The Scariest-Looking Genre Pics in SXSW's Midnight Line-up
Film festivals have emerged as one of the best, most fertile grounds for discovering new voices in genre filmmaking, so much so that just about every fest these days has a midnight sidebar for edgier, darker fare. Among the just-announced midnight selections at this year's SXSW Film Festival (held March 9-17 in Austin, TX): Tales of killer lady bartenders, faceless spooks, space-traveling Nazis, a deadly virus, VHS tapes, and the most evil kind of nightmare-inspiring villain imaginable, feral children. (Shudder.) Let's rundown the freakiest-sounding offerings of the SXSW Midnight slate!
1. Intruders (Spain, UK)
"The haunting story of two children living in different countries, each visited nightly by a faceless being who wants to take possession of them."
--> "Faceless being." Not scary sounding enough to you? JUST LOOK AT WHAT THEY DID TO CLIVE OWEN'S FACE.
2. [REC] ³ GENESIS (Spain)
"Koldo and Clara’s wedding is horrifically interrupted when some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness. Before they know what’s happening, the bride and groom find themselves in the middle of a hellish ordeal, as an uncontrollable torrent of violence is unleashed on the wedding."
--> The first REC inspired an Americanized remake (Quarantine) and itself earned three sequels (REC 4 is forthcoming). Mysterious viral outbreaks never get old... or do they?
3. The Tall Man
"When her child goes missing, a mother looks to unravel the legend of the Tall Man, an entity who allegedly abducts children."
--> There's been a recent resurgence in child-themed horror - children in peril being pursued by the spooky creatures of fantasy -- and for good reason: Even adults remember the dread inspired by the nightmare boogeymen of their youth.
"A group of misfits are hired to burglarize a house in the countryside and acquire a rare tape. The guys are confronted with a dead body and an endless supply of cryptic footage, each video stranger than the last..."
--> Having seen this anthology horror already, I admit it's not so much scary as it is viscerally thrilling, an excellent use of the found footage gimmick made by folks who have a true affinity for the genre.
5. CITADEL (Ireland, Scotland)
"An agoraphobic father teams up with a renegade priest to save his daughter from the clutches of a gang of twisted feral children."
--> FERAL CHILDREN. Oh hell no.
Of course, there are all sorts of genre scares in the SXSW Midnight line-up as well, including grindhouse yarns (Iron Sky) and cult pics in the making (John Dies at the End). And don't forget the shorts slate! SXSW programmers have a knack for finding exceptional short films each year, and the inclusion of my Sundance '12 favorite -- Jillian Mayer's Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke, a Miami-set twist on La Jetee starring Uncle Luke of 2 Live Crew as himself -- not to mention new shorts from Bill Plympton and Don Hertzfeldt, is promising.
Full slate of Midnight films and shorts below.
SXSW Midnight Slate:
The Aggression Scale
Director: Steven C. Miller, Screenwriter: Ben Powell
4 hitmen + $500,000 of stolen cash + 1 family = WAR
Cast: Fabianne Therese, Ryan Hartwig, Dana Ashbrook, Derek Mears, Jacob Reynolds, Joseph McKelheer, Boyd Kestner, Lisa Rotondi, Ray Wise (World Premiere)
CITADEL (Ireland, Scotland)
Director/Screenwriter: Ciarán Foy
An agoraphobic father teams up with a renegade priest to save his daughter from the clutches of a gang of twisted feral children.
Cast: Anuerin Barnard, James Cosmo, Wumni Mosaku, Jake Wilson, Amy Shiels (World Premiere)
Girls Against Boys
Director/Screenwriter: Austin Chick
A psychological thriller about two girls on a killing spree. With edgy and ironic humor and a darkly meditative tone, it is also a coming-of-age story about a girl learning how the world really works.
Cast: Danielle Panabaker, Nicole LaLiberte, Liam Aiken, Michael Stahl-David, Andrew Howard
Intruders (Spain, UK)
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Screenwriters: Nicolás Casariego, Jaime Marques
The haunting story of two children living in different countries, each visited nightly by a faceless being who wants to take possession of them.
Cast: Clive Owen, Carice Van Houten, Daniel Brühl, Pilar López de Ayala (U.S. Premiere)
Iron Sky (Finland, Germany, Australia)
Director: Timo Vuorensola, Screenwriters: Michael Kalesniko, Timo Vuorensola
In 1945 the Nazis went to the moon; in 2018 they are coming back.
Cast: Julia Dietze, Götz Otto, Christopher Kirby, Peta Sergeant, Stephanie Paul, Tilo Prückner, Michael Cullen, Udo Kier (North American Premiere)
John Dies At The End
Director & Screenwriter: Don Coscarelli
On the street it’s called “soy sauce,” a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. Suddenly, a silent otherworldly invasion is underway. Can college dropouts John and Dave save humanity? No, they can’t.
Cast: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman
Modus Anomali (Indonesia)
Director/Screenwriter: Joko Anwar
A man tries to save his family who go missing during a vacation in the forest.
Cast: Rio Dewanto, Hannah Al Rashid, Izziati Amara Isman, Aridh Tritama, Surya Saputra, Marsha Timothy, Sadha Triyudha, Jose Gamo (World Premiere)
[REC] ³ GENESIS (Spain)
Director: Paco Plaza
Screenwriters: Luiso Berdejo, Paco Plaza
Koldo and Clara’s wedding is horrifically interrupted when some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness. Before they know what’s happening, the bride and groom find themselves in the middle of a hellish ordeal, as an uncontrollable torrent of violence is unleashed on the wedding.
Cast: Leticia Dolera, Diego Martin (World Premiere)
Super Secret Screening
Be the first to see this feature film coming to theaters near you.
The Tall Man
Director/Screenwriter: Pascal Laugier
When her child goes missing, a mother looks to unravel the legend of the Tall Man, an entity who allegedly abducts children.
Cast: Jessica Biel, Jodelle Ferland, Stephen McHattie, William B.Davis (World Premiere)
Directors: Ti West, Adam Wingard, Joe Swanberg, David Bruckner, Glenn Mcquaid, Radio Silence, Screenwriter: Ti West, Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Radio Silence, Glenn Mcquaid
A group of misfits are hired to burglarize a house in the countryside and acquire a rare tape. The guys are confronted with a dead body and an endless supply of cryptic footage, each video stranger than the last... Cast: Joe Swanberg, Calvin Reeder, Kate Lynn Shiel, Sophia Takal, Lane Hughes, Helen Rogers, Adam Wingard
A selection of original, well-crafted films that take advantage of the short form and exemplify distinctive and genuine storytelling. The winner of our Grand Jury Award in this category is eligible for a 2013 Academy Award nomination for Best Narrative Short.
Aaron Burr, Part 2
Director: Dana O'Keefe
History is a contest.
Another Bullet Dodged
Director: Landon Zakheim
In the fading echoes of a relationship, character is revealed.
Director: Nash Edgerton
Jack means well, but sometimes good intentions have horrible consequences.
The Black Balloon
Director: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
In New York City, a lone black balloon, once part of a huge 100-balloon bouquet, learns that humans are complicated creatures with extreme highs and lows. Part Sci-Fi, part children's film.
Director: Grainger David
The story of one boy's reaction to a mysterious outbreak of poisonous mold in his small town.
A Chjána (The Plain)
Director: Jonas Carpignano
Inspired by real events, A Chjàna (The Plain) follows Ayiva, an African migrant worker who seeks to reunite with his best friend in the wake of the most significant race riot in Italian history.
Director: Aly Muritiba
An inmate convinces his mother to take a risk smuggling a cell phone for him into the penitentiary.
Director: Lorcan Finnegan
A young couple trapped in a remote estate of empty houses and shrieking foxes are beckoned from their isolation into a twilight world. A world of the paranormal or perhaps insanity.
Heimkommen (Coming Home)
Director: Micah Magee
When Robert's girlfriend dies, he turns his grief against his younger sister Jo. Jo plays ice hockey with the boys, hoping to gather strength to bring her brother back to the land of the living.
In The Pines
Directors: Zeek Earl, Chris Caldwell
Simultaneously an exploration of nature and psyche, the film documents a young woman's hunt for extraterrestrial meaning. Part science fiction, part psycho-thriller, part poetry - this film crafts a memorable scene rooted in the Pacific Northwest.
Director: Colm Quinn
Nicola reluctantly introduces her newborn daughter to her best friend Tess.
Director: Adam Garnet Jones
When a brutal teenage revenge plot gets pushed too far, 14 year-old Tara is forced to choose between standing helplessly on the sidelines or stepping in to defend the boyfriend that hurt her.
Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke
Directors: Jillian Mayer, Lucas Leyva
A modern Miami adaptation of the 1962 French short film La Jetee, starring Uncle Luke of the 2 Live Crew.
Director: Noah Pritzker
An insecure father prepares for a party at his in-laws.
Director: Robert G. Putka
Bobby and Bliss are a happy couple, that is, until they begin to tell each other things probably better left unsaid. A single question leads them down a highway to relationship hell.
My Friend Kills Time
Director: Jakob Rørvik
Thomas moves to a remote cabin in an attempt to disappear completely... even from himself. My Friend Kills Time mixes visual textures and haunting soundscapes to create a cinematic diary of a young man's isolation.
Not Far From The Abattoir
Director: Kyle Thomas
A story of a man controlling his demons and trying to imagine a better life outside of the only town he has ever called home.
Pitch Black Heist
Director: John Maclean
Two men, professional safe crackers, meet on a simple job to relieve an office safe of its contents. The catch; a light activated alarm system impelling them to embark on a pitch black heist.
Director: Lucas Mireles
A seamless journey through the lives of German youth on a Sunday afternoon.
Director: Alexis Dos Santos
Lulu and Rocky meet, fall in love, spend the night together, and fall asleep looking at each other…except for the fact that he is in Berlin and she is in Buenos Aires.
Director: Lucas Leyva
Told from the point of view of a dying shark, Reinaldo Arenas is the story of an unintentional immigrant in Miami.
Directors: Jeremiah Zagar, Nathan Caswell
A blend of documentary and fiction, Remains is about recollection and fading memories. Combining three years of recorded voice messages with stunning macro photography, the film documents a relationship from its inception to its end.
Director: Lily Baldwin
A disoriented young woman stumbles upon an empty estate. There are signs of a lush life, but the inhabitants have disappeared. Or have they? Sea Meadow revamps the thriller with pop mashups and stylized dance tableaux.
Shoot the Freak
Director: Bradford Willingham
Through the freak’s musings, this film chronicles the last days of the iconic, abrasive Coney Island attraction Shoot the Freak. In masked anonymity, the nihilistic teen indulges in drug-induced daydreams of violence and oceanic abandon.
A Short Film About Ice Fishing
Director: Jason Shahinfar
In rural South Dakota two friends go out for the most explosive day of ice fishing either will ever experience.
Directors: The Golden Filter, Kristoffer Borgli
A young girl's bizarre and unexplained ability to help others leads to her involvement in a sinister underworld.
Directors: Brian McGinn, Rod Blackhurst
Two friends play 'Would You Rather.' When their choices magically start to come true, they find themselves in a variety of awkward and funny situations.
Unfiltered slices of life, from across the documentary spectrum.
Director: Orlando von Einsiedel
Musically lush and stunningly shot, Aisha's Song is a touching and uplifting story of female empowerment from a part of the world where women are all too often overlooked.
A Brief History of John Baldessari
Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
No more boring films! Everything you need to know about the godfather of Conceptual Art... narrated by Tom Waits.
Director: Ben Steinbauer
The story of Apple Records notoriously irreverent recording artist, Brute Force.
Director: Seth Keal
When a German engineer creates a tiny camera for his newly adopted stray cat to wear, the photographs reveal more than ever expected.
Directors: Finlay Pretsell, Adrian McDowall
“I’m trusted with a pair of scissors and I’m in here for murder.” A snapshot of prison life in the build up to the annual hairdressing competition.
Director: Dustin Guy Defa
Unearthed home movies and haunting dubbed voices collide to create a personal portrait of family dysfunction.
The Fuse: or How I Burned Simon Bolivar
Director: Igor Drljaca
A nine-year-old boy thinks he is responsible for the civil war in Bosnia.
Director: Josh Gibson
This ode to the climbing, trailing, and coiling species Pueraria lobata evokes the agricultural history and mythic textures of the American South.
The Love Competition
Director: Brent Hoff
The World's First Love Competition.
The Man That Got Away
Director: Trevor Anderson
A musical documentary that tells the true life story of Trevor's great-uncle Jimmy in six original songs.
Meaning of Robots
Director: Matt Lenski
Mike Sullivan's world is overrun by an army of miniature sex robots with no end in sight.
Minor/Major: The TV on the Radio Tour Documentary
Director: Chioke Nassor
An intense documentary portrait on the band TV on the Radio as they transition from minor label darlings to major label success.
New York Accent
Director: Caleb Slain
Once a man with all the answers, Dr. Ed Dobson is struggling to resolve his own questions before succumbing to the unusual disease eating away his body.
Written in Ink
Director: Martin Rath
Can one change what has already been written in ink?
SX GLOBAL SHORTS
A showcase for cutting-edge documentary shorts from around the world.
Director: Afarin Eghbal
In Buenos Aires, an old woman looks forward to all the joys of becoming a grandmother. However, unfolding historic events mean she is forced to wait over 30 years.
Director: Jakub Cuman
Observational documentary made during the International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition Preliminaries in 2010.
Chronicle of Oldrich S.
Director: Rudolf Smid
Mr Sedlacek wrote one-sentence entries in his chronicle from 1981 to 2005, everyday stories of his life, his village, and of international events. This animated documentary is based on 80 of those entries.
Director: Lina Mannheimer
On the 5th of May 2005, Beverly Charpentier declares an oath of allegiance to Catherine Robbe-Grillet. Hereby she gives up her freedom, for the rest of her life.
Directors: Alexej Tchernyi, Wu Zhi
Doctor Rao passed away. Family and friends are celebrating his last journey.
Walt Disney Square
Directors: Renata Pinheiro, Sergio Oliveira
A “quasi-musical” approach to contemporary urban life that reflects Brazilian society and many others throughout the world, this documentary describes at the same time a place, a city and a country.
An assortment of stories told using a mix of traditional animation, computer-generated effects, stop-motion, and everything in-between. The winner of our Grand Jury Award in this category is eligible for a 2013 Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short.
I am a 66-year cicada. There was a big earthquake. There was a big tsunami. There also was a big accident.
Director: Julia Pott
I can feel you in my belly.
Director: Evan Viera
A young girl goes off her medication to leave a bleak metropolis and immerse herself in a vibrant oceanic cove.
Director: Eliza Kinkz
Growing up in a Texas drug rehab, a teenage girl learns the rules of life and dairy products.
Director: Renaud Hallée
Fire used as a visual and musical tool.
Director: Randall Hopkins
A giraffe with personal space anxiety has a bad day.
Director: Marieka Walsh
A hunter searches for a missing boy deep in the snow covered mountains. He must make decisions that will forever change his relationship with the wilderness he fears. The Hunter is a stop-motion sand animation.
"it's such a beautiful day"
Director: Don Hertzfeldt
Bill finds himself in a hospital struggling with memory problems, in this third and final chapter to Don Hertzfeldt's "Everything will be OK" trilogy.
Director: Nelson Boles
One little boat, one big journey.
Director: Christopher Kezelos
Life is what you make it.
(notes on) biology
Director: Danny Madden
An animated account of an organism adapting to its environment.
Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise
Director: Kelly Sears
A terrifying look back at high school.
Director: Miguel Jiron
Swirling cosmos of paint give way to a storm of color and drips.
Directors: Christina Manrique, Robert Clogher
An elderly woman living in an abandoned town finds a camera, which becomes a means for her to recreate her past life and remember a lost love.
Reddish Brown and Blueish Green
Director: Samantha Gurry
Child services, schwag, and the American dream.
The Shrine / An Argument
Director: Sean Pecknold
An elk wanders through a world of madness.
Director: Bill Plympton
A man daydreams about what terror could be lurking in his backyard pool.
Bite-sized bits for all of your sex, genre, and hilarity needs.
Director: Minka Farthing-Kohl
For Ernst, the perfect disguise was to play himself.
Cherry On Top
Director: Mike Damanskis
A prostitute finds new ways to attract business.
Don't Hug Me I'm Scared
Directors: Rebecca Sloan, Joseph Pelling
A short film about teaching creativity—by This Is It Collective.
Duck Sauce, “Big Bad Wolf”
Director: Keith Schofield
Keith Schofield’s original, outrageous and very, very funny promo for Duck Sauce’s single Big Bad Wolf has been burning up the internet, causing millions of pelvises to be thrust worldwide. An instant classic.
I Am Your Grandma
Director: Jillian Mayer
An autobiographical video diary log (vlog) that Jillian Mayer records for her unborn grandchildren.
Director: Steve Collins
A woman interviews for a job at a nefarious company that may or may not f**k b**ts.
Jacuzzi Boys, “Glazin''
Directors: Lucas Leyva, Jillian Mayer
Glazin' is part of a larger narrative where a group of 6 anonymous girls innocently paint their privates and rig them to lip-synch their favorite song as a gift to the band.
Machines of the Working Class
Directors: James Dastoli, Robert Dastoli
Two robotic blue-collar workers take a brief hiatus to discuss delusions of grandeur.
Man & Gun
Director: Brian McOmber
A post 9/11 fairy tale about a man’s love affair with guns.
Director: Jono Foley
Harrison swims through the darkest recesses of his mind.
Director: Daniel DelPurgatorio
Patrick is a brilliant doctor in an obsessive race to alter his own grim prognosis. During a series of unconventional experiments, he discovers a scientific loophole unlike anything he had ever imagined.
Directors: Aaron McCann, Stefan Androv Radanovich
Sometimes survival is worse than death.
Director: Todd Cobery
A stuffy dinner party is interrupted by the zombie apocalypse.
A range of classic, innovative, and stylish work showcasing the scope of music video culture.
Alexander, ''A Million Years''
Director: Benjamin Kutsko
Director: Marieke Verbiesen
Battles, ''My Machines''
Casey Veggies, ''Euphoria II''
Director: John Bollozos
Céline Desrumaux, ''Countdown''
Director: Céline Desrumaux
CHRISTEENE, "African Mayonnaise"
Director: PJ Raval
Cults, ''You Know What I Mean''
Director: Kevin Lin
Ganesh Rao, ''Empyrean''
Director: Ganesh Rao
The Good The Bad, “030”
Gotye (Feat. Kimbra), ''Somebody That I Used To Know''
Director: Natasha Pincus
Director: Churl Gwon
Herman Dune, ''Tell Me Something I Don't Know''
Director: Toben Seymour
Hooray For Earth, ''True Loves''
Director: Young Replicant
Hyperpotamus, ''De Camino''
Director: Lucas Borras
Kina Grannis,''In Your Arms''
Director: Greg Jardin
Little Tybee, ''Boxcar Fair''
Directors: Brock Scott, Tom Haney
Ok Go, ''All Is Not Lost''
Director: Ok Go, Pilobolus, & Trish Sie
Porter Robinson, ''Spitfire''
Director: Saman Keshavarz
Son of Kick,“Playing the Villain”
Director: Matt Devine (Glues Society)
When Saints Go Machine, ''Parix''
Director: Daniel Kragh-Jacobsen
Whomadewho, ''Every Minute Alone''
Director: William Stahl
Yip Deceiver, “Get Strict”
Directors: Brandon LaGanke, John Carlucci
Yuksek, ''ALWAYS ON THE RUN''
Directors: David Hache, Marc-Edouard Leon
An offshoot of our regular narrative shorts program, composed of work shot in, about, or somehow relating to the Lone Star state.
Directors: Zach Anner, Marshall Rimmer
Zach Anner, the freeloading roommate, and Marshall Rimmer, the responsible businessman, eat their morning cereal together.
The Gathering Squall
Director: Hannah Fidell
A teenage girl is forced into adulthood after she is assaulted by a classmate.
The Guessing Game
Director: Angela Cheng
A very short comedy set in a retirement home with senior citizens. On the morning of his birthday, Emmett asks his fellow residents to guess his age and is surprised by their answers.
Director: Kat Candler
All hell breaks loose when seven-year-old Petey is left with his hell-raising brothers. But things go from bad to really, really bad when Dad gets home.
Director: James M. Johnston
From the rugged cross-timbers of Texas comes a portrait of greed and vengeance.
Director: Russell O. Buh
On a trip to reconnect with his estranged and recently engaged daughter, Phillip finds a sex tape of the little girl he used to know. Dinner is going to be awkward.
Director: Annie Silverstein
While a boy waits out his father's tryst he is unexpectedly forced to deal with the lady-friend's daughter. Set on a ranch in Bastrop, Texas, Spark uses the environment to explore the internal space of children.
Director: Jared Varava
The true and historically accurate tale of one tumbleweed that did not tumble.
What It's Like
Director: Matt Naylor
A magazine writer goes to an old folks home to buy mushrooms from one of the elderly residents. What starts as a bizarre transaction becomes a moment of connection across generations.
TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SHORTS
Texas High School students offer a glimpse of a bright future for Texas filmmaking.
Director: Jonathan Munoz
Paranormal Elimination 101.
Directors: Kalen Doyle, Hirsh Elhence
There's a note for that.
Director: Christian Benavides
One son's letter to his father.
Directors: Daniel Matyas, Brian Broder
All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel. The monkey thought 'twas all in fun, then Pop! goes the weasel.
Directors: Maqui Gaona, J.J. Rubin
In the future, one man fights the system to choose his own love.
Director: Jasmine DePucci
A young girl experiences a transformation by an evil spirit contained within the fluffy seams of a teddy bear.
Director: Zach Prengler
Four nerdy guys buy the hottest video game of the year, but what they bought was not what they expected.
Directors: Christian Larrave, Alex McKenna
The story of two doodles in love.
Director: Micah Autry
A social issue film that projects the life of the protagonist and how he overcomes constraints of a normal life.
Drum Roll Please
Director: Alexander Villanueva
Opposable thumbs have allowed humans to become the dominant species. How dominant, you say?
Director: Brian Broder
A dark thriller exploring the actions of a murderous janitor, who attacks lonely victims at the local laundrymat.
Josh Lumsden, “Guilty”
Director: Josh Lumsden
Josh Lumsden sings and dances while trapped in a mental asylum.
Julian Edmonson: Who I Am
Director: Jake Wangner
Julian Edmonson is a point guard who graduated from Fossil Ridge High School. This is a video putting a spotlight on this student before he went off to college.
Director: Bobby Jorgenson
Director: Leah Schell
Jason and his Korean foreign exchange student struggle to overcome a language barrier.
Director: Anele Page
An artist struggles to create a masterpiece for a special cause.
McChange: a Manifesto
Directors: Jonathan Griffin, Josiah Sandhu
Mark McNeil is the president that Pasadena Memorial High deserves, but doesn't need right now.
Directors: Samantha Fine, Andrew Fields
Romance molded into the shape of a dream.
Director: Ty Whittington
Ty Whittington, a young artist, takes us through the process of creating an artistic illustration in his own way.
Directors: Marcella Jimenez, Susannah Rodrigue
The story of a young boys hope for childhood love.
Director: Pierce Harvell
When a tornado threatens the lives of two brothers, one decides to take the initiative towards survival despite the reservations of his twin.
Director: James Bradford
Run fat boy, run!
Directors: Cole Martin, Josh Willis
An anonymous man with skills of inexplicable origin infiltrates the corporate hideout of a shady, but high-ranking businessman. Using fast and fluid tactics, our protagonist is determined to complete his task.