It seems like every year, we get at least one film heralded as “the next great horror movie.” Sometimes, that assessment is overblown. But sometimes, it’s spot-on. This year’s next great horror film is The Lodge, and I am entirely confident in that assessment. It’s going to be nearly impossible for any other fright flick this year to top the atmospheric dread and abject terror on display here. An icy cold mix of The Shining and religious mania run wild, The Lodge opens with a bang, and never lets up. Take it from someone who doesn’t scare easy: The Lodge is scary as hell.
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While 2018’s edition of the Sundance Film Festival might not have launched any major Oscar heavyweights, it turned out a steady stream of modest summer hits from first time directors (Hereditary, Sorry to Bother You, Eight Grade) as well as three non-fiction films that were blockbusters by documentary standards (Three Identical Strangers, RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?). Plus, countless Sundance selections remained critical favorites that stuck around in the conversation through the end of last year (Wildlife, Minding the Gap, Hale County This Morning, This Evening).
This is all to say, never believe anyone who tells you that a given year at Sundance is a “weak” one. Fluctuations in programming focuses and projects submissions rarely yield a continuous trajectory for a festival. That may prove doubly true for the 2019 edition of the Sundance Film Festival, which is the first under Kim Yutani’s leadership as director of programming following the long reign of Trevor Groth. This year’s festival looks noticeably more inclusive and diverse, both in terms of the stories being told and the people who are telling them. The lineup pulls less obviously from established festival favorites in favor of providing a platform to emerging artists who may have only a scattered short or feature to their name.
There’s going to be a lot to follow out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and thankfully /Film will have several writers on the ground in Park City to report out the big finds and stories. But for those of us who aren’t making the trek up into the mountains of Utah for Sundance, there’s still a way to be a part of the festival.
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