Indie Weekend: ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,’ ‘In a World,’ ‘You’re Next,’ and More *

Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in David Lowery's 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints'
Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in David Lowery’s ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’

An eagerly-awaited horror indie finally gets a wide release starting today — see below ( * updated with capsule review). What else is opening?

  • ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.’ Set in the Hill Country during the 1970s, the new drama from Dallas filmmaker David Lowery follows outlaw couple Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara on a crime spree, and then examines the aftermath, years later. With Ben Foster and Keith Carradine. Not previewed. (Landmark Magnolia) Lowery will appear in person for a Q&A after the 7:30 p.m. screening on Friday, August 23.
  • ‘In a World.’ Lake Bell wrote and directed, and also stars as a fledgling voice-over artist making her way in a male-dominated industry. Not previewed. (Angelika Dallas)
  • Drew: The Man Behind the Poster.’ The great poster artist Drew Struzan (‘Star Wars,’ ‘ Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ ‘The Thing’) is profiled. Not previewed. (The Texas Theatre)
  • ‘Hannah Arendt.’ Barbara Sukowa stars in the title role, a real-life German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist. Directed by Margarethe von Trotta. Not previewed. (Angelika Dallas, Angelika Plano)
  • Savannah.’ Jim Cavaziel stars in a tale of the Old South in the early 20th century. Not previewed. (AMC Grapevine Mills)
  • Scenic Route.’ Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler star in a brutal thriller set on an isolated desert road. Not previewed. (Studio Grill Spring Valley)

Opening in wide release:

  • ‘The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.’ Young people and the supernatural. Not previewed.
  • ‘The World’s End.’ A mature British comedy about drinking, middle age, and alien robotsReviewed here; recommended.
  • ‘You’re Next.’ An indie home invasion thriller that debuted to high praise at festivals in September 2011, then was picked up for distribution by Lionsgate, which delayed its release until now. Can it live up to the hype? I certainly hope so. Directed by Adam Wingard (‘A Horrible Way to Die’). Recommended.

* The film proves to be a really fun little trip that tries hard — maybe a little too hard — to do something different with the horror / home invasion genre. The setup is traditional: a wealthy couple’s children return home to an isolated mansion in the woods to celebrate their parents’ wedding anniversary. The siblings do not get along, but before their arguments can get too over-heated, the family is attacked by murderous masked assailants.

From there it’s a rollercoaster ride with post-modern twists. It has trouble handling some of the hairpin curves that it lays out for itself, resulting in awkward tonal shifts that tend to undermine the tension that’s been built up. Clearly, director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett are well-versed in horror tropes, and make a good-faith effort both to acknowledge and to subvert expectations. Their reach exceeds their grasp, but it’s gratifying to see a film that mixes the familiar with smart surprises. The ensemble cast does a fine job with some challenging material.

Praised in advance as something akin to the Second Coming of horror, ‘You’re Next’ is best appreciated and received as a modest yet ambitious effort to hit the sweet spot for grizzled horror lovers while also providing mainstream viewers with cool jolts to the nervous system.