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ANDPOP DOES TIFF 2015: February, The Witch and The Final Girls

Posted on September 21, 2015 by
tiff reviews

ANDPOP’s resident movie goer, Jordan Appugliesi, will be living at theatres for the next 10 days for the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, just to bring you tips, tricks, and his thoughts on the festival’s films — and to enjoy some movies. Jordan is here to share with us the good, bad and the in between of the festival this year — fuelled by a few Venti coffees.

We’re taking a look at the horror films of the festival with  review todays round up.



Modern horror films look to earn their own praise while hoping for a comparison to the classics and their respective directors. Director of February, Oz Perkins, the son of Anthony Perkins (aka Norman Bates of Psycho) is off to a stunning start with his debut horror film, February — and the iconic horror roots in his blood

I will forgo a synopsis as you need to go into this film knowing nothing. Starring Emma Roberts, Keirnan Shipka and Lucy Boynton, the film evokes the style of John Carpenter and is reminiscent of Halloween; the film builds tension remarkably well, stays in the slasher lane and plays with genre. The film is fairly rudimentary in its style but it’s so atmospheric. As it takes place during the winter and was shot in Canada, it delivers on the winter setting of its title. Modern horror and the genre at large tends to play with two settings: building tension to the ultimate pay off or filled with jump scares and a twist ending. February’s twist in hindsight is fairly obvious (no spoilers) but it’s execution is wonderful and keeps you guessing right until the end.


The Witch

Taking place in New England in the 1600s, The Witch tells the story of a family torn apart by black magic. Like any good horror film, it’s really about the sexual awakening of a young woman – but it’s near Kubrickian in its exposition of this. Imagine a 1600s version of The Shining; The Witch is modern horror at its finest. A slow burn (a very, tedious, slow burn…) with the ultimate pay off. It’s filled with iconic imagery and a killer score, and is divisive — it doesn’t come out until next year and it’s already being called overrated and overhyped. There is a shot near the end of the film that is so haunting, and so memorable that it will stick with me for as long as I live.


The Final Girls

The Final Girls is the perfect dumb, silly fun that we rarely get from the genre. The film is a very PG-13 take on the slasher genre — imagine your college roommate had just watched Scream then all the Friday The 13th films, got high and then wrote a screenplay. That’s a sort of compliment — I swear. While the film is not a proper or smart satire of the genre (it goes through all the obvious tropes we already know quite early and has nothing else to offer in way of criticism), it has fun with it. The film is overly stylish, which adds to it’s over the top display of the slasher genre; it implores excessive use fog, forest imagery and the scenery you’d expect to see in the genre it’s satirizing. While I think a R-rating would have benefited the film to really go full force in its display of the horror genre, it’s harmless fun. The star studded cast including, Nina Dobrev, Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman and Alexander Ludwig seems to be having just as much fun with it as you are when watching.

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