It’s hard to believe it’s almost time for a new year of the Sundance Film Festival, but we’re now less than two months away, and this writer is extremely excited to head to Park City once again, especially after digging into Sundance’s initial lineup announcement today. Not only does their Midnight slate look insanely great, but there are a ton of films running in Sundance’s other programming tracks that I am beyond excited to see in January.
Some of the highlights from today’s lineup announcement include Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile which chronicles the life of Ted Bundy (played by Zac Efron) through the experiences of his girlfriend; Paradise Hills, which stars Emma Roberts, Milla Jovovich, and Awkwafina; Relive from producer Jason Blum; Dan Gilroy’s Buzzsaw; and the Alien-themed documentary Memory. I’ve gone ahead and broken down all the titles of interest for genre fans below, and Sundance will be announcing more titles in the future, so be sure to check back here on Daily Dead for the latest festival news as it’s announced.
Them That Follow / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Britt Poulton, Dan Madison Savage, Producers: Bradley Gallo, Michael Helfant, Gerard Butler, Alan Siegel, Danielle Robinson) — Inside a snake-handling church deep in Appalachia, a forbidden relationship forces a pastor’s daughter to confront her community’s deadly tradition. Cast: Olivia Colman, Kaitlyn Dever, Alice Englert, Jim Gaffigan, Walton Goggins, Thomas Mann. World Premiere
Koko-di Koko-da / Sweden, Denmark (Director and screenwriter: Johannes Nyholm, Producer: Johannes Nyholm) — As a couple goes on a trip to find their way back to each other, a sideshow artist and his shady entourage emerge from the woods, terrorizing them, luring them deeper and deeper into a maelstrom of psychological terror and humiliating slapstick. Cast: Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon, Peter Belli, Katarina Jacobson. World Premiere
We Are Little Zombies / Japan (Director and screenwriter: Makoto Nagahisa, Producers: Shinichi Takahashi, Tahei Tamanishi, Haruki Yokoyama, Haruhiko Hasegawa) — Their parents are dead. They should be sad, but they can't cry. So they form a kick-ass band. This is the story of four 13-year-olds in search of their emotions. Cast: Keita Ninomiya, Satoshi Mizuno, Mondo Okumura, Sena Nakajima. World Premiere
The Magic Life of V / Finland, Denmark, Bulgaria (Director: Tonislav Hristov, Screenwriters: Tonislav Hristov, Kaarle Aho, Producers: Kaarle Aho, Kai Nordberg) — Haunted by childhood traumas, Veera is trying to become more independent through live roleplaying. As she guides herself and her mentally-challenged brother through worlds of multiple roles and identities, witches and wizards, she finds the courage to face the demons of her own past and her abusive father's legacy. World Premiere
Light From Light / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Paul Harrill, Producers: James M. Johnston, Kelly Williams, Toby Halbrooks, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Headington, Theresa Page) — Shelia, a single mom and sometime paranormal investigator, is enlisted to investigate a possible “haunting” at a widower’s farmhouse in East Tennessee. Cast: Marin Ireland, Jim Gaffigan, Josh Wiggins, Atheena Frizzell, David Cale. World Premiere
Paradise Hills / Spain, U.S.A. (Director: Alice Waddington, Screenwriters: Nacho Vigalondo, Brian DeLeeuw, Producers: Adrian Guerra, Núria Valls) — A young woman is sent to Paradise Hills to be reformed, only to learn that the high-class facility's beautiful facade hides a sinister secret. Cast: Emma Roberts, Danielle Macdonald, Awkwafina, Eiza González, Milla Jovovich, Jeremy Irvine. World Premiere
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Berlinger, Screenwriter: Michael Werwie, Producers: Michael Costigan, Nicolas Chartier, Ara Keshishian, Michael Simkin) — A chronicle of the crimes of Ted Bundy from the perspective of Liz, his longtime girlfriend, who refused to believe the truth about him for years. Cast: Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Haley Joel Osment, Kaya Scodelario, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons. World Premiere
I Am Mother / Australia (Director: Grant Sputore, Screenwriter: Michael Lloyd Green, Producers: Timothy White, Kelvin Munro) — In the wake of humanity’s extinction, a teenage girl is raised by a robot designed to repopulate the earth. But their unique bond is threatened when an inexplicable stranger arrives with alarming news. Cast: Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne, Hilary Swank. World Premiere
Relive / U.S.A. (Director: Jacob Estes, Screenwriters: Jacob Estes, Drew Daywalt, Producers: Jason Blum, Bobby Cohen) —After a man’s family dies in what appears to be a murder, he gets a phone call from one of the dead, his niece. He’s not sure if she’s a ghost or if he’s going mad — but as it turns out, he’s not. Instead, her calls help him rewrite history. Cast: David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Mykelti Williamson, Alfred Molina, Bryan Tyree Henry. World Premiere
Velvet Buzzsaw/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Dan Gilroy, Producer: Jennifer Fox) — A thriller set in the contemporary art world scene of Los Angeles, where big money artists and mega-collectors pay a high price when art collides with commerce. Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge, Natalia Dyer. World Premiere
The Witch Hunters / Serbia, Macedonia (Director: Rasko Miljkovic, Screenwriters: Marko Manojlovic, Milos Kreckovic, Producer: Jovana Karaulic) — 10-year-old Jovan is often escaping reality to immerse himself into a fantasy world. It all changes when he befriends his new classmate Milica and the adventure to hunt her 'witch' stepmother starts. Cast: Mihajlo Milavic, Silma Mahmuti. U.S. Premiere
From horror and comedy to works that defy genre classification, these films will keep you wide awake, even at the most arduous hour. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Hereditary, Assassination Nation, The Little Hours and The Babadook.
Greener Grass / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, Producer: Natalie Metzger) — A deliciously twisted comedy set in a demented, timeless suburbia where every adult wears braces on their straight teeth, couples coordinate meticulously pressed outfits, and coveted family members are swapped in more ways than one in this competition for acceptance. Cast: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, Beck Bennett, Neil Casey, Mary Holland, D'Arcy Carden. World Premiere
Little Monsters / Australia (Director and screenwriter: Abe Forsythe, Producers: Jodi Matterson, Bruna Papandrea, Steve Hutensky, Keith Calder, Jessica Calder) — A film dedicated to all the kindergarten teachers who motivate children to learn, instill them with confidence and stop them from being devoured by zombies. Cast: Lupita Nyong'o, Alexander England, Josh Gad. World Premiere
Memory - The Origins of Alien / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandre O. Philippe, Screenwriter: Alexandre O. Philippe, Producer: Kerry Deignan Roy) — The untold origin story behind Ridley Scott’s Alien – rooted in Greek and Egyptian mythologies, underground comics, the art of Francis Bacon, and the dark visions of Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger. A contemplation on the symbiotic collaborative process of moviemaking, the power of myth, and our collective unconscious. World Premiere
Mope / U.S.A. (Director: Lucas Heyne, Screenwriters: Lucas Heyne, Zack Newkirk, Producers: Kelly Hayes, Brian Cooper, Kern Saxton, Danny Roth) — Two 'mopes' – the lowest-level male performers in the porn industry – set their sights on an impossible dream: stardom. Cast: Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Kelly Sry, Brian Huskey, Max Adler, David Arquette, Tonya Cornelisse. World Premiere
Sweetheart / U.S.A. (Director: JD Dillard, Screenwriters: JD Dillard, Alex Theurer, Alex Hyner, Producers: Jason Blum, JD Dillard, Alex Theurer, Alex Hyner, Bill Karesh) — Jenn has washed ashore a small tropical island and it doesn’t take her long to realize she’s completely alone. She must spend her days not only surviving the elements, but must also fend off the malevolent force that comes out each night. Cast: Kiersey Clemons, Emory Cohen, Hanna Mangan Lawrence, Andrew Crawford. World Premiere
The Hole in the Ground / Ireland (Director: Lee Cronin, Screenwriters: Lee Cronin, Stephen Shields, Producers: John Keville, Conor Barry) — One night, Sarah's young son disappears into the woods behind their rural home. When he returns, he looks the same, but his behavior grows increasingly disturbing. Soon, Sarah realizes that the boy who returned may not be her son at all... Cast: Seána Kerslake, James Cosmo, Kati Outinen, Simone Kirby, Steve Wall, James Quinn Markey. World Premiere
The Lodge/ U.S.A., United Kingdom (Directors: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, Screenwriters: Sergio Casci, Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, Producers: Simon Oakes, Aliza James, Aaron Ryder) — In this psychologically chilling slow burn, a young woman and her reticent new stepchildren find themselves isolated in the family’s remote winter cabin, locked away to dredge up the mysteries of her dark past and the losses that seem to haunt them all. Cast: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Alicia Silverstone, Richard Armitage. World Premiere
Photo Credits: Above photos courtesy of Sundance Institute.