I n the indie-film universe, there have always been three ways to generate heat on the festival circuit: Make it topical (Iraq, anorexia), make it funny (Little Miss Sunshine, Napoleon Dynamite), or do the nasty (sex, lies, and videotape, Brown Bunny). Incredibly enough, this year’s crop of sex films has managed to raise the ante, even as they drop their drawers. Craig Brewer, director of the pimp odyssey Hustle & Flow, returns to Sundance with the wild B-movie Black Snake Moan, in which a cuckolded bluesman (Samuel Jackson) chains a chain-smoking, Daisy Dukes–wearing white-trash girl (Christina Ricci) to his radiator in order to cure her of her “sickness,” nymphomania. The sketch comics behind Stella and The State present their new comedy, The Ten, which lampoons the commandments, with heavy emphasis on adultery (Winona Ryder falls for a ventriloquist’s puppet) and covetousness (Rob Corddry plays a prison inmate who covets his cell mate’s “wife”). And perhaps no film is as anticipated as Deborah Kampmeier’s southern gothic Hounddog, starring Dakota Fanning as a young girl who becomes a victim of sexual abuse.
Still, even Fanning’s Taxi Driver moment (the movie is generally referred to online as “Dakota Fanning Rape Project”) pales compared with Zoo, which is generally referred to by the affectionate unofficial nickname “the horse-fucking movie.” Arthouse fave Robinson Devor, director of Police Beat, has made a documentary about a strange subcultural scene in Washington State, where, for years, men secretly met at a barn to be mounted by Arabian stallions—until a guy was dumped at the emergency room with a perforated colon (he later died from the injury). “If anyone goes to our movie hoping to see horse sex,” Devor has both warned and assured, “they will be greatly disappointed.”
I know, I know: You’re saying, “Sundance did bestiality last year, with Bobcat Goldthwait’s awful Sleeping Dogs Lie. What’s new?” Well, try Teeth, a horror movie that follows the leader of the abstinence movement at a small-town Christian high school. When she’s raped, she discovers that she has a Carrie-like power for revenge: a real vagina dentata. “It’s a coming-of-age story about a young woman who has a particularly painful coming-of-age,” says Mitchell Lichtenstein, a son of the late Pop artist Roy. “Across cultures, these myths are always about a male animal having to conquer the woman possessing this, um, dentata. I wanted to make it a good thing, so that the dentata was her protector. She’s like a superhero, and it’s her power.” Hollywood sure needs another superhero—but will the studio execs headed to Park City bite?