Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s four big releases, “Ghostbusters,” the new Kristen Stewart sci fi flick “Equals,” “Captain Fantastic,” starring Viggo Mortensen and the new Canadian horror film “The Dark Stranger.”
“The Dark Stranger” is one of the rare horror movies that would probably work better if the horror elements were extracted, leaving just the underlying family drama to speak for itself.
Leah Garrison (Katie Findlay) is a comic book illustrator grappling with the suicide of her artist mother. Recovering from a nervous breakdown, Leah has hallucinations and cuts herself as punishment for what she believes was her part in her mother’s death. Old wounds are reopened when art lover Randall Toth (Stephen McHattie) asks Leah’s father (Enrico Colantoni) if he can present the late mom’s paintings in an exhibition showcasing artists who battled depression. Leah hates Toth and doesn’t want her mother’s work displayed in the show. Enter the Dark Stranger, a character from Leah’s recent work. The gaunt stranger might be a metaphor for her troubled state of mind or a physical manifestation of her demons or both. Either way the stranger is a destructive force on everyone around the young artist and just happens to look like Toth.
“The Dark Stranger” is an accomplished film for first time director and writer Chris Trebilcock. I’m just not sure it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. As a horror film with supernatural overtones it leaves a mildly eerie aftertaste. But as a look at mental illness and the life changing effects of depression it packs a wallop. Real true scares are few and far between and the final moments of the movie are a bit too on the money but very solid performances from Findlay, Colantoni and the legendary McHattie keep things moving forward in an interesting way.
Too old for Nancy Drew? Too young for Jessica Flectcher? How about Veronica Mars?
For three seasons Kristen Bell played the title character on television’s “Veronica Mars,” a teen detective show about a young woman who solved crimes in the upscale town of Neptune, California.
She’s back on the big screen in the inventively titled “Veronica Mars,” co-starring with some familiar faces from the original show, in a reunion movie that sees the former teenaged private eye turned psychologist and Ivy League lawyer pulled back into the PI game when her high school boyfriend (Jason Dohring) is charged with killing his pop star girlfriend.
The movie, which was funded through a Kickstarter campaign, is as cinematic as you might imagine a movie based on a TV show to be. It plays like a longer, blown up version of the show, which will play well to the fans who are hungry for more of their favorite characters, but may leave the uninitiated wondering what the fuss is all about.
Veronica Mars is an engaging character and Bell wears her like a glove, tossing off some zingy one-liners—“You won’t shoot me,” says a bad guy. “Why does everyone say that?” Mars replies, pulling the trigger—and bringing an easy charm to the role.
It’s too bad the story plays like an old episode of “Murder She Wrote,” with none of the sophistication we would expect from a big screen outing. “Veronica Mars” is a character based piece, with the murder tagged on to give us a reason for watching, but it would have been more interesting if the death was more than just a McGuffin.
On the plus side there is a nod to Canada—in the form of a sloppy karaoke version of our national anthem—and there’s even a Barenaked Ladies gag.
From the Canadian International Television Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto on Nov. 16, 2013. CITF celebrates short form films with a screening of 10 best bravoFACT-funded shorts including Winter Garden, an official selection at this year’s TIFF ‘Stage to Screen’ series, starring Enrico Colantoni.