Indie Fresh List

Indie Fresh List: Spontaneous, Save Yourselves!, and Dick Johnson Is Dead

Check out the latest Fresh indie releases, including what's in theaters, what's on VOD, and what's coming soon.

by | October 1, 2020 | Comments

Join us weekly as Rotten Tomatoes reports on what’s indie features are streaming. From promising releases by new voices to experimental efforts from storied filmmakers – or perhaps the next indie darling to go the distance for end-of-year accolades – we will break it all down for you here each week.

This week in our Indie Fresh List, we have a high school horror-comedy, an apocalyptic dark comedy, and a heartfelt documentary from a filmmaker about her father’s dementia. In our Spotlight Section, we bring back a found-footage horror film from Shudder with a new interview with its director, Rob Savage. In our indie trailer section, we have new trailers from films featuring Riz AhmedSteven YeunStanley Tucci, and Colin Firth.

New This Weekend 

Spontaneous (2020)


Featuring two of the most compelling young actors working in Hollywood today, Charlie Plummer and Katherine Langford, Spontaneous is a bloody horror-comedy that charges anyone watching to “cease the day.” Mara and Dylan are two unassuming high school seniors who are left dumbstruck when their fellow classmates start to spontaneously explode. Faced with their impending demise, the pair begin to question what they want in life and who they want to be with in their last moments. Terry Mesnard of Gayly Dreadful calls Spontaneous “a teenage romance that tries to find meaning and love in strange and unusual times where violence can explode in a moment’s notice.”

Available to rent or buy October 6 on FandangoNowVuduiTunes, and Amazon

Save Yourselves! (2020)


In an effort to unplug and be present, a phone-obsessed millennial hipster couple head off to a remote getaway in the woods moments before an alien invasion. Completely cut off from the world, the pair bumble along as if nothing has happened until they hilariously discover they have secluded themselves at the start of the apocalypse. Another impressive debut from the Sundance Film Festival, Save Yourselves! is a darkly comedic take on the end of the world that Staci Layne Wilson from We Live Entertainment calls “a throwback to an Atomic Age sci-fi cautionary tale, but with a thoroughly modern Millennial twist and a zany dose of droll comedy.”

In select theaters now and available to rent or buy October 6 on FandangoNow, Vudu, and iTunes.

Dick Johnson Is Dead (2020)


Kirsten Johnson, best known for her docu-memoir Cameraperson, which centers on her long career as a cinematographer, channels the grief and pain of her father’s dementia diagnosis into a hilarious and tear-jerking docu-drama. In Dick Johnson is Dead, Johnson dramatically stages her father’s death in multiple outlandish scenarios while eulogizing the man and his final fight to remember who he is and those he loves. Stills Fresh at 100% following its Sundance debut, the film is what Dan Kois of Slate called “a testament to the power of talking forthrightly about death with those you love. It shows how death may never lose its power, exactly, but you can make yourselves partners in the process, not victims of it.”

Streaming October 2nd on Netflix.

Streaming now – Spotlight Pick

Host (2020)


As if the current state of things wasn’t terrifying enough, Shudder films and director Rob Savage recently released a new quarantine horror tale that is as innovative as it is terrifying. Filmed remotely via zoom, the film follows a group of spirit chasers who perform a seance that inadvertently unleashes an unspeakable evil upon them. Using straight-to-camera shots of the actors as they are terrorized by demonic forces, Savage stitches classic horror elements and internet creepy-pasta with practical effects to create a new flavor of suspense. “One of the most uniquely ambitious horror movies to come along this year, and it serves as an excellent reminder of the power of great genre storytelling,” according to Heather Wixson of Daily Dead. Rotten Tomatoes recently sat down with Savage and asked him about his quarantine inspiration and how he worked with the actors to heighten the scares.

Jacqueline Coley for Rotten Tomatoes: Did the pandemic wholly inspire the piece or did you adjust a previous idea?
Rob Savage: Making a truly scary haunted house movie has always been on my bucket list, but beyond that, I had no basis for Host. At the start of lockdown, everyone was sarcastically talking about the possibility of a movie shot entirely on Zoom — we were all expecting it, and nobody was looking forward to it. All of my closest friends work in the film industry, and we were already hanging out over Zoom almost every day. We just felt like, “Why not us?” When I had the idea of making a Zoom-based feature, the first person I called was Jed Shepherd, who I’ve worked with on a number of shorts. We threw some ideas around, but didn’t land on anything concrete. When I woke up the next morning, I had a text from Jed. Two words: “Zoom Seance.” It really was as simple as that.

What was it like setting up the effects with the actors?
The very first stunt we filmed, which involves someone crashing down from the ceiling and splatting on the floor, was particularly tough. Not for me — I was sitting at home in my dressing gown — but for our stunt co-ordinator Nathaniel, who was performing the gag. He was suspended by a rope, having to hold a plank position for up to three minutes while a scene played out beneath him. Then, he would be released and would free-fall until, at the last moment, a mechanism would kick in to soften his landing. The very last take, the one that we used in the film, we dropped poor Nathaniel but the mechanism didn’t kick in. He slammed to the floor like a sack of potatoes, thankfully didn’t die, and absolutely made the shot.

What is the biggest challenge or unforeseen benefit of directing via Zoom?
Initially, I was very nervous about the process of filming remotely, but ultimately it felt very similar to working on a normal set. As a director, you have to learn to be concise and clear with your direction, and while the energy was different because we were in separate locations, it was a really exciting and creative process. The main perk was when I had the realization that, by filming remotely, anyone with an internet connection could be part of our movie. With everyone on furlough, we were able to rope in some amazing collaborators to help elevate this film beyond what could have been achieved under normal conditions.

As a “Shudder obsessive,” talk about getting them involved?
When we started pitching the film to companies, we received a huge amount of interest — this was peak lockdown, and it really felt like we might be locked down for the rest of the year. We had offers from several places, but Shudder immediately felt like the right fit. Not only did I love the work they’d been doing prior to Host, but they allowed us to stream direct to our intended audience: horror fans. We’re huge horror fans, and the question we would ask ourselves throughout the process was always “What’s the film I would want to watch during all this madness?”

What is on your Indie Fresh List, or what are you watching in general?
The last film I watched was The Painted Bird, which astonished and traumatized me. I also caught up with Mark Jenkin’s Bait, which was totally singular.

Besides your film, what is the perfect quarantine horror viewing?
My ultimate comfort film is Evil Dead 2. If I were forced to stay inside forever and only watch one movie on repeat, it would be that!

Host is available to stream now on Shudder.

Along with…

New Indie Trailers


Steven Yeun stars as the father of an immigrant family who relocates to Arkansas in hopes of a better life.

Sound of Metal

Riz Ahmed stars as a drummer who struggles to find purpose after he suddenly loses his hearing.


Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth star as long-term partners who are on a road trip to see friends and family after one is diagnosed with early onset dementia.

Thumbnail image by ©Bleecker Street Media

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

A24 Rock cooking GIFs Arrowverse cancelled TV shows twilight green book Turner Year in Review National Geographic high school action-comedy Wes Anderson name the review TBS superhero 4/20 ID Acorn TV Trophy Talk vampires Hallmark 73rd Emmy Awards crime drama Election Comics on TV Emmys Cosplay robots Lifetime critic resources 90s biopic RT History MSNBC PBS science fiction 2020 TLC Reality cinemax kids saw Esquire Country sports best romantic comedy Marathons child's play spanish spinoff Biopics 72 Emmy Awards Comedy Binge Guide Awards Marvel Studios Chilling Adventures of Sabrina HBO Grammys First Look DC streaming service adventure The Purge Epix Crackle romance Funimation slasher Fall TV dc Music Set visit CBS All Access talk show Britbox rt labs MCU YouTube Superheroe BET TruTV Drama golden globes adaptation canceled TV shows new zealand sag awards halloween tv scary movies boxoffice New York Comic Con Starz Emmy Nominations king kong screen actors guild nature aliens The Walking Dead Pixar fresh Lifetime Christmas movies MTV dceu SXSW Oscars Avengers Action south america Hallmark Christmas movies classics hispanic heritage month The Arrangement Disney streaming service new york President new star wars movies 2015 AMC ITV die hard VOD Tumblr justice league Holiday toy story scene in color jamie lee curtis The CW Horror unscripted psycho dragons Paramount Heroines festivals japan renewed TV shows Ovation theme song CMT Rocketman black Lionsgate Paramount Network 71st Emmy Awards latino Baby Yoda APB supernatural The Witch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt heist movie Hulu TV Land 24 frames CBS legend joker Winter TV nfl news police drama cats Mudbound animated diversity Travel Channel parents festival Women's History Month wonder woman Box Office finale History video crime PlayStation Calendar Film Tomatazos women Mindy Kaling SundanceTV American Society of Cinematographers royal family Apple TV+ young adult Classic Film Reality Competition spanish language TIFF Pacific Islander screenings Pride Month San Diego Comic-Con Valentine's Day Legendary travel Sundance TV scorecard pirates of the caribbean Cartoon Network comic book movie Quiz Mary Poppins Returns what to watch Rom-Com debate Amazon Studios Interview YouTube Red Schedule zombie The Walt Disney Company tv talk book adaptation GLAAD Comic Book TV sequels technology video on demand Paramount Plus batman mission: impossible miniseries BBC emmy awards dark Watching Series slashers chucky Holidays mutant Showtime 2018 crossover ViacomCBS Mary Tyler Moore popular HBO Go Best and Worst hidden camera Universal streaming Red Carpet king arthur richard e. Grant natural history documentary Star Trek BET Awards casting revenge Netflix Christmas movies monster movies space FX on Hulu prank Musicals telelvision elevated horror halloween rt archives blaxploitation Creative Arts Emmys Character Guide Logo Food Network Nat Geo Amazon Prime Trailer rom-coms australia Disney+ Disney Plus feel good all-time godzilla quibi TCA Awards laika movie hispanic franchise stoner Thanksgiving criterion superman universal monsters teaser reviews TCM Comedy Central Song of Ice and Fire X-Men docudrama children's TV Brie Larson BBC One IFC Films harry potter 2016 Spectrum Originals Pop aapi comic books 45 FOX zero dark thirty TCA Winter 2020 Warner Bros. blockbuster cartoon Columbia Pictures Infographic E! venice composers 99% Christmas FX 1990s singing competition Extras OneApp politics Countdown Amazon Prime Video hollywood Image Comics Writers Guild of America 2017 true crime Western Tarantino versus Discovery Channel ABC Signature First Reviews posters directors obituary nbcuniversal independent Opinion game show Musical discovery TV renewals a nightmare on elm street 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards LGBT Rocky movies football DGA boxing TV One Black Mirror know your critic Stephen King See It Skip It NBA USA docuseries comic book movies Hear Us Out Polls and Games cars Pirates GoT E3 WGN Lucasfilm thriller Apple TV Plus international Freeform The Academy Netflix hist psychological thriller comiccon indie mockumentary adenture cults james bond trailers toronto italian A&E rotten movies we love Anna Paquin Academy Awards disaster FXX Film Festival anthology SDCC strong female leads biography films NBC mcc book Black History Month Tubi Shudder streaming movies dexter Podcast deadpool war concert CW Seed gangster anime witnail Cannes cancelled TV series BBC America Star Wars based on movie CNN cops stop motion 21st Century Fox Nominations OWN Toys marvel cinematic universe series Winners Marvel Television 20th Century Fox Spring TV transformers Sneak Peek Disney Channel live action TNT Family kaiju foreign blockbusters dramedy dogs Broadway TCA 2017 christmas movies Kids & Family fast and furious french NYCC worst movies Trivia award winner IFC doctor who Tokyo Olympics 93rd Oscars rotten ghosts serial killer lord of the rings reboot 2019 free movies marvel comics binge jurassic park medical drama social media Awards Tour Sci-Fi PaleyFest television Marvel TCA Elton John Peacock suspense sequel target Video Games canceled Captain marvel razzies Pop TV Animation BAFTA Shondaland Television Critics Association Endgame Photos Chernobyl Amazon breaking bad Syfy HBO Max comics Vudu Apple Martial Arts comic DC Comics asian-american indiana jones Comic-Con@Home 2021 Teen game of thrones stand-up comedy Fox News Spike archives Bravo Turner Classic Movies Ellie Kemper Sony Pictures Adult Swim Sundance DC Universe japanese 2021 remakes Walt Disney Pictures ratings facebook documentaries crime thriller golden globe awards Exclusive Video satire werewolf Ghostbusters sitcom USA Network Summer Certified Fresh ABC cancelled Disney Plus historical drama 007 Television Academy Dark Horse Comics VICE Mary poppins Alien olympics critics Mystery zombies basketball Superheroes TV movies political drama WarnerMedia Sundance Now Super Bowl cancelled television Pet Sematary LGBTQ rt labs critics edition spider-man spain Premiere Dates period drama ABC Family YA Fox Searchlight ESPN YouTube Premium Crunchyroll DirecTV kong Fantasy El Rey comedies Nickelodeon Masterpiece RT21 spy thriller VH1 Disney worst