The Toronto International Film Festival (casually known as TIFF) offers a treasure trove of genre cinema. Last year saw the world premiere of Halloween and Jeremy Saulnier’s Hold the Dark, among many other killer titles. The Festival’s 2019 season is just as promising, with a bevvy of exciting new titles from filmmakers like Takashi Miike, Richard Stanley, and Joko Anwar.
Midnight Madness is TIFF’s very own carefully selected sampling of genre films, and it’s some of the most exciting programming that the festival has to offer. Action, horror, sci-fi, and thrillers collide for ten nights of terrific films.
“This year’s selections challenge the traditional parameters of genre and shock cinema, but — most excitingly — half of the lineup’s wicked provocations are courtesy of filmmakers making their feature-film debut,” said Peter Kuplowsky, Lead Programmer for Midnight Madness. “I’m delighted to welcome midnight movie institutions like Takashi Miike and Richard Stanley back to the section, and even more ecstatic to have the privilege to introduce so many transgressive, innovative, and galvanizing new voices. The tide is high, and be it a Mi’gmaq reserve, a Hassidic neighborhood, or a Ugandan village, more communities are getting opportunities to share their myths and monsters. I know this year’s lineup will exhilarate Midnight audiences come September.”
Blood Quantum | Jeff Barnaby | Canada
Jeff Barnaby’s astutely-titled second feature is equal parts horror and pointed cultural critique. Zombies are devouring the world, yet an isolated Mi’gmaq community is immune to the plague. Do they offer refuge to the denizens outside their reserve or not?
Color Out of Space | Richard Stanley | USA
From the mind of H.P. Lovecraft, COLOR OUT OF SPACE is a cosmic nightmare about Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) and his family, whose recent retreat to rural life is quickly disrupted by a meteorite that crashes in their front yard. The Gardners’ peaceful escape quickly becomes a hallucinatory prison, as an extraterrestrial organism contaminates the farmstead, infecting everything and everyone it can.
Crazy World | Isaac Nabwana | Uganda World Premiere
First Love (Hatsukoi) | Takashi Miike | Japan/United Kingdom
North American Premiere
A doomed boxer and a haunted drug addict find themselves inadvertently caught in the crosshairs of two warring gangs, in the latest from Midnight Madness provocateur Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer, Audition ).
Gundala | Joko Anwar | Indonesia
Sancaka has been living in the streets since both parents left him. Going through a tough life, Sancaka grows up survives by minding his own business and shelter his own safe place. When the city comes to its worst state and injustice looms throughout the country, Sancaka finds himself at an intersection, to remain in his comfort zone or arise as a hero to defend the oppressed.
The Platform (ElHoyo) | Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia| Spain
In a future dystopia, prisoners housed in vertically stacked cells watch hungrily as food descends from above; feeding the upper tiers but leaving those below ravenous and radicalized; in Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s profound parable about the socio-political potency of genre cinema.
Saint Maud | Rose Glass | United Kingdom
A mysterious young nurse develops a toxic, dangerous obsession with her patient as she becomes convinced that she can save her from damnation. Tony and BAFTA Award-winner Jennifer Ehle and rising star Morfydd Clark come together in this electrifying psychological horror from director and Screen Star of Tomorrow, Rose Glass. Religiously devout nurse Maud (Morfydd Clark) arrives at the grand home of her new patient Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), who remains a pleasure-seeking diva with extravagant taste despite being frail from illness. Amanda is intrigued by this serious young woman, and enjoys talking to someone so deliciously innocent. Maud, however, is not all that she seems. She is tormented by a bloody secret from her past, and by visions which she believes come directly from God. As Amanda begins to taunt Maud more and more with her hedonistic and unpredictable behaviour, Maud becomes convinced that she is there to serve a divine purpose. In a frenzy of ecstasy, madness and passion, Maud’s religious zeal becomes deadly to anyone who stands in her way.
The Twentieth Century | Matthew Rankin | Canada
Winnipeg’s Matthew Rankin (The Tesla World Light) doubles down on his signature mode of gonzo history films with this bizarro biopic of William Lyon Mackenzie King, which reimagines the former Canadian Prime Minister’s early life as a series of abject humiliations, both professional and sexual.
The Vast of Night | Andrew Patterson | USA
Written and directed by Andrew Patterson, who makes his feature debut with the film, and produced by Patterson, Melissa Kirkendall and Adam Dietrich. It stars newcomers Sierra McCormack and Jake Horowitz. Set at the dawn of the space-race over the course of one night in 1950s New Mexico, a young switchboard operator and a radio DJ uncover a strange frequency that could change their lives, their small town and the future forever.
The Vigil | Keith Thomas | USA
Set over the course of a single evening in Brooklyn’s Hassidic “Boro” Park neighborhood, THE VIGIL follows Yakov, a former Hassid, as he accepts a position as a shomer, hired to “sit the vigil” and watch over the body of a deceased community member. Having lost his faith, Yakov isn’t eager to go back to the insular religious community he only recently fled. But when Reb Shulem, a rabbi and confidante, approaches Yakov after a support group meeting and offers to pay Yakov to be the shomer for a recently deceased Holocaust survivor, he reluctantly accepts the job. Shortly after arriving at the dilapidated house, Yakov realizes that something is very, very wrong. This will not be a quiet vigil. Steeped in ancient Jewish lore, THE VIGIL is a visceral and terrifying supernatural horror film set in a world audiences have never before experienced.
TIFF will also premiere the newest film by Robert Eggers (of The Witch fame), The Lighthouse, as part of their “Special Presentations” programming.
TIFF runs from September 5th to September 15th in Toronto, Ontario. The full schedule will be announced on August 20th.