues Rob and they begin to see each other after a tender few dates, and on the first night that she stays over and they have sex, the undead Nina emerges out of the mattress in a mangled, bloody, rag-doll heap. After some angry exchanges ("You're dead!" "It doesn't mean we're on a break though, does it?"), Nina disappears the next morning, but continues to reappear whenever she is thought about or remembered; specifically, whenever Rob and Holly have sex.

This film is a realistic and heart-aching depiction of sexuality, love, and the push-and-pull when it comes to how erratic emotions can be, especially when it comes to exes, and alongside the brilliant performances of Fiona O'Shaughnessy and Abigail Hardingham, it is so poignant that it will stick like glue after watching it. I am so enamoured and unable to stop thinking about Nina that I'm afraid the next time I have sex she is going to emerge from my mattress and give me hell.

At the after-party for this evening, I had a meaningful discussion about the use of nudity in a film, of which both Nina Forever and Out of the Mould interestingly and respectfully explore. Out of the Mould depicts two women in love, one who is a little despondent and lost, and the other who is career focused. The two decide that they want to have a child, but after various complications are unable, and matters get worse when one of them becomes obsessed with a festering mould spot on the bathroom tub. This short is unique and well shot, with a Rosemary's Baby-esque ending that will linger with audiences and acts as a great pairing to Nina Forever.

Out of the Mould Fivestars

The Hexecutioners Cover
Turd

The Hexecutioners (screened with the short film This Home is Not Empty)

Although there is absolutely no saving bad writing in general, watching Tony Burgess' The Hexecutioners (which I already had low expectations for due to its silly name) directly after the elaborate and interesting female characters in Nina Forever exposed this movie even further for being written with unbelievably weak lady-leads. The story follows two women (one is the archetypal virgin and the other is the hard-ass femme fatale) who work for an assisted-suicide organization, where they travel to the homes of the respective clientele and carry out whatever suicidal fantasy they so desire. Alongside laughably bad acting, numerous inconsistencies in plot (such as one scene where the main character protests killing someone by smothering them with a pillow because it is inhumane, but then in the next someone is shot in the head as part of their assisted suicide, which most would argue is far more barbaric), the two lead female characters are written with some of the most offensively flat straight-male bro pandering attributes, specifically when the femme-fatale takes her shirt off for no apparent reason in the middle of a scene.

Although through the passage of time we can excuse (to some degree, or at least understand) some absolutely outlandishly bad female characters in horror movies in the past, there is quite simply no reason for scripts like this to exist in 2015. Even though The Hexecutioners is a barely watchable viewing experience down to almost every detail, it still remains as the best effort from this group of filmmakers. (Maybe in fifty years time they'll speak to some more women.)

This Home is Not Empty is a three-minute, totally silent short which depicts a paper home and follows the story of how it caught fire. This short effectively shows how this home is much more than the rubbled remains, and renders the emotions that it seemed to be going for.

This Home is Not Empty Fivestars

01 Nina Forever02 The Hexecutioner

Click images to enlarge.

 

 

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