Director: Eugenio Mira
Stars: Elijah Wood, John Cusack, Alex Winter, Tamsin Egerton, Allen Lech, Dee Wallace
Release date: March 7

Yes, the premise is borderline hokey. Grand Piano finds Elijah Wood playing a concert pianist whose already paralyzing stage fright amplifies when he discovers a note, written by a sniper, that simply says, "Play a wrong note and you die." In other words, it's Speed for the Carnegie Hall set, basically.

Yet, as our own Justin Monroe stated in his Fantastic Fest review of the film, it's also a first-rate nail-biter. Described as the best Brian De Palma the Blow Out/Sisters director has never made, Grand Piano works its single-location setting to its utmost advantage, giving viewers an interactive feeling, as if they, too, are in Elijah Wood's shoes, frantically pounding the keys for survival. First-time director Eugenio Mira's unlikely festival crowd-pleaser could just be one of 2014's most pleasant surprises. —Matt Barone