The Overlook Film Festival Highlights, Part 2: The Hands of Orlac, Kill Your Lover, Dead Mail, Red Rooms | Festivals & Awards

By focusing on its central relationship drama, “Kill Your Lover” never fully devolves into the sweaty social critique that it sometimes threatens to become. In dialogue with each other—as well as sex and bite-sized memories that come back to them as they quarrel—we see Gilmour and Quigley-Murphy’s characters as quarrelsome, fully-realized people who, at the end of their time as a couple, obviously should not be together. They dig deeper at each other than the usual trite, stock reasons for movie couples’ dysfunction, making “Kill Your Lover” an intimate breakup drama that happens to follow one of the grossest kills of the year with this line: “I just want you to hear my side. So let’s talk it out.”

Tensions also flair between two kindred spirits in “Dead Mail,” a weirdly moving thriller about Trent (John Fleck), a desperate loner, and Josh (Sterling Macer Jr.), the man that Trent has kidnapped. Trent and Josh’s relationship is understandably rather fraught, but it unfolds with an unusual sensitivity and attention paid to its neurotic characters’ feelings, even side characters like Jasper (Tomas Boykin), the reclusive, but not unhappy postal worker who happens to receive a blood-smeared letter from Trent. I was totally charmed by “Dead Mail,” whose tone is always shy of cringe humor-style awkwardness. It’s not really a horror movie, but rather an unsettling and unselfconsciously pulpy tragedy about how thrilling and scary it can be to fall for and then out of step with a loved one.

“Red Rooms,” a Canadian courtroom drama and character study, also extends a rare consideration to lonely protagonists who are never entirely defined by their compulsive behavior. Kelly-Anne (Juliette Gariépy), a fashion model, bonds with Clementine (Laurie Babin), an unhoused teenager, after they both attend a controversial murder trial. Everybody has opinions about Ludovic Chevalier (Maxwell McCabe-Lokos), a sullen and mostly silent accused killer of three teenage girls, whom he supposedly eviscerated live on camera for an untraceable “dark web” audience. We thankfully never learn what motivates Kelly-Anne’s obsession with Chevalier, though you can tell some things based on her blank stares, as well as her chilly detachment whenever she logs onto her home’s desktop computer. We also don’t spend too much time pondering what kind of relationship Kelly-Anne and Clementine have developed, since Clementine is only part of Kelly-Anne’s story.