The opening night film for the 10th Annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival was the anthology film, Tales of Halloween, featuring familiar names behind and in front of the camera, the collection which slowly won over the audience, is amusing, bloody and reminds the viewer that Halloween is supposed to be fun.
Boasting names like Barry Bostwick, Adrienne Barbeau (as a radio host, of course), Neil Marshall, John Landis, Sam Witwer and Joe Dante, the film shoehorns in 10 tales, that get better as the film progresses.
Filled with in-jokes, nods, lifts and some fun moments, the film takes tropes, conventions, and typical genre ideas and gives them a nice trick or treat twist.
From warring neighbors trying to one up one another’s Halloween decorations, to killer pumpkins, to ghosts, to witches to a hilarious, crowd-pleasing tweak to the Friday the 13th series, to a kidnapping that goes hilariously wrong, the anthology runs the gambit of what you would expect from a Halloween scare tale. There are urban legends, ghost stories, and it seems this little town of Bailey Downs gets this crazy every Halloween.
Drenched in blood, tongue-in-cheek humour and the knowledge that if you don’t like this story, wait 5 minutes and you’ll be in a whole new tale, the film has a lot going for it…
… If you see it with the right audience.
And happily, the best part about this film festival is that you are guaranteed to get the right audience. We want the humour, the sly nods, the blood, and the film’s that get it.
Do all the stories work? No, but there are so many in-joke details that even the stories that floundered still had some cool things going for them – a kid dressed as Snake Plissken (?!) sweet, a Carpenter chocolate bar, familiar musical cues…
There’s more that works here than doesn’t, though some of the performances are poor, but it doesn’t lose track of the idea that this is supposed to be fun! If you watch the backgrounds, and pay attention, there are crossovers from story to story, as lives intersect on this spooky, insane night.
The film runs from jump scares, to unnerving moments, and WTF visuals to sheer jubilation over some pretty funny kills.
There is a story featuring a group of children terrorizing, and murdering a bunch of adults, and the reveal was really good, if only the acting had been stronger, not from the kids, but from the adults.
The moments in the kidnapping segment when that one gets rolling were truly entertaining and by the time this tale rolled around the audience was truly enjoying this film.
So you may have missed this one, but there are so many more to see before the end of the festival! Check out the Toronto After Dark site here, and get your tickets now!!!