The films so shocking viewers faint

The Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness event is unique among film festivals – but why? Christian Blauvelt takes a look.

“Suddenly there was screaming because the person next to them had fainted,” an attendee of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness opening night film tells BBC Culture. The fainting in question occurred at a screening in 2017 of the film Revenge, a brutal feminist thriller directed by Coralie Fargeat. The year before,  Julia Ducournau’s horror film Raw, about cannibalism, resulted in ambulances being called to the scene.

This is not the kind of behaviour typically associated with film festivals. But Midnight Madness, which includes the new Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis in its lineup as well as Shane Black’s new film The Predator, is one of the most popular programming lineups at TIFF – so popular that an elaborate set of rituals has grown up around it.

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