sundance midnight line-up

The Sundance Film Festival is all about giving small movies from new filmmakers a platform, and their “Midnight” section is all about giving small genre movies from often insane filmmakers a platform from which to disgust, horrify, and shock Fest attendees. The 2016 Festival doesn’t kick off until late January, but the first batch of Midnight movies have been revealed and it’s the expected mix of unknown talent, slightly known talent, and a few well-known people thrown in for good measure.

While most of the Sundance Midnight line-up revealed so far comes courtesy of filmmakers you probably know nothing about (yet), the Fest is also playing new movies from Rob Zombie and Kevin Smith. Hit the jump for more details.

The two big world premieres announced are Zombie’s long-gestating 31 and Smith’s Yoga Hosers, both of which sound exactly like what you’d expect from each filmmaker at this point in their respective careers. The former is about a group of people trapped in a place called “Murder World,” where they must survive an onslaught of evil clowns. The latter is the sort-of-sequel to Tusk, following two young yoga enthusiasts who battle a demon. If you are familiar with the work of either filmmaker, you probably already know whether or not these movies are going to be up your alley.

So it’s the mystery of the rest of the films that is truly intriguing. Of the filmmakers in the rest of the line-up, Mickey Keating is perhaps the biggest name and even he is relatively new on the scene. However, he’s certainly prolific – I saw one of his films at this year’s SXSW Film Festival and another completely separate film at Fantastic Fest only a few months later. And while I have mixed feelings on Pod and Darling, he’s undoubtedly an interesting voice and the elevator pitch for Carnage Park sounds wild enough to warrant attention.

Most of the line-up consists of directors making a feature debut (although many of them have plenty of shorts to their name). There has already been some buzz floating around certain film fan circles for The Greasy Strangler, but others, like Under the Shadows and Outlaws and Angels only have killer synopses to drive interest. The lone documentary of the bunch, The Blackout Experiments, picks the world’s most perversely fascinating haunted house as a subject. All of these movies sound interesting, at the very least.

Watching which of these movies emerge from obscurity and garner buzz is the Sundance spectator sport. Place your bets now. We’ll see what happens when the Sundance Film Festival begins on January 21, 2016.

Check out synopses for the Midnight line-up below.

blackout experiments

31 / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Rob Zombie) — Five friends are kidnapped on the day before Halloween and are held hostage in a terrifying place named Murder World. While trapped, they must play a violent game called 31, in which the mission is to survive 12 hours against a gang of evil clowns. Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell, Richard Brake, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Meg Foster. World Premiere

Antibirth / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Danny Perez) — In a desolate community full of drug-addled marines and rumors of kidnapping, a wild-eyed stoner named Lou wakes up after a crazy night of partying with symptoms of a strange illness and recurring visions. As she struggles to get a grip on reality, the stories of conspiracy spread. Cast: Natasha Lyonne, Chloë Sevigny, Mark Webber, Meg Tilly, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos. World Premiere

The Blackout Experiments / U.S.A. (Director: Rich Fox) — A group of friends discover the dark underworld of the ultra-scary, psychosexual horror experience called Blackout. But what starts as a thrill ride through the unknown becomes deeply personal, developing into an obsession that hijacks their lives and blurs the line between reality and paranoid fantasy. World Premiere

Carnage Park / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Mickey Keating) — The year is 1978. A team of wannabe crooks botch a small-town bank heist and flee with their hostage deep into the California desert, where they inexplicably find themselves in a harrowing fight for survival against a psychotic ex-military sniper. Cast: Ashley Bell, Pat Healy, Alan Ruck, Darby Stanchfield, James Landry Hébert, Larry Fessenden. World Premiere

The Greasy Strangler / U.S.A. (Director: Jim Hosking, Screenwriters: Jim Hosking, Toby Harvard) — When Big Ronnie and his son Brayden meet lone female tourist Janet on Big Ronnie’s Disco Walking Tour—the best and only disco walking tour in the city—a fight for Janet’s heart erupts between father and son, and the infamous Greasy Strangler is unleashed. Cast: Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo, Gil Gex, Jesse Keen, Joe David Walters. World Premiere

Outlaws and Angels / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: JT Mollner) — With a notorious bounty hunter closing in on their trail, a gang of cold-blooded outlaws invades the home of a seemingly innocent frontier family, where an unexpected game of cat and mouse ensues throughout the night, leading to seduction, role reversal, and ultimately bloody revenge. Cast: Chad Michael Murray, Francesca Eastwood, Luke Wilson, Teri Polo, Madisen Beaty, Nathan Russell. World Premiere

Trash Fire / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Richard Bates Jr.) — When Owen is forced to confront the past he’s been running from his whole adult life, he and his girlfriend, Isabel, become entangled in a horrifying web of lies, deceit, and murder. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll be scarred for life. Cast: Adrian Grenier, Angela Trimbur, AnnaLynne McCord, Fionnula Flanagan, Matthew Gray Gubler, Ray Santiago. World Premiere

Under the Shadow / United Kingdom, Jordan (Director and screenwriter: Babak Anvari) — Tehran, 1988: As the Iran-Iraq War rumbles into its eighth year, a mother and daughter are slowly torn apart by the bombing campaigns on the city coupled with the country’s bloody revolution. As they struggle to stay together amidst these terrors, a mysterious evil stalks through their apartment. Cast: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi, Ray Haratian, Arash Marandi. World Premiere

Yoga Hosers / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kevin Smith) — Colleen Collette and Colleen McKenzie are teenage besties from Winnipeg who love yoga and live on their smartphones. But when these sophomores get invited to a senior party by the school hottie, the Colleens accidentally uncover an ancient evil buried beneath their Canadian convenience store. Cast: Lily-Rose Depp, Harley Quinn Smith, Johnny Depp, Justin Long, Austin Butler, Tyler Posey. World Premiere

yoga hosers

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