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Sundance 2021 Reviews Day 2


Sundance Day 2 is now a wrap, so let's take a look at what movies I was able to see. A few other films had their premieres which I hope to be able to cover later, such as How it Ends and On the Count of Three, but luckily I was still able to catch four movies yesterday, two of which were on my most anticipated list.


CRYPTOZOO

In this fantastical story, mythical creatures called cryptids live among us but hide out of fear of not being accepted by the human world. A group of cryptid protectors makes a sanctuary for them and search the globe to offer them a refuge, but they're not the only ones looking... While the animation is beautiful, the story is just bizarre and overlong. I think this may have worked a lot better as an animated short. Cryptozoo purports to be an animated feature film for adults, and truly there will be some out there who embrace this fully, but this was not my cup of tea. RATING: 3/10


JOHN AND THE HOLE

John and the Hole is a dark fable of sorts about a young teenage boy who, for no apparent reason, decides to trap his family in a bunker he found in the nearby woods. This oddball thriller was incredibly unique and captured my attention throughout. The film mostly relies on its young star Charlie Shotwell to do the heavy lifting, but it's far more interesting when it focuses on his family played by Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Ehle and Taissa Farmiga. But even for all the interesting concepts the film poses, it doesn't really want to commit to exploring anything in real depth. Most frustrating of all, it features that noncommittal typical vague indie movie ending when the viewer desires something far more satisfactory for their patience. RATING: 6/10


IN THE EARTH

A scientist searches for a cure to a deadly virus inside an unusual park, where he happens upon a very peculiar individual. I didn't really know what to expect with In the Earth based on its Sundance description, so what I got was a lot different than what I imagined. In this case, having no expectations was a wonderful thing and I really got to experience the film in all its surprising glory. And goodness, what a fever dream roller coaster it was. In the Earth is a thrill ride and worth knowing as little as possible going in. The first half hour or so took awhile for me to get into, but from there it really grabs hold of your attention and doesn't let go. A word of warning to those with epilepsy, there is extreme usage of strobe lights towards the finale. RATING 8/10


KNOCKING

Molly, a recent mental patient, moves into a new apartment where she swears she can hear someone knocking. But no one will believe her, so she's not sure what's real and what's not. There's slow burn horror, and then there's never being able to ignite a flame. Unfortunately, while I had really high hopes for this one (even going so far as predicting it could be this year's Hereditary), Knocking was exceedingly dull and unsatisfactory. The story framing creates zero tension and I just never found myself invested in Molly's journey. When the definitive answer finally comes to what is going on, I found that I just really didn't care either way. Somehow despite being such a short horror film, the pacing seriously drags and it felt a lot longer than it was. RATING 2/10

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