Sundance 2015: Programmer Charlie Reff Previews the Horror



“Everyone deserves the opportunity to get drunk and go to a midnight screening and have fun.” Sundance Programmer Charlie Reff is excited. Speaking to the Park City at Midnights of years past, he notes, “They’re really all over the place. I feel like Midnight is always such a grab bag. And that’s how we like it.” In 2015 however, there’s something of a difference. “This is more your standard definition of a Midnight section than we usually do, but it’s because the films were just that awesome.” 

What’s the best way to preview a film festival’s lineup? While there’s admittedly a certain tingle when one movie’s stills or synopsis evoke a thrill—a hint of massive potential—the reality is that you never really know. That’s especially true of Sundance, where beyond some of the more widely exposed stars-go-indie titles—where a lot of the genre films live—the selections are mostly discoveries waiting to happen (see: Nadja, The Blair Witch Project, Saw, last year’s The Babadook). How to get a handle on the movies, then? Call up the folks that programmed them.

After all, Reff is infectious. Throughout our 30-minute talk, he runs down Park City at Midnight with legit verve, as if each film is the one to watch (though he makes quite clear which he actually thinks that is). And like the festival itself in recent years, he won’t be confined to the witching hour. As Sundance’s horror and genre-bending selections have escaped the Midnight program, it’s not a surprise to see U.S. Dramatic host what Reff thinks could be the scariest movie playing.

“This year, there’s horror edges,” Reff says. “There’s definitely darker fun in all of the films.” With the highly anticipated and incredible It Follows; new works from Bruce McDonald (Pontypool), Eli Roth and Room 237’s Rodney Ascher; and a pop-apocalyptic, ultraviolent opus called Turbo Kid, how could there not be? 

Below, find the horror films playing Sundance, as Reff runs them down…