Children of the Dark, one of 3 SUPERB SHORT FILMS at THE TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL 2012Reviewed By Greg Klymkiw
Review By Greg Klymkiw
This high profile short,the directorial debut of “Rue Morgue” magazine’s former kick-butt editor Jovanka Vuckovic, features magnificent special effects from ace animatronics effects designer/supervisor Paul Jones (Silent Hill, INVASION [AKA Top of the Food Chain], Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Afterlife and Retribution) and brilliant cinematography by Karim Hussein (Subconscious Cruelty, Hobo With A Shotgun and Antiviral), Vuckovic delivers a delicious bonbon du cinema in spades. This grotesque taste-treat wherein a little girl's chalk drawing opens a door into a world of horrifying creatures suggests we can look forward to more chilling work from the clearly talented Vuckovic ("Rue Morgue's" loss, but in an odd way, their gain, since they'll have plenty of output from their former editor to actually write about over the next few decades.)
A fine Canadian short drama directed by Jeremy Ball that expertly tells a haunting, mysterious tale against the backdrop of Canada's northern aboriginal peoples. This story of a young woman confronting a terrifying spiritual presence linked to her ancestry is blessed with a subtle apocalyptic subtext as well as narrative elements dealing with both quest and familial acceptance. It's super creepy AND it's actually ABOUT something - both of which go a long way to remove the ever-so faint whiff of "calling card" that wafts gently from it.
dir. Scott Belyea
Review By Greg Klymkiw
WOW! This is a deeply moving post-apocalyptic thriller with superb production value, gorgeous photography and the most impressive mise-en-scene I've encountered in a genre short in some time. Programmed at Toronto After Dark to precede the feature film Citadel, I somehow repressed the idea I was watching a short film and actually thought I was seeing Ciaran Foy's film. When Children of the Dark drew to its haunting, breathtaking close I was gobsmacked. I was so into the emotional layers of this movie - it's genuinely more mature than many genre shorts (and features for that matter) - that I was mildly disappointed it had to end. Exploring a world gone awry through the eyes of children can so easily fall into cliche. Belyea's film doesn't at all. It's mixture of that which is horrifying, sad and deeply truthful. It even suggests we might eventually see a feature from this filmmaker that is imbued with the qualities of Spielberg's Empire of the Sun, Rene Clement's Forbidden Games or Louis Malle's Au Revoir Les Enfants. A tall order, but this short is THAT terrific. Whether in wartime or a dystopian near-future, the role of children is one that requires taste, delicacy and an unerring eye for human behaviour. If children are our hope amidst a world without any shred of it, then their stories must retain humanism without sliding into soap opera. In fact, their desire for hope and connection, as exemplified in Belyea's work, does that astounding double duty of being as profoundly moving as it is deeply, disturbingly dark. By the way, though disappointed it was over when it was, I must stress that the short has a perfect ending. It's certainly not the filmmaker's fault that his movie was so good I forgot where I was while watching it. Happily, Citadel proved to be a contemporary masterpiece. Belyea's short, in retrospect and within the context of Citadel, also provided a great evening at the movies - a great appetizer to the main course.(And dessert, available, at the TAD pub night afterwards.) Perfect short. Perfect feature. Perfect programming. Perfect festival. Bravo all round!