It does not seem possible that the next Sundance Film Festival is just over a month away now.
I mean, we’re still waiting on screening dates for some of the Christmas movies, and now we’re already poring over the Sundance announcements so we can figure out who’s seeing what when Team HitFix descends on Park City once again for the start of the fest on January 17, 2013.
I know that I’m on midnights duty, as always, and in festival after festival, some of my favorite experiences come from the midnight line-ups. It was at Sundance two years ago that I witnessed that amazing meltdown during a screening of Lucky McKee’s “The Woman,” and last year, I had my socks knocked off by “V/H/S,” the anthology horror film.
Looking at the titles announced today, the first thing that jumps out is the follow-up to that anthology, and I had to laugh when I saw that they’ve titled it “S-VHS.” There will come a point when no one is alive who understands those two titles or remembers what they refer to, but for those of us who lived through the video revolution, that’s immediately funny. I’m excited to see the filmmakers behind “The Raid” involved in this one, and Eduardo Sanchez, who can be described as a pioneer of the found-footage genre, is also joining the roster. Throw in Jason Eisener, the sociopath behind “Hobo With A Shotgun,” and it sounds like it’s going to be another huge kick.
I’m also dying to see “Hell Baby,” the first film directed by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon. I’ve read an early draft of the script, and it’s a truly deranged comedy about a couple who moves into a house that is possessed and the freaky team of Vatican exorcists they call in to help. Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan Michael Key, Paul Scheer, and Rob Huebel all star in the movie, and I am hoping this turns out to be one of the best films that Garant and Lennon have worked on together.
Here’s the rest of what we can expect to see when we stay up late for the full run of the festival:
“Ass Backwards” / U.S.A. (Director: Chris Nelson, Screenwriters: June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson) – Loveable losers Kate and Chloe take a road trip back to their hometown to claim the beauty pageant crown that eluded them as children, only to discover what really counts: friendship. Cast: June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Alicia Silverstone, Jon Cryer, Brian Geraghty.
“Hell Baby” / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon) – An expectant couple moves into the most haunted fixer-upper in New Orleans – a house with a demonic curse. Things spiral out of control and soon only the Vatican’s elite exorcism team can save the pair – or can it? Cast: Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan Michael Key, Riki Lindhome, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel.
“In Fear” / United Kingdom (Directed and story by: Jeremy Lovering) – Trapped in a maze of country roads with only their vehicle for protection, Tom and Lucy are terrorized by an unseen tormentor exploiting their worst fears. Eventually they realize they’ve let the evil in – it”s sitting in their car. Cast: Alice Englert, Iain De Caestecker, Allen Leech.
“kink” (documentary) / U.S.A. (Director: Christina Voros) – A story of sex, submission and big business is told through the eyes of the unlikely pornographers whose 9:00-to-5:00 work days are spent within the confines of the San Francisco Armory building, home to the sprawling porn production facilities of Kink.com.
“The Rambler” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Calvin Lee Reeder) – After being released from prison, a man known as “The Rambler” stumbles upon a strange mystery as he attempts the treacherous journey through back roads and small towns en route to reconnecting with his long-lost brother. Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Lindsay Pulsipher, Natasha Lyonne, James Cady, Scott Sharot.
“S-VHS” / U.S.A., Canada (Directors: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Edúardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans, Jason Eisener, Screenwriters: Simon Barrett, Jamie Nash, Timo Tjahjanto & Gareth Huw Evans, John Davies) – Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his abandoned house and find another collection of mysterious VHS tapes. In viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be terrifying motives behind the student”s disappearance. Cast: Adam Wingard, Lawrence Levine, L.C Holt, Kelsy Abbott, Hannah Hughes.
“Virtually Heroes” / U.S.A. (Director: GJ Echternkamp, Screenwriter: Matt Yamashita) – Two self-aware characters in a Call of Duty-style video game struggle with their screwy, frustrating existence. To find answers, one abandons his partner and mission, seeking to unravel the cheat codes of life. Cast: Robert Baker, Brent Chase, Katie Savoy, Mark Hamill, Ben Messmer.
“We Are What We Are” / U.S.A. (Director: Jim Mickle, Screenwriters: Nick Damici, Jim Mickle) – A devastating storm washes up clues that lead authorities closer and closer to the cannibalistic Parker family. Cast: Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, Michael Parks, Wyatt Russell, Kelly McGillis.
What I love about the midnight movies is how they are often forced to be wildly inventive because they aren’t expensive films. If I heard a studio was making something like “Virtually Heroes,” I’d expect wall-to-wall special effects and an obvious, on-the-nose execution. But an indie version? I’m curious to see exactly what that is.
We’ll have reports on these and so many other films here at HitFix once the festival gets underway.