Sundance film review: Prince Avalanche and Stoker

Reading Time: 2 minutes Film enthusiasts agree on the success of this season’s Sundance films.

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Unless you are a winter-sports enthusiast, January might seem like the least appealing time to visit Utah. However, Utah is host to the Sundance Film Festival, which brings thousands of visitors to the Beehive State every year. This year I had the chance to attend the festival and was lucky enough to see “Prince Avalanche” and “Stoker,” two films this year’s festival had to offer.

“Prince Avalanche” is a low-budget “bromance” that focuses on the relationship of two road workers revamping Texas roads after a devastating forest fire. Spending weeks isolated from society the two protagonists get to know each other very well. They talk about anything and everything, but mostly women. Alvin, played by Paul Rudd, has a girlfriend, but Lance, played by Emile Hirsche, is constantly looking forward to leaving the forest and heading into the city where all the girls are.

The pair is great together on-screen, and it’s their engaging interactions that provide the comical framework for this movie. There are some brilliantly funny moments in “Prince Avalanche,” and the humor never takes away from the story.

Sundance - Connor Allen-6Unfortunately, some scenes drag on longer than they should, and there is a sub-plot involving an older alcoholic character whose story never really progresses. Despite the movie’s flaws, watching Alvin and Lance’s relationship makes for a charming and inspirational story. Overall, the film is warm and entertaining, and it finds that rare sweet spot between the heart and funny bone. I give “Prince Avalanche” 7/10 stars.

With a slew of acclaimed films under his belt, Park Chan-wook has proved himself to be the Quentin Tarantino of Korea. “Stoker,” Park’s first English-language film, is his most intellectual and thought-provoking work thus far.

The story revolves around an 18-year-old India Stoker, played by Mia Wasikowska, whose father has passed away in a bizarre car crash. India’s mother, played by Nicole Kidman, arranges for her mysterious brother-in-law, Charlie, played by Matthew Goode, to stay with the family to help them cope. India grows skeptical when rumors begin to circulate that her uncle is sleeping with her mother. To say anything more would be spoiling the mystery behind this elusive family who has its fair share of skeletons hidden in the closet.

At its heart “Stoker” is a psychological thriller, and the best kind you can ask for. The slow pace builds constant tension and gives the audience time to reflect on the minds of the Stoker family. Though it lacks the brutality of previous movies directed by Park, “Stoker” is one of the most complex and rewarding films of its genre. It is a suspenseful thrill ride with more twists than your typical roller coaster, including a mind-blowing conclusion. I give “Stoker” 9/10 stars. Make sure to keep an eye out for when “Stoker” hits theaters this March.

Tyler Belk [email protected]