Following in the footsteps of the beautifully American gothic We Are What We Are, the opening night gala presentation for the 8th annual Toronto After Dark Film festival would be difficult for any film.
So the programmers went in a completely different direction for the second feature of the night. Using the Kickstarter campaign comic as its basis, Bounty Killer embraces and revels in its absurdity and B-movie dialogue, filled with action sequences and sex appeal it plays like a post-apocalyptic western with tricked out vehicles instead of horses.
In the not so distant future, the world has fallen apart, the corporations declared war on themselves and the governments fell. Now, a select breed, are hunting down the suits that control the world’s wealth, and exploited the common man, they are the bounty killers.
Front and center is Drifter (Matthew Marsden), who has just taken on a gun caddy (you read that right) in the form of a goofy sidekick named Jack (Barak Hardley), he’s also the only character who actually sees everything that is going on, story and emotion wise. I had a hard time getting into Marsden’s performance, because he seemed to be in a different movie from Hardley and couldn’t find the right tone for his character.
That’s ok though, because the lovely Christian Pitre, who plays the mini-dress, boot wearing, knife-throwing, gun-toting, star of the bounty world, Mary Death, makes for a wonderful distraction. The trio are thrown together, Mary and Drifter have a bit of history, when a bounty is put out on him and a dark secret from his past is revealed.
Deciding to appeal the decision before the Council of Nine, they travel across the Badlands, face gypsies, and take on a sinister corporation run by another dark secret of Drifter’s.
The gore is explicit, the humor runs the gambit from clever throw aways to visual gags, to cheese.
Bounty Killer has the feel of an 80s B-movie sci-fi flick, even so, I couldn’t quite find my way into it as much as I’d like. Once the bodies started dropping, or there was a particularly gory kill, the audience definitely responded, and Mary’s assault on the corporation Second Sun got a great response.
For a low budget film, it looks spectacular, there are gorgeous locations which give the film fantastic production value, there are some recognizable names in the cast, Gary Busey, Beverly D’Angelo and Kristanna Loken, and even the cg-explosions or environments tend to work inside the visual look of the film.
Pitre is the center of the film, and she walks through it, assault rifle in hand, looking fantastic, and honestly, I’d prefer a whole movie following her character.
So it looks like Toronto After Dark got off to a great start last night, and as always Adam Lopez and his team have brewed together a fantastic concoction of horror, action, sci-fi and cult to entertain us.
I am quite looking forward to the Bug Night double feature tonight.
What are you seeing?