Most of the celebrities are gone, the parties are notably less funky, and the throngs of jaywalkers on Bloor Street have trickled down to a steady drip -- but the Midnight Madness continues! (Case in point: Even with the festival winding down, J.T. Petty's S&MAN still had a powerful debut and Q&A session!) Update #3 (of 4, in case you were wondering) offers a taste of British slash-stick, French freakiness, and Canadian carnage.

Severance -- Here's a movie I quite enjoyed; I laughed at the funny bits, I cringed at the gooey gore-geysers, and I even got spooked once or twice. So why did I leave the theater feeling slightly underwhelmed? Probably because the early buzz from across the pond (and various other film festivals) was that Christopher Smith's Severance is "the next Shaun of the Dead" -- which it most certainly is not. (Frankly I wish people would stop using the phrase "X is the next Y," but then all the publicists would go out of business.) The flick's about a group of weapon-making co-workers who go on a "team-building" retreat ... only to see their teammates picked off by a rather nastily creative stalker. Suffice to say Severance is broadly amusing, satisfyingly splattery, and just clever enough to appease the demanding genre freaks -- and that's good enough for me.

Sheitan -- Take a bunch of aggressively disgusting young Frenchman, let 'em cross paths with a pair of slinky young hotties with a secret, and jam the whole lot of 'em into an isolated cabin with the certifiably insane Vincent Cassel -- and you're not even close to understanding how loopy this flick is. (Hint: "Sheitan" is French for "Satan.") I'll go on record as saying I didn't really like the movie all that much, but I'd be lying if I said a few scenes didn't really stick in my head. Probably too schizophrenic and ambly for a guy like me, but if French-fried dark comedy and intensely unpleasant visuals float your boat, odds are you'll find more to appreciate than I did. Actually, it's probably worth seeing for Cassel's kook-faced performance alone.

End of the Line
-- OK, so I'm cheating again. End of the Line is not a Midnight Madness selection, but (just like Fido) it sure would be if it weren't a Canadian flick. Based on conversations, reviews and in-line eavesdroppings, I've come to the conclusion that I am presently in the minority regarding End of the Line -- in that I quite liked it. It's certainly not a flawless little horror flick, but its "religious freaks run amok" concept pulled me in, and the "trapped in the subway tubes" setting sealed the deal. Plus it's got some unexpected twists, a few freaky kills, and an ice-water finalé -- so I have no problem recommending this one to the horror-heads.

Coming up next issue: Princess, Pan and Fessenden! (Yes, more cheating on my part.)