Being attacked in a mugging, assault or some other unprovoked confrontation is without a doubt a traumatic experience. The recovery from such an incident varies by person, but it's something that will always be with you even after you've stopped thinking about it all the time. In Toronto After Dark
, the main character is reminded every day of what happened and lives in constant fear that it will happen again.
Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) hasn't been doing so well since his wife died from injuries received during a brutal assault, leaving him to raise their baby girl alone. Every hooded teen is a threat and eventually he stops going outside of his apartment all together. He decides the best way to protect his daughter is to leave the city, but they won't let him. No one believes him, but they want her. Tommy's only hope lies with a priest (James Cosmo) who knows what they are and plans to stop them before they kill someone else.
This film plays on some of our simplest but deepest fears. Everyone has stiffened at the sound of footsteps behind them at night, or sped up ever so slightly and crossed the street when passing an unknown group. Even worse is the anxiety that something will happen to your child. Tommy experiences an amplified version of these nightmares as they bang on his door and chase him through the streets.
It seems an Irish film is incomplete without the involvement of the Catholic Church. Though in this case, the priest's belief has been shaken. When counseling Tommy he quips about demons and possession, only to remark that the frightened young man is willing to believe anything at that point. The priest, on the other hand, has exchanged his faith for firepower.
Writer/director Ciaran Foy actually created the film as a way to work through his own anxieties after being mugged. Unfortunately the threat of hooded gangs is very real in parts of the U.K. Nonetheless Foy channels his fear effectively, producing a movie that causes the viewer's heart to race from the safety of their theatre seat. The constant darkness makes for a very tense atmosphere. And Tommy's fear is almost contagious, which is an attestation of Barnard's ability as an actor.
This film is both inventive and creepy at a visceral level that will stay with audiences after the lights come up.
Director: Ciaran Foy
Starring: Aneurin Barnard
, James Cosmo
and Wunmi Mosaku