A rift has opened up under the city of Montreal and infecting its citizens in various ways. The Guardian is called upon to seal the rift but of course the local apocalypse club looks to stand in his way and let evil be unleashed upon the city. From neighborhood to neighborhood we tour one of the great cities in La Belle Province and see what plans evil has in store. Hopefully the Guardian will get to the rift in time and safe Montreal from certain doom.
Montreal Dead End is a new horror anthology film that takes a tour of the titular city, a city that many Anarchists have had the pleasure of visiting each Summer for a particular film festival. It is a terrific and unique idea to present each new chapter in a different borough of the city, of which there are many. What you get are some mild horror thrills and the obligatory tourism jaunt all in one sitting.
Focused on keeping its story and vision singular in focus these are small to medium sized vignettes which run seamlessly through the run time. The broader narrative runs in and out as a reminder of that nasty rift that threatens the city. Not to be a killjoy but I do have to point out that because most of the vignettes run homogeneously with others there are few distinct voices in the crowd of filmmakers. The first two Le Mont Royal and Le Parc Lafontaine do give off a sense of homages to Evil Dead and the prosthetic work of Yoshihiro Nishimura respectively. From there on in though other than maybe three other ‘hoods offering up distinct stories there is little by way of expression that breaks out of the mold.
The collection of stories is all very clean and neat. The stories are not very dark or horrific. Violence is kept to a minimum and there is not a lot of gore; budget is definitely evident in the quality of the visual effects. Overall it is a very PG affair that does little to elicit scares or thrills. If you go in to a viewing knowing that Montreal Dead End is more of the horror comedy variety you will fare better. Most of the chapters lean towards towards the silly. We do love the joke about the JFL hidden cameras midway through – a joke that every Canadian will know and get.
So why then is Montreal Dead End worth talking about if it is just okay?
Canada is a country of two film industries, Quebec and everyone else. The Quebecois film industry is entirely self sufficient, produces some of our country’s greatest filmmaking talent, and hardly ever has to go outside of the provincial border to promote or share its riches. Its not a selfish act, it is just the way it is. Because it has survived on its own, unless you are one of the more famous directors who has achieved international fame or is nominated for an Oscar, it is rare for the rest of country to sample its riches. Even rarer is the chance to see what genre cinema comes from the province. We seem to be good for one, two at best, a year.
While Montreal Dead End may not be a great barometer of what is happening in the Quebecois genre cinema we at least know that there is a stock of Quebecois filmmakers intent on making genre cinema in the province; hopefully for the rest of the country as well. We just wish we knew which filmmakers made other segments that we really like - Ville St-Laurtent, Ile St-Helene and Le Vieux Montreal - so we could draw more attention to their efforts.
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