THE AVIARY – Review by Lauren Anderson

In a tale of twists, sisterhood, and triumph, two women join forces to escape the sinister cult Skylight in The Aviary. Formerly trapped at Skylight’s isolated desert campus the Aviary, Jillian (Malin Akerman) and Blair (Lorenza Izzo) make their escape into the desert. While they only planned to be out in the wilderness for three days, they quickly start to become consumed by paranoia.

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TURNING RED – Review by Lauren Anderson

Turning Red is Disney/Pixar’s latest film about a Toronto teenager who discovers her uncontrollable ability to turn into a red panda whenever she experiences strong emotion. At its core, the animated feature is a metaphor for puberty. But as Disney/Pixar films are wont to do, it reminds us it’s good to embrace who we are instead of dampening our “red pandas.”

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SO COLD THE RIVER – Review by Lauren Anderson

So Cold the River is worth watching for any mystery thriller fan, especially those who have read and loved Michael Koryta’s novel. The storytelling in So Cold the River is just as gripping and intense as the writing that inspired it, from the pacing to the stark, gray tones and the cast’s portrayal of their characters. The film captivates audiences with a reimagining of a good old fashioned ghost story.

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HELLBENDER – Review by Lauren Anderson

Hellbender is a coming-of-age horror movie in the witchy subgenre that has a rich history (think The Craft, Carrie, and even Jennifer’s Body). But the family filmmaking creativity behind this movie makes it noteworthy. What’s lacking in dialogue is made up for in trippy, gory scenes between mother and daughter that explore their rich history in witchcraft, making it worth the watch for avid horror fans.

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EMILY THE CRIMINAL (Sundance FF 2022) – Review by Lauren Anderson

“You can’t make money any other way?” Emily the Criminal is one of the smartest films to debut at Sundance 2022. Produced by and starring the versatile Aubrey Plaza, Emily the Criminal showcases how far someone will go to clear themselves of personal debt — even if that means joining the dark underbelly of the scamming world.

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PALM TREES AND POWER LINES (Sundance FF 2022) – Review by Lauren Anderson

Filmmaker Jamie Dack’s Palm Trees and Power Lines was incredibly frustrating to watch. Based on the 2018 short of the same name, Palm Trees and Power Lines follows Lea (Lily McInerny), a 17-year-old girl with a typical teenage life: she gets high with her friends, occasionally has sex with one of them in the backseat of a car, and doesn’t really care for her mom’s (Gretchen Mol) revolving door of men. Only when she meets Tom (Jonathan Tucker) after a morally misguided mishap at a local diner does Lea start to feel seen.

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SUMMERING (Sundance FF 2022) – Review by Lauren Anderson

Summering is one of the most nostalgia-inducing films that premiered at Sundance 2022. Set in the present day (one of the girls mentions TikTok), James Ponsoldt’s Summering encapsulates the angst of the precious dwindling moments of summer through the lens of four girls headed for middle school.

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SHARP STICK (Sundance FF 2022) – Review by Lauren Anderson

After a decade away from feature films, Lena Dunham return to the Sundance Film Festival in 2022 with Sharp Stick, a witty sex comedy that explores coming-of-age through female sexuality. Starring Dunham, Sharp Stick is the story of a 26-year-old woman’s desire to explore sex in the most grandiose and bizarre way. Sharp Stick is a hilarious and engaging return to the screen for the Girls creator. Much like the HBO series did during its six-season run, Sharp Stick demonstrates growth and change through some of the oddest occurrences.

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SPEAK NO EVIL (Sundance FF 2022) – Review by Lauren Anderson

Speak No Evil is a chilling Danish horror film programmed at Sundance 2022 that proves there is such a thing as being “too polite.” From writer and director Christian Tafdrup and co-writer Mads Tafdrup, Speak No Evil delivers satirically on cringe-worthy encounters to examine human nature through the horror lens.

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