By MICHAEL GINGOLD
The Midnighters lineup for this year’s SXSW Film Festival has just been announced, and it’s chock full of exciting horror and other genre fare from around the world.
The 25th SXSW fest takes place March 9-18 in Austin, TX. “It is the highlight of my year to get to dive into the yearly pool of genre film submissions and see what wild and devilish ideas these filmmakers have brought to life,” says senior film programmer Jarod Neece. “This year’s Midnighters, made both by veteran filmmakers and many first-timers, are sure to delight and terrify lucky SXSW audiences.”
The movies are:
AJIN: DEMI-HUMAN (North American Premiere)
Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro, Screenwriter: Kouji Seko
Endless battle between human being and immortal demi-human “Ajin.” A stunning, strikingly original action masterpiece! Cast: Takeru Satoh, Go Ayano, Tetsuji Tamayama, Yu Shirota, Yudai Chiba, Rina Kawaei, Minami Hamabe.
BLOOD FEST (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Owen Egerton
In Blood Fest, fans flock to a festival celebrating the most iconic horror movies, only to discover that the charismatic showman behind the event has a diabolical agenda. Cast: Robbie Kay, Jacob Batalon, Seychelle Gabriel, Tate Donovan, Barbara Dunkelman, Nick Rutherford, Zachary Levi.
UNTITLED BLUMHOUSE-BAZELEVS (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Stephen Susco
A 20something finds a cache of hidden files on his new laptop and is thrust into the deep waters of the dark web. From the makers of UNFRIENDED, this thriller unravels in real time, entirely on a computer screen. A warning for the digital age. Cast: Colin Woodell, Betty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Andrew Lees, Conor del Rio, Stephanie Nogueras, Savira Windyani.
FIELD GUIDE TO EVIL (World Premiere) (Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Poland, Turkey, U.S.)
Directors: Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Peter Strickland, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Katrin Gebbe, Can Evrenol, Calvin Reeder, Ashim Ahluwalia, Yannis Veslemes
They are known as dark folklore. Created to give logic to mankind’s darkest fears, these stories and others laid the foundation for what we now call the horror genre.
GHOST STORIES (North American Premiere) (United Kingdom)
Directors/Screenwriters: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman
An arch skeptic debunker of the supernatural embarks upon a terror filled quest when he stumbles across a long lost file containing details of three cases of inexplicable “hauntings.” Adapted from the Olivier Award-winning hit stage play. Cast: Martin Freeman, Alex Lawther, Jill Halfpenny, Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse.
Director/Screenwriter: Ari Aster
When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. Cast: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro.
A PRAYER BEFORE DAWN (North American Premiere) (United States/France)
Director: Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, Screenwriters: Jonathan Hirschbein, Nick Saltrese
Based on the international best seller, A PRAYER BEFORE DAWN is the true story of Billy Moore, a troubled young British boxer sent to one of Thailand’s most notorious jails. Cast: Joe Cole, Vithaya Pansringar, Panya Yimmumphai, Nicolas Shake.
THE RANGER (World Premiere; pictured above)
Director: Jenn Wexler, Screenwriters: Jenn Wexler, Giaco Furino
Teen punks, on the run from the cops and hiding out in the woods, come up against the local authority—an unhinged park ranger with an axe to grind. Cast: Chloë Levine, Granit Lahu, Jeremy Pope, Bubba Weiler, Amanda Grace Benitez, Jeremy Holm, Larry Fessenden.
UPGRADE (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Leigh Whannell
In a utopian near-future when technology controls everything, a technophobe avenges his wife’s murder and his own paralysis-causing injury with the help of an experimental computer chip implant—STEM—that turns out to have a mind of its own. Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel, Harrison Gilbertson, Benedict Hardie.
WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE (World Premiere) (Canada)
Director: Colin Minihan, Screenwriters: Colin Minihan, Brittany Allen
Majestic mountains, a still lake and venomous betrayals engulf a female married couple attempting to celebrate their one-year anniversary. Cast: Hannah Emily Anderson, Brittany Allen, Martha Macisaac, Joey Klein, Charlotte Lindsay Marron.