TIFF comes alive at Midnight Madness
Still from "Revenge" (Courtesy of TIFF)
It’s the programme that secured Eli Roth’s position in the canon of modern horror auteurs after debuting his 2002 hit Cabin Fever. It brought Tony Jaa, of Ong Bak fame, into the North American limelight, and, in 2006, gave audiences an impromptu Q&A with Borat himself after the projection quit working during a premiere attended by Sacha Baron Cohen. Last year, an ambulance was called to the screening of a particularly gruesome screening of a cannibal horror flick after several members of the audience passed out. After star-studded galas and the hushed premieres of Oscar-winning heavyweights, the real fun begins: And it all happens at Midnight. Cinephiles bring beach balls and bounce them around the 1,200-capacity Ryerson Theatre; they come in full horror regalia and laugh and scream while the rest of the city is asleep.
“It’s a really, really visceral film experience. Midnight Madness is almost like a rock show. People are so jazzed up,” said Peter Kuplowsky, the new curator of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness programme, taking over for Colin Geddes, who held the position for 20 years. “The unifying connection between all these movies is that they’re electric movies. They’re movies that are going to wire you up past midnight.”
Still from Bodied
Midnight Madness is TIFF’s genre film programme, which can include anything from martial arts to fantasy but leans heavily towards horror. When it launched in 1988, there was nothing else like it in North America.
This year’s Midnight Madness program, announced on Tuesday, begins with the world premiere of Bodied, a satirical look at battle rappers directed by music director Joseph Kahn and produced by Adi Shankar and Eminem. Other screenings include the world premiere of The Disaster Artist, directed by James Franco and starring Franco, Dave Franco, and Seth Rogen, about the making of Tommy Wiseau’s cult film The Room; a French thriller Revenge, about a woman who goes after three men who abused her and left her for dead in a desert, directed by first time director Coralie Fargeat, and The Crescent, a slow-burning supernatural horror film directed by Halifax indie musician and filmmaker, Seth Smith.
Still from Crescent
“I really, really fell in love with [The Crescent],” said Kuplowsky. The film follows a young woman and her child as they move to a seaside town following a personal tragedy, and the odd residents they encounter. “[It’s] a more introspective horror film, one that really stuck with me and haunted me in places. I also really liked that it was supporting a Canadian film, a really fiercely independent film and a film that might not be on people’s radar.”
Still from Vampire Clay
The festival closes with Vampire Clay, a Japanese horror film by director and master makeup artist Soichi Umezawa, about a demon made out of plasticine tormenting a rural art school, which didn’t even have an English title on the Internet until the lineup was announced.
“These movies have an energy to them, or they have a quality, a humour, an innovative sense of style that is going to make you sit upright and go, ‘Okay, hold on, wait a minute. This is interesting, this is kind of different,’” said Kuplowsky.
This year’s festival runs Sept. 7 to 17. To stay on top of festival announcements, check out tiff.net.
Full disclose: Kuplowsky is the brother of the writer’s partner.