Wednesday, 23 October 2013


The Guest (2013) ****
Dir. Jovanka Vuckovic
Starring: Jordan Gray, Tara Elliott, Isabella Vuckovic

Review By Greg Klymkiw

This simple, creepy take on the ages-old Faustian nightmare is yet another visually sumptuous gem from Vuckovic. The Soska Twins, Karen Lam and, of course, Vuckovic, comprise a sort of astounding triple threat of female empowerment in the world of class-act genre filmmaking, but delightfully 'tis the land of Maple Sugar and Mounties that runs red with the blood of scary shit from the ladies. Gotta love it. Vuckovic continually astounds. Her eye is impeccable, her short films are lovely works unto themselves, they never have that Canadian whiff of "Calling Card" to them and they are embodied with the kind of maturity and life experience that creates (and will continue to create) genre films with substance to add body to the shocks. The Guest is a special grotesque bon bon. Just when we think we know where it's going, Vuckovic takes us there with heart-stopping images that are as beautiful as they are mind fuckingly sickening. I think it's time for someone to give this lady a wheelbarrow of dough to make a feature. Telefilm Canada? Are you out there?

The Vehicle (2012) ****
Dir. O. Corbin Saleken
Starring: Gillian Barber, Garry Chalk

Review By Greg Klymkiw

William has been asking Bernice out. She's made it clear she thinks William is a nice man, but she no longer has room or desire in her life for romance. He asks her for just one chance to say something important to her - face to face and in private. She agrees, but makes it clear she won't change her mind. What he has to say might make anyone suspect he's out of his mind (albeit benignly crazy). Love, however, traverses time and space. It's the force that controls the universe, but it's also a great gift that needs to be accepted when offered. This is one of the loveliest two-handers I've seen in some time. Simple, careful direction, two profoundly moving lead performances and writing to die for. The screenplay by director Saleken is so sweet and heartbreaking, but it's also infused with a touch of malevolence and the kind of graceful melancholy that typified so much of the magnificent writing from such stalwarts as Richard Matheson during the original five years of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone.

The Last Videostore (2013) ***1/2
Dir. Cody Kennedy, Tim Rutherford'
Starring: Cody Kennedy, Tim Rutherford

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The courier has a package to deliver. Buried deep in an alleyway is a grim looking doorway - hidden from all except those who seek it. These days, not too many are seeking this door which still hides thousands of treasures within. It's a video store and the last of its kind. Unbeknownst to the courier, the package contains the very thing that has destroyed every other video store in the world. A battle to the death must ensue. A monster created by the corporate pigs of digital supremacy rears its ugly head and the clash will not be a pretty one. A super hilarious film-geek wet dream that brings the magic of brick and mortar video rental stores to life and most of all, reminds us of the incalculable joy of analogue picture and sound. A first rate score, effects (a goodly whack of them from Canada's leading F/X whiz Steven Kostanski) and superb comic performances plunge us into the warm and fuzzy world most of us should have fought to the death to preserve for future generations. Pick up the sword, people. It's not too late.

Night Giant (2013) ***
Dir. Aaron Beckum

Review By Greg Klymkiw

For some, it's a drag being the fifth wheel, but for our protagonist Gene, it seems par for the course and simply his lot in life. Night after night, the woefully-single-girlfriend-bereft Gene walks home alone and is tormented by an utterly horrifying entity that springs out at him from the blackness. Word gets around quickly that he's afflicted with this decidedly dangerous ball and chain that could mean death for all and soon, he is shunned by his friends. He needs help. Professional help. Who ya' gonna call in a situation like this? A giant hunter, of course. Hilarious, dead-pan humour drives this fantastical journey into a modern world wherein a fairy tale creature springs to life to offer one motherfucker of a huge helping hand and, in so doing, hinder the progress and safety of those around the beneficiary of its assistance. Sometimes a hired gun won't do the trick. Sometimes, one needs to gird one's own loins and face the threat like a man among men. Sometimes the old neighbourhood needs a new Giant Killer.

Toronto After Dark 2013 has been presenting Canadian short films before every feature. These four are among the best and brightest I've seen. Visit the TADFF 2013 website HERE.