Sundance Film Festival is quickly approaching. This year’s predominantly virtual festival opens on January 28, 2021, and as always, they have an amazing slate of films for viewing including their Midnight category selections.
“From horror and comedy to works that defy genre classification,” the official Sundance website states. “these films will keep you wide awake, even at the most arduous hour.”
It’s a category that’s always catered to genre fans with previous years’ selections including Hereditary, The Babadook, and Assassination Nation, and this year is no exception. Check out the full list of films below, and stay tuned for coverage from iHorror as the festival gets underway!
Censor (Directed by Prano Bailey-Bond)
Set in the era of the “video nasty” in 1985, Niamh Algar (Raised by Wolves) stars as Enid, a film censor who takes her job very seriously. After viewing a film that seems uncannily similar to the hazy memories of her childhood concerning the disappearance of her sister, she finds the line between fact and fiction slowly blurring in the most terrifying ways.
The film marks the feature debut of Welsh director Prano Bailey-Bond. The director co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Anthony Fletcher. They previously collaborated on several short films including Man vs. Sand and Nasty.
Coming Home in the Dark (Directed by James Ashcroft)
Alan and Jill have no idea the terrifying series of events they will set in motion when they decide to take their sons on a spontaneous hike through the New Zealand wilderness. When two drifters emerge from the woods as the family stops for a picnic, they soon find themselves taken by prisoner and confronted by ghosts of their past that will no longer remain silent. The film comes with a warning of extreme violence and gore.
Director James Ashcroft makes his feature directorial debut with Coming Home in the Dark. He previously served as the artistic director of the Indigenous Maori theater company Taki Rua.
A Glitch in the Matrix (Directed by Rodney Ascher)
Documentarian Rodney Ascher returns to Sundance with his new film, A Glitch in the Matrix, a deep dive into the ideas of simulation theory which states that the world we live in may not be entirely real. Ascher traces the theory from the ancient Greeks to modern iterations of the tenets by Philip K. Dick and the Wachowskis (The Matrix) as well as modern scholars.
Ascher has produced some of the most compelling, and sometimes terrifying, documentaries of the last decade including Room 237 and The Nightmare. The latter was especially enthralling as it took a deep dive into the eerie common experiences of those who suffer from sleep paralysis.
Knocking (Directed by Frida Kempff)
Molly is still adjusting to her new life after her release from a mental healthcare facility. She initially finds some comfort in her new apartment, but the feeling does not last long after she begins to hear strange knocking on her ceiling. As she tries to figure out what the sound is, she is dismissed by her neighbors who say they hear nothing. The sounds increase and soon Molly begins to hear the desperate cries of a woman who sounds like she is in danger. She must find out what is happening. But how?
Director Frida Kempff explores the culture of gaslighting and the social stigma surrounding mental illness in this harrowing psychological thriller. which is already gaining a lot of buzz as Sundance approaches.
Mother Schmuckers (Directed by Harpo and Lenny Guit)
Issachar and Zabulon are two smarmy brothers who find themselves in a predicament after they lose their mother’s nippy dog. The woman kicks them out of her home and refuses to let them return until they have found the dog which leads them on a bizarre hunt through the urban jungle of Brussels.
The film comes with a content warning for “graphic depictions of animal abuse, sexual violence, and other subject matter that could be offensive to some viewers. Not suitable for audiences under 18.”
Violation (Directed by Dusty Mancinelli and Madeline Sims-Fewer)
Unhappily married Miriam and Caleb join the former’s somewhat estranged sister Greta and her husband, Dylan for a weekend getaway in the hopes of reconciliation. After he attempts to reconnect with Greta seemingly fail, Miriam finds herself drawn to Dylan. The weekend is fractured after an act of sexual of violence takes place, and Miriam soon finds herself on the path to vengeance.
Madeline Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli met at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival Talent Lab and were soon writing and directing together. This is their first feature film. Sims-Fewer also stars as Miriam in Violation.