One of my favorite parts of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival is the short films. Different from some other film festivals I've attended, feature films are screened with a short film beforehand. For the filmmakers, it is a chance to screen before sold-out crowds coming to see a major release, who may not have otherwise attended a shorts only screening. For the audience, it is like an extra little surprise. You buy tickets to see the next big slasher or zombie flick and you can discover a great short film also. I watched all but two short films that screened at the 2017 Toronto After Dark festival and these are my favorites. Order is not an indication of rank and there are many other great shorts left off this list.
9 Best Shorts at Toronto After Dark
A creature film about a dancer who retreats to a waterfront cottage with her baby to brainstorm choreography for a major dance company. The short is beautifully shot and acted. What really impressed me was first revealing the creature in broad daylight. Typically creature films obscure the beasts in darkness and build up to a scary reveal. Latched shows you what you are dealing with and still manages to creep you out. This is a must see for everyone, but I highly recommend it for mothers. You'll see why.
The Drop In
A young woman is closing up her hair salon in the evening when a new client drops in after hours. The new client seems to know the hairdresser and things get tense between the two of them as she tries to get the hairdresser to "come back" to some mysterious place. Featuring interesting thoughts about identity and top notch action scenes, The Drop In is a great short to watch for those who don't like scary or gory films.
Remember those chain emails that got forwarded around in the early years of the internet? Usually containing a funny story and warning bad luck if not sent on to 10 friends, this short tells the story of two young women who face the consequences of a much more devious chain email. A slasher film with a Scream vibe and a Scream reference, I really enjoyed this one. Creepy Craig is the best.
A middle-aged man tries to fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the ocean on satelitte radio when he hears the sounds of a man in distress. When he calls the radio provider to inquire and tries to save the man, things take a turn for the worse. No Waves is a simple and effective concept executed very well.
Two cast members preparing for a theatre production are terrorized by a masked man backstage. This short is pretty much a textbook slasher film with jump scares and a gruesome kill. It was exciting to watch.
Screening as part of the Shorts After Dark program, The Plague is a short from Uruguay where a woman's elderly father has returned to her home. While arranging to return him to his retirement home, she discovers things are not all as they should be. I found the short engaging and enjoyed the different take on the undead, presenting them as more human. If you are tired of zombies, worry not, this is not that. There is no zombie makeup or brain eating.
Also part of Shorts After Dark, Stay is a relationship comedy short from the USA. A group of women attempt a ritual to summon a demon into their world, but Carol screws it up. This short doesn't hold back as things progress and gets some good laughs along the way. A funny commentary on dating whose message might be interpreted as all men are evil demons. Relatable short for women to watch after going through a breakup or being ghosted.
Studded Nightmare (Cauchemar Capitonné)
This French Canadian film is about a chair. Opening the film with the characters burning the chair seems strange at first, but as we learn more about the chair's evil history things become clear. A simple concept that made for a very interesting short, check out the teaser below.
This short got me for its pure ridiculousness and fast pace. Looking to get laid by her girlfriend, Jane seeks out a barber to give her a buzz cut. Unfortunately, Jane finds herself in the middle of the rapture and people are spontaneous combusting in blood and ash. Follow her metal music driven quest as she meets a cast of peculiar characters and find out if she succeeds.