Friday, January 26, 2007

Original Horror Making Waves at Sundance

So you've seen Black Christmas and The Hitcher, but you're slowly losing interest in the gradually diminishing returns of the spate of horror remakes invading movie houses across the country? Well, it looks like there might be some light at the end of the tunnel in the form of some new original horror cinema debuting at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Cinematical's resident horror guru, Scott Weinberg, has two pretty stellar reviews of two wildly divergent horror films that screened over the last week. Each sounds exciting in its own way, but more than anything, it's just good to see some original stuff from some new filmmakers.
The first of these two is Teeth, a coming-of-age story of sorts in which a young woman begins to explore her as of yet untapped sexuality. She runs into some trouble however, when it turns out that her vagina is loaded with something a little too unfriendly to the opposite sex: the film's eponymous teeth. As Weinberg discusses in his review, this unusual addition sets the table for some highly loaded scenes that explore our culture's insecurities with female sexuality and the vagina.

Certainly, this isn't the first film to broach this subject, in fact it's quite popular in the canon of horror cinema, it's just that Teeth, written and directed by rookie filmmaker Mitchell Lichtenstein, explores the subject matter with a literalness rarely seen, which will hopefully allow for intersting new allusions and metaphor. The reception has been so strong that apparently Lichtenstein is already in discussion to make a sequel or two.
The second of these films is The Signal, a mashup of techno-horror and zombie apololypse. For the film, three directors tag team on the three acts, detailing a fictional city in which a hypnotic signal that travels on TV and radio waves turns anyone who encounters it into a crazed killing machine. In the same breath, Weinberg praises both the film's gore as well as character development, which is often a tough duo to find in this genre.

Here again, the point is not that the themes in play (overreliance on technology leading to ruin) are all that new, but that these filmmakers are bringing their own, hopefully blood-soaked, perspective to them. In virtually every genre, the themes addressed haven't changed all that much since their inception. Instead, each filmmaker's contribution comes in the form of the elements and conventions that he or she chooses to highlight and the aesthetic sensibility that they bring to the project.

The best news of all is that both of these films have already secured distribution, Teeth through the Weinsten Company and Lionsgate and The Signal with Magnolia Pictures, and so they should be making their way to theaters sometime in 2007. With even more horror remakes on the way, both should provide a refreshing change of pace for discerning junkies everywhere.

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