by: Ben Cohen
Southwest of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s chasmal main foyer is Jackman Hall, the site of their new late-night spook-fest: A Nightmare on Dundas Street.
Beginning Oct. 6, the AGO has ventured to screen a different classic horror film each Friday night, a promotional tool working in concert with their inspired, ongoing Guillermo Del Toro exhibit.
With three weeks to go, the gallery’s final offerings are all heavy hitting canonical classics: The Shining, Repulsion and The Haunting.
It’s a unique experience, re-watching a celebrated flick in a theatre. On Friday night, I saw The Exorcist. I’d analogize the feeling to being bowled over by the dynamism of colour, after living life entirely in grey. You really are discovering a new dimension.
When young Regan starts acting odd -- levitating, speaking in tongues -- her worried mother seeks medical help, only to hit a dead end. A local priest, however, thinks the girl may be seized by the devil. The priest makes a request to perform an exorcism, and the church sends in an expert to help with the difficult job.
The soundtrack was made sharp, clear and jarring. I was tuned into all the fright and tension I’d be spared, thanks to ho-hum television speakers. The intimate theatre’s insular build and cranked up volume allowed the film’s chilling instrumentals to craft a sense of dread, organically.
I nearly leaped out of my seat at one point at the sound of an on-screen phone suddenly ringing, a scare that would have passed right by me had I been enjoying the movie from the comfort of a sofa.
It also goes without saying that a bile-spewing demon-child with a 360-degree rotating neck is a lot more terrifying when blown up to span the length of an entire room.
Del Toro is famous for thinking the monsters we see are reflected in all of us, and his exhibit paired with these films allow us all a more in-depth peak into ourselves.
The final films will be screened from 10-12 pm, the following three Friday nights. The fee is $8 for students, $10 for AGO members and $12 for everyone else.