By Kevin Kelly
Sundance has long been known for its artsy films. That’s all fine and dandy, but what about the geek side of movies? Where is the spirit of independent filmmaking when it comes to our world?
Thankfully, Sundance has been slowing addressing that problem. Over the years they have premiered films like “Primer,” “Moon,” “Splice,” and “Another Earth,” that scratched a bit of that itch. The demanding film buff wants more genre out of this snowbound film festival, and Sundance is finally starting to deliver. The 2012 Sundance Film Festival has a lot to offer in science fiction, horror, and beyond.
Check out our genre highlights.
»Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Story: A six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy prepares the for the departure of her father. When he falls ills, the world literally does too. Prehistoric animals appear, and the climate changes.
Why We’re Excited: “Beasts of the Southern Wild” has its own universe, uses non-actors and prehistoric animals, so it’s like Wes Anderson at the dawn of mankind. Sounds pretty amazing. With characters named Wink and Hushpuppy, it’s also very skewed from center. We’re in.
The Story: A man facing maturity for the first time tries to find a spiritual master with his oddball, mystic friend coming along to show him the way.
Why We’re Excited: Mystic stones? A spiritual journey? It’s not the newest “Elfstones of Shannara” storyline, but it’s over the geek line enough to fall into fantasy. Definitely on our radar.
The Story: In this Irish monster movie, the only weapon that can fight the creatures from beyond the deep is by getting drunk. Very, very drunk.
Why We’re Excited: Whenever Sundance tells us to grab a drink, we know something special is about to happen. Fighting monsters through getting drunk? That sounds like the best monster movie ever made, and is bound to become a cult drinking phenomenon.
»John Dies At The End
The Story: When a new drug that separates the mind from the body starts hitting the streets and affecting mankind, two college dropouts have to make a stand.
Why We’re Excited: An out of body drug experience coupled with Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown by the director of Bubba Ho-Tep? This was made for geeks, plain and simple.
The Story: Two paranormal investigators disprove skeptics and hoaxes for a living, but when a legendary psychic appears after 30 years, their beliefs are shaken to the core.
Why We’re Excited: Paranormal horror with Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, and Robert De Niro sounds perfect. Cortés’ “Buried” was a terrific character study with one actor locked in a box for the entire film, so it will be nice to see what Cortés can do with a full cast.
»Robot and Frank
The Story: When elderly Frank gets a caretaker robot, he hesitates to embrace it. But things take a turn for the weird when he starts using it to plan heists and to woo the local librarian.
Why We’re Excited: “Frank Langella and a robot” kind of sounds like a highbrow version of “Short Circuit,” but anything that involves an actor of his caliber and a robot is in the middle of geek alley. Done.
»Safety Not Guaranteed
The Story: A personal ad in a paper seeks fellow time-travelers, and three magazine employees are sent to investigate. It’s a romantic comedy full of misfits, and the possibility of time travel. Move over, McFly.
Why We’re Excited: With time travel, Aubrey Driver, Mark Duplass and Jake M. Johnson, we have no choice but to get excited.
The Story: Three women go for a girl’s night out reunion on a remote island in Maine. Of course, something goes wrong. It always does!
Why We’re Excited: Are the Duplass Brothers just taking over Sundance again? Mark wrote this script, and his wife Katie is directing it and starring in it. They might just depose Parker Posey as the darling of Sundance.
The Story: Pauline is a weird girl with a taste for the macabre, and when she decides to lose her virginity, things take a turn for the very weird.
Why We’re Excited: It has horror, gore, and AnnaLynne McCord. This is a Sundance Midnight Movie, all right.
The Story: This film puts forth the theory that secret messages were hidden by Stanley Kubrick in “The Shining.” Sure, there have been crazier theories, but this one is up there.
Why We’re Excited: A documentary about hidden message in “The Shining” sounds like a film buff’s dream version of “The Da Vinci Code.”
The Story: Annie arrives home to her old house after her mother’s funeral and discovers that the house is haunted.
Why We’re Excited: Haunted houses, clairvoyants, cops, and Casper Van Dien? Sounds like a film that needs to be investigated. We just hope it doesn’t haunt us.
The Story: A group of criminals try to find a rare piece of found footage in a rundown house full of bizarre VHS cassettes, which in real life were all created by different horror directors.
Why We’re Excited: This mash-up of directors delivering horror might be a perfect return to the anthology movies we love.
The Story: The director of “Merentau” returns with a new martial arts film featuring an impregnable building that has to be broken into. Think the corridor scene from “Oldboy,” times ten.
Why We’re Excited: Who says action films don’t have a place at Sundance? Evans’ “Merentau” was so terrific that all you have to do is mention his name in conjunction with martial arts, and we’re sold.