One of the best parts of Toronto After Dark is watching the innovative shorts that screen in front of each feature. If you’re interested in checking out Toronto After Dark’s shorts program, they will be screening them in batches this weekend.
The International Shorts After Dark program runs on Saturday, October 19th, at 3:30PM. And you can see the Canadian Shorts After Dark entries on Sunday, October 20th, at 4:15PM. Both screenings take place at TADFF’s official home, Scotiabank Theatre in downtown Toronto.
That Shelf had a chance to watch Toronto After Dark’s International Shorts program, and they feature a bit of something for everybody. The following short titles feature a thrilling mix of martial arts beat downs, time travel, and puppets.
TADFF 2019: International Shorts After Dark
In Bar Fight, a man closes up his bar for the night, but trouble comes a-knocking. And he must face off with three bandage-faced attackers. Bar fight is the best kind of short film: short and to the extremely bloody point.
What begins as a The Conjuring-style fright-fest quickly morphs into The Raid.
This intense five-minute short that comes off as pure visual poetry. On-point cinematography and excellent fight choreography combine a pure adrenaline rush.
By the time all is said and done, Bar Fight leaves you wanting more in the best possible way.
The Haunted Swordsman
The Haunted Swordsman is dark, moody, and atmospheric and features a pulse-pounding score and immersive production design. And also, PUPPETS!
The film follows a samurai whose on a supernatural quest to hunt down the mysterious swordsman who killed his master. He’s joined, by a bodiless, talking head which he keeps on a cage.
The film feels like the middle act of an epic fantasy story. While undeniably visually striking, the movie also hits you on a deeper level, forcing viewers to consider their own feelings of loss, grief, and regret.
The Haunted Swordsman is a tantalizing short that leaves you hungry for a feature-length story.
A woman discovers a minor irritation on her arm that slowly gets worse. Before long, she’s scratching ribbons of flesh off her arm to reveal a USB drive. After inserting the drive into the slot, she appears inside her brain in Matrix-like fashion and gains access to her memories.
Eject doesn’t feature much dialogue and zips by quickly. You can read the story as an examination of our shared need to lose ourselves inside of virtual worlds. The short comments on our obsession over for self-improvement and desire to rewrite our pasts.
Eject is a dreamy and unsettling film that will put keep you on edge before the filmmaker wallops you with an intense ending.
La Noria is a gorgeously rendered animated short about a young boy who finds himself in a dark and lonely place, literally and figuratively.
After suffering a tragedy, the boy spends his time alone in his room, crafting Ferris wheels. That is until a horde of gruesome monsters starts creeping around his house.
La Noria is a comeback story, meant to inspire and uplift. The themes tell us that monsters aren’t always what they appear to be. The short is an example of how our strength and resolve are forged in darkness. No one truly knows who they are until they’re tested. And those who don’t buckle under pressure bounce back, stronger than ever.
La Noria is also a reminder that some people thrive by retreating to the dark corners of their mind. If this weren’t the case, we wouldn’t have Anne Rice Tim Burton, Guillermo del Toro, James Wan, and Jordan Peele.
Sometimes, evil spirits aren’t the worst things that can haunt a home.
Place feels like what happens if David Lynch directed The Shining. On the surface, it’s about a family adjusting to their new home. The problem is that there is a spectre looming over them, and it’s not the dead electrician they find as they enter their home for the first time.
Place doesn’t creep you out with shadows in dark corners, grisly images or jump scares. This is a story that wants to freak you out in broad daylight. This may be the most unsettling short in the program.
Your Last Day On Earth
Your Last Day on Earth takes the award for the most bizarre short in the program.
A broken-hearted widow time travels to the past to have one final moment with his long-dead wife, and maybe something more. The way This film deadpans its way through some ludicrous material feels Wes Anderson-y, with the time travel aesthetic of Nacho Vigalondo’s Time Crimes.
And yet, Your Last Day on Earth incorporates an outlandish time travel concept to tell a story that feels tender, deeply human, and entirely relatable.
Your Last Day on Earth is a cautionary tale about the dangers of holding on to the past. This story also tells us that if we want something bad enough, the lie tells itself.