The first ever Dark Bridges Film Festival kicked off September 24 in Saskatoon, SK at the gorgeous inner-city gem, The Roxy Theater. The audience was small but poised to take in some adventurous fare from all over the globe and all over the cinematic spectrum. The festival is a first for Saskatoon, a three-day extravaganza highlighting 12 features and 26 short films in total.

Opening the evening was the energetic short Red Princess Blues, followed by the even more frantic Uncle Jack, a duo of openers guaranteed to give the audience whiplash.

The first feature, Neil Marshall's Hack and Slash Centurion opened the festival and proved a stimulating kick start for the meager but excitable audience. Centurion follows the few remaining soldiers of the 9th Roman Legion who are being hunted down by a ruthless Pict tracker because of the death of the Pict leader's son.

Skot M. Hamilton: In typical Marshall form we are treated to an over abundance of style and an almost amusing lack of substance, luckily he knows how to make that a good thing somehow. In league with films like 300 in that it knows how to use being dumb as an asset rather than a hindrance. 2.5/5

Tyler Baptist: Gory, action-packed warfare epic. But ultimately overly predictable and overly mundane like Marshall's last effort Doomsday where it becomes just an homage to the genre rather than something new. 2.5/5

In stark contrast to the first batch of high-octane fare we were treated to some more subtle work in a more pronounce horror vein. Wilted and Off Season set the pace for this set, the latter proving to be one of the most impressive short thrillers in years and certainly a highlight of the evening. Dawning, the second feature details an awkward family get-together turned sinister when a blood caked stranger wanders in to the picture.

SMH: A largely effective and subtle thriller which is at its precipice and at its weakest all at the same time. Commendable for engaging in high concept, but it's a concept only marginally achieved. 3/5

TB: Finally a horror film where characters and well crafted drama add to the destructible nature of unknown surrounding evil. However the high concept played with is not fully fleshed out in the end. 3/5

Finally ending the first night of the festival in true midnight fashion are two varying short films with a Lovecraftian twist. Dan Coolo: Paranormal Drug Dealer is ultimately an unfunny miss, but Necronomicon proves to be a hilarious good time at its under two minute running time. The midnight feature capping it all off, El Monstro Del Mar, is an Australlian mash-up of the Russ Meyer vixen, 50s monster movies, and Lovecraft's Shadow over Innismouth.

SMH: At once sexy, hilarious, inspired, exciting and a consistently good time. In a word: wowy. 4/5

TB: Hot babes, practical Evil Dead-like sea monster effects, and a short and simple story make this a modern B-movie romp. A ton of fun and not to be missed! 3.5/5

More coming as we tackle Day-two of the Dark Bridges Film Festival.

Skot M. Hamilton
Tyler Baptist
Reel to Reel
Fridays, 6:30 - 7pm