The Toronto International Film Festival has been devoting a large and beloved section to genre films (entitled Midnight Madness) since the ‘80s, but never has the fest featured such big-name franchises as it has this year. Both The Predator and Halloween saw their long-coming reboot/sequels on the big screen up north, while genre-adjacent flicks like Damien Chazelle's Moon-bound First Man made its first awards push.
As such, we’ve collected much of the pertinent news coming out of TIFF so that you know exactly which genre movies you should be paying attention to as 2018 heads to its end (even if some of these movies may wait until 2019 to reach wide audiences).
Midnight Madness has been a great jumping-off point for the world of genre, with last year featuring Nic Cage's Mom and Dad, and the previous year showing The Girl With All the Gifts, Blair Witch, Raw, and The Belko Experiment. This year, The Predator and Halloween dominated the show alongside Assassination Nation and The Wind. The former two both garnered mixed and positive reviews that complimented their throwback appeal and dedication to moving forward, but some of the smaller films at the fest also drew some newsworthy moments.
TIFF reviews bolster the already stellar praise for Chazelle’s La La Land follow-up First Man, with even Neil Armstrong’s sons saying that the film “got it right.” High Life, another astronaut-focused film starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, and André Benjamin, earned slightly more mixed reactions, though this was the director Claire Denis’ first English-language effort and was aiming for a much more artsy take on spaceship life. And, naturally, indie wunderkind distributor A24 picked it up.
There's also Freaks, starring Emile Hirsch and Bruce Dern, about a girl who escapes her father's overly protective paranoid world and discovers a mysterious one of her own. Reviews have started popping up, such as one from Collider promising “a wonderful and wild surprise” that promises a claustrophobic mystery for fans of dramatic pieces of high-concept storytelling like Room... only if Room were more of a “dark, thrilling sci-fi ride.” Keep this one on your radar.
Furthermore, Deadline reports that Swedish sci-fi film Aniara has been picked up by Magnolia Pictures after making its world premiere at TIFF. Mars colonists fleeing an uninhabitable Earth are waylaid off course, sent into space, and coping with this new reality. Written and directed by Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja, the Harry Martinson-based story takes the Wall-E fate of humanity to an even darker place -- allowing for either growth or utter destruction as needy humans move deeper into the universe.
Here’s a teaser:
Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said, “We’re thrilled to bring this audacious, intelligent vision to audiences. Pella and Hugo have done an amazing job creating a unique world and society aboard a spaceship.” This society deteriorates in epic fashion as humanity must reckon with what it means to start anew, without possessions, resources, or anything but each other.
Another promising trailer comes from Taiwan's Cities of Last Things. Director Wi Ding Ho's sci-fi time-bender unfolds over three very active nights in an unnamed noir-esque city. Looks a little like Blade Runner where everything's grounded but the drama.
Check it out:
Another film coming to fans down the road is After Birth. The all-female Frankenstein script by Laura Moss and Brendan O’Brien has been acquired by Fangoria, according to Deadline, with the former set to direct. This movie's reanimated corpse is actually that of a young girl that (uh-oh) needs pregnant women's tissue to survive. The morgue technician and the girl's mother team up in a nasty sin against nature to keep the girl alive -- sign us up.
A bit of a novelty in this roundup is the series Ad Vitam, which stars Raw breakout Garance Marillier. The sci-fi series has yet to obtain a global release through a streaming service, but with a cool concept about human longevity and suicide cults, this will certainly reach audiences one way or another.
Check out the trailer:
More genre news is certainly on the way as TIFF runs until Sept. 16, so stay tuned to this page as we update it with all the highlights.