The 30th anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival will once again see Team HitFix descending on the slopes of Park City to cover everything and anything about the event that we can.
As usual, I call dibs on the Midnight line-up. While I don’t always love the programming in practice, I love it in theory, and I’ve had some amazing viewing experiences over the last few years thanks to the Midnights. I’d say there’s a pretty strong chance something from the 2012 Midnights line-up might make an appearance on my best of the year list this year, and it wouldn’t be the first time.
So what we expect this year? Well, Tommy Wirkola is back with a sequel to “Dead Snow,” which seems fitting. After all, I saw and reviewed the first “Dead Snow” at the festival. Wirkola, who went on to direct “Hansel & Gretel: Vampire Hunters,” has a chance here to join that club of horror directors who make sequels that are more fun than the originals, and I hope he pulls it off. After all… Nazi zombies in the snow… that should be fun, right? All I know is “Dead Snow: Red Vs Dead” sounds like it could be a blast, especially with the wildly random addition of the always great Martin Starr to the cast.
“The Babadook” is an Australian horror film from writer/director Jennifer Kent, which automatically makes it a welcome addition to what can be a very male-dominated program each year. Here’s the description: “A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.” Oh, I hope this one’s uber-creepy, because that’s a great synopsis.
I’ll go ahead and give a special award for best title of the program this year to “Cooties,” a new movie starring Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer, and Leigh Whannell, who also co-wrote the script. It’s about a group of teachers who have to band together and somehow survive when a virus turns their elementary school students into killer creatures. Evil little kids and a great cast should equal all sorts of nasty midnight fun.
While there’s no “V/H/S 3” this year, there are two films featuring talent from that series. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett might as well just buy an apartment at Sundance since it seems like they’re there every year now. They return with “The Guest,” about a family who welcomes into their home a young soldier on leave who was friends with their now-dead son. Gradually, though, he starts to reveal that he’s not who he seemed to be, and he becomes a danger. “Killers” should have a more international flavor, and it sounds like it’s going to be a wild ride. Timo Tjahjanto was a co-director on “Safe Haven,” one of the segments from “V/H/S 2,” and he and his frequent collaborator Kimo Stamboel (they’re billed as “The Mo Brothers” on their film “Macabre”) are behind this story of battling serial killers who want to decide who is the most deadly using the media as their battlefield.
I’m surprised to see a documentary in the Midnights line-up, but it sounds like a good fit. “Under The Electric Sky” is a 3D film about the annual Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas, which sounds like it’s going to be as close to having a hallucinogenic experience as I have at the fest this year.
I’m very curious to see “The Signal” because William Eubank made a fascinating first film, “Love,” which was a science-fiction epic shot in his back yard. I don’t think it worked completely, but it was spilling over with ambition and Eubank strikes me as a guy who aims high. The description is “Three college students disappear under mysterious circumstances while tracking a computer hacker through the Southwest,” and he’s got Laurence Fishburne in it, so I’m in.
The last title in the line-up sounds like it would make a great double-feature with “Only Lovers Left Alive,” the Jim Jarmsuch vampire film that is part of the Spotlight line-up this year. “What We Do In The Shadows” is from New Zealand, and it’s co-directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, best known for being half of Flight Of The Conchords. It’s described as a “mockumentary [which] follows the struggles of a group of New Zealand–based vampires to understand modern society and adapt to the ever-changing world around them.”
All in all, a very promising line-up, and I can’t wait to be freezing my ass off amidst all the great movie-watching very, very soon.
The 2014 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 16-26.