We take a look at some of the genre goodness out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival and let you know what to keep high on your radar.
Another Sundance Film Festival has ended. And, as usual, there was a fantastic slate of movies. One of the things that often gets forgotten about the fest is that it has been the home for some amazing genre films. The Blair Witch Project began its journey in Park City, for example. Here are the horror, sci-fi, and exploitation flicks we discovered during this year’s Sundance — and the ones to keep your eye on in 2022.
Alice has a great premise. Alice (Keke Palmer) years for freedom as she toils away on a plantation in Georgia. After fleeing through the woods after a violent confrontation with the plantation owner, she finds herself in 1973. At the point when things should really come together, it all falls apart. The homages to the Blacksploitation films of the era are neat, but the film is ultimately disappointing.
Director Monia Chokri brings together a number of genres in her film about a man who wants to write a book apologizing for a lifetime of misogyny. The camerawork and story are very erratic but the film has enough comedy to make its erotic Mary Poppins tale work.
Writer-director Riley Stearns has put together a clever and nuanced science fiction thriller. Part social commentary, part character study, the movie is about a woman named Sara (Karen Gillan) who discovers she has an incurable disease. In order to alleviate the pain for those close to her, she commissions a clone. As expected, things do not turn out as planned.
Hatching takes a good old fashioned body horror and mixes in a fairy tale look with modern-day sensibilities. The end result is an often grotesque look at growing up and pleasing your family. The paint-by-numbers plot does not prevent the plot from presenting interesting questions.
One of the smartest and most shocking films from the festival. The plot follows three women trying to find their place at an elite New England university. Deals with privilege, racism, appropriation, and identity in a traditional ghost story. A fantastic twist leads to a powerful ending.
Horror has never been one to shy away from taking on serious issues. Sara is bullied by seemingly everyone in town because she is overweight. One day, she sees a trio of particularly nasty girls get brutally kidnapped. When the police start asking questions, she is left in a moral quandary. Does she tell the authorities what she knows or does she leave her tormentors to their fate? The answer may seem obvious, but great writing and performances will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.
Speak No Evil
A horror of manners, the film is about two families that meet during a trip to Tuscany. They hit it off so well that they decide to meet again once they have returned home. It is not long before boundaries are pushed and social conventions are placed under the magnifying glass. As funny as it is scary with the most memorable ending from this year’s Sundance.
The Dark Heart
Along with movies, Sundance also hosts episodic projects. The Dark Heart is a true-crime thriller whose first three episodes were screened. The mystery is interesting enough, but the story of greed and power are the real draw. A great look that takes full advantage of its forest setting.
There is nothing wrong with keeping things simple in horror. Watcher is about a couple who have relocated to Bulgaria. It is not long before Julia (Maika Monroe) realizes that someone is watching her every move. At the same time, news of a serial killer known as “the Spider” dominates the headlines. Hits all the expected beats heading into a chaotic finale that leads to a flat ending.