Sundance 2023 Day 2 Recap
Sundance is now officially in full swing with several films making their festival debut today. Instead of attending any premieres today, I caught up with two of my most anticipated film's second screenings: Sometimes I Think About Dying and Run Rabbit Run.
SOMETIMES I THINK ABOUT DYING
In Sometimes I Think About Dying, Daisy Ridley stars as Fran, the embodiment of social anxiety. She lives a ho-hum life working a boring office job in a tight knit office, where she spends her time trying to be invisible and thinking about death. When a gregarious new coworker (Dave Merheje) joins the team and shows an immediate interest in wanting to know the real Fran, Fran must decide whether or not showing her true self is worth the risk.
Daisy Ridley takes on a very difficult character and isn't quite able to completely elevate her past the caricature she's often written as. While she plays Fran's anxieties well, she isn't able to draw us into her story and give enough glimpse as to who she is underneath all of her fears. Though the film manages to put the audience in Fran's shoes in various situations, somehow we still feel like we're kept at arms length with both the character and the film as a whole. While that might be intentional, it is no less frustrating.
Sometimes I Think About Dying is adapted from a short film and it shows. While there's some magic to the concept of the right person being able to bring another out of their shell, this felt like it was explored with too much restraint fo feel satisfying. Though it had some quiet poignant moments, overall I hoped for more with this.
RUN RABBIT RUN
Sarah's (Sarah Snook) daughter Mia (impressive newcomer Lily LaTorre) has just turned 7 years old and all of a sudden isn't acting much like herself in Run Rabbit Run. On Mia's birthday, a mysterious rabbit shows up at their door and soon Mia seems to have a connection to a past that Sarah has previously kept well hidden from her daughter. Now Mia demands to know more about Sarah's childhood and the two find themselves spiraling towards a dangerous rabbit hole (pun intended).
Run Rabbit Run is a moody, atmospheric slow burn horror with some very great performances that pulls the viewer in. Sarah Snook and Lily LaTorre are both fantastic here and really carry the movie on their backs. But unfortunately the film has a few issues that keep it from greatness. A main ingredient to a successful slow burn horror movie is the ability to pay off the audience's patience in the end and sadly that doesn't come to pass here. The film feels like the diet version of The Babadook or Hereditary, where similar themes are explored and the film is certainly made with care...it just unfortunately is more eerie than terrifying and it can't quite stick the landing. But its biggest problem is its pacing in the second half that continually sputters any momentum in keeping the audience invested. Scenes that should pack more punch are moved on from quickly, as great scares are set up often but not executed to their potential. And it must be said, that there are some nonsensical character decisions made here even for a horror film.
Overall there is a lot to like here, I just wish the second half had been as strong as the first in truly bringing the horror home. I loved the story, the performances as I said were great, the cinematography was fantastic, the score was unsettling and the directing truly top notch. But a tighter edit and a stronger ending would have made the difference from good to great.