(dir. Jon Watts) “Cop Car, to me is a Blue Ruin kind of film; really fun, surprising. Cop Car could’ve easily been in competition. I just loved it in Midnight and the filmmakers loved the idea of Midnight, too. It’s just got this great logic to it. The young boys, when they find the Cop Car, at first just dare each other to throw a rock at it. And then there’s this dare to go touch it. And then there’s this dare to go open up the door. And so when the boys are in the car, they don’t just take off. They have to figure out how to drive a car first. It’s a really, really smart film and Kevin Bacon is such an awesome bad guy.”
(dir. Bruce McDonald) “It’s one of my favorite films of the entire festival and I feel like people have no clue what they’re going to see. His [McDonald’s] second film played Sundance Midnight 23 years ago and so when I heard about the film, I just had this feeling this was going to be a great movie. It’s just this master who’s been working in awesome, experimental films for the past couple years coming back and doing pure fun. It has visionary ideas and there’s a maturity to it, where he realizes he doesn’t really need to fuck around with setting up stuff, with explaining stuff. You’re going to get to the fun and go crazy with that for an hour straight, of just the Hellions and the story.
The crazy thing about the film, that image with the woman running is red. At the 20 minute mark or so, the Hellions pull the power on the girl’s home and so it goes black. Most of the rest of the film is shot in infrared. The last three quarters of the film is basically taking place in the dark, or in the night. When the infrared goes outside in the glow of the moon, the whole movie has this aesthetic that I’ve never really seen before. That’s the one, like last year with The Babadook. This is a horror film people are going to go crazy for.”
(dir. David Robert Mitchell) Note: Reff and I didn’t exactly touch on It Follows. The film has already cemented itself as a highly anticipated title and one that, having seen twice now, I can tell you is flat out amazing. See this film at your first opportunity.
(dir. Eli Roth) “It’s funny, it’s very much an Eli Roth film in the torture sense, but the fun thing is it’s all psychological. There’s nothing grotesque in the movie. It’s about this guy, he’s pushed and he breaks and because of that, everything is taken away from him. It’s this real dark, psychological comedy, I feel. It lays out everything. Everything in his life is just fucked over. And it’s a great Keanu performance; I know that was was a big thing for Eli. He loves Keanu as an actor and wanted to give him a film to really perform.
The whole first set-up is ‘how’d you invite this in to your life?’ He’s [Roth] always been a clever guy. He puts ideas into his stories and there’s logic to it. I think he has a lot of fun with the ideas of first just letting them into your home, you know—it’s slowly like, how much do you give into this one thing, knowing that you shouldn’t? “
(dir. J.M. Cravioto) “Reversal is just a really fucking cool movie. He’s [Cravioto] a big, action, stylish director. The opening scene, you have the captive girl in the room, the guy is coming in to feed her and she immediately takes a brick to his face. She finds eight polaroids, one is her and then there are a bunch of other girls. She decides to take that guy captive, on a Walking Dead pole, leash thing and she makes him take her to free all of these other girls.
Immediately, that’s the set-up of the film. You’re taking a film about a captive girl and you’re putting her in charge for the whole film. She is no longer a captive, and it’s not a tale of a girl just looking to survive. She’s actually going to take control and she’s going to help other people. The film just keeps being smart all along the way. The film keeps surprising you. It’s really stylish, really cool and never really relents.”
(dir. Corin Hardy) “I think this one plays really well with an audience. It’s a surprising film. You think it’s going to be this slow, creep fest, but the plot just starts moving along and keeps developing and keeps getting darker and more surprising.
The FX in it are super cool. I love a good, British countryside kind of creature horror film. I was just watching it again and it felt a little bit something like Dog Soldiers. It’s definitely in that world, in that landscape, and a surprise of how the horror comes into the story itself. The fun is the character is a conservationist. They’re trying to go help the woods and maybe the woods don’t need his help. Or maybe they’re woods they shouldn’t be helping.”
(dir. Rodney Ascher) "You’ll start to watch it and be like, ‘Yeah, this feels like a Rodney Ascher film.’ He just has this feel. He always loved the idea of calling this a horror documentary. Basically, he went and interviewed these people—it’s [sleep paralysis] actually a somewhat common thing—but he interviews eight people and then he went and reshot their nightmares. So after talking through their nightmares, he went downtown to a studio, a big soundstage in Downtown L.A., and reimagined all of their nightmares. They play out while people talk through them.
The great thing is playing these films at weird times where the next thing, after finishing this weird, awesome movie, you’re going to just have to walk home and lay in your bed. And you’re just going to be thinking about that movie for so long."
(dir. Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell) Turbo Kid is synth-backed and 1997-set. It's post-apocalytpic, BMX-riding, pink haired and ultraviolent. Reff says, succinctly and excitedly, "Turbo Kid has got this Mad Max edge to it. They’re punching heads and they’re exploding."
(dir. Robert Eggers) A meticulously detailed witchcraft period piece, Reff teases, "I think people don’t even have a clue of how incredible this film is. The precise detail, the time and the period, it’s remarkable. The Witch is definitely a slow burn, but it builds to an incredible place. It’s just such a smart, such an interesting—the cool thing about having this film in competition is the audiences have no idea. They’re just thinking, 'Oh, I’ll go see this film in competition' they’re going to be possibly seeing the scariest film of the whole festival. I’m pretty excited about that."