Films about cults were all the rage at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, with some of the buzziest titles all revolving around veritable innocents sucked into organizations that are far, far more terrifying than they first let on. Vera Farmiga starred in and directed the religious-tinged Higher Ground, Sundance It Girl Brit Marling haunted audiences in Sound of My Voice, but the only culty hit that captured my attention (and made it wear rags, sleep in a room with eight other people, and till a garden) was Sean Durkin‘s Martha Marcy May Marlene. The film starred another Sundance break-out talent, Elizabeth Olsen (sister to the twins) as the titular Martha (or is it Marcy May? or even Marlene?), a young woman who has recently escaped a cult, led by none other than the magnetic John Hawkes.
The film follows Martha’s attempts to reintegrate herself into a “normal life” with her sister (Sarah Paulson) and brother-in-law (Hugh Dancy), both of whom have no idea what’s she been through to get back to them. The film flashes back frequently to show just what Olsen’s character has been through. It is, in one word, consuming.
Fox Searchlight has released two new trailers today, both hidden in QR codes, but our pals over at The Film Stage went ahead and embedded them for your viewing pleasure (i.e. terror). Check them out after the break.
When I saw the film in January, I tossed off all manner of fawning compliments on it – calling it the most consistently cohesive film of the festival, a sublime work, a master-work of tension building, a haunting and heart-stopping film. All of that praise remains true.
Martha Marcy May Marlene arrives in theaters on October 21st.