Review: Sundance shorts shine in touring program

Vampires, horse racers and smelly superpowers highlighted in sampling of this year's Sundance fest

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
A still from "Fast Horse," part of "2019 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour."

A superhero tale with an unsettling scent and a documentary about a Canadian horse relay team are part of the "2019 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour," a collection of seven short films from this year's Sundance Film Festival. 

"Crude Oil," from director Christopher Good, is the freshest and most original of the assembled shorts. It's the story of Jenny (Andreina Byrne), who possesses what she considers to be a useless superpower: she can make people smell stomach-churning odors. What does one do with this power? Jenny's still trying to figure it out, as she deals with a boring boyfriend and a best friend who's just moved out of town in this brash, funny, delectably weird tale. 

Good has a strong touch and an assured style; "Crude Oil" has the kinetic energy of "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and the DIY spirit of a student film. 

"Fast Horse" is the program's other standout. It focuses on members of the Old Sun horse relay team in Alberta, Canada's Siksika Nation. Horse relay racing is a dangerous, fast-paced sport where riders zip around a track on horseback, switching horses every lap. Director Alexandra Lazarowich captures the frantic nature of the sport and the lives of its racers, as well as the soul of the sport, passed down through the generations. 

The program's other features are a mixture of narratives (the droll "Sometimes I Think About Dying," the stirring vampire tale "Suicide by Sunlight," the poignant "Brotherhood"), animated tales ("Muteum," a trippy tale of a school trip to a museum) and docs ("The Minors," an affecting quickie about a grandfather and his grandsons).

'2019 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour'


Not rated: language, adult situations, violence

Running time: 90 minutes