Sundance 2012 Preview: Park City at Midnight

Sundance’s “Park City at Midnight” category is one of my favorites. It’s an out-of-competition section that gives films a chance they wouldn’t necessarily get at a prestigious film festival like this.

Horror and dark comedies are the types of movies that you can expect from this section of the festival. Movies from the past couple years to come out of Park City at Midnight include ‘Splice’, ‘Tucker and Dale vs. Evil’, ‘Buried’, ‘Frozen’ and ‘Troll Hunter’. Truthfully, you have no idea what you’re going to get when you go to a screening of a Park City at Midnight film, but half the fun is not knowing what you’re in for.

There are seven movies in the section as of now. That could always change, since Sundance usually adds a few more titles as the festival looms closer. Last year, the festival added ‘Silent House’ starring ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ star Elizabeth Olsen weeks before the festival opened.

The movie I’m most excited for in this group is ‘Black Rock’. Written by Mark Duplass and directed by Katie Aselton (both of whom star in FX’s ‘The League’), this has a good chance of being the funniest movie at the festival.

‘Black Rock’

Director: Katie Aselton
Screenwriter: Mark Duplass
Cast: Katie Aselton, Lake Bell, and Kate Bosworth

Synopsis: Three childhood friends set aside their personal issues and reunite for a girls’ weekend on a remote island off the coast of Maine. One wrong move turns their weekend getaway into a deadly fight for survival.

Thoughts: Mark Duplass is involved in three films at the festival this year. Three! Here he takes on a screenwriting role, which is the main reason I want to see this. Duplass is effortlessly hilarious in ‘The League’, and his Sundance entry ‘Humpday’ was one of the funniest films at the 2009 festival.


Director and Screenwriter: Richard Bates, Jr.
Cast: AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, Malcolm McDowell and John Waters

Synopsis: A disturbed and delusional high school student with aspirations of a career in medicine goes to extremes to earn the approval of her controlling mother.

Thoughts: First time director Richard Bates, Jr. brings together an eclectic cast featuring an adult film star, a child actor from ‘Modern Family’, and the ever-nutty director/actor John Waters. Who knows what will come out of this movie? Your guess is as good as mine.


Director: Jon Wright
Screenwriter: Kevin Lehane
Cast: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey, and Bronagh Gallagher

Synopsis: When the residents of an idyllic Irish fishing village are attacked by mysterious, blood-sucking sea creatures, a high blood alcohol content could be the only thing that gets them through the night.

Thoughts: This is a perfect example of why I love Park City at Midnight. Where else would you put a movie like this in a major film festival? Blood-sucking sea creatures? Highly-intoxicated characters? There’s a perfect recipe for some horror humor here.

‘The Pact’

Director and Screenwriter: Nicholas McCarthy
Cast: Caity Lotz and Casper Van Dien

Synopsis: As a woman struggles to come to grips with her past in the wake of her mother’s death, an unsettling presence emerges in her childhood home.

Thoughts: There’s not much information out there about this film. It sounds like a haunted house type movie, which we saw last year with ‘Silent House’. What will ‘The Pact’ bring to the table that other haunted house movies haven’t?


Directors: Dylan Southern, Will Lovelace

Synopsis: This documentary follows LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy over a crucial 48-hour period, from the day of the band’s final gig at Madison Square Garden to the morning after, the official end of one of the best live bands in the world.

Thoughts: I’ve never been a big LCD Soundsystem fan, but the premise of this documentary sounds very interesting. What does a rock star do days after his band has played its last show?

‘Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie’

Directors and Screenwriters: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim
Cast: Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim

Synopsis: After two guys are given a billion dollars to make a movie, their Hollywood dreams run off course and they decide to rehabilitate a run-down shopping mall in an attempt to make the money back.

Thoughts: Tim and Eric are Funny or Die alums who have some pretty noteworthy friends. All it takes is a little time on IMBb to find out that you can expect cameos from John C. Reilly, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jeff Goldblum, Will Forte, Robert Loggia and Ray Wise, just to name a few.


Directors: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence
Screenwriters: Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence
Cast: Joe Swanberg, Calvin Reeder, Adam Wingard, Sophia Takal, and Kate Lyn Sheil

Synopsis: When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for.

Thoughts:‘V/H/S’ is a collaborative effort which was coordinated by the horror web site Bloody Disgusting. This one is sure to delight horror fans everywhere.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @AaronPeck. I’ll be tweeting all sorts of advanced 140-character movie reviews and pictures of random celebrities I see around town.


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