AUSTIN - In the two "Insidious" movies, Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell play the two paranormal investigators who work with Lin Shaye, and I enjoyed how they almost felt like they were beamed in from another film with a more aggressive sense of absurdity. They had really fun chemistry together, and in the second film especially, they were a big part of what the films did well.
Last week, their new collaboration premiered as part of the SXSW Film Festival, and this time, the two of them are front and center. They co-wrote "The Mule," and they both play key roles in the film, with Sampson also serving as co-director with Tony Mahony. "The Mule" is dark and smart and deeply satisfying, a wicked little crime thriller with a grim sense of humor. Sampson's work in front of the camera is just as good as his work behind the camera, and I suspect "The Mule" is going to emerge as one of the films that audiences really love from this festival. It may be the most exciting surprise I've had since I got here.