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Sundance ’10: Ryan Daley Reflects Back on 6 Films of the Fest

The Sundance Film Festival is traditionally a mixed bag, but this year’s Park City at Midnight line-up was easily one of the strongest I’ve ever seen. Almost all of the movies featured were in some way entertaining, and three of the films were downright excellent. Here’s how I rank the six horror movies I saw at this year’s festival.

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The audience at my midnight screening was initially enthusiastic about The Butcher Brothers’ most recent effort, but that enthusiasm soon gave way to disenchantment, and eventually scorn, as the directors took a fun sub-genre (the 70s exploitation film) and stomped all the life out of it. All but impossible to sit through.

Even high production values couldn’t save this one, a sci-fi drama that’s all over the place in terms of tone. Is it a semi-instructional film about how to raise a mutant baby? Or is it a lurid sex flick featuring human-on-mutant groin-slammin’? Hard to tell. A weird mash-up of genres that never quite congeals.

The definition of mediocrity stretched to its breaking point. A couple of amusing scenes try to carry the load, but with the majority of the movie buried under a hapless heap of “who cares?” plot developments, this is a flick that quickly wears out its welcome.

Ryan Reynolds rocks the screen hard in a singular, no-holds-barred performance. Some will question the ending (avoid all reviews if you plan on seeing it), but in the world of tightly-wound, independently financed thrillers, Buried knows no equal.

Like Martyrs, this is torture-porn for the intellectual set. Those who enjoy their cinematic brutality served up with a side of emotional realism are in for a real treat. Sometimes graphic, sometimes restrained, 7 Days is the perfect amalgam of gut-wrenching horror and high art.

After a slow and baggy set-up, director Adam Green really brings the pain for the full remaining hour of his winter extremes horror film, a truly harrowing experience that provokes hours of discussion once the credits have rolled. By the time I left the theater, my armrests were slick with hand sweat.



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