Every so often, we see a film at Sundance that shows us actors we had previously dismissed in a wondrous new light — like when 2007’s Smiley Face made us completely reconsider our opinion of Anna Faris. One of the main contenders for this year’s where-the-hell-did-that-performance-come-from? award is Brittany Snow — yes, the chick from Prom Night — who pretty much takes over Lee Toland Krieger’s twisted family drama The Vicious Kind, and never looks back.
The film is about a young man (Alex Frost) bringing his girlfriend (guess who) back home for Thanksgiving, and the chaos that erupts when his wiseass older brother (Adam Scott), reeling from a breakup of his own, becomes fascinated with her. As the raven-haired object of desire, Snow has to convey an impossible variety of impressions: Is she the conniving and adulterous vixen the older brother claims she is (and secretly wants her to be)? Or the angelic beauty the younger brother thinks he knows? And what does her character even think of all this attention? And yet, for all that, it’s a relatively understated performance: Snow manages to display all this range without ever seeming showy — we can see how one ordinary person can give off completely different vibes to different people. And we can’t take our eyes off her. Good job, Brittany Snow.