10 Movies We Can’t Wait To See At TIFF 2016

It’s closing in on September and, if you love movies, that means one thing: it’s nearly TIFF time. As ever, this year’s lineup includes an extensive list of promising-looking films to suit every type of moviegoer. If you’re into sci fi, horror, and action movies, however, then these Toronto International Film Festival titles are the ones you won’t want to space out on.


1. Arrival

Who’s in it: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker

What’s it about: The US military turns to a linguist (Adams) for help in communicating with alien visitors after a dozen shell-like UFOs arrive and hover over every major city on Earth.

Why should you see it: Following last year’s TIFF hit, the Oscar-nominated action/drama Sicario, Quebec director Denis Villeneuve veers sharply away from the US/Mexico drug wars and turns his attention to space. We’re excited to see what he does in the realm of sci fi.

When you can see it: Arrival isn’t in theatres until November 11. See it first at TIFF when it screens as part of the Gala Presentations program on September 12, 13, and 18.


2. Blair Witch

Who’s in it: Relative unknowns Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson, and Valorie Curry (The Following, House of Lies)

What’s it about: More kids go into the woods, spurred on by a video showing one guy’s missing sister having the time of her life/death in the legendarily cursed forest. Can they find her? Is she still alive? Is she still… human?

Why should you see it: You’re Next director and festival regular Adam Wingard takes the Blair Witch reins from concept creators Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez who wrote and directed the original shaky cam classic. It’s been nearly 20 years since you were that scared—can the Blair Witch do it again?

When you can see it: TIFF Midnight Madness screenings are scheduled for September 11 (the world premiere) and the 15 or catch the wide release in theatres on September 16.


3. Free Fire


Who’s in it: Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Sam Riley, Noah Taylor, and Sharlto Copley.

What’s it about: Free Fire is a crime drama from director Ben Wheatley, who brought a similarly themed offering to the festival in 2011 with Kill List. His latest movie is set in 1978 and sees two rival gangs go up against each other in an abandoned warehouse. What begins as a shootout turns into a fight just to make it out alive.

Why should you see it: Besides the fact that Wheatley is a total TIFF superstar, this is Larson’s first big role since her Oscar-winning turn in last year’s festival premiere, Room.

When you can see it: Free Fire is the Midnight Madness program’s opening night movie. Catch it September 8 and 9.


4. I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House


Who’s in it: Lucy Boynton (Sing Street), Ruth Wilson (Showtime’s The Affair), and Wes Anderson favourite Bob Balaban.

What’s it about: Young nurse, aging and demented writer, haunted house: is the nurse somehow the subject of one of the author’s old books? Did we mention that she writes horror novels? This is a lesson in what happens when you let your curiosity make (bad) decisions for you.

Why should you see it: Last year, writer/director Osgood Perkins seemed to materialize out of nowhere, stunning horror fans with the subtle creepiness of February. We want more.

When you can see it: September 10, 12, and 17 as part of the Vanguard program.


5. The Girl With All the Gifts

Who’s in it: Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, and Paddy Considine

What’s it about: You know when you get the munchies? Picture that times 1,000—and the only thing that will satisfy your craving is human flesh. This is a zombie movie with a cannibalistic little girl as it’s anti-hero.

Why should you see it: Just when you thought teen dystopian movies had become all about new ways to braid Jennifer Lawrence’s hair, The Girl With All the Gifts gets back to the gritty basics of what it would really be like to live in a world on the brink of collapse.

When you can see it: September 14 and 18 as part of the Midnight Madness program.


6. My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea


Who’s in it: The voices of Maya Rudolph, Lena Dunham, Susan Sarandon, Reggie Watts, and Jason Schwartzman

What’s it about: Making it out of high school alive is the goal for most teenagers but this group of friends is beset with a quite literal version of the challenge when disaster (in the form of an earthquake, baby sharks, and mass electrocution) strikes.

Why should you see it: The world premiere of the adaptation of Dash Shaw’s popular graphic novel could be this year’s Anomalisa.

When you can see it: September 11, 13, and 16 as part of the Vanguard program.


7. The Magnificent Seven

Who’s in it: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio

What’s it about: The wild west epic sees a money-hungry bounty hunter and his makeshift army of locals defend their town against a black hat looking to take over the community’s mining industry. Standoffs, showdowns, and near-impossible to win battles ensue.

Why should you see it: Action movie impresario Antoine Fuqua’s remake of John Sturges’ 1960 western is the TIFF movie that everyone’s talking about. FOMO is not an option.

When you can see it: The Magnificent Seven is a Gala presentation screening September 9 and 10.


8. Prevenge


Who’s in it: Jo Hartley (This Is England), Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones), Kate Dickie (The Witch) and actor/writer/director Alice Lowe (Sightseers)

What’s it about: A fetus bonds psychically with the pregnant woman carrying it in order to send her a message: DO MURDERS.

Why should you see it: Lowe stole the show as an increasingly murderous holidayer in Ben Wheatley’s brutally funny and brutally brutal Sightseers back in 2012. We’re excited to see what she does with her own material.

When you can see it: This Vanguard selection screens September 12, 14, and 17.


9. The Handmaiden

Who’s in it: Min-hee Kim, Kim Tae-ri, and Jung-woo Ha

What’s it about: Set in colonial 1930s Korea, The Handmaiden is a period piece about a conwoman who unexpectedly falls for her mark. But don’t expect modesty, corsets, and high lace collars—this drama-bordering-on-horror (think: S&M-type torture) is steamy and suspenseful.

Why should you see it: Besides all the Cannes buzz this movie received, this is a chance for fans of director Park Chan-wook to see him do something that looks like it could be a crossover between revenge flicks like Lady Vengeance and thrillers like Stoker.

When you can see it: The Special Presentation screens September 10 and 11.


10. Colossal


Who’s in it: Anne Hathaway, Dan Stevens, Jason Sudeikis

What’s it about: Dumped, broke, jobless, and newly single, Hathaway’s character finds she has one thing still going for her: a strange connection to a terrible monster wreaking havoc in a city on the other side of the planet.

Why should you see it: Hatha-haters and Hatha-fans alike will be pleased to see Anne’s character held indirectly responsible for the destructive habits of a giant monster. Fans of director Nacho Vigalondo will appreciate revisiting the blend of sci-fi and drama he made his mark with in Timecrimes.

When you can see it: September 9, 10, and 17 as part of the Vanguard lineup.