It begins like any other morning in Los Angeles. Lexi (Mary McCormack) and Brad (Rory Cochrane) stumble into consciousness. She’s got little time to get to work. He makes her coffee and sees her to the door. Brad turns on the radio, wanders off to brush his teeth and hears an announcement that freezes his blood. A string of dirty bombs have just been detonated across Los Angeles. Brad frantically dials Lexi’s mobile only to get an ominous busy signal. In the background, the voices on the radio are now riddled with panic. Brad opens his front door and sees smoke rising from far away above a cityscape. He throws himself into his car to find Lexi before she drives into radioactive fallout but finds police at all corners forcibly blocking anyone from approaching the city core. His gut turns to broken glass as he realizes that Lexi has already gone well past the cutoff point. Brad returns home, sick with helplessness. Meanwhile, the wind is spreading toxic dust everywhere.
This film is a remarkable, harrowing directorial debut from Chris Gorak, who established himself as a gifted production designer working for luminaries like Terry Gilliam, the Coen Borthers, Ridley Scott and David Fincher on such films as Fight Club and Fear And Loathing in Los Vegas. Inverting the traditional construct of a disaster film –- huge casts, endless locations and an onslaught of special effects –- Gorak, who also scripted, restricts his story to taking place almost entirely in a single barricaded home with just a handful of richly developed characters whose fear is eclipsed by wrenching interpersonal agonies. Effects shots are used solely when absolutely needed, and they are kept minimalist. Media reports and cellular calls keep the characters and audience informed as the outside situation intensifies and unsettling governmental responses begin to unfold. The result is a film as believable as anything you’ve experienced, as real and as painful as a full torso burn. It created a huge stir when it launched at Sundance last year, where it won an award, the first and only North American screening it had before confronting audiences at a series of European and Asian festivals. Fantasia’s dates mark the film’s return to North America, the second time it has ever been shown here. An intimately human depiction of society’s absolute breakdown and a powerful anti-establishment statement that demands to be experienced, this is one of the most disturbing American films we’ve seen in years. No amount of duct tape will numb the unease left in its wake.
"Mind-warping horror… A necessary counter-argument to the wave of patriotic 9/11 movies, this homes in on the other side of disaster and rings horribly true in the wake of post-Katrina New Orleans" – Kim Newman, EMPIRE MAGAZINE
“ **** - One of the year’s most effective thrillers. An all-too plausible human horror story for our twitchy times.” – Andy Lowe, TOTAL FILM
“Intensely gripping” – Paul Arendt, BBCi FILM
CANADIAN PREMIERE, Hosted by Writer/Director CHRIS GORAK
WINNER : Best Actress (Mary McCormack), Fantasia 2007
WINNER: Prix L'Écran Fantastique, Fantasia 2007
Director: Chris Gorak
Screenplay: Chris Gorak
Cast: Mary McCormack
Scotty Noyd Jr.
Producers: Palmer West, Jonah Smith
Distributor: Maple Pictures