Made-in-Toronto fantasy films promise thrills and chills

Leslieville's Ari Cohen didn't have to go far to film scenes as a rabbi in "It". PHOTO: Contributed

Some strange things landed in Toronto last year: creepy clowns, zombies, lizard creatures from beneath the sea. Don’t worry, it’s all fantasy from the dark imaginations of writers like Stephen King and Guillermo del Toro.

Movies and television shows with supernatural themes have become very popular these days and Toronto is front and centre in the horror and science fiction genres with connections to a dozen TV series and some highly-anticipated feature films.

When Hollywood comes calling, Toronto is ready with diverse locations, skilled crews and talented local actors like Leslieville’s Ari Cohen (It) and Beacher Steve Byers (Flatliners) who loves filming close to home and family in Toronto.

Here’s a spoiler-free look at some upcoming films. Hold onto your popcorn, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!


‘It’ (opens Sept. 8) Tagline: “What are you afraid of?”

Warning: this trailer is scary!

A huge box office is predicted for the new screen adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling 1986 novel that terrified a generation. The evil clown Pennywise returns to the small, fictional town of Derry, Maine.

Spooky scenes were filmed in Port Hope, Oshawa and at Riverdale’s historic Cranfield House (circa 1902, 450 Pape Ave.) which has been used for many productions, including Orphan Black.

Filming caused quite a media stir when neighbours complained about constant noise, lights and parking problems. It was even dubbed “The Nightmare on Pape Avenue”. Clowns and clones, oh my!


‘Flatliners’ (opens Sept. 29) Tagline: “Some lines shouldn’t be crossed.”

Kiefer Sutherland is back for another crack at life after death in this reboot of the 1990 paranormal thriller. Toronto’s Nina Dobrev and Halifax-born Ellen Page star as medical students fascinated with near-death experiences. Watch for Jones Ave. south of Gerrard St. E. and the Humber Bay arch-bridge.

So many questions: What happens to us after we die? Isn’t that the CN Tower behind Ellen Page in the Port Lands? Is that the Hearn Plant and Flatiron building in the trailer? Will this remake die at the box office or find new life?


‘The Shape of Water’ (premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Sept. 11 and opens Dec. 8)

Sally Hawkins might be an Oscar-contender with this role, playing a mute janitor who discovers an amphibious creature while working at a secret government lab in 1962 at the height of the Cold War era. Look for stunning visual art, magic realism and a dark, surreal style in an other-worldly fairy tale from writer/director Guillermo del Toro.

The master filmmaker will be featured in an AGO exhibition “Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters” opening Sept. 30. Who else would set a beautiful scene at the Don River below the Gardiner Expressway?


‘Downsizing’ (premieres at TIFF on Sept. 11 and opens Dec. 22)

While del Toro spends most of his time in Toronto (and loves the Sunrise Grill on Queen St. E.), Matt Damon was only here (and living on Silver Birch Ave.) during filming of the new social satire from two-time Oscar-winning writer and director Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants). Damon will be back on the TIFF red carpet Sept. 11 at the Elgin Theatre.

Go small or stay home: When Beachers muse about “downsizing”, they imagine moving from their house to a smaller condo. Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig find a way more drastic solution to making their lives “smaller”. Little do they know the consequences.

Filming took place at York University, Eastern Ave. and City Place. The actual house is near Bayview in Leaside. It’s a small world after all!


If you are watching on smaller screens, you can beam up to Star Trek: Discovery on Sept. 24 (Space TV).

The world’s best-selling author, Stephen King, turns 70 on Sept. 21 and will appear in Toronto as part of a book tour on Oct. 5 (sold out, sorry). Age has not dampened his wit. King tweeted that he has blocked US President Donald Trump from seeing It… “No clowns for you, Donald.”

King has said, “That this guy has fingers on the nuclear trigger is worse than any terror story I wrote.”

Yes, it’s much better to be scared out of your wits in the movie theatre than while watching the news. Pass the popcorn, please!

 

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