Last night I was watching the 2010 Sundance selection Daddy Longlegs on the VOD service Sundance Selects, and wondering why I'm not hearing more praise for this great film coming out of Park City. Is it being ignored due to its day-and-date distribution? Is it old news because it premiered last May at Cannes? Or, is it going unseen because it doesn't have an easy-sell premise?

The end of the film (and this isn't a spoiler) has the main characters riding on NYC's Roosevelt Island Tramway. If only this were where it began and the whole thing was set inside this little cable car, as it gets stuck midway across the East River due to mechanical trouble. Then everyone at Sundance would be seeing it and talking about it. But it wouldn't be called Daddy Longlegs. It'd be called something simpler and more straightforward, like...


It seems the easiest and cheapest way to get a film shown at Sundance is to make something with a single setting, as few characters as possible and a situation that everyone's afraid of. Maybe it's being abandoned in shark-infested waters. Maybe it's being stuck on a ski lift after hours. Maybe it's being buried alive in a coffin. Or, maybe it's being trapped inside a tramway for seven hours, like a bunch of people were back in 2006.
Of course, instead of dramatizing that real incident, which held 69 people high above the water, to keep things simpler and cheaper and dramatically tenser you'd want, at most, five people. And to make it extra scary, you'll want to put some hungry sharks circling below them in the river. Whatever, it won't be much less authentic than a lot of other films set in NYC. Honestly, just being trapped on a tram for ten minutes is one of my worst nightmares, so the shark thing isn't necessary if your target audience is made up of people like me.

Now you're probably saying to yourself, but the Roosevelt Island Tramway has already been employed for frightening scenes in Nighthawksand Spider-Man. Okay, then, how about you set a similar film in a subway car that gets stuck under the East River? That'll probably require less model work and less cooperation from the city, actually.

Or fine, you want to go even cheaper? Then just pick any random place to isolate a few characters and leave them stranded, dramatically. Make them lost in a gigantic corn maze after hours. Put them in the trunk of a car. Have a single character get locked inside an abandoned refrigerator while playing hide and go seek. Almost anything will do, so that you can have the Open Water, Frozenor Buriedof Sundance 2011.
categories Cinematical