As we all sweat over our TIFF schedules here in Toronto, don’t forget that there are a wide variety of other options as the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, which runs from October 17 through the 25, is shining their pre-festival spotlight on a handful of films as they get comfortable in their new venue at the Scotiabank Theatre in the heart of downtown Toronto and are bringing their fans four Toronto premieres in advance of the main festival.
The first spotlight screening kicks off Thursday, August 29 with the horror anthology V/H/S 2 at 9:30 p.m. But the night opens up with the horror-comedy Bad Milo at 7 p.m., which is in the vein of classic 1980′s creature features. I got the chance to take a look at this fun little flick.
Duncan’s (Ken Marino) life is a real pain in the ass. Tormented by a manipulative, crooked boss (Patrick Warburton), a nagging mother (Mary Kay Place), a deadbeat new age dad (Stephen Root), and a sweet, yet pressuring, wife (Gillian Jacobs), his mounting stress starts to trigger an insufferable gastrointestinal reaction. With the help of a hypnotherapist (Peter Stormare), he discovers the root of his unusual stomach pain: a pintsized demon living in his intestine that, triggered by excessive anxiety, forces its way out and slaughters the people who have angered him. Out of fear that his intestinal gremlin may target its wrath on the wrong person, Duncan attempts to befriend it, naming it Milo and indulging it to keep its seemingly insatiable appetite at bay.
Recalling the fun, monster driven days of our youth, Bad Milo is a solid throwback to the days when tiny, vicious creatures were all the rage and a fun bit of accessible horror. Co-writer and director Jacob Vaughan pieces together a solid yet basic narrative that works when it is supposed to and provides for its fair share of fun and entertaining moments since even in the scary bits it is never a film that takes itself too seriously. Star Ken Marino plays hilarious sad sack with the best of them and the supporting cast provides some well placed laugh-out-loud moments at various intervals.
Ultimately, Bad Milo follows in the footsteps of the likes of Gremlins and Critters for some gory puppet based fun.
I was also fortunate enough to get the chance to talk with writer/director Jacob Vaughan and when I asked him about his inspiration for Bad Milo he had this to say:
Well when I was growing up I had some digestive problems and there were times when it felt like I had creature inside of me, and a few years ago when I was bouncing around ideas with my co-writer Benjamin Hayes, it just popped in my head that “What if I had a creature living in my ass and what if it did pop out?” When I was growing up I had always been a fan of 80′s creature films like Gremlins, which is just one of my all time favorites, but we had never seen anything with the creature coming out of the butt? We’ve seen the chest, in mouths, but never this and it really made me laugh. Then when I thought about all my experiences with stress an indigestion, it was still really making me laugh and it made me want to make the movie. I never thought anyone would actually take me seriously, but they did and Bad Milo was born.
We’ll have more on Bad Milo when it begins its theatrical run in October, but if you can’t wait that long get down to the Scotiabank Theatre this Thursday, August 29 for both Bad Milo and V/H/S 2. Tickets are $13 for regular admission and $11 for students at each screening. If you decide to buy tickets to both screenings (or to some of the second set of spotlight screenings on Thursday, September 26) then tickets are only a scant $9.50 each! For more info, visit torontoafterdark.com.
There’s never a lack of events around the city of Toronto and if you need a little taste of what it is like to go After Dark at a film festival here in town, you owe it to yourself to give it a try, because I highly recommend it.
Check out the trailer for Bad Milo below.