Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival – Gala Opening Night

by Jason Shayer

(A quick note of thanks the Toronto After Dark Film Fest for the press pass.)

(And thanks to my wife Jen who will have her hands full putting both our young kids to bed for the next week.)

Friday the 13th was a hot, muggy evening in the city. The humidity made you sweat for simply breathing. To escape the heat, I sought the A/C cool confines of the Bloor Cinema and the company of several hundred fellow horror aficionados. I’d walked by the Bloor Cinema a dozen times, but this was my first time inside. It’s everything that those corporate megaplexes aren’t. Comfortable and cozy like a pair of old slippers and a wonderful place to see a movie.

I picked up my press pass and got into line. The Bloor Cinema sits at the edge of the Annex, a trendy student area near the University of Toronto. The streets were packed with pedestrian traffic. Passersby couldn’t help but notice the line up outside the cinema and had that curious look on their faces, asking themselves what the line was all about and why they hadn’t known about it.

The doors opened and I found a seat. The Festival’s founder and directory, Adam Lopez, kicked off the festival with a run through of its history and what this fifth year had in store. Then he invited writer/producer/star Devin McGinn up onto stage to briefly introduce The Last Lovecraft.

The Last Lovecraft is a fun, low budget romp through the Lovecraft mythos. It’s a campy and fun monster comedy that pits a couple of twenty-something corporate cubicle dwellers against the Cult of Cthulhu in a struggle to stave off the return of their horrible god.

The film has that relaxed and comfortable feel of a Kevin Smith Indy movie. It doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is. And it’s a film that widely entertains you. It’s a low budget horror film, but you can see glimpses of the more refined product that hopefully these creators can one day make.

The audience was really into the film and its enthusiasm gave the movie a lot of energy.

The animated sequences stood out, looking sharp with its thick, bold comic book lines. While it might have been easy to initially call out these sequences as ways to trim the film’s budget, the art and style drew you in and added a compelling storytelling element.

The director admitted to wanting to add several Cthulhu scenes at the climax, but they simply couldn’t afford it. He also mentioned that this film was part one of three. The creators also hinted at possibly pursuing a comic book adaptation.

I was ended up sitting across from the seats reserved for the cast and crew that had shown up for the screening. During the film, they had a great time and were still laughing their asses off despite having already seen the film multiple times by now. It was kind of fun looking back and forth from the screen to where they sat, still surprised at seeing the actors that were up on the big screen. To their credit, most of the cast and the director had flown up to Toronto from California for this Canadian Premiere.

The Last Lovercraft was a hell of a good time and should be on any horror fans must-see list. Here’s hoping that their DVD sales will warrant a sequel.

--Jason Shayer