Sundance 2019: Midnight Preview

The Midnight section of Sundance is always a mix of madness and mayhem, but it always attracts audiences enticed by bizarre, abstract and way-out-there content. Here’s a quick peek (if you dare) at some of what will be on view and what may be the next cult classic premiering at this year’s event:

“Wounds” makes its world premiere this year. The film follows Arnie Hammer as Will, a well-liked bartender who deals with a violent fistfight at his bar one night. The melee injures a customer while some college kids hastily depart, leaving behind a cell phone as they go. Will begins receiving disturbing texts and calls from the stranger’s lost phone, falling deep down into a disturbing rabbit hole, with his girlfriend in tow. Director Babak Anvari promises to strike an uneasy tone from the film’s opening scene, building tension as we question if there is more to Will, something we haven’t noticed behind his dashing smile and dapper good looks.

Demi Moore appears in Corporate Animals by Patrick Brice, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

“Corporate Animals” looks to bring nightmares, as Demi Moore hunkers down as a hotshot CEO trapped inside her company’s building with a handful of assistants and a tour guide, played by Ed Helms, who seems perfectly cast. Meanwhile, thrills are promised in “Arizona,” a dark comedy starring Danny McBride and Luke Wilson. Directed by Jonathan Wilson, with McBride as a producer, the film is set during the housing crisis in 2009, when life goes sharply awry for a struggling realtor and single mother, who witnesses a murder.

The hunter becomes the hunted in “Revenge” from director and screenwriter Coralie Fargeat, when three wealthy men get together for their annual hunting game in the desert. One man brings along his beautiful mistress. Things get out of control when, you guessed it, the proposed hunting game turns into a ruthless manhunt.

Nicolas Cage fans already know of “Mandy,” a blood-and-fire-soaked thriller, with Cage playing Red, a man facing off against a sadistic cult leader, who has destroyed his peaceful existence.

Finally, Andre O’ Philippe returns with “Memory – The Origins of Alien.” The award-winning director of the fascinating “78/52” (a film breaking down Hitchcock’s “Psycho” shower scene) gets back into the cineaste saddle to examine the origins of “Alien.” The film begins on page 29 of Dan O’Bannon’s original 1971 script, stuck in writer’s block with nowhere to go. The film promises to be a sociological and cinematic adventure that tracks down the many influences leading up to Scott’s seminal sci-fi masterpiece.