Shorts After Dark Review Roundup

Yesterday, Toronto’s very own After Dark Film Festival showcased its annual collection of international cult, gore, sci-fi, and horror shorts at the Bloor Cinema. As usual it didn’t dissapoint with some spectucularly bizarre and and stunning stretches of imagination on celluloid. Here is a quick review of each of the 10 films and links to footage where available.

United Monster Talent Agency (2010) – Greg Nicotero
7 Mins

I absolutely adore seeing Eli Roth act on screen, however when his cameo is the only truley memorable part, the film can’t have been that good. It was a cute short to have as the opener for the shorts showcase, but in the end was just light and uninspired. Deserved a chuckle or two though.


The Thomas Beale Cipher (2010) – Andre Allen

13  Mins

There is something to be said about style, and The Thomas Beale Cipher excels at it. Combing a rather creative collage of animation styles into a visually stunning, sly, fast paced narrative about code breaking, espionage and treasure hunting, the short is clearly the start of something great. The director commented that this was the first part in hopefully a series telling the true story about the hunt for the treasure of American Thomas Beale. Personally I can’t wait for more.


Barcelona Venice (2009) – David Munoz

5 Mins

A rather short, rather amateur, but rather cute film about a man who accidentally starts teleporting. Watching something which is shot in public, with non-actors, on mini DV can be a bit grating, but this spanish short had just the right amount of charm to make it a worthwhile watch.


First Contact (2009) – Pau Escribano

9 Mins

Another Sci-Fi short from Spain, this time staging the awkward discovery of love as first contact with another species. Conceptually I thought it was a great idea, but the obvious stage set and weak acting and effects bring down the experience somewhat. Yet again however I have to give the Spanish points for charm.


Frank Dancoolo: Paranormal Drug Dealer (2009) – Andrew Jones
8 Mins

Go watch this now. Seriously, nothing I can write will do this zany experience justice. Absolutely the right combination of hilarity, ridiculousness, and absurdity. If not for its frantic visual style, or cyberpunk-noir setting in Neo-Mega-Ultra-Tokyo, or snappy over the top dialog, at the very least go see this short for one of my favorite lines in movie history:

Malone: “Never underestimate my powers.”
Boss: “What powers?”

Check it out here


Pumzi (2009) – Wanuri Kahiu
23 Mins

Its gorgeous, well acted and well written, yet it didn’t work for me. Could have been that it was twice as long as every other short, or that it definitely had a much larger budget than the rest, or that it felt somewhat overly preachy without really saying anything. Bottom line I was much more impressed with the visual effects team than the direction or writing. Its been well awarded and praised internationally but again this could just be because it is a Kenyan production. It’s definetly channeling some THX-1138, and for the fashion alone might be worth checking out.

You can see the trailer here


Off Season (2009) Jonathan Van Tulleken
13 Mins

Award winning aspiring director Jonathan Van Tulleken hits it out of the park again with this chilling horror short which had the whole audience gasping in shock and freight. Set in the chilling and empty north, the short follows a lonely scavenger and his dog as they come across more than they bargained for in an abandoned house with some memories which weren’t meant to be uncovered. The film succeeds with amazing acting, atmosphere and cinematography. Definitely the kind of thing which could compete against professional hollywood film. Here’s hoping to see some feature work from Tulleken in the near future.

You can see some scenes from the film here


Demiurge Emesis (2010) – Aurelio Voltaire
3 Mins

Every year Voltaire inspires us with a new stunning stop frame short, and this year yet again didn’t disappoint with a story about artists’ struggle and some fitting narration by Danny Elfman. It short, humorous and clever, all portrayed with Voltaire signature animation style and quality.

Check it out here


Deus Irae (2010) – Pedro Cristiani
13 Mins

Do you remember how Constantine (2005) could have been awesome but failed miserably instead? Deus Irae succeeds everywhere the Francis Lawrence’s attempt didn’t. The best way to describe this 13 minute short about a team of 3 priests who battle the underworld would just be that it’s Kick Ass. This short has hands down the best makeup and effects of the whole evening, with gore so vivid and gruesome that it rivals most Hollywood productions. The acting was campy and intense, the aesthetic polished and the overall experience just balls to the walls awesome. I’m hoping that this short is the first in a series as when it finished I just wanted more.

You can see the teaser trailer here


The Library (2009) – Levi Macdougal & David Dineen Porter
4 Mins

What is this, I don’t even….? I just.. but… what?

Just watch it, awesome ending to an amazing evening.


The After Dark Film Festival continues until next Friday with some unique and amazing international Horror, Cult, and Sci-Fi films.
You can see the remaining schedule here.
Or check out a trailer here.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by hearwax, hearwax. hearwax said: @TADFILMFEST huge Toronto After Dark Shorts Review Roundup! […]

  2. Christian wrote:

    Thanks for the DEUS IRAE review! FYI, a full-length feature film is in pre-production :)


  3. Logan Broger wrote:

    The Thomas Beale Cipher is now available on Vimeo!

  4. […] [Josh Schonblum] on The Toronto After Dark Film Festival […]

Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: