It’s that time of year again. Time to get ready for thrills, chills and scary creatures roaming the night. No, I’m not talking about Halloween. I’m talking about the 12 Annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival, taking place on October 12 to 20th at the Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto. Just like in years previous, Geek Hard will be there to take in all the horror, sci-fi and genre delights. To get you ready for the event, we’ve got a handful of reviews of some of the films playing at this year’s fest. This Saturday’s offering is sure to excite as the South Korean film, The Villainess, has its Toronto Premiere.

Masterfully directed by Byung-gil Jung, The Villainess is a tale of betrayal and revenge. After witnessing her father’s death as a young girl, Sook-hee has trained to be an assassin. Motivated by a vow to avenge his death, she trains to become a deadly killer. Through a series of events she finds herself working as part of an agency specializing in contract kills. She believes her abilities are leading her down a different path. But all paths lead back to revenge.

The structure of this film is the key to its allure. The action sequences are spaced throughout a very tense and passionate story that focuses on the value of trust. Using a non-linear narrative, there are many biting reveals in character and story line. The viewer experiences moments of shock, surprise and reassurance in a way that would not be satisfied if told in chronological order. The editing is also seamless, with an opening action sequence that moves from P.O.V. to third person flawlessly. The opening of this film would be enough to make it one of the best action films of the year. But the movie does not rest on its laurels. For the rest of the two hour running time, it rewards the viewer with high stakes drama and amazing performances.

Taking from classic revenge story tropes and working in elements of spy and mystery stories, The Villainess paces itself perfectly, knowing just the right times to speed up and slow down. There’s never a dull moment. This is due in part to the heartfelt performances of the cast, specifically from Ok-bin Kim as Sook-hee and Seo-hyeong Kim as her chief and handler. With the various twists and turns that Sook-hee goes through, Ok-bin’s performance runs the gamut of emotions and hits just the right notes throughout. Her relationship with Seo-hyeong’s Cheif Kwon takes on a surrogate mother/daughter dynamic. This adds an interesting layer to their deadly missions. Another performance of note would be Ha-kyun Shin as Joong-sang, Sook-hee’s former husband. His role takes on a few twists and turns of its own.

The action picks up to new levels as it reaches it’s climax with violence that is brutal and visceral without feeling grotesque or excessive. You’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat as the action ramps up, with thoughts split between concern for Sook-hee and sheer joy from the fantastic spectacle.

If you’re looking for an action film that’s equal parts sizzle and steak, The Villainess is the movie to watch. The film plays on Saturday, October 14th at 6PM at the Scotiabank Theatre as part of Toronto After Dark 2017. You will kick yourself if you miss it. Tickets are available at the Cineplex Website.

Keep checking back here for more Toronto After Dark 2017 Reviews and Previews.

If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!

The Villainess plays TADFF17 on Saturday, October 14th, at 6PM.