DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: Sundance 2015 - Day One

Sunday 25 January 2015

Sundance 2015 - Day One

It Follows (dir. David Robert Mitchell)

The economic simplicity of John Carpenter's horror classics seem to be the raisin d'être of this picture. The scenario is identified accurately in the title. Imagine an entity/monster/ghost/zombie following you forever, never stopping until you're dead. Mitchell combines the deadly unstoppable force of Michael Myers, Yul Brynner's robot gunslinger from Westworld and hell, why not, The Terminator to arrive at a monster as terrifying as all of them. As much as Mitchell wants to freak you out he wants to bring us all back to the nostalgia of the 80's when these films were in vogue. Mitchell's previous film Myth of the American Sleepover was an honest melancholy teen throwback picture and It Follows admirably finds the same kind of gentle honesty, helped in part by his marvellous company of actors used in both films as well as a delicious electronic Carpenter-esque score.

Stockholm, Pennsylvania (dir. Nikole Beckwith)

Imagine the most nightmarish scenario, the kidnapping of your child and then pile on another nightmare, the return of that child years later only to find her not accepting your own love as a parent. This is the starting and ending point for Beckwirth's psychological brain teaser. Based on a play Beckwith constrains the story to mostly a mother/daughter journey anchored by a raucous tete a tete of actors Saorise Ronan and Cynthia Nixon. Unfortunately the experience is more frustrating than intriguing. We understand and sympathize with the dilemma of the mother and father not being able to connect with their daughter but a ludicrous turn of the story in the second half pushes dramatic irony passed the point of plausibility. That said the film might intrigue those caught up by the caustic mother/son conflict in We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Ten Thousand Saints (dir. Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman)

It would be impossible to describe the complex plotting and relationships of the half dozen characters in this delirious 80's set coming of age/ family dramedy. Springer-Berman/Pulcini's picture charts the journey of an anxious teenager (Asa Butterfield) born with a pot smoking deadbeat dad (Ethan Hawke) from his humble Vermont childhood home to a life on the road in a hardcore punk band with all sorts of teen pregnancy, drugs, death and abandonment part of the mix. The filmmakers elegantly move between comedy and melodrama but there's just too much going on to keep us focused and thus engaged.

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