By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist April 15, 2014 at 1:17PM
Synopsis: A middle-aged man in a rocky marriage takes a wrong turn and picks up a troubled young man, an event which ends up turning his life upside down.
What You Need To Know: There was a point at which Dito Montiel looked like he might be the next big thing in indie film: debut "A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints" won top reviews and a Special Jury Prize at Sundance back in 2006, and follow-up "Fighting," starring Channing Tatum, was a minor hit. His subsequent films have been somewhat disastrous: "The Son Of No One," with Tatum and Al Pacino, attracted derision on its premiere in 2011, and thriller "Empire State" failed to get a theatrical release despite featuring franchise headliners Liam Hemsworth and Dwayne Johnson. But he seems to have taken a much-needed left turn with his fifth feature, a low-key domestic drama. Robin Williams takes the lead role, and that's a generally a good thing when Williams is in more dramatic territory, while Kathy Baker, Bob Odenkirk and newcomer Robert Aguire are in support.
"Summer of Blood"
Synopsis: An unprepossessing young New Yorker stuck in a dead-end job and at a relationship impasse gets a new lease on life when turned into a vampire, although balancing his newfound lust for blood with his sudden Brooklyn sex-God lifestyle proves tricky.
What You Should Know: Graduating from his micro-budget indie background to a marginally less micro-budgeted indie level, writer/illustrator, occasional actor and filmmaker Onur Tukel (not here in his alter ego Sergio Lapel, under which alias he has directed two films) returns with a take on the vampire mythos played for laughs on the streets of gentrified hipster Brooklyn. Mileage will vary on this one, but "Richard's Wedding" was funny and sharply written enough to stave off the worst excesses of mumblecore, and we very much hope Tukel can repeat the trick of taking a somewhat tired premise and bringing the funny by channeling insights about modern, privileged, East Coast life through it.
Synopsis: A married couple and the husband's brother go out on a hunting trip together deep in an overgrown nature reserve, but soon find themselves becoming the hunted.
What You Need To Know: Actor/director Christopher Denham has been a bit of a secret weapon in recent years: he turned in an excellent performance in Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij's "Sound Of My Voice," made an impression as one of the captives in "Argo" and, most importantly for our purposes, directed 2008's better-than-most found footage horror "Home Movie," a cult hit on the festival circuit. Six years on, he's followed it up with another horror flick. Again, it's got a reasonably rote premise, but we're promised that it takes the set-up into intriguing new direction. And it has some good actors to do that with too, thanks to a trio of prestige cable drama favorites: "The Wire" and "Orange Is The New Black" actor Pablo Schreiber, "Boardwalk Empire" breakout Wrenn Schmidt (she played Julia, the great love of Richard Harrow, on the show), and Aaron Staton, who's Ken Cosgrove on "Mad Men." Definitely one for genre fans to keep an eye on.
Synopsis: A film archivist accidentally discovers that the house he shares with his wife was the scene of a horrific murder over a century ago. As secrets bubble to the surface of his relationship now, he becomes obsessed with the idea that the house, and the spirits it contains, is exerting its malevolent influence, and descends to the brink of insanity to uncover the truth.
What You Should Know: Director Ivan Kavanagh has four previous features to his name, many of which have played the festival circuit, but outside his native Ireland he's yet to gain the kind of recognition that some of his compatriots have in recent years. That may change with "The Canal," a promisingly eerie-sounding haunted house tale that has a slightly higher profile perhaps than his previous outings thanks to the casting of recognisable U.K. actor Rupert Evans ("Hellboy") and rising Northern Irish actress Antonia Campbell-Hughes. Mostly though, this looks to be an exercise in mood and atmosphere and we're always ready and willing to be creeped out.
"Beneath the Harvest Sky"
Synopsis: A coming-of-age tale centering on the relationship between two young friends who find different ways of making the money they need to escape their small Maine hometown, one by harvesting potatoes, the other by running drugs across the Canadian border. Eventually their differing outlooks place a strain on their friendship, though, one they struggle to overcome.
What You Should Know: Opinions differed on Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines," but one performance in that film that saw fairly unanimous acclaim was Emory Cohen's, so his central role here would be enough to get our appetites whetted. However it also comes from husband and wife writer/director team Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly, who were on Variety's 2013 10 Directors to Watch list, and whose 2009 documentary "The Way We Get By" was a major festival hit. Callan MacAuliffe (who played the teenaged Gatsby in "The Great Gatsby" and appeared in "I am Number Four") co-stars with Cohen, and Aidan Gillen, Sarah Sutherland and Zoe Levin round out the supporting cast.
"Dior And I"
Synopsis: A documentary going behind the scenes of legendary fashion house Christian Dior, focusing on the launch of new Artistic Director Raf Simons' first haute couture collection.
What You Need To Know: Obviously fashion-centric documentaries aren't going to be everyone's cup of tea, but if it does hit your sweet spot, French director Frederic Tcheng has probably been behind some of your recent favorites: he produced, edited and shot "Valentino: The Last Emperor," and co-directed the excellent "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel." Having already tackled one legendary designer, he now makes his solo directorial debut with "Dior And I," and given the legendary status of his subject matter, there's every reason to hope that he might have another winner on his hands. From the logline, and the presence of Anna Wintour in the cast list, we're reminded on paper of another good fashion doc, "The September Issue," so if this is half as entertaining as that, it should be worth checking out.