Steven Soderbergh’s “Presence” has found a home in Neon after a Sundance world-premiere that saw around 10 bidders fight for a deal with the psychological thriller. Screening last Friday night, at the Library Theatre, “Presence” follows Soderbergh’s previous Sundance feature of “sex, lies, and videotape,” which became a favorite at the festival 35 years ago.
Filmed last year with an interim agreement in the wake of the SAG-AFTRA strike, “Presence” features veteran Lucy Liu alongside newcomers Callina Liang and Eddy Maday. Liu is coupled with on-screen husband Chris Sullivan of “This is Us” fame, as the two play parents to Liang and Maday. The story follows the family and their move into a suburban home that they soon find to be haunted by a supernatural force. Not only will the characters learn to expel their inner demons, but they must also fight together against a physical one. Early reviews note Soderbergh’s direction and cinematography, which are centered around the point of view of the haunter and thus create an intimate family dynamic.
Further praise is reserved for Liu: In a review by The Hollywood Reporter, critic David Rooney states, “Casting could not be better. Rebekah is a terrific role for Liu, allowing her to show some hard edges but never making her such a monster that the marriage is questionable or preventing us from feeling for her when she suffers a crushing blow.”
With the recent Oscar success of Neon’s film “Anatomy of a Fall” – which saw 5 total nominations – ”Presence” has a promising future ahead.