The 2019 Toronto International Spring of Horror festival comes to an end tomorrow evening. We’ve had fun covering a few of the shorts and features, and recommend that you check out tomorrow afternoon’s screenings.
Grant McPhee’s Far From the Apple Tree (2018) can best be described as experimental, semi-art house, female-driven folk horror. Written by Ben Soper (Night School), the film tells the story of Judith (Sorcha Groundsell) an aspiring young digital artist who hasn’t yet found her voice. While at an art exhibit featuring the work of renowned artist Roberta Roslyn (Victoria Liddelle), Judith becomes transfixed by a particular piece. Her attention doesn’t go unnoticed. Roberta tracks her down to ask her opinion of the work and to make an intriguing and unexpected offer—she asks Judith to move into her country home and take on the task of archiving her work. A starstruck Judith accepts, against the advice of those close to her.
Welcomed into Roberta’s lavish and isolated home, Judith settles in to begin her work and explore the grounds. As she learns more about Roberta’s work and personal life, she becomes obsessed with the artist’s missing daughter, Maddie, who figures prominently in both the art and in conversations with Roberta. As Judith struggles to learn more about Maddie, the mystery deepens. And in trying to uncover the truth about Maddie, Judith starts to lose herself.
Far From the Apple Tree creates a frightening and foreboding narrative without a single jump scare, overt threat, or drop of blood. Its psychological horror and paranoia are heightened by its experimental visual techniques, which leave the viewer feeling slightly off-kilter and disoriented.
Far From the Apple Tree screens alongside Skin Deep (2018), a short directed, edited, and co-produced (with Sabrina Spilotro) by friend-of-the-squad Ryan Couldrey (Fistful of Molars), written by AOAS’s Suri Parmar, and starring frequent AOAS and Grim guest contributor Ali Chappell. This modern fairy-tale-gone-wrong takes a grim appraisal of societal beauty standards for women and offers a grisly (and decidedly unorthodox) solution, delivered with sly and knowing humour. The 100% practical effects by Sara Feehan and some inspired casting make Skin Deep a visceral, unsettling-—and yet somehow empowering?—experience.
Far From the Apple Tree and Skin Deep will be shown with The Collector (2018), a short film about a woman who refuses to lose her head. Catch them all on Sunday, April 7th at 4:00 pm at Imagine Cinemas Carlton.