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When I attend Toronto, Sundance, and SXSW each year, one of the things I specifically focus on is the midnight programming. I'd say the same thing about Fantastic Fest, except that pretty much feels like an entire festival of nothing but midnight programming.
Last week, SXSW announced the majority of its film programming, but they held off on announcing the midnight titles, and that's finally happened this morning.
From March 7th to March 15th, SXSW will be offering not only the film conference but a major overlap with music and interactive and sports and comedy and everything else they've folded in under the broader umbrella of SXSW.
So what are the midnight titles? Let's dig right in.
Director/Screenwriter: Daniel Stamm, Screenwriter: David Birke
A cryptic phone call sets off a dangerous game of risks for Elliot, a down-on-his luck salesman. The game promises increasing rewards for completing 13 tasks, each more sinister than the last.
Cast: Mark Webber, Rutina Wesley, Devon Graye, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Richard Burgi, Tom Bower, Ron Perlman (World Premiere)
Stamm's the director of both "The Last Exorcism" and "A Necessary Death," and he's established an interesting voice for himself so far. I like the premise here, and I think he's got a strong cast as well.
Among The Living (France)
Director/Screenwriter: Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo
After horror favorites "Inside" and "Livid," Maury and Bustillo pair up again for a horror-thriller at the cross roads between "Stand by Me" and "Friday the13th."
Cast: Anne Marivin, Béatrice Dalle, Francis Renaud, Fabien Jegoudez, Nicolas Giraud (World Premiere)
I love both "Inside" and "Livid," and I'm excited to see anything these guys cook up. That description is exciting, especially knowing the way these guys play with genre and never offer up anything that's right down the middle.
Director: Eduardo Sánchez, Screenwriter: Jamie Nash
Five friends on a camping weekend in the remote woods of East Texas struggle to survive against a legendary beast that is stronger, smarter and more terrifying than they would have ever believed exists.
Cast: Chris Osborn, Dora Madison Burge, Roger Edwards, Denise Williamson, Samuel Davis (World Premiere)
Another familiar name. Eduardo Sanchez is, of course, best known as the co-creator of "The Blair Witch Project," but I think he's made a strong showing in the last few years. "Lovely Molly" is a film that really stuck with me, and I think he's got a great sense of creepy these days, plus he's constantly thinking about the role technology plays, not only in how we tell these stories, but in which stories we tell.
Plus it sounds like this is a Bigfoot movie, and that's fine by me.
Director: Adam Wingard, Screenwriter: Simon Barrett
A soldier on leave befriends the family of a fallen comrade, only to become a threat to all around him when it’s revealed he’s hiding dangerous secrets from his past.
Cast: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick, Sheila Kelley
I reviewed this at Sundance. I love this. Austin, prepare to get your butts rocked.
Director/Screenwriter: Nicholas McCarthy
When a realtor is asked to sell a vacant home, she and her sister cross paths with its previous tenant: a teenage girl who sold her soul to the devil.
Cast: Naya Rivera, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Ashley Rickards, Wyatt Russell, Ava Acres (World Premiere)
Nicholas McCarthy made his feature debut a few years ago with "The Pact," a film I really, truly, seriously did not care for in any way. However, the short film version of "The Pact" was a pretty solid demonstration of mood and tone, and I think McCarthy has some chops. I'm curious to see if he can bring that same voice over to a full feature film, and I'm rooting for him to pull it off.
Director/Screenwriter: Leigh Janiak, Screenwriter: Phil Graziadei
Young newlyweds find their honeymoon spiraling mysteriously into chaos.
Cast: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway, Ben Huber, Hanna Brown (World Premiere)
This is the sort of thing that excites me because I know nothing at all about Leight Janiak. It looks like she's worked in production as an assistant on films like "Europa Report" and "Mirror Mirror," but "Honeymoon" represents her debut as a filmmaker. I love when festivals become a platform for discovery, and this is one of the titles that appears to be coming out of nowhere.
Director: Adrián García Bogliano, Screenwriter: Eric Stolze
When deadly attacks from the forests beset a secluded retirement community, it is up to a grizzled veteran to figure what the residents are hiding.
Cast: Nick Damici, Ethan Embry, Erin Cummings, Tom Noonan, Lance Guest (World Premiere)
Bogliano is a strong voice in world genre cinema, and he's coming off of "Here Comes The Devil," a haunting and surreal horror film. I think my favorite movie of his so far is "Cold Sweat," and I like the way he seems to tell very different stories with each new film. Mixing horror tropes with the very human frailty of people in a retirement community sounds like a great recipe for making an audience deeply uncomfortable.
Director/Screenwriter: Mike Flanagan, Screenwriter: Jeff Howard
As children, two siblings witnessed their parents' harrowing descent into madness and death. Now, as adults, they reunite to expose and destroy the supernatural entity responsible: the Lasser Glass - a legendary mirror their parents owned.
Cast: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Rory Cochrane, James Lafferty, Katee Sackhoff (U.S. Premiere)
This is another one I've already reviewed, and I was very fond of it when it played last year's Toronto Film Festival. Besides… Amy Pond. Do I really need to say more?
Director: Jerome Sable
Stage Fright tells the story of a snobby musical theater camp terrorized by a bloodthirsty masked killer who despises musical theatre. "Scream" meets "Glee" in this genre-bending R-rated horror-musical.
Cast: Allie MacDonald, Douglas Smith, Brandon Uranowitz, Kent Nolan, Melanie Leishman (World Premiere)
That is a flat-out amazing premise, and I hope this delivers on every single lunatic bit of promise inherent to the notion of a slasher film mixed with a theater camp movie.
Directors/Screenwriters: Dennis Widmyer, Kevin Kolsch
In the city of dreams, a desperate actress will do whatever it takes for the role of a lifetime… no matter what the cost.
Cast: Alexandra Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Fabianne Therese, Noah Segan, Shane Coffey (World Premiere)
I don't know Dennis Widmyer's work at all or the work of Kevin Kolsch, his co-writer/co-director, but I'm curious about this one, and he's got a strong ensemble attached. Besides, Hollywood is a horror film, and I'm guessing they could build something very strong and creepy out of this logline.
SXSW also announced their dense and amazing short film line-up today, and since I can't even begin to give context to all of those, I'll just direct you to the SXSW website, where you can learn more about the entire event and not just the film programming. It really is unlike any other major media event these days, and it's guaranteed to be a rowdy time in Austin.
Hope to see you there.
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