The Worldwide Short Film Festival is currently underway in Toronto, and horror fans will want to hit The Bloor Cinema tonight just before midnight for the “Creepy” portion of the festival’s two-night Midnight Mania programme. (The “Freaky” section, which is bizarre but not really horror, plays tomorrow night at the Royal Ontario Museum.)


The Legend of Beaver Dam

“The Legend of Beaver Dam” screened at TIFF last fall, and features a group of scouts gathered around a campfire to hear the terrifying tale of Stumpy Sam, a legendary killer. Canadian comic Séan Cullen stars as The Pathmaster, who warns his tween charges by song. Co-creators Jerome Sable and Eli Batalion don’t skimp on the music, gore or jokes. Read the DLB’s interview with Batalion for Rue Morgue to learn more.


The Circular Glance

A day at the beach turns horrific for a brother and sister in this Spanish short when men in overalls subdue their parents and kidnap them. Their fate is horrific, but writer/director Ivan Sainz-Pardo’s well-meaning social and political commentary is heavy-handed and unsubtle.


Anthony Head in "Ella"

Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) stars as a father with a shotgun who may or may not be hunting his own daughter in what appears to be a reworking of Red Riding Hood. The narrative is skewed by surreal flashbacks so it’s not easy to figure out what exactly is going on, or who we should be rooting for… which I imagine is the point.


The Adder's Bite

Toronto-based Firas Momani’s bizarre short “The Adder’s Bite” is apparently inspired by a chapter from Nietzsche’s “Thus Spake Zarathustra.” Pretentiousness aside, the 10-minute film plays like a VFX reel, showing us bizarre creatures taking part in some sort of demonic ceremony as they feed from a bloodied victim via stingers. It makes no narrative sense but presents some truly bizarre images.


All Flowers In Time

Jonathan Caouette’s “All Flowers In Time” owes a huge debt to David Lynch for its non-linear storyline, odd sense of humour and horrific visuals. Chloe Sevigny (TV’s Big Love) stars as a mother with red eyes who plays disturbing games with her son. And there’s a weird Dutch cowboy, a freaky old man (pictured above) and bizarre visual effects. It doesn’t make sense but Caouette’s images stay with you.



The highlight of tonight’s programme is definitely Brazilian filmmaker Dennison Ramalho’s “Ninjas.” Based on a short story by Marco de Castro, “Ninjas” follows new policeman Jailton into the favelas above Rio de Janeiro where he accidentally kills a young boy. His fellow cops help cover up the crime but force him to become a “ninja,” performing retributive murders against small-time criminals. Ramalho channeled true, sweaty evil in his short film “Love From Mother Only,” and “Ninjas,” which also played at last summer’s Fantasia Film Festival and the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear, is similarly rife with blasphemous imagery and awful, awful violence.


Check out the Worldwide Short Film Festival site for more information.

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