What happens when you combine 18 directors, zero budget, and a generous handful of Montréal neighbourhoods? You get Montréal Dead End, a lively anthology that looks at the havoc wreaked on a city after a supernatural mist activates each area’s unique evil enchantments. Where some areas experience vampiric activity, others are set upon by thrifty zombies, Freaky Friday body switching, or ghouls with a sweet tooth.
Like any anthology, some segments are stronger than others — the film opens with a particularly absurd entry that is decidedly NSFW. Other segments range from poignant to amusing to unsettling, with a few truly stand-out entries (including one setting straight some historical untruths about the region’s nun population, one portraying a disastrous open mic night, and another touting the benefits of having an unnoteworthy family lineage). The anthology gets bonus points for including multiple queer characters, whether or not they’re undead.
The film’s lack of budget isn’t exposed by its production values — the anthology overall looks pretty good and the segments gel fairly well. Aside from the mist, the stories are tied loosely together by the attempts of a guardian (Marco Collin), on a quest to locate a magical book which holds the key to quelling the chaos (as foretold in a First Nations story). At various points, he pops up in entries, battling pro-apocalypse agents or interacting with segment protagonists.
Overall, Montréal Dead End is a fun and quirky love-letter to an iconic Canadian city that shares those same traits.
The Toronto premiere screens at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival on Saturday, November 24th along with Thomas Rodrigue’s short film The Holy Tank.