Director Alexandre Aja's Haute Tension pulverized the audience at its North American premiere at Midnight Madness 2003. Since then, Aja has directed several more horror films including The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and Piranha 3D (2010). This year, he returns to the Toronto International Film Festival with the world premiere of his new film Horns--not to Midnight Madness, but to its cousin programme, Vanguard. What does this mean? Well, it means that Horns is still a hard-edged, genre-tinged film, but it's not so much of a meat grinder that some of the general citizenry can't appreciate it alongside Midnight Madness fans. In short, it's a film that the Festival doesn't have to wait until the witching hour to unleash.
On the other hand, director Sion Sono is apparently getting crazier the more films he makes. His film Cold Fish was in Vanguard 2010. Likely the bloodiest film in the Festival that year, it blurred the line between Vanguard and Midnight. It had the viscera to satisfy the Midnight crowd, but its 144 minute runtime made for a pace better suited to viewings not, well, in the middle of the night. Sono is back this year with the North American premiere of Why Don't You Play in Hell? and this time he's full on Midnight Madness. We can take this to mean that the director's work has reached the point at which it's no longer safe to exhibit in a non-Midnight situation where it could harm a casual filmgoer.
HORNS screening times:
Fri., Sept. 6th, 6:00PM, BLOOR HOT DOCS
Sun., Sept. 8th, 1:00PM, SCOTIABANK 4
WHY DON'T YOU PLAY IN HELL? screening times:
Fri., Sept. 13th, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Sat., Sept. 14th, 3:45PM, SCOTIABANK 1