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Ranking: Sundance 2015 Films From Worst to Best

All 37 of our reviews ranked for your leisure.

Sundance Film Festival
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    Bookmark and follow our exclusive coverage of Sundance Film Festival 2015.

    sundance cos 2This year’s Sundance Film Festival was a gorgeous, week-long escape for the Chicago-based film writers of Consequence of Sound. As we trudge through the aftermath of one of the city’s worst blizzards, which unloaded over 12 inches of snow on our city streets, we look back fondly at the still weather of Park City’s snowcapped mountains, the cozy theaters and great films, and that time we saw actor Richard Kind walk through a pizza restaurant. We also saw Kristen Wiig the day before she officially became a Ghostbuster, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.

    In our inaugural year of Sundance coverage, Michael Roffman, Dominick Mayer, and I managed to review 37 films from January 21st through February 1st. While a smattering of works inevitably did not live up to our expectations (ahem, The Bronze), many surpassed them (Digging for Fire). We even feel we have a head start when it comes to discovering near-certain Oscar nominees (Jason Segal as David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour), soon-to-be cult classics (Entertainment), and groundbreaking documentaries (Call Me Lucky). Most of these films found distributors during the festival run, and those desiring to catch them should be able to find them in theaters, cable, or even VOD before the end of the year.

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    Tucked away in the mountains of Park City, the Robert Redford-founded festival has been going strong for over three decades. This year’s screenings were held in not only local cinemas but at community colleges, auditoriums, and even hotels. Some of these spaces could only hold an audience in the hundreds, but some were able to pack in thousands who were hoping to catch “the next big thing” or hear from the directors and stars of the films featured.

    We came. We saw. We reviewed a lot of movies. Now, for your leisure, we’ve ranked them all in order from worst to best. Regardless of the grades, however, one thing’s for certain: We enjoyed the ‘Dance. Even if we missed out on The Witch.

    –Justin Gerber
    Film Editor

    Note: All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

    Hellions

    hellions1 e1422827072834 Ranking: Sundance 2015 Films From Worst to Best

    Grade: D-

    Hellions has style to burn, but that only lasts for a few minutes before the film reveals itself as a disappointingly empty exercise in that and that alone. Whatever message the film has about the fear and/or joy in creating new life is lost in a fog of hackneyed character designs and nonsensical narrative turns that offer stylish images straight out of an industrial rock video but little in the way of anything truly frightening. It’s a film that assembles enough hallucinatory images and scary kid noises to masquerade as a horror movie but goes no further. It looks and sounds like a lot of other movies but never gets around to synthesizing those influences into something lasting, or even watchable. [Read Dominick Suzanne-Mayer’s full review.]

    The Bronze

    the bronze Ranking: Sundance 2015 Films From Worst to Best

    Grade: D

    After a while, The Bronze’s uneven tone becomes grating, and after an even longer while (the film clocks in at almost two hours, which is well beyond unnecessary), it’s genuinely unpleasant. The film attempts to identify with its many misfits but ultimately either sells them short or actively savages them. And then there’s nasty, vicious Hope, whose early abuses are all both forgiven and forgotten by the film when it’s time for her to learn lessons about growing up. To a point, the film teases that maybe it won’t end so easily, that maybe any of the awful things she does will pay off somehow. But The Bronze is so satisfied with its own winking crassness that it lets epithets constitute everything it has to say. Between that and the film’s scene-by-scene tonal shifts, what could’ve been an off-kilter curiosity curdles into a dull roar of disappointment. [Read Dominick Suzanne-Mayer’s full review.]

    Knock Knock

    knock knock e1422827751875 Ranking: Sundance 2015 Films From Worst to Best

    Grade: D

    Eli Roth’s career has taken a turn for the worst over the past three years. He filmed the cannibal-horror film The Green Inferno back in 2012, and it was due in theaters late last year, but behind-the-scenes issues with its distributor have shelved it indefinitely. Knock Knock can’t even satisfy his fans as a placeholder. If you want to see an unbearable, full-length adaptation of the scene in Gremlins 2 when Lenny the goofy Mogwai causes a mess in Billy’s apartment, then Knock Knock is for you. If not, all you’re left with is a film with direction, editing, and dialogue on par with a Lifetime movie. These are low blows to be sure, but Knock Knock deserves to be knocked out. [Read Justin Gerber’s full review.]

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