Under The Shadow

Ever since The Babadook premiered at Sundance in 2014, it feels like every new critically beloved, out-of-nowhere horror hit has been touted as “the new Babadook.” Most of the time, the descriptor is just a catchy way of saying “this horror film’s got buzz.” Many of these “new Babadooks,” from It Follows to The Witch, aren’t all that much like The Babadook at all, and — in my estimation — none of them have been quite as good.

In the case of this year’s Sundance horror Under the Shadow, though, the description really does seem apt. The film works for many of the same reasons The Babadook does. Like The Babadook, Under the Shadow relies more on tension and dread than cheap jump scares. And as with The Babadook, the uneasiness lingers long after the credits have rolled because it evokes real-life horrors, rather than simply relying on supernatural ones.  Read More »

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Yoga Hosers

Yoga Hosers feels like a cross between an absurd live-action cartoon created by a stoner and a ’90s-style teenage comedy. It’s so strange, and unlike anything Kevin Smith has directed before. I’m honestly not sure if Yoga Hosers was terrible or if I am just not the target demographic for this story.

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Taika Waititi had a minor breakthrough last year with What We Do in the Shadows, and is about to have a much bigger one with Thor: Ragnarok, but in between he’s managed to squeeze in the delightful Hunt for the Wilderpeople. A sort of live-action Up with dashes of Roald Dahl, Wes Anderson, and Thelma & Louise, all filtered through Waititi’s own warm, offbeat sense of humor, Wilderpeople looks destined to become a new childhood classic. Read More »

Swiss Army Man

About five minutes into Swiss Army Man, you’re faced with a choice. By this point in the film, you’ll have seen Hank (Paul Dano), a man stranded alone on a desert island, try to hang himself. His suicide attempt is interrupted by the arrival of a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) that proves to be a prolific farter. Hank opts not to kill himself, and instead rides “Manny” like a flatulence-powered jet ski in the direction of civilization.

The scene is weird, and absurd, and crude, and dark, but kind of beautiful, too, and it’s at this point you have to make a decision: Either you’re willing to go with a movie that delights in all of those unsavory qualities, or you’re not. If you decide you’re not, know that Swiss Army Man will only get stranger and ruder, and you’re probably better off putting it back on the shelf until you’re in the mood for it. If you decide you are, however, you’ll discover a unique, oddly gorgeous adventure anchored by a superb performance from Radcliffe as a dead body (no, really).  Read More »

Sleight

Sleight is like Doug Liman’s Go crossed with Now You See Me, with a side of Chronicle. Smart, fun, and thrilling, JD Dillard‘s feature film debut will likely be a fast sale at Sundance as it provides some great high concept ideas at a micro budget.

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Morris From America

Morris From America is a wonderful and heartfelt cross-cultural coming-of-age tale about an African-American boy trying to adapt in Germany. This hip-hop-infused rite of passage story would work well in a triple feature alongside other Sundance films like Dope and The Wackness.

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The Lure Review

When you’re at the Sundance Film Festival, there are a lot of tropes that you get used to. Estranged family, loved one dying of cancer, coming of age romance, and comedy actors looking to show that they can be dramatic too. But sometimes you get something absolutely bonkers that doesn’t have any of those things. That something is The Lure.

Hailing from Poland, the film from director Agnieszka Smoczynska is full of style, and it will undoubtedly be the best Polish rock musical with bloodthirsty sirens you’ll ever see, but that’s mostly because it’s the only one of its kind. Read on for The Lure review from Sundance. Read More »

Norman Lear Documentary

During a ceremony honoring legendary TV producer Norman Lear, comedian Amy Poehler says, “It’s hard to make people laugh, tackle big issues and get big ratings. That’s why no one does it anymore.” Indeed, in the relatively short history of television, no one has had as big of an impact on the medium as Norman Lear, the creator of classic shows such as All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude and more.

The documentary Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You dives into the life and career of this man who changed TV forever with those shows, and it makes for a surprisingly touching, charming and intimate profile. Read More »

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

When I first heard JJ Abrams was taking on the Star Wars franchise, I got excited. With his first Star Trek film, Abrams showed he could take an iconic and beloved franchise and transform it into something new and exciting, while still respecting its roots.

I think with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he’s done the exact same thing again, except that the Star Wars franchise fits in even better with Abrams’ sensibilities. The Force Awakens is an exciting return to form for Star Wars. It extends the Skywalker saga while introducing some great new characters whose stories I think audiences will get really invested in. Hit the jump to see/read my spoiler-free video review of the film.
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