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  • Writer's pictureHunter Friesen

Ranking the 2023 Sundance Film Festival Lineup

The Sundance Film Festival has officially come to a close, with several films and filmmakers making their impact both in-person and online.

I've compiled a ranking of all the films I watched as part of the virtual portion. You can go more in-depth for each film by reading my review for it on the page. And you can also look forward to several of them this year as many have been picked up for distribution by major companies.

6. Bad Behaviour

Bad Behaviour would at least be tolerable if the problems it had were interesting. But mostly it comes across as tedious and frustrating, making it far worse than it has any right to be on paper.

5. Run Rabbit Run

It's almost a surface-level cliché at this point to compare this film to The Babadook, but the parallels are so on-the-nose that I feel like I wouldn't be fulfilling my professional duties if I didn't. Plenty of good horror movies have been copies of those that came before them, but they had to earn their keep through inventive ideas surrounding well-worn topics. Run Rabbit Run doesn't do any of that, pedaling the same "elevated" scares that we've partially become numb to at this point.

4. The Starling Girl

If not for Scanlen’s performance, The Starling Girl would fall much further into the realm of obscurity its middling writing and direction had it heading for. If not for anything else, Parmet’s film has given one of our brightest young talents room to shine. Those with a deeply religious background may find more depth to it, but they may also find it dryly conventional.

3. Theater Camp

Theater Camp is by theater kids for theater kids. Those that have never found themselves stung by the acting bug may not come away with a huge smile on their face, but they will be given an enjoyable peek into this world of make-believe and harsh reality.

2. Fair Play

The carnal influence of Adrian Lyne is apparent, with Domont blending the dower and gleeful to semi-positive results. There's a hearty (and unhealthy) amount of excitement you get out of people taking down one another, even if the reasoning behind all of it is morally corrupt. Things do come off the rails alarmingly quickly during the climax when the theatricality of the situation greatly overpowers the reality. The messaging is obvious in volume, but a bit murky in tone, leaving things not as nicely wrapped as the presentation would signal.

1. Sometimes I Think About Dying

Sometimes I Think About Dying is a small movie with a small scope, buoyed by some intriguing visuals and a standout performance from an actress who looks ready to take on this new side of her career. As a twelve-minute short film, it’s a bit too short. And as a ninety-minute feature film, it's a bit too long. Somewhere out there is a perfect 45-60 minute version of this story.

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