A game of war between neighbourhood kids takes on a darker, more sinister note in the Canadian film I Declare War, which premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.

Directed by Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson and shot in the Rouge Valley in the northeast region of Toronto, I Declare War switches between reality and fantasy — the kids' real-life toy guns become AK-47s — in its examination of the fiery emotions churning inside youngsters.

Actress Mackenzie Munro, who plays the only girl taking part in the war game, noted the realism depicted in the film.

"It’s true. Kids are vulgar. Kids are harsh," she told CBC’s Kevin Sweet. "Everyone deals with it every day. Everyone deals with it differently."

For Lapeyre, the violent scenes were a necessary part of the film.

"The violence was always intended to be real and intense, because we wanted it to be a metaphor for the emotional intensity of being that age," he said.

"It’s about the emotional violence that kids do to each other on a daily basis," he added. "If we wanted to be honest of the reality of the emotional violence in kids, we had to really up the stakes in the actual violence we were portraying."