“IT FOLLOWS”, “TUSK,” [REC] 4 and More in TIFF’s 2014 Midnight Madness SlateNews Samuel Zimmerman
The most legendary of film fest midnight slates is approaching. Each year, Colin Geddes and TIFF program ten genre titles that proceed to rouse, divide and impact the rest of the year in horror, action and more. 2014 looks to be no different, with anticipated premieres, acclaimed festival hits and something always most welcome: a new film from Sion Sono.
Find the nine out of the ten titles hitting Midnight Madness this September 4-14 (the last will be revealed August 6), below. The slate includes new works from Sono, Jaume Balaguero, Kevin Smith and David Robert Mitchell, and international titles CUB and BIG GAME. Also find the horror within the event’s Vanguard Section, which includes the Alex de la Iglesia-produced SHREW’S NEST; SPRING, from RESOLUTION directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead; and Takashi Miike’s OVER YOUR DEAD BODY, as well as the unique-sounding LUNA and GOODNIGHT MOMMY
[REC] 4: Apocalypse Jaume Balagueró, Spain World Premiere (Pictured, above)
Angela Vidal wakes up in a high-security quarantine facility, sole survivor and witness to the horrific events inside the building. But does she remember what happened to her? Is she carrying a virus? Distrust spreads through the isolated facility while new, even more deadly forms of evil spread even faster.
BIG GAME Jalmari Heleander, Finland/United Kingdom/Germany World Premiere
The fate of the most powerful man in the world lies in the hands of a 13-year-old boy. Plunged into a deadly game of cat and mouse, Oskari and the president must team up to survive the most extraordinary night of their lives.
CUB Jonas Govaerts, Belgium World Premiere
Young, imaginative 12-year-old Sam heads off to camp with his Cub Scouts pack. In the woods, he stumbles upon a strange tree house and a masked, feral child. When his leaders ignore his warnings about the mysterious boy, Sam starts to feel increasingly isolated from the pack, and convinced a terrible fate awaits them all.
ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS Mark Hartley, Australia International Premiere
Director Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood, Machete Maidens Unleashed!) continues his delightful documentary disinterment of down-market movie detritus with this chronicle of the rise and fall of 1980s action-exploitation juggernaut Cannon Films, whose contributions to the cinematic canon include American Ninja, The Delta Force, Death Wish II and Masters of the Universe.
THE GUEST Adam Wingard, USA Canadian Premiere
The follow-up to Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s wildly popular You’re Next, The Guest tells the story of a mysterious and devastatingly charming visitor, David (Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey) who arrives on the doorstep of a bereaved family claiming to be the best friend of their dead son, a young soldier who died in action. The Petersons welcome David into their home and into their lives, but when people start mysteriously dying in town, their teenage daughter Anna (Maika Monroe of It Follows) starts wondering if David is responsible.
IT FOLLOWS David Robert Mitchell, USA North American Premiere
For 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), the fall should be about school, boys and weekends at the lake. Yet after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter she suddenly finds herself plagued by nightmarish visions; she can’t shake the sensation that someone, or something, is following her. As the threat closes in, Jay and her friends must somehow escape the horrors that are only a few steps behind. With a riveting central performance from Monroe and a strikingly ominous electronic score by Disasterpeace, It Follows is an artful psychosexual thriller from David Robert Mitchell (whose The Myth of the American Sleepover premiered at Critics’ Week in 2010). The film also stars Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, and Lili Sepe.
TOKYO TRIBE Sion Sono, Japan International Premiere (Midnight Madness Opening Film)
Set in an alternate Tokyo of the near future, director Sion Sono continues his run of sensational films with the explosive street gang tale Tokyo Tribe. Tokyo Tribe is the first live-action adaptation of the best-selling manga series Tokyo Tribe 2, by Santa Inoue, which has sold two million copies and has been published in Asia and the west to great popularity.
TUSK Kevin Smith, USA World Premiere
Wallace (Justin Long) is a podcaster on a mission who thinks he has found the story of a lifetime in Howard Howe (Michael Parks), an adventurer with amazing stories and a curious penchant for walruses. When Mr. Howe’s true desires unfold, things take a dark turn and Wallace faces a terrifying transformation at the hands of his captor. As his friends Alison and Teddy (Genesis Rodriguez and Haley Joel Osment) search the backwoods of Canada to rescue him, they discover a nightmare from which there is no escape. Conceived from one of indie legend Kevin Smith’s own Smodcast’s, Tusk is an unprecedented tale that is equal parts hilarious and horrifying.
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, New Zealand/USA Canadian Premiere
Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), Viago (Taika Waititi), and Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) are three flatmates who are just trying to get by and overcome life’s obstacles—like being immortal vampires who must feast on human blood. Hundreds of years old, the vampires are finding that beyond sunlight catastrophes, hitting the main artery, and not being able to get a sense of their wardrobe without a reflection, modern society has them struggling with the mundane like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts.
ALLELUIA Fabrice Du Welz, France/Belgium North American Premiere
When Gloria and Michel meet on a dating site, nothing suggests the destructive and murderous passion that will be born of their crazy love. Alleluia is inspired by a 1947 article about nurse Martha Beck and swindler Raymond Fernandez, who became involved in a deadly, tragic affair.
THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY United Kingdom World Premiere
Peter Strickland’s eagerly anticipated follow up to Berberian Sound Studio and Katalin Varga is a gorgeously dark melodrama following two women who test the limits of their unsettlingly intense relationship. Starring Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgen) and Chiara d’Anna.
GOODNIGHT MOMMY (Ich seh, Ich seh) Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Austria North American Premiere
In the heat of the summer in an isolated house in the countryside between woods and corn fields, 10-year-old twins wait for their mother. When she returns with her head wrapped in bandages after surgery, nothing is as it was before. Stern and distant now, she shuts the family off from the outside world. Starting to doubt that this woman is actually their mother, the boys are determined to find the truth by any means.
HYENA Gerard Johnson, United Kingdom International Premiere
Michael Logan is an anti-hero for our times: a natural predator, a high-functioning addict, and corrupt police officer. But his dark world is evolving: a recent influx of ruthless Albanian gangsters is threatening to change London’s criminal landscape. Michael’s razor sharp instincts have always kept him one step ahead, but now his increasingly self-destructive behavior and the sheer brutality of the new gang lords send Michael spiraling into a descent of fear and self-doubt.
LUNA Dave McKean, United Kingdom World Premiere
Renowned artist and filmmaker Dave McKean (MirrorMask) brings his distinctive blend of live action and gorgeously wrought animation to this dreamlike reverie about four people – Grant, Christine, Dean and Freya – whose long weekend in an isolated house by the sea brings up old resentments and the life of a dead child is revisited in a series of strange dreams.
OVER YOUR DEAD BODY Takashi Miike, Japan International Premiere
A star, Miyuki Goto (Ko Shibasaki) plays Oiwa, the protagonist in a new play based on the ghost story Yotsuya Kaidan. She pulls some strings to get her lover, Kosuke Hasegawa (Ebizo Ichikawa) cast in the play, even though he’s a relatively unknown actor. Other performers Rio Asahina (Miho Nakanishi) and Jun Suzuki (Hideaki Ito) lust after Miyuki. Off stage the cast’s possessive love and obsessions exist as reality. Trapped between the play and reality, the cast’s feelings for each other are amplified. When it becomes clear that love is not meant to be both on and off stage, love turns into a grudge and crosses the blurred line between reality and fantasy.
SHREW’S NEST (Musarañas) Juanfer Andrés and Esteban Roel, Spain World Premiere
Spain, 1950s. Monste’s agoraphobia keeps her locked in a sinister apartment in Madrid and her only link to reality is the little sister she sacrificed her youth to raise. But one day, a reckless young neighbour, Carlos, falls down the stairwell and drags himself to their door. Someone has entered the shrew’s nest… and perhaps he’ll never leave.
SPRING Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, USA World Premiere
A young man in a personal tailspin flees the US to Italy, where he sparks up a romance with a girl harbouring a dark, primordial secret in this edgy, romantic drama with a supernatural twist.
THEY HAVE ESCAPED JP Valkeapää, Finland North American Premiere
A boy and a girl meet at a custody center for youth with difficulties. The boy has come to serve his obligatory civil service. The girl is one of the youths in custody, and she is constantly in trouble, with a fire inside her and a lust for life that can’t be quashed or controlled. The boy becomes infatuated with the girl. He is a quiet one; a stutterer. But there is a fire inside him as well. Rules, laws, punishment; the shackles of the hostile environment with no understanding around them can be broken. They steal a car and flee together. Thus begins a journey with endless escapes.
WASTE LAND Pieter Van Hees, Belgium World Premiere
Leo Woeste is a homicide investigator living with his girlfriend Kathleen and her five-year-old son, Jack. Kathleen gets pregnant unexpectedly just as Leo must solve his most bizarre case to date: the ritual murder of a young Congolese man, which may or may not involve Leo’s hedonistic new colleague, Johnny Rimbaud. As the case’s complexity mounts by the minute, Leo is pulled away from Kathleen and his role as a father, and heads deeper and deeper into the Waste Land.
THE WORLD OF KANAKO (Kawaki) Tetsuya Nakashima, Japan International Premiere
When beautiful straight-A high school student Kanako goes missing, her mother asks ex-husband Akikazu — a drifting, irresponsible former cop — to find their daughter. He embarks on a desperate search in the hope of reuniting his family by any means necessary. But as his investigation progresses, Akikazu starts to discover the darkness that lies behind his daughter’s impeccable façade. Clue by clue, revelation by revelation, he starts his descent into the hellish underworld of Kanako’s secret life…