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2015 TIFF: Soi Cheang, Takashi Miike, Sean Byrne & Jeremy Saulnier Bloody-up the Midnight Madness Programme

Hong Kong’s Soi Cheang, Japan’s Takashi Miike, Australia’s Sean Byrne and American filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier are among the returning names to populate TIFF’s Midnight Madness programme. In what is an American indie horror film dominated section featuring the likes of some of the V/H/S alumni (Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, and Radio Silence quartet) presenting Southbound, Cold Comes the Night scribe Nick Simon presenting his sophomore film, The Girl in the Photographs and before being released theatrically in October via Stage 6 Films, Todd Strauss-Schulson‘s The Final Girls will receive its international premiere. Colin Geddes’ baby will be host to six world premieres with Saulnier’s Green Room making it much anticipated North American debut after replicating the big bang he made in Cannes with Blue Ruin. Here are the ten titles & fest synopses:

Baskin – Can Evrenol, Turkey
World Premiere
A squad of unsuspecting cops goes through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building. The nightmarish feature debut Baskin is the first-ever Midnight Madness film from Turkey.

The Devil’s Candy – Sean Byrne, USA
World Premiere
The director of the 2009 Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award winner The Loved Ones is back with an equally fresh twist on the supernatural genre. A struggling artist (Ethan Embry) and his family buy the house of their dreams only to discover the property’s mysterious dark past and a former tenant who wants more than to simply come back home. From the producers of Midnight Madness hits You’re Next and The Guest.

The Final Girls – Todd Strauss-Schulson, USA
International Premiere Max (American Horror Story’s Taissa Farmiga) is a high school senior whose mom (Malin Akerman) was a celebrated ’80s scream queen. At a screening, Max and her friends are mysteriously transported inside her mom’s most infamous movie, where they must fend off the camp counselors’ raging hormones, battle a deranged machete-wielding killer and find a way to escape the movie and get back home. Midnight Madness Closing Night Film

The Girl in the Photographs – Nick Simon, USA
World Premiere
Big-city glamour clashes with small-town values and a killer’s knife, in this bloody cocktail of terror from director Nick Simon and executive producer Wes Craven. Colleen’s life in the sleepy town of Spearfish is disrupted when she starts receiving photographs of brutally murdered women. Things get even crazier for Colleen when L.A. based celeb-photographer Peter Hemmings (Kal Penn) returns to his hometown of Spearfish to investigate.

Green Room – Jeremy Saulnier, USA
North American Premiere
Broke, tired and at each other’s throats after a cancelled gig, a young punk rock band accepts a sketchy matinee show to get themselves home. When they stumble upon something they weren’t supposed to witness, the quartet is trapped in a terrifying siege. Directed by Jeremy Saulnier (of 2013 Cannes Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize winner Blue Ruin), the film stars Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, and Patrick Stewart. Green Room is preceded by the previously announced short film The Chickening from directors Nick DenBoer and Davy Force. Midnight Madness Opening Night Film

Hardcore – Ilya Naishuller, Russia/USA
World Premiere
Resurrected with no recollection of his past, a cyborg named Henry (the audience’s POV) and his ally, Jimmy (Sharlto Copley, District 9) must fight through the streets of Moscow in pursuit of Henry’s kidnapped wife in the world’s first action-adventure film to be entirely shot from the first person perspective.

The Mind’s Eye – Joe Begos, USA
World Premiere
Joe Begos returns with a psychokinetic thriller about Zack Connors (Graham Skipper), whose abilities have kept him off the grid for years until he’s recruited by the mysterious Dr. Slovak. The snowy New England landscape turns into a whirlwind of psychic rage, flying axes, and brutal revenge as Zack does everything in his power to stop Dr. Slovak’s deadly descent into synthetically engineered telekinetic madness.

Southbound – Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath and Radio Silence, USA
World Premiere
Five intertwining tales of terror unfold along an endless desert highway. On a desolate stretch of road, weary travellers — two men on the run from their past, a band on their way to the next gig, a man struggling to get home, a brother in search of his long-lost sister and a family on vacation — are forced to confront their worst fears and darkest secrets in these interwoven tales of terror and remorse on the open road.

SPL 2 – A Time For Consequences – Soi Cheang, Hong Kong
International Premiere
The anticipated follow-up to the bone-cracking martial arts brawler SPL (also known as Sha Po Lung and Kill Zone) that debuted in the programme in 2005 stars Midnight Madness discovery Tony Jaa (Ong Bak). When an undercover cop (Wu Jing) has his cover blown and is thrown into a prison in Thailand run by a crime syndicate, he must team up with a prison guard (Jaa) to bust out and get revenge on those who wronged him. Filled with gun battles, prison riots and frenetic fight choreography, SPL 2 might knock the wind out of you — and possibly a few teeth.

Yakuza Apocalypse – Takashi Miike, Japan
North American Premiere
Japanese cinematic extremist Takashi Miike returns to his gonzo roots with this mind-melter that finds room for vampires, gangsters, monsters, martial arts and even a yakuza knitting circle. A true master and MVP of the programme, Miike wowed previous Midnight Madness audiences with such hits as Fudoh: The New Generation, Audition, The City of Lost Souls, Ichi the Killer, Zebraman, The Great Yokai War and Sukiyaki Western Django. He returns with a film too wild to be described and too fun to be missed!

 

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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