First up, IFC Films has given Franck Khalfoun's “Maniac” a limited theatrical bow and VOD debut set for June 21st. A remake of the 1980 William Lustig–directed original, this version follows Frank (Elijah Wood) as a mannequin store owner who stalks and kills women in a desolate L.A. (rather than the original New York) with the shots mostly from Frank’s POV. “Peeping Tom” meets “Mannequin” for the dystopian set, we feel like voyeurs just writing about it. As Drew Taylor wrote in our review, “It'll get your blood pumping, before it starts spilling down your forehead.”
Next up is Neil Jordan’s “Byzantium”; IFC will release the vampire thriller on June 28th. A vampire prostitute (Gemma Arterton) and her daughter (Saoirse Ronan) leave the big city after a skirmish with a pimp and settle in a seaside town where their past haunts them, from the daughter trying to write a personal narrative in a creative writing class to the appearance of a vengeful vampire brotherhood -- “Chocolat” meets “Interview with a Vampire” without the whimsy or intrigue. As Kevin Jagernauth wrote in our TIFF review, “Though given two committed turns by a tremendously sexy and vicious Arterton and a solid-as-always Ronan, ‘Byzantium’ often feels as gray and lifeless as the corpses in the film.”
Third but not least, the Sundance hit “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” will be released on August 16 by IFC. A convict (Casey Affleck) travels across Texas to reunite with his wife (Rooney Mara) and the daughter he’s never met. As Rodrigo Perez wrote in our Sundance review, “‘It's ‘Badlands’ with a deeper aching heart as the Bonnie and Clyde of this story yearn for each other, but are kept apart by their own misguided circumstances.” With a great cast (including Keith Carradine as the wife’s father figure) and crew (director is jack-of-all-trades David Lowery), this is one to look out for.
And finally, Columbia Pictures plans to release the otherworldly comedy “Kitchen Sink” on October 17, 2014. Apparently, the film is about vampires, humans, and zombies teaming up against an alien invasion. Jonah Hill was considering it for his directorial debut, but Robbie Pickering is set to direct what was pitched as "The Breakfast Club" meets "Zombieland." Want a severed hand with your morning Wheaties? This film is for you. (We realize that’s rather corny, even for a cereal joke…)