TIFF 2017: Meet the Scream Queens of mother!, The Cured and Mary Shelley 

Now that It has smashed all box office records for horror films, Hollywood is being reminded once again that there is only one real truism at the movies: audiences want to be scared. So, it's no surprise that the Toronto International Film Festival has screened its share of bumps in the night.

click to enlarge Jennifer Lawrence stars in mother! - TIFF
  • TIFF
  • Jennifer Lawrence stars in mother!
I'm not going to tell you much about mother! because No. 1., director Darren Aronofsky already doesn't believe the media will keep his spoilers from leaking out before the movie's opening on Friday, Sept. 15, and No. 2., there's just too much to spoil. Suffice to say, mother! doesn't just push the envelope of terror. It shreds the entire envelope.

"I hope this movie traumatizes people," star Jennifer Lawrence told the press following the film's Toronto premiere. "I hope it traumatizes them into action."

Lawrence's words "into action" might give you a clue about where the real horror lies in the thesis of mother!. Here's another: none of the characters have real names; Instead, they're called "mother." "him," "man," "woman" or "the zealot." You guessed it: mother! is loaded with metaphor. But don't succumb to analysis paralysis. I've already heard half a dozen interpretations of mother!—and my guess is they're all wrong. Don't forget, if you're too busy interpreting this movie, you'll miss the excitement of being scared out of your skin.
click to enlarge Ellen Page stars in The Cured - TIFF
  • TIFF
  • Ellen Page stars in The Cured
Premiering as part of TIFF's Midnight Madness was The Cured, starring Canadian native Ellen Page. Here, we have a nerve-shattering tale of how the planet attempts to recover from a terrible zombie plague. It turns out that Ireland is the only spot on Earth where most of the population has been cured of the disease that soaked the rest of the world in blood. Is it luck of the Irish? Don't bet on it.

The Cured is the feature film debut for writer/director David Freyne and its jump-out-of-your-seat moments should ensure him another quick assignment, perhaps even a sequel.

click to enlarge Elle Fanning at the premiere of Mary Shelley - TIFF
  • TIFF
  • Elle Fanning at the premiere of Mary Shelley
Lastly, let me answer your question right off the bat: No, Mary Shelley is not a monster movie by any stretch. Instead, it's a fine backstory of the woman who created literature's most famous monster. Elle Fanning does well as the 19th-century independent spirit who shacks up with a married man and ultimately pens Frankenstein. Mary Shelley will be an art house hit, for sure, and it should attract an interesting audience mix: some who love a good costume drama, others who prefer a solid but little-told biopic and still others who seek the true story behind the most influential horror novel of all time.

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