Strong showings for "Eighth Grade" and "You Were Never Really Here" highlight the Independent Spirit Award nominations                Review: Round-Up: "At Eternity's Gate", "The Clovehitch Killer", "Jonathan", and "The Last Race"                "Green Book" is a crowd pleaser of the highest order and a definite Oscar contender                Steve McQueen and a phenomenal ensemble cast help make "Widows" look effortless                "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" offers something for every type of Coen Brothers fan                Updated Academy Award predictions for early November                Review Round-Up: "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch", "El Angel" "The Long Dumb Road", and "Outlaw King"                Taking a look at potential Best Documentary Feature contenders                "The Front Runner" is a terrific and timely film for right around Election Day                Hollywood Film Awards Marked the Launch of Awards Season                Taking a first crack at Golden Globe predictions                “The Favourite” and “The Front Runner”: Films to see in November                Awkwafina to Host 22nd Hollywood Film Awards                Review Round-Up: "Bodied", "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms", and "The Other Side of the Wind"                Rosamund Pike is a force to be reckoned with in "A Private War"        

The Sundance Film Festival announces their first 2016 titles, including Kevin Smith’s “Yoga Hosers”

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There’s no place quite like Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival. I’ve been lucky enough to attend and it’s really something to behold. The fest is this bustling adventure in a small mountain town, filled to the brim with independent films of all types. It also takes place right in the heart of Oscar season, so as we close the book on one year, another begins to sprout up with their would be Academy players. We can’t know yet if any will be there this year, but Sundance has announced the first wave of their genre fare, including the movie from Kevin Smith, one of their biggest indie success stories…

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Smith is one of my favorite filmmakers ever, a unique voice if ever there was one. Recently, he’s gone back down a very indie road, starting at Sundance about five years ago or so when he screened his terrific film Red State and then announced it would be his last effort. He quickly came out of retirement, but he’s shunned studio work by and large, instead concentrating on making his “True North Trilogy” of horror/comedy hybrids. That begin last year with the underrated Tusk, will continue next year (beginning in Park City) with Yoga Hosers, and then finish with Moose Jaws. He’ll still work with studios on upcoming sequels like Clerks III and Mallrats 2, but Smith is back to his indie roots, with the results being unlike anything else out in cinemas these days. Fingers crossed that Yoga Hosers continues that trend.

Here’s what the festival has to say about the nine selections for their “Midnight” section:

31 / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Rob Zombie) — Five friends are kidnapped on the day before Halloween and are held hostage in a terrifying place named Murder World. While trapped, they must play a violent game called 31, in which the mission is to survive 12 hours against a gang of evil clowns. Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell, Richard Brake, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Meg Foster. World Premiere

Antibirth / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Danny Perez) — In a desolate community full of drug-addled marines and rumors of kidnapping, a wild-eyed stoner named Lou wakes up after a crazy night of partying with symptoms of a strange illness and recurring visions. As she struggles to get a grip on reality, the stories of conspiracy spread. Cast: Natasha Lyonne, Chloë Sevigny, Mark Webber, Meg Tilly, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos. World Premiere

The Blackout Experiments / U.S.A. (Director: Rich Fox) — A group of friends discover the dark underworld of the ultra-scary, psychosexual horror experience called Blackout. But what starts as a thrill ride through the unknown becomes deeply personal, developing into an obsession that hijacks their lives and blurs the line between reality and paranoid fantasy. World Premiere

Carnage Park / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Mickey Keating) — The year is 1978. A team of wannabe crooks botch a small-town bank heist and flee with their hostage deep into the California desert, where they inexplicably find themselves in a harrowing fight for survival against a psychotic ex-military sniper. Cast: Ashley Bell, Pat Healy, Alan Ruck, Darby Stanchfield, James Landry Hébert, Larry Fessenden. World Premiere

The Greasy Strangler / U.S.A. (Director: Jim Hosking, Screenwriters: Jim Hosking, Toby Harvard) — When Big Ronnie and his son Brayden meet lone female tourist Janet on Big Ronnie’s Disco Walking Tour—the best and only disco walking tour in the city—a fight for Janet’s heart erupts between father and son, and the infamous Greasy Strangler is unleashed. Cast: Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo, Gil Gex, Jesse Keen, Joe David Walters. World Premiere

Outlaws and Angels / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: JT Mollner) — With a notorious bounty hunter closing in on their trail, a gang of cold-blooded outlaws invades the home of a seemingly innocent frontier family, where an unexpected game of cat and mouse ensues throughout the night, leading to seduction, role reversal, and ultimately bloody revenge. Cast: Chad Michael Murray, Francesca Eastwood, Luke Wilson, Teri Polo, Madisen Beaty, Nathan Russell. World Premiere

Trash Fire / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Richard Bates Jr.) — When Owen is forced to confront the past he’s been running from his whole adult life, he and his girlfriend, Isabel, become entangled in a horrifying web of lies, deceit, and murder. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll be scarred for life. Cast: Adrian Grenier, Angela Trimbur, AnnaLynne McCord, Fionnula Flanagan, Matthew Gray Gubler, Ray Santiago. World Premiere

Under the Shadow / United Kingdom, Jordan (Director and screenwriter: Babak Anvari) — Tehran, 1988: As the Iran-Iraq War rumbles into its eighth year, a mother and daughter are slowly torn apart by the bombing campaigns on the city coupled with the country’s bloody revolution. As they struggle to stay together amidst these terrors, a mysterious evil stalks through their apartment. Cast: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi, Ray Haratian, Arash Marandi. World Premiere

Yoga Hosers / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kevin Smith) — Colleen Collette and Colleen McKenzie are teenage besties from Winnipeg who love yoga and live on their smartphones. But when these sophomores get invited to a senior party by the school hottie, the Colleens accidentally uncover an ancient evil buried beneath their Canadian convenience store. Cast: Lily-Rose Depp, Harley Quinn Smith, Johnny Depp, Justin Long, Austin Butler, Tyler Posey. World Premiere

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As you can see, the two notable ones are Rob Zombie’s 31 and the aforementioned Smith’s Yoga Hosers. Zombie is an underrated genre filmmaker, having a keen sense of what makes an audience tick, so I’m curious what this horror title will be like, considering he went to Kickstarter in order to fund it. At the very least, it sounds intense As for Yoga Hosers, Smith clearly had fun working with his daughter, not to mention Johnny Depp again, so it’s likely that you’ll see that filmmaking joy on display. It probably won’t be for everyone, but I’m keen to see it. I still contend that Smith deserved an Oscar nomination for Chasing Amy, so one of these days I hope the Academy gets back around to him…

Stay tuned for more on Sundance and Yoga Hosers next year!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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