The Rise of Influencer Horror; New Avatar Trailer; R.I.P. Julie Powell

In today's Movie News RundownThe new film Influencer gets the influencer horror genre just right; how to make a modern-day psychosexual thriller; an engineer comes to Hollywood with plans to solve it; R.I.P. Julie Powell, who inspired Julie and Julia. Plus: A new look at the new Avatar.

Engineering Hollywood: When software engineer-turned-moviemaker Rao Meka first submitted his script to a big Hollywood producer, he received this feedback: I could not read it past 20 pages. It is atrocious. You do not know how to write a screenplay. You do not know what a screenplay is.” Did Rao give up? No, because engineers solve problems. Here’s the first of several pieces he’s writing for us about how he’s solving the problem of Hollywood about how he’s solving the problem of Hollywood.

Greetings: from Provo, Utah, where we’re attending FilmQuest, one of our 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee. Provo is a cool mountain town that feels simultaneously wholesome and subversive — I drank a mojito mocktail yesterday at the charming underground festival headquarters, The Social, while plotting and scheming with some incredibly creative filmmakers. I also saw some great movies.

Which Movies? Let’s start with Influencer, a movie about a woman who is, yes, an influencer. It lives up to the over-applied adjective Hitchcockian and is gorgeous to look at throughout, thanks to smashing cinematography and a Thai setting. Influencers are everywhere in horror these days, from Spree to the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but I think Influencer is the best of the influencer horror subgenre.

Coming Soon: Another influencer movie – this one a thriller — is Follow Her, which plays at the Austin Film Festival today and FilmQuest on Thursday. Did we say thriller? We meant psychosexual thriller. Here’s our talk with Follow Her director Sylvia Kaminer about avoiding the pitfalls of the genre.

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