Sundance’s Midnight Movie selection can always be counted on for some high-octane weirdness.
This year brings Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb in a comedy about a pregnant couple who move into “the most haunted fixer-upper in New Orleans,” a provocative documentary about sex, submission and domination, and Star Wars’ own Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill, co-starring in an action-adventure about young men obsessed with a first-person shooter game.
Yesterday was the indie film fest’s competition announcement, with a lineup filled with sex and comedy. Today, the organizers announced their picks for the deeply offbeat corner of the annual showcase, which runs Jan. 17-27 in Park City, Utah – and it kind of has the same theme.
“We always hope for a balance of stuff in the Midnight section – from horror, to comedy, to even a little sex in there. This year we have everything,” says Sundance chief programmer Trevor Groth. “It’s kind of a fun, crazy midnight lineup.”
Corddry and Bibb star with Keegan Michael Key (one half of Comedy Central’s killer Key & Peele show) in Hell Baby, the sinister comic story of a couple trying to start a family in a severely haunted home, from Reno 911 producers Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant.
kink is the documentary about the San Francisco-based internet porn company that specializes in bondage. And Virtually Heroes, the video game movie co-starring Hamill, is a watershed for the festival, since it marks the first film to play there from iconic indie B-movie producer Roger Corman (whose last visit to Sundance was for a documentary about himself.)
“Having been to the festival with that documentary, he saw this film that he made and thought, ‘I actually think Sundance might like this,’” Groth recalls. “When he called me and told me about it, I thought, ‘Oh boy … a Roger Corman film and Sundance? That doesn’t quite make sense.’ But then I watched it and he was right. There’s something really special about this strange film.”
Here’s the rundown, taken straight from the Sundance program descriptions:
Loveable losers Kate and Chloe take a road trip back to their hometown to claim the beauty pageant crown that eluded them as children, only to discover what really counts: friendship. (Director: Chris Nelson, Screenwriters: June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson) Cast: June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Alicia Silverstone, Jon Cryer, Brian Geraghty.
An expectant couple moves into the most haunted fixer-upper in New Orleans – a house with a demonic curse. Things spiral out of control and soon only the Vatican’s elite exorcism team can save the pair – or can it? (Directors and screenwriters: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon.) Cast: Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Keegan Michael Key, Riki Lindhome, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel.
Trapped in a maze of country roads with only their vehicle for protection, Tom and Lucy are terrorized by an unseen tormentor exploiting their worst fears. Eventually they realize they’ve let the evil in – it’s sitting in their car. (Directed and story by: Jeremy Lovering) Cast: Alice Englert, Iain De Caestecker, Allen Leech.
A documentary about sex, submission and big business is told through the eyes of the unlikely pornographers whose 9:00-to-5:00 work days are spent within the confines of the San Francisco Armory building, home to the sprawling porn production facilities of Kink.com. (Director: Christina Voros)
After being released from prison, a man known as “The Rambler” stumbles upon a strange mystery as he attempts the treacherous journey through back roads and small towns en route to reconnecting with his long-lost brother. (Director and screenwriter: Calvin Lee Reeder) Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Lindsay Pulsipher, Natasha Lyonne, James Cady, Scott Sharot.
Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his abandoned house and find another collection of mysterious VHS tapes. In viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be terrifying motives behind the student’s disappearance. (Directors: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Edúardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans, Jason Eisener, Screenwriters: Simon Barrett, Jamie Nash, Timo Tjahjanto & Gareth Huw Evans, John Davies) Cast: Adam Wingard, Lawrence Levine, L.C Holt, Kelsy Abbott, Hannah Hughes.
Two self-aware characters in a Call of Duty-style video game struggle with their screwy, frustrating existence. To find answers, one abandons his partner and mission, seeking to unravel the cheat codes of life. (Director: GJ Echternkamp, Screenwriter: Matt Yamashita) Cast: Robert Baker, Brent Chase, Katie Savoy, Mark Hamill, Ben Messmer.
We Are What We Are
A devastating storm washes up clues that lead authorities closer and closer to the cannibalistic Parker family. (Director: Jim Mickle, Screenwriters: Nick Damici, Jim Mickle) Cast: Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, Michael Parks, Wyatt Russell, Kelly McGillis.
For more on Sundance’s Spotlight section, which includes films that have already debuted at other festivals, and its experimental New Frontier selections, check out the festival’s official website.