Must See Genre Films at TIFF 2019

Horror, Thrillers, and Lovecraft

September 6, 2019
4 minute Read


TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) has once again descended onto the streets of Toronto, bringing with it some of the best and most exciting films from around the world. As with every year, TIFF has a slew of fantastic genre films running alongside the prestige cinema hitting cinemas across the city.

As with every year, CGM is here to help select the best and brightest from the countless films screening at the festival. From the horror of Lovecraft and the madness of The Lighthouse to the gripping crime dramas out of Korea, this is a TIFF you can’t miss if you are in the city. 

Sea Fever

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Sea Fever - Image Credit: TIFF

The sea is still one of the earth’s most mysterious—and most terrifying—locations. Through the ages, man has looked to unearth its secrets, yet it has remained elusive. So it is fitting to see director Neasa Hardiman use this as the location for her film, Sea Fever. Set onboard a down on its luck fishing vessel, young marine biologist Siobhán (Hermione Corfield) finds herself stuck in a nightmare with a mysterious creature pushing the crew to its limits.

This dazzling Irish film takes the universe of the sea and makes it wondrous and terrifying at the same time. Within the endless oceans, director Neasa Hardiman has discovered something believable—and horrifying. Anyone that has a fondness for John Carpenter's The Thing—or just loves terror on the high seas—should give Sea Fever a watch while it plays at TIFF 2019. 

The Lighthouse

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The Lighthouse

After the impact The Witch had on both audiences and critics, the followup from Robert Eggers has been hotly anticipated. Now, at TIFF 2019, The Lighthouse is here to stun and shock audiences of all ages. With a minimal cast of Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, and set within a 19th-century lighthouse, the less said about this unique film the better.

Shot on 35mm and set in 4:3 aspect ratio, The Lighthouse is a stunning take on madness, loneliness, and horror. Using myth and maritime legend, Eggers expertly takes what could be simple subject matter and elevates it to something breathtaking. While at times a hard sit, anyone who loved The Witch and wants to see what this modern-day auteur has in store shouldn't miss The Lighthouse


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Parasite - Image Credit: TIFF

Class struggle and the Thriller genre have a way of working surprisingly well with each other. Never has this been truer than with the films of Bong Joon-ho (Okja, Snowpiercer). He has a unique way of building complex, deeply troubling films that blend genres and concepts in special ways that few directors working today can manage.

With Parasite, he has done it once again. This film about a family of devious derelicts tackles the inherent struggles of the wealth disparity within Korea. As one family works their way into the lives of another, much wealthier family, the true issues below the surface start to manifest. Both a deeply troubling and very funny film, Parasite is not to be missed if at TIFF this week. 

Color Out of Space

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Color Out of Space - Image Credit TIFF

It has been a long time since Richard Stanley has premiered a film at TIFF, and a long while since we have seen him work in fiction, but he is back with a mind-bending story and Nicolas Cage in tow. 

Taken from the pages of H.P. Lovecraft, Color Out of Space tells the story of Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) whose idyllic country life is disturbed when a meteorite crashes into his front yard. As the family farm is slowly infected with the alien life, it is a struggle for his very sanity as he and his family work to fight back and survive the contamination surrounding them. 

The Platform (El Hoyo)

Must See Genre Films at TIFF 2019
The Platform - Image Credit TIFF

Minimalism in cinema can help or hinder a film. On one hand, it reduces the budget and can allow for unique sets to see on the screen. On the other hand, if done wrong, it can look cheap and deter from the concept the director is trying to convey. Thankfully director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia managed the former with flying colours in his latest film The Platform.

Set in a dystopian world where vertically stacked prisoners are forced to fight for every scrap of food that makes its way down to them, The Platform is a visually striking and brutally biting film that harkens back The Raid and Cube. Horrific at times and engulfing at others, Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia paints a profound parable that anyone at TIFF should experience. 

Blood Quantum

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Blood Quantum - Image Credit TIFF

This year's TIFF has films from many cultural groups, even when it comes to horror. Focused on the indigenous population and life in reserves, the Canadian horror film Blood Quantum is one not to miss. Directed by Jeff Barnaby, Blood Quantum made its world premiere at the Midnight Madness segment of the festival this past Thursday. Telling the story of an isolated Mi'gMaq community that is immune to a zombie plague presents a fascinating mixture of horror action and cultural critique.

Stunning to watch, and taking an interesting take on the zombie genre for commentary, Blood Quantum is a film that has been growing excitement and it is easy to see why. A unique vision of horror and society, if you are at TIFF and enjoy horror, it is a film you can't miss.

Final Thoughts:

Written by Brendan Frye

Brendan has over a decade working as a journalist and EIC. He has covered festivals and conferences, writen and interviewed about the industries the biggest names, and is always excited to see how the medium changes with new technology and fresh voices.

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