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    “A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT” (Sundance Movie Review)

    In Bad City, evil is relative. The fictional Iranian town, which exists only in a dreamy, anamorphic black-and-white, houses a small population which runs the spectrum of its namesake quality. And who’s to say who is worse than anyone else? Writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour is. Is a sleazy, coked-up, aggressive pimp any more terrible than who he employs? Is the silent vampire stalking the streets any less terrible because we love her?  Well, yes, but not in light of their actions. In A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, the embodiment of evil is lack of connection.

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    “WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS” (Sundance Movie Review)

    Is it the cyclical nature of things that’s responsible for one of our most overexposed monsters to return in two revelatory films at 2014’s Sundance? Jim Jarmusch’s ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE finds almost everything vampires have embodied in cinema in a lyrical, self-aware hangout led by two of our most poetic and appropriately vampiric actors, Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. Meanwhile, Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement’s brilliantly comedic WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS also encompasses most everything considered a vampire archetype, but in what’s easily one of the funniest horror-comedies in ages. Where plenty of morose vampires have contemplated their endless existence, these four bloodsucking flatmates in New Zealand attempt to keep up with it all, and give the viewer a gory, goofy time doing so.

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    “THE VOICES” (Sundance Movie Review)

    What’s the worst thing you’ve ever laughed at? It’s doubtful that THE VOICES tops it sure, but Marjane Satrapi’s film is playing with a similar sentiment in its pop-color focus on a mentally imbalanced man (Ryan Reynolds) spurred to kill by his talking cat. Awash with pink factory machinery, bright yellow windbreakers, chatty severed heads and cheery disposition utterly twisting the grim, gruesome content out of whack, THE VOICES is surely not for everyone. Those with a predilection for a little prodding outside their comfort zone and a willingness to chuckle at some terrible things will likely find it a tasteless, special little exercise.

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    Haunted Mirror and Eeerie Imagery Tease “OCULUS”

    Thanks to a fantastic response from last year’s TIFF, and of course the unsettling ABSENTIA, Mike Flanagan’s OCULUS is one of the most eagerly anticipated horror films of the year. Hitting this April, the tease has begun, and our first glimpse bears a storybook resemblance, introducing the viewer to the legend of this accursed artifact that haunts the film.

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    “THE RAID 2″ (Sundance Movie Review)

    It’s unlikely there exists a 2014 movie with more spectacular bloodshed than THE RAID 2. Of course, that statement is a nightmare to those of a queasy nature, or with little constitution for ultraviolence. But anyone fearful THE RAID itself could not be topped, or that its sequel ballooning to a 147-minute runtime would do it a disservice, should begin to feel something in their shoulders. Not hype per se, but more like the thrilling anticipation that permeates the entire movie, as if gearing up to do something truly heart-pounding. As if the movie itself is an opponent. As if you’re waiting for its first punch. You’ll never see it coming, nor the second, or third, or the hammer, or the bat. THE RAID 2 forces its viewer to feel it all, leaving us bruised, exhausted and elated.

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    “LIFE AFTER BETH” (Sundance Movie Review)

    Somewhere, perhaps even at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, there is a film that’s like LIFE AFTER BETH, but with no zombies. That version is likely anyone’s idea of a “Sundance” movie; essentially, an indie about a devastating break-up. When you consider that alternative, it makes the unique, intimate LIFE AFTER BETH even better and its slot in the festival’s U.S. Dramatic Competition truly satisfying. With horror— at least to this writer and I imagine many readers—is the best way to tell this type of story. Instead of a drab stab at realism, we’re treated to the sometimes sweet, oftentimes icky, intensely funny and cutting chronicle of getting on.

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    “COOTIES” (Sundance Movie Review)

    COOTIES may very well have one of the great opening title sequences. An exhaustive, repulsive and painfully up close document of the process that makes a chicken a chicken nugget, its nature may also very well prime the viewer for something COOTIES doesn’t seem too interested in being outside of the introduction: subversive and gross. And while the film is at points a very funny one, the ever-present reluctance to deliver on true carnage or amplify the bits of satire peppered throughout also make it a lacking one.

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    Notes on “COLD IN JULY” and “THE GUEST” at Sundance

    While “genre-heavy” in lineup, the 2014 Sundance Film Festival is not particularly confined to horror. In fact, a couple of this year’s most highly anticipated films see two of our brightest “new” horror filmmakers transition from one slice of pulp to another, carrying previous themes and aesthetics over to energizing, high quality thrillers that will be of no less interest to their, and our, fans.  Directors Jim Mickle and Adam Wingard, and their respective partners-in-crime (an apt term, here) Nick Damici and Simon Barrett have crafted two synth-driven, colorful, Carpenter font-using pictures that inadvertently turned into a fantastic double feature in Park City.  

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    “THE BABADOOK” (Sundance Movie Review)

    THE BABADOOK is absolutely fraught from its arresting opening sequence, in which single mother Amelia recalls, in nightmare, the car accident that took her husband Oskar away. The only thing that eventually pulls her from the aggressive dreamscape is an unrelenting shout from her son Samuel, who in turn was pulled out of Amelia on that very tragic day. More than an introduction to the stylish, aurally assaulting and often tremendous feature debut from Jennifer Kent, THE BABADOOK’s beginning serves to reveal that Oskar’s demise is still very much at the forefront of Amelia’s mind, with Samuel’s distant cries for help not a close second. Her son’s very existence comes with baggage, and as soon as the audience is hip to such, we’re primed for Kent’s exploring of how to reconcile the natural sentiment of sometimes just not liking your kid.

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    [Sundance 2014] Director William Eubank Previews Midnighter, “THE SIGNAL”

    While Sundance has grown intensely in both size and notoriety (likely the first thing that comes to mind when filmgoers hear the term ‘film festival’), it’s retained a significant, definitive quality: the element of surprise. A great many titles of the annual lineup do come with some level of anticipation, be it cast or filmmakers sure, but often its most discussed films seemingly come out of nowhere, flooring audiences and critics alike. In horror alone, this yearly tradition has yielded the likes of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and SAW. In keeping with this spirit, Fango has opted to take a look at two films in the 2014 midnight lineup that arrive with little awareness, but may make a big impression. Today, as the curtain raises on Sundance 2014: William Eubank’s THE SIGNAL.

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  • Hammer’s “THE QUIET ONES” Experiments with the Supernatural in New Trailer

    Forget simply seeking it out, scientifically experimenting with the supernatural is where the true fun lies. It’s why stories like Richard Matheson’s HELL HOUSE and THE STONE TAPE endure, and it’s there where Hammer’s brand new haunter THE QUIET ONES plants its feet. In the 1974-set film based on actual events, a professor and his group of students investigate “creating” a poltergeist through the energy of their subject, a troubled young girl and her damaged psyche. Frights and plenty of sternly messing about with equipment ensue.

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    [Sundance 2014] “THE BABADOOK” Trailer Brings Storybook Terror

    The Sundance Film Festival kicks off today and likely our most anticipated of the horror films there is Park City at Midnighter THE BABADOOK. From Australian director Jennifer Kent, the film looks an eerie, atmospheric story of a mother on the edge, her dangerously misbehaving son and the supernatural stalker out of a storybook that may be the cause of all their trouble. 

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