A Style Buff’s Information to the TIFF 2023 Midnight Insanity Slate13 min read

Don’t “Sleep” on these scorching new style flicks.

Tiff Midnight Madness
By  · Printed on October 4th, 2023

As a part of our protection of the forty eighth annual Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition, Meg Shields opinions the 2023 slate for TIFF’s Midnight Insanity, the pageant’s style slate of horror, sci-fi, and motion cinema. Observe together with extra protection in our Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition archives.

Is it a coincidence that spooky season and pageant season overlap? I feel not.

Certain, there are devoted movie fests that make a meal out of style choices. However for those who’re going to any of the Large Fancy Worldwide festivals, discovering horror flicks and their related B-Film brethren is an train in studying between the traces of plot descriptions.

Not so on the Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition. Initially launched in 1988, TIFF’s Midnight Insanity programming slate is a dumping floor for style movies that may in any other case ruffle the feathers of distinguished festivalgoers. From slashers to acid westerns, something culturally “undignified” whale-falls to the midnight crowd; eager connoisseurs of trash and style gems alike, prepared and in a position to attend witching hour premieres for the sake of camp, cult, and categorically batshit cinematic experiences.

TIFF”s style programming block has confirmed prophetic through the years, a bat-signal of kinds for style choices that followers must regulate for impending releases and eventual distribution. In that spirit, we’ve despatched our style ghoul on the bottom (Meg Shields) to attend each single movie on this 12 months’s slate to tell us what’s price keeping track of within the coming months.

Be afraid, and press on, for this breakdown of what to anticipate from the movies of 2023’s Midnight Insanity:

Aggro Dr1ft | Dir. Concord Korine

Aggro Drft

  • Runtime: 80 minutes
  • Starring: Jordi Mollà, Travis Scott
  • Launch Date: TBA

Plot Abstract

A recalcitrant hitman goes by the motions in a hellish, synth-wave Miami. Pursuing his newest goal with the passion of a deadbeat dad, the hitman’s looming inside demon hints on the euphoric bloodshed to come back.

Our Take

Aggro Dr1ft is barely a film. It’s nearer to one thing you’d discover at midnight nook of an artwork gallery or your bizarre good friend’s laborious drive; a visible experiment approximating what cinema may appear to be after TikTok has utterly rotted our consideration spans. Aggro Dr1ft is bizarre and trollish even by Concord “edgelord” Korine’s requirements: a fever dream of thermal imagery and shifting AI landscapes with a gleeful disregard for narrative conventions equivalent to “having a plot.” Described by its creator as “gamecore,” Aggro Dr1ft is the proud recipient of probably the most polarized Letterboxd overview tallies I’ve ever seen — which is exactly how you understand it’s price your time as a style curio. All instructed, the movie’s earnest try to seek out magnificence in its harrowing inventive outlook handily makes it the scariest entry of this 12 months’s Midnight Insanity.

Who’s it for?

Experimental gradual cinema fetishists. Individuals who satirically get pleasure from Grand Theft Auto cut-scenes. Sensory astronauts.

Boy Kills World | Dir. Moritz Mohr

Boy Kills World

  • Runtime: 112 minutes
  • Starring: Invoice Skarsgård, Jessica Rothe, Isaiah Mustafa
  • Launch Date: TBA

Plot Abstract

The titular Boy takes on the mad matriarch he holds chargeable for killing his household and leaving him unable to listen to or communicate. Educated Batman-style to hunt revenge on the girl who ruined his life, Boy roundhouse kicks his manner by a dystopian hellscape armed with a working inside monologue of wisecracks and an intimidating six-pack.

Our Take

I’m going to be straight with y’all: it is a turkey. Whereas its sins are legion, the actual kicker is Boy’s continuous voice-over narration, which makes Ryan Reynolds appear to be Lawrence Olivier. I don’t know if this warning will attain the Skarsgård fangirls however The Raid ought to sue for defamation. I can solely assume that Sam Raimi’s producer credit score was obtained illegally below risk of torture. Sammy, blink twice for those who need assistance.

Who’s it for?

Masochists. Individuals who need to look (respectfully) at Jessica Rothe’s abs. Dads who browse Netflix with the important eye of a hungry caterpillar.

Dicks: The Musical | Dir. Larry Charles

Dicks The Musical

  • Runtime: 86 minutes
  • Starring: Aaron Jackson, Josh Sharp, Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally
  • Launch Date: October sixth, 2023

Plot Abstract

Two bravely heterosexual males uncover that they’re similar twins whereas working at an off-brand Roomba gross sales middle. Decided to make their two extraordinarily bizarre mother and father fall in love once more, the twinning duo put their wicked noggins collectively to change into an actual household once more (“single-parent houses aren’t households”). God (Bowen Yang) narrates this profoundly ridiculous musical that’s as foolish and stupendous as its identify suggests.

Our Take (full overview right here!)

Magical issues occur whenever you make a musical with individuals who can truly sing. Dicks: The Musical is a delightfully unserious viewing expertise; a uncommon R-rated musical comedy reeking of that irreverent off-Broadway stank that’s been lacking from the large display screen for a lot too lengthy. Admittedly, a movie that features a recurring bit a couple of profoundly-lisping Megan Mullally conserving her indifferent vagina in her purse isn’t going to be for everybody. However for these prepared to throw warning to the wind, Dicks: The Musical is a complete chortle riot. See it with a crowd, for those who can.

Who’s it for?

Ghoulies followers. Individuals who describe Hummel figures as “camp.” Of us acquainted with the verb “to child fowl.”

Hell of a Summer season | Dir. Finn Wolfhard, Billy Bryk

Hell Of A Summer

  • Runtime: 88 minutes
  • Starring: Finn Wolfhard, Fred Hechinger, Abby Quinn.
  • Launch Date: TBA

Plot Abstract

A gaggle of counselors arrives at Camp Pineway to get issues prepared for the incoming children, unaware {that a} masked killer has slaughtered the camp’s house owners … and that they’re subsequent.

Our Take

First rate slashers are laborious to come back by lately. And to be sincere, “respectable” is a little bit of a stretch so far as Hell of a Summer season is anxious. However, I’d a lot reasonably watch Gen-Z interrogate the sub-genre on their very own phrases. I’m reminded of final 12 months’s Texas Chainsaw Bloodbath, which radiated palpable disdain for the youthful technology it was ostensibly trying to court docket. However did the lifeless horse of ’80s nostalgia want one other beating? What’s the purpose of constructing a meta-slasher for those who’re not going to deliver something new or fascinating to the desk? As a characteristic movie debut, it’s high quality. Or, as the youngsters would say: mid.

Who’s it for?

Individuals who genuinely loved Worry Road. Of us with nut allergic reactions. Anybody who relishes an off-brand Timothée Chalamet.

KILL | Dir. Nikhil Nagesh Bhat


  • Runtime: 115 minutes
  • Starring: Lakash Lalwani, Raghav Juyal, Tanya Maniktala
  • Launch Date: TBA

Plot Abstract

Tulika and Amrit’s secretive relationship is jeopardized when her household whisks her away for an organized marriage. Amrit and his brother-in-arms Viresh give chase, following the household onto a practice sure for New Delhi in an try and safe a contented ending for the star-crossed lovers. When the practice is seized by a veritable clown automobile of bandits, Amrit and Viresh should use their particular forces coaching to avoid wasting the day.

Our Take

It’s quite common for style movies of this ilk to dispatch of goons with all of the ceremony of a small youngster squishing ants on a scorching sidewalk. What KILL proposes is that it could be extremely humorous to deal with the dying of every jobber with the identical emotional weight as a hero. It does this for practically two hours; a dedication to the bit that have to be seen to be believed. Whereas KILL‘s runtime can’t be justified in a court docket of legislation, its mix of melodrama and the sarcastically excessive physique depend is exclusive sufficient to make this way more than a Raid clone. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Would that it have been shorter.

Who’s it for?

Daytime cleaning soap opera enjoyers. Followers of the “Kristen Schall is a horse” bit. Anybody who works in a family-owned and operated enterprise.

NAGA | Dir. Meshal Aljaser


  • Runtime: 111 minutes
  • Starring: Adwa Bader, Yazeed Almajyul, Khalid Bin Shaddad
  • Launch Date: TBA — however Netflix has its claws in it.

Plot Abstract

A younger Saudi girl named Sarah is given an especially strict curfew for a procuring tour. What her dad doesn’t know is that Sarah is definitely planning to go on a secret date with Saad, who proposes that the 2 go to a world-of-mouth celebration within the desert. Saad swears up and down that he can get Sarah house in time. However a police raid, creepy previous males, and a rabid camel produce other plans.

Our Take

In the event you’re the form of one that regards photosensitivity warnings with a dismissive “eh, I’ll be high quality” — I’m begging you: proceed with warning. Naga‘s disorienting staccato modifying and frenetic cinematography isn’t any joke. I’ve a robust abdomen. I swear to you. And I had to have a look at my ft a number of instances to keep away from blowing chunks. Strobing and pacing points apart, Naga is a totally distinctive viewing expertise grounded by a rebellious, indignant central efficiency by Adwa Bader.  Simply probably the most transgressive movie at Midnight Insanity by a rustic mile, Naga is a promising debut that makes Aljaser a expertise price keeping track of.

Who’s it for?

Samsung house owners. Anybody curious to see what a Saudi Arabian Good Time would appear to be. Get together folks.

Riddle of Fireplace | Dir. Weston Razooli

Riddle Of Fire

  • Runtime: 113 minutes
  • Starring: Charlie Stover, Phoebe Ferro, Skyler Peters
  • Launch Date: TBA.

Plot Abstract

A gang of little rascals — Hazel, Alice, and Jodie — simply need to play video video games. However once they’re thwarted by a password-protected TV, they need to enter right into a lethal critical contract to safe the magical string of numbers and letters that stand between them and their enjoyable and video games: they need to deliver their ailing mother a blueberry pie. A dreamy, genre-defying fairytale ensues because the trio ventures into the woods to safe the all-important pastry, working afoul of a witch within the course of.

Our Take

Described by Midnight Insanity programmer Peter Kuplowsky as “Wes Anderson’s Gummo,” this infectiously charming throwback is a door kick of a debut from Weston Razooli. In the event you grew up watching fucked up children films, Riddle of Fireplace goes to rock your world. It’s like Mandy for youths. And if that sentence doesn’t gentle you up, I don’t know what is going to.

Who’s it for?

Escape To Witch Mountain (1975)-enjoyers. Individuals who grew up enjoying The Legend of Zelda. Appreciators of off-market psilocybin.

Sleep | Dir. Jason Yu


  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Starring: Jung Yu-mi, Lee Solar-kyun
  • Launch Date: TBA

Plot Abstract

At nighttime, Soo-jin awakens to a horrifying sight: her husband, Hyun-su, seated on the sting of their mattress, staring into house. He cryptically mutters that “somebody is inside,” passes out, and begins loud night breathing. Not creepy in any respect. Over the following nights, Hyun-su’s sleepwalking escalates to the purpose that the couple seeks skilled assist. Torn between a rational medical analysis and the ominous warnings of her mom’s shaman, Soo-jin’s sleep-deprived thoughts begins to surprise if one thing paranormal is occurring.

Our Take

Humorous, charming, and respectfully economical, Sleep is the actual deal so far as low-budget directorial debuts go. A variety of this grace falls from co-leads Jung Yu-mi and Lee Solar-kyun, who’ve an electrical chemistry sorely lacking from not simply style movie, however the medium writ giant. In all seriousness: directorial debuts are hardly ever this well-paced. However right here, the fats is trimmed and nary a body may very well be categorised as superfluous. Despite the fact that Sleep wears its influences on its sleeve (and is basically responsible of the identical by-product beats as its extra mainstream possession friends), it’s a really thrilling debut from Jason Yu.

Who’s it for?

Expectant mother and father. Folks whose love language is PowerPoint shows. Pomeranian-lovers (and haters).

When Evil Lurks | Dir. Demián Rugna

When Evil Lurks

  • Runtime: 99 minutes
  • Starring: Ezequiel Rodríguez, Demián Salomón
  • Launch Date: Restricted theatrical launch on October sixth, 2023; arriving on Shudder on October twenty seventh.

Plot Abstract

Two Argentinian brothers uncover a “rotten” in a close-by farmhouse; a festering near-dead corpse possessed with an infectious evil that have to be correctly disposed of … or else. Extra involved in making the ticking time bomb another person’s downside, the pair eschew the mandatory exorcism rites and dump the fetid heap of flesh in a distant discipline. As the results of their hasty actions make themselves identified, the brothers try to scrub up their mess earlier than it’s too late.

Our Take (full overview right here!)

When Evil Lurks is the crown jewel of this 12 months’s Midnight Insanity; a Fulci-esque terror journey the place nobody is protected and blissful endings are verboten. Dropping its viewers into the thick of a hazy paranormal nightmare, it’s a real delight to be whisked away and not using a care on this planet for something as crass as “a gap explainer textual content crawl” or “exposition.” All we have to know is that the world is fucked and these clowns thought they might recreation the system. Say much less, film. You had me at a pregnant girl impaling herself within the face with an axe.

Who’s it for?

Anybody who likes this playlist. Of us who suppose The Past is a consolation film. Style followers who want extra horror films could be courageous and kill the youngsters.

Working Class Goes to Hell | Dir. Mladen Đorđević

Working Class Goes To Hell

  • Runtime: 127 minutes
  • Starring: Tamara Krcunovic, Leon Lucev
  • Launch Date: TBA

Plot Abstract

Nonetheless searching for justice for a manufacturing unit hearth that claimed each lives and livelihoods in a small Balkan city, the organizers of the authorized battle are beginning to run out of steam. Then, a mysterious stranger arrives on the town with a devilish proposal: have they tried tantric chaos magic? It’s positively not Satanic. Why would you even ask that? Out of choices and determined for decision, the group’s chief Ceca goes all-in on the unusual man’s proposal, dragging her pals right down to the bowels of Hell alongside together with her.

Our Take

There’s all the time one entry in Midnight Insanity that feels a bit too low-key for the late-night crowd. And this 12 months, that movie is Working Class Goes to Hell, a movie I loved far more than everybody else, it appears like. Directed by the identical weirdo who introduced us The Life and Dying of a Porno Gang, Đorđević’s newest doesn’t fairly reside as much as the occult potential of its premise. However I do hope it finds the appropriate viewers. Which is to say, Mubi-subscribers.

Who’s it for?

Class traitors. Satan-worshippers. Anybody presently ready for his or her union grievance to get processed.

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Based mostly within the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys lengthy scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a very good piece of Sixties eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg’s goal is to unfold the nice phrase about the most effective of sleaze, style, and sensible results.

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