Preview: Sundance Film Festival 2008

A sneak peek at Shock’s upcoming coverage!

The 2008 Sundance Film Festival revs up Thursday, January 17th and is heading to Park City, Utah to bring you the latest news, reviews and interviews from this lauded wintry event. Since I will be writing a-plenty about the fest in the coming days, I’ll cut right to the bone: Here’s a list of the genre films currently swimming on Shock’s radar. Click on each title below for more details and trailers (if available). “The Rotten Truth” blog will be in full swing by the start of the festival, you can pop in there for personal thoughts, party recaps, photos and other dirt.

The Broken

On a typically gloomy day in London, Gina, a young and beautiful radiologist, is sure she just saw herself driving by – in her own car. When she follows her mysterious doppelganger into an unfamiliar apartment, she isn’t quite sure she can trust her own eyes until she spots a photo of herself and her father on the entryway table. Understandably spooked, she dashes back down to her car. Soon she finds herself in the hospital, unable to remember what has put her there or much about the strange woman. What Gina does know is her boyfriend seems different, the ceiling above the bathtub leaks blood in her dreams, and broken mirrors are becoming a recurring theme in her life. Increasingly paranoid, Gina is experiencing a bizarre and horrific version of her former life, and as things spiral out of control, she must escape from, or come to grips with, her new reality.

Comments: However vague the above description is, “Broken” is being heralded by positive buzz. British writer/director Sean Ellis accrued much recognition over the last four years, all for his short film “Cashback.” He developed it into a feature in 2006. “Leonidas’ widow-turned-Sarah Connor” actress Lena Heady brings a modicum of believable intensity to her roles (not to mention refined beauty), I’m curious to see how she carries a picture on her own. Also, the exploration of the doppelgänger (usually an omen of bad news) has me thinking about Nacho Cerda’s “The Abandoned” – we’ll soon find out what Ellis does with the concept.

Photo Gallery: HERE


Friday, January 18th, Midnight- Egyptian Theatre

Saturday, January 19th, 12:00pm – Egyptian Theatre

Saturday, January 19th, Midnight – Tower Theatre, SLC

Sat. January 26, 9:15pm, Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City

Counting in Fives

Nylon Magazine founder and editor-in-chief Marvin Scott Jarrett brings his latest feature “Counting in Fives” to Park City as a full-fledged theatrical and rock extravaganza. Jarrett’s film, which is screening independently from the festival, follows the breakout British rock group, The Horrors, on the streets of London and the US, in the studio writing their second record and throughout concerts in the US and the UK. Shot in association with HUGO BOSS, the film explores the inspirations, the look (a mess of sharp elbows, big hair, feedback, and monochrome clothes), and the explosive live performances of this group which may be the most exciting British band since the Sex Pistols.

Comments: Here at Shock we keep our focus relatively simple – coverage of film and TV only. Only on occasion do we dip into comic books, and rarely, video games. Music is a whole different ballpark. And honestly, writing about music for me is like writing about sports. I stick to what I know. “Counting in Fives” seems too good to pass up. The Horrors captured our attention last year with their music video “Sheila is a Parasite” (watch it), directed by Chris “Why isn’t this guy making horror films?” Cunningham. That viewing experience led to buying their album – and after a spin or two, it was obvious this band digs the genre, so we’ll give this doc a chance.

Diary of the Dead

Fiction turns into reality for a group of film students who set out to shoot a low-budget horror flick in the woods of Pennsylvania. When the dead come to life before their eyes, director Jason Creed decides to capture these startling events with his camera, even as members of his cast and crew become prey to the increasing army of walking corpses that surround them. Mainstream media coverage of this plague is manipulated and unreliable, so the only way to get the real story out to the public is by posting raw footage on the Internet. As the group make their way back home in an old Winnebago, they are met with death at every turn, and the realization sets in that the only remaining audience for Jason’s film may be the same undead subjects he is risking his life to document.

Comments: Shock critic Ed Douglas didn’t care for this film very much. I, on the other hand, thought it was very good. Romero brought some decent ideas to the table, although he stretches them perilously thin towards the close of the film. Some time has passed since I saw it at the American Film Market, so I’m eager to get a second serving of “Diary” – I’ll post a review of my own shortly thereafter.

Photo Gallery: HERE


Friday, January 18th, 11:30pm – Library Center Theatre

Tuesday, January 22nd, 9:00pm – Tower Theatre, SLC

Saturday, January 26th, 11:30pm – Holiday Village Cinema II

Sunday, January 27th, 10:00am – Holiday Village Cinema I

Donkey Punch

Three gorgeous ladies on holiday in a Mediterranean beach town are determined to let their hair down and leave their troubles behind. The festivities begin at a nightclub, where libations flow and libidos grow. As luck would have it, they encounter three charming lads who are more than eager to provide them with what they are looking for. Collectively they make their way to the yacht where the men crew. Caught up in the hedonistic wave created by the sexual tension, and spurred by the fact that the yacht’s owner is away, they throw caution to the wind and head out to sea. This is where the terror begins.

Comments: Dead Calm with sexy-hot 20-somethings? Whatever the case is here, you’ve got to love that title which, if you’re not familiar, refers to a sex act. Here, let Wikipedia school you. Like the aforementioned Ellis, director Oliver Blackburn career was born out of short films. “Donkey” is his feature debut. He also co-penned the upcoming supernatural thriller Vinyan by director Fabrice Du Welz. Leading man Julian Morris previously starred in the cyber slasher Cry_Wolf and actress Nichola Burley (featured in our photo gallery) scored some steady work in the television series “Drop Dead Gorgeous” in ’06.

Photo Gallery: HERE


Tuesday, January 22nd, Midnight – Egyptian Theatre

Friday, January 25th, 3:00pm – Egyptian Theatre

Saturday, January 26th, Midnight – Tower Theatre, SLC

Fear(s) of the Dark

Spiders’ legs brushing against naked skin. Unexplained noises in the dark. A hypodermic needle getting closer and closer. A dead thing trapped in a bottle of formaldehyde. A growling dog running and on the hunt. A big empty house creaking… Six amazing graphic artists and cartoonists lend their distinctive hands to stylize these dark nightmares with no color, only black, white, and gray.

Comments: With CGI features pushed to the forefront of popular culture, it’s always a breath of fresh air to see artists still crackling away with traditionally animated fare. I’m not sure what to expect from this – the teaser trailer weirds me out. “Fear(s)” will be a good wake-up call – the press screening starts bright and early at 9am.


Friday, January 18th, 2:30pm – Holiday Village Cinema II

Saturday, January 19th, 11:30am – Holiday Village Cinema II

Sunday, January 20th, 6:30pm – Redstone Cinemas, Kimball Junction

Friday, January 25th, 9:00pm – Egyptian Theatre

Saturday, January 26th, 3:00pm – Broadway Centre Cinemas IV, SLC

Funny Games

The Farber family – George (Tim Roth), Anna (Naomi Watts), and young Georgie (Devon Gearhart) – drive through the countryside to their summer home. Shortly after they arrive, two well-mannered young men, Paul (Michael Pitt) and Peter (Brady Corbet), appear, hoping to borrow some eggs. But they are neither friendly neighbors nor interested in eggs. Taking the family hostage, the intruders proceed to entertain themselves with increasingly sadistic “games.” Then, with alarming politeness, Paul bets the Farbers that they won’t survive the next 12 hours. He turns to the camera: “Think they stand a chance?”

Comments: I love this movie and, like “Diary,” I’m eager to see it again. Read my thoughts on an early screening from last June here and stay tuned for a full review.

Photo Gallery: HERE


Saturday, January 19th, Midnight – Broadway Centre Cinemas IV, SLC

Wednesday, January 23rd, Midnight – Egyptian Theatre

Thursday, January 24th, 9:30pm – Redstone Cinemas, Kimball Junction

Saturday, January 26th, 11:30pm – Prospector Square Theatre

Otto; or, Up With Dead People

Otto is a handsome, sensitive, neo-Goth zombie with an identity crisis. He looks and smells like a zombie but isn’t certain that he is one. He wanders the streets of the city, never sleeping, until one day–as he is being harassed by hooligans–he ducks into an alley and spots a poster announcing auditions for a zombie film. He soon meets aspiring filmmaker/revolutionary Medea Yarn, who is convinced that Otto, as a confused zombie, is the perfect embodiment of the effects of advanced capitalism on individuals. Medea begins to make a film about Otto, while simultaneously shooting a film about a gay zombie revolt against consumerist society. After moving in with an actor, Otto begins to remember fragments of his pre-zombie life with a sweet boyfriend. As Medea directs the final, orgiastic scene of her gay zombie film, Otto struggles to access the human emotions buried beneath his zombie exterior.

Comments: Wait-a-second here…so, you’re telling me this isn’t a siege tale, it’s not about the end of the world, it has a zombie and it has something to say? Kudos to writer-director Bruce LaBruce (helluva name!) for trying something different. The Sundance program states “Otto” “a clever modern fable about alienation and the problems created by a mass-produced society, where even the members most on the fringe find it hard to resist being pulled into the mainstream” – my question is, what will the Hot Topic crowd think of it? “Otto” marks LaBruce’s third feature premiere at Sundance.

Photo Gallery: HERE


Saturday, January 19th, 11:30pm – Library Center Theatre

Sunday, January 20th, 3:00pm – Egyptian Theatre

Tuesday, January 22nd, 10:30pm – Broadway Centre Cinemas VI, SLC

Saturday, January 26th, 9:00pm – Egyptian Theatre

Quentin Tarantino Presents Hell Ride

A raucous throwback to the days of the Sergio Leone spaghetti western, with a heaping helping of testosterone-fueled chopper action thrown into the mix, writer/director Larry Bishop takes on a third role as Pistolero, head honcho of the Victors, a group of badass bikers who are out to avenge the murder of one of their members at the hands of the 666ers, a rival gang whose actions live up to their hellish moniker. Along with his cohorts, the Gent (deviously portrayed by Michael Madsen) and the mysterious Comanche (Eric Balfour), Pistolero aims to take down the Deuce and Billy Wings, menacing leaders of the 666ers, but a mutiny looms on the horizon when his commitment to profit is questioned by a few of his fellow Victors. An even larger story unravels when previously unknown information about Comanche resurrects ghosts from Pistolero’s past.

Comments: Barely horror, we’re sure – still, this sounds like it will satiate my craving for a ’70s-style biker flick. The cast is a knock-out and the 666ers are reportedly a bunch of bad-ass Satanic mofos. Its 83-minute running time hints at a quick fix of machismo and violence, if I get anything more than that, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Photo Gallery: HERE


Monday, January 21st, Midnight – Egyptian Theatre

Thursday, January 24th, 10:30pm – Broadway Centre Cinemas VI, SLC

Friday, January 25th, Midnight – Egyptian Theatre

Saturday, January 26th, 11:30pm, Library Center Theatre

Quid Pro Quo

A dark, puzzling tale of strangers who crash into one another’s lives and transform them forever. Isaac, a paraplegic, is a popular New York City public-radio reporter who is investigating a story from an anonymous source about a man who walked into a hospital demanding that his leg be amputated. While pursuing the story to satisfy his own probing curiosity, Isaac meets the strikingly beautiful and mysterious Fiona, a restoration artist. Isaac’s investigation not only initiates a relationship with Fiona but also leads him into the strange subculture of “wannabes,” those longing for wholeness – or lack thereof – in rather peculiar ways. Will Fiona lead Isaac to answers about this underworld of seekers, or will their stormy association push him toward a more painful truth?

Comments: The idea that someone would have the desire to be amputated because they feel an appendage doesn’t jive with their over-all lifestyle was first introduced to me in an episode of “Nip/Tuck.” This guy literally tucked a leg back and walked around on crutches until he saved up enough dough to have it surgically removed. Writer-director Carlos Brooks appears to take that bewildering need to new heights in his feature debut. The last time I saw Stahl, he was under pounds of latex in Sin City and Farmiga, well, I’m a big fan of The Departed and her turn in last year’s Joshua pushed her emotional boundaries, impressing me even more.


Sunday, January 20th, 5:30pm – Library Center Theatre

Monday, January 21st, 11:30am – Holiday Village Cinema II

Friday, January 25th, 8:30pm – Prospector Square Theatre

Saturday, January 26th, 7:30pm – Broadway Centre Cinemas VI, SLC


From its first scene, Red rivets you like a classic page-turner. Set in small-town America, Red derives its title from a 14-year-old dog that is the sole companion of Avery, an older gentleman who lives alone with his memories in a simple existence posing no threat to anyone. One day while he is fishing, three troublesome teens terrorize him and kill the only thing he has left to love in the world – his dog. He sets out on a quest for an apology, but the situation soon escalates into much more.

Comments: Since this picture was announced as a Sundance entry, we’ve been told time and time again by its reps that it is not a horror film. If you’ve read Jack Ketchum’s novel (I have), you know that. But with Lucky McKee on board as co-director and Stephen Susco (The Grudge) adapting, there’s no ignoring this heartbreaking drama of revenge. Plus, the casting of Brian Cox as Avery Ludlow is gold. McKee, according to some rumors, stepped away from the project during the shoot making room for Trygve Allister Diesen – I’m hoping we’ll be able to catch up to Diesen and/or McKee to get an accurate account.

Photo Gallery: HERE


Sunday, January 20th, 2:30pm – Prospector Square Theatre

Thursday, January 24th, 5:30pm – Library Center Theatre

Saturday, January 26th, 6:45pm – Broadway Centre Cinemas V, SLC

Sunday, January 27th, 11:30am – Holiday Village Cinema IV

Time Crimes

As it happens, this smart, feisty thriller begins quite sedately. Hector sits on a lawn chair outside his country home surveying the nearby hillside through a pair of binoculars. But, catching sight of what appears to be a nude woman amidst the trees, he hikes up to investigate. When he’s attacked by a sinister figure wrapped in a grotesque, pink head bandage, Hector takes refuge in a laboratory atop the hill. He tries to elude the stalker by hiding in a peculiar scientific contraption, and moments later, he emerges – only to find that it’s hours earlier. But time has a lot in store for Hector.

Comments: Another film preceded by a fare amount of good hype. I tried to get a glimpse of this at the AFM, but was denied at every turn. Honestly, I have no idea what to expect here…

Photo Gallery: HERE


Friday, January 18th, 3:15pm – Holiday Village Cinema III

Saturday, January 19th, 9:45pm – Broadway Centre Cinemas V, SLC

Wednesday, January 23rd, 11:59pm – Broadway Centre Cinemas V, SLC

Thurday, January 24th, Midnight – Egyptian Theatre

Saturday, January 26th, 6:15pm – Holiday Village Cinema III


One of those legendary train trips that people used to dream about taking, the Transsiberian Express has probably seen better days. An American couple, Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer), decide to return home the long way from their recent sojourn in Peking and meet another couple from the West, Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) and Abby (Kate Mara), with whom they quickly form that tenuous bond that often unites fellow travelers away from home. When Roy gets separated from the train at a stopover, Jessie begins to realize that their compatriots aren’t exactly who or what they seem to be. But the real dangers of their unforgettable trip have only begun to surface; Russian cops (Ben Kingsley plays one), mobsters, and locals are still to come.

Comments: Brad Anderson is always hit-or-miss for me. Session 9 was a picture I detested until, years later, I gave it another shot…now it’s a fave. The Machinist put me to sleep. Sources who have seen “Transsiberian” told me this flick is a mess. Anderson co-wrote the film with Will Conroy who previously penned “Five Minutes, Mr. Welles,” a short film directed by Vincent D’Onofrio that centered around Orson Welles prepping for a scene in “The Third Man.”

Photo Gallery: HERE


Friday, January 18th, 6:15pm – Eccles Theatre

Saturday, January 19th, 8:30am – Library Center Theatre

Sunday, January 20th, 6:30pm – Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, SLC

Monday, January 21st, 6:00pm – Screening Room, Sundance Resort

Saturday, January 26th, 9:30pm – Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Ogden

Source: Ryan Rotten


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