While we here at Movies.com love the Toronto International Film Festival wholeheartedly, it wouldn’t be stretching the truth to say that our favorite part of the annual celebration of cinema is the Midnight Madness portion of the programming. Programmer Colin Geddes never ceases to amaze us by finding the most incredible and exciting underground films for the event – and this year looks to be no different.
Featuring everything from the return of two highly acclaimed French horror filmmakers to the latest offering from The Blair Witch Project co-creator Eduardo Sanchez, there’s something for everyone in the slate that Geddes has lined up. You’ll find the complete list below, but before you scroll down to it, here are the five flicks we’re really looking forward to seeing.
1. First up, Gareth Evans’ The Raid. Evans made a big splash with fans of Asian cinema thanks to his excellent action thriller Merantau (which many compared to Ong Bak – only making sure to stress that Merantau was the better of the two films) and now he’s set to do it again with this new tale set in Jakarta. In the city’s darkest slums lies a safehouse for some of the globe’s most deadly criminals. When a SWAT team is tasked with infiltrating the building and bringing the criminals to justice, it’s a dangerous mission – but it becomes even moreso when their cover is blown. Now trapped inside the building with no way out, the cops must fight their way through hordes of crooks – or die trying.
2. Katsuhito Ishii’s Smuggler will make its world premiere at Midnight Madness – which is exciting news for anyone who saw and adored his earlier films Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl and Funky Forest. In Ishii’s latest, Kinuta is a 25-year-old man gives up on his dreams of becoming an actor and spends his days gambling. When his debt becomes too much to handle, Kinuta becomes a smuggler for the Yakuza – but one bit of cargo earns him the ire of a gangster “hellbent on revenge.” Given Ishii’s work with similar material in the past, this one should be awesome.
3. Comedian Bobcat Goldthwait returns to the director’s chair with God Bless America – a black comedy that sounds perfect for our current cultural climate. Fed up with the state of America, Frank grabs his gun with the intention of killing the most abhorrent members of our society. Joining him on his mission of death is 16-year-old Roxy, who may be just as angry. The film is already being described as “a scathing and hilarious attack on all that is sacred in the United States of America.”
4. Adam Wingard, director of A Horrible Way to Die, returns to Midnight Madness with his newest offering – a dark film entitled You’re Next. While on a reunion vacation, a family comes under attack by a group of killers wielding axes, crossbows, and other assorted weaponry. Forced to hole up in their country cottage, the family has to fight back if they have any chance at surviving. We love a good home invasion/siege film, so this one sounds like just what the doctor ordered.
5. Last, but certainly not least, is Livid – the latest feature from French duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. The Gallic Gore-meisters became fan favorites after the 2007 Midnight Madness debut of Inside, but have traveled a rocky road when it comes to getting their latest feature off the ground (the duo was at one time attached to both Halloween 2 and the Hellraiser reboot – neither project panned out). They say things happen for a reason, and maybe the adversity means that Livid was the film they were supposed to make all along. In their latest, a young woman and a group of friends break into an empty mansion in search of treasure. They get more than they bargained for when they uncover a dark secret hidden inside the building – one that wants them dead. Sounds kinda like Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs.
Of course, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to this year’s program. Check out the rest of the titles below (with descriptions taken directly from the Midnight Madness press release).
The Day, Douglas Aarniokoski, USA, World Premiere. In a post-apocalyptic future, an open war against humanity rages. Five survivors wander along rural back-roads, lost, starving and on the run. With dwindling food stocks and ammunition, an attempt at seeking shelter turns into a battleground where they must fight or die. Starring Ashley Bell, Dominic Monaghan and Shannyn Sossamon.
The Incident, Alexandre Courtes, France, World Premiere. George, Max and Ricky are in a rock band and waiting for their big breakthrough. Between small gigs and rehearsals they work in the kitchen of a high-security asylum for good pay at minimum risk – they have no physical contact with the inmates. One night just before dinnertime, a big storm shuts down the security system, the doors open and the lunatics break loose. Help is on its way and should soon arrive... they just have to survive until it does.
Kill List, Ben Wheatley, United Kingdom, Canadian Premiere. Eight months after a disastrous job in Kiev left him physically and mentally scarred, ex-soldier-turned-contract-killer Jay is pressured by his partner Gal into taking a new assignment. As they track their prey, they descend into a disturbing world that is darker and more depraved than anything they experienced on the battlefield.
Lovely Molly, Eduardo Sanchez, USA, World Premiere. When newlywed Molly Reynolds returns to her long-abandoned family home, frightful reminders of a nightmarish childhood begin seeping into her new life. She soon begins an inexorable descent into evil that blurs the lines between psychosis and possession. From the director of The Blair Witch Project.
Sleepless Night, Frederic Jardin, France/Belgium/Luxembourg, World Premiere. When Vincent, a double-dealing cop, steals a big bag of cocaine from some drug dealers they counter by kidnapping and threatening to kill his son if the bag isn’t returned – fast. The swap is to go down at their headquarters in a big nightclub on the outskirts of Paris, but Vincent gets caught in a spiral of deception and betrayal and must fight his way through packed dance floors and dark corridors of the labyrinth-like club.