The 2017 Sundance Film Festival is in full swing, and thus far the big story to come out of the annual festivities is Netflix and Amazon's eagerness to purchase titles. But, as always, Sundance has also gifted moviegoers with films of the strangest variety (think: Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse in last year's Swiss Army Man).
This year's strangest films have ranged from the Brooklyn borough Bushwick being overtaken by murderous Texans, Rooney Mara devouring a pie on camera for five minutes and a grotesque horror film that includes a man having sex with a talking boil on a woman's neck. Yes, somehow, you have read all of that correctly.
Let's break down the five weirdest Sundance films from 2017 so far — in no particular order but Kuso certainly deserves to be at the top of the list.
So Kuso is musician Flying Lotus' directorial debut, and it's pegged as a somewhat connected series of short films, but as the Verge puts it, it's also the "grossest film ever" made. What's so gross about it? Glad you asked!
According to the Verge review, which also mentions swaths of viewers leaving the showing before the end credits, there's a point where "a boil-covered woman choked a man with a strap until he covered half her face with semen" and there's also "footage of an erect penis being violently gored by a long steel rod." Also, a doctor played by George Clinton who "pulls down his pants and has the patient sing into his hairy, wrinkled anus in order to wake a toddler-sized cockroach."
This is just a taste of, apparently, what Kuso offers, so don't expect to see Amazon and Netflix engage in a bidding war for its streaming rights. Now, enjoy the very trippy, mostly gross trailer for Kuso.
America is teetering towards another civil war in Bushwick, which couldn't come at a better time after the inauguration of Donald Trump. The film takes place in the titular Brooklyn borough, and the premise is absolutely bonkers, per Variety: A coalition sent by a Texas secessionist movement goes to Bushwick and begins wiping out its residents. Who's there to save them? Well, Dave Bautista, who does sound perfectly suited for a rogue badass role in a dystopian action flick.
Bushwick did receive a glowing review from Variety, praising its chaotic action and Bautista's performance. To get a glimpse of Bushwick, check out a tense clip from the movie below.
Ingrid Goes West
Aubrey Plaza is a stalker who becomes obsessed with an Instagram model, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and moves across the country to try and befriend her. Yes, that's what Ingrid Goes West is about, and while social media-themed horror stories are becoming a bit more common — such as the surprisingly chilling, taut Unfriended — the main cast alone makes the film worth checking out.
Plus, if you believe it's a generational thing that only millennials will get, Plaza and Olsen believe this type of social media obsession can also capture another niche audience: grandmas.
"So many people want to put up videos of their grandchild succeeding at something to just basically brag about their stupid grandchild," Olsen told Vulture, in a joint interview with Plaza.
"These grandmas are out of control," Plaza added.
Kristen Stewart already made headlines for co-authoring a research paper on artificial intelligence, but the paper was the result of her directorial debut, Come Swim.
The short film features a man who is, as Deadline describes, "oversaturated and then parched by water." Suffice it to say, it's less focused on narrative and more on imagery, but Stewart did admit it was a difficult directing project — especially as her debut (she did, however, say she'll go behind the camera again).
"Why did I make my first experience so difficult?" Stewart says, per Deadline. "I'm a little masochistic."
A Ghost Story
A Ghost Story already sounds absurd without the Rooney Mara eating pie punchline. In the film, Casey Affleck becomes a ghost — one which, as Vulture describes, is very much Affleck with a white sheet over his body and cutouts for his eyes — and haunts the property that he and his presumed girlfriend, play by Mara. Apparently, Affleck's ghost will continue to haunt the property long after Mara's character passes away.
OK, now let's get to the pie. As Vulture, Variety, the Verge, Uproxx and others have explained, there is an extended scene of Mara scarfing down an entire pie in silence after Affleck dies. It's basically a stress eat of an entire pie, which based on the reviews will take anywhere from four to seven full minutes to finish, and it's apparently a gut call for the audience (will you watch the entire thing or are you going to leave?).
"Rooney attacks that pie like a cake person, engineering such unusual fork scoops (she stabs the pie at least four times before each bite) that I started to wonder whether the actress had even ever seen a pie before," Kyle Buchanan writes for Vulture. "We all do weird things when dealing with grief, but I was tickled by the fact that Mara's bizarre pie-eating method still managed to leave the crust mostly intact: Even when she's plunging deep into character, Rooney Mara is not going to touch a carb."
Man, Sundance is LIT this year.