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Midnighters and more fearful fare announced for SXSW 2021

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | News

By MICHAEL GINGOLD

New films from Travis Stevens, Mickey Keating, Kier-La Janisse and Jacob Gentry are among the genre fare in this year’s fest.

SXSW 2021 will run on-line March 16-20, showcasing 75 features including 57 world premieres, three International Premieres, four North American Premieres, one U.S. Premiere, eight Texas Premieres and 53 films from first-time filmmakers. The movies will be launched seven at a time in two-hour increments from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. CT starting with the films with global access and no audience capacity limits. Once a film is available, it will remain so on-demand until it hits its audience capacity or the event ends. Many films do not have a capacity limit, and will be available for the duration of the fest; while SXSW is a global event, certain films will be restricted to access in the United States due to rights and/or filmmaker or distributor discretion.

The features showing in the genre-centric Midnight program are:

• BROADCAST SIGNAL INTRUSION
Director: Jacob Gentry; screenwriters: Phil Drinkwater, Tim Woodall; producers: Greg Newman, Brett Hays, Giles Edwards, Nicola Goelzhaeuser. In the late ’90s, a video archivist unearths a series of sinister pirate broadcasts and becomes obsessed with uncovering the dark conspiracy behind them. Cast: Harry Shum Jr., Kelley Mack, Chris Sullivan, Jennifer Jelsema, Arif Yampolsky, Justin Welborn, Michael B. Woods, Steve Pringle (World Premiere)

• THE FEAST (United Kingdom)
Director: Lee-Haven Jones; screenwriter/producer: Roger Williams. Over an evening, a wealthy family gathers for a sumptuous dinner with guests in their ostentatious house in the Welsh mountains. Served by a mysteriously disturbing young woman, the assembled party do not realize they are about to eat their last supper. Cast: Anne Elwy, Nia Roberts, Julian Lewis Jones, Steffan Cennydd, Sion Alun Davies, Lisa Palfrey, Rhodri Meilir (World Premiere)

• GAIA (South Africa; pictured above)
Director: Jaco Bouwer; screenwriter: Tertius Kapp; producers: Tertius Kapp, Jorrie van der Walt, Jaco Bouwer. In the depths of an ancient forest, something has been growing. Something older than humanity itself, and perhaps greater too. When a park ranger discovers a man and his son living wild, she stumbles onto a secret that is about to change the world. Cast: Monique Rockman, Carel Nel, Alex van Dyk, Anthony Oseyemi (World Premiere)

• JAKOB’S WIFE
Director: Travis Stevens; screenwriters: Travis Stevens, Kathy Charles, Mark Steensland; producers: Barbara Crampton, Bob Portal, Travis Stevens, Inderpal Singh. The disappearance of a young woman threatens to change the beige and banal lives of Anne Fedder (Crampton) and her pastor husband Jakob Fedder (Larry Fessenden) forever. Cast: Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, Bonnie Aarons, Mark Kelly, Sarah Lind, Robert Rusler, Nyisha Bell, Phil Brooks (World Premiere) Crampton talks about the film here.

• OFFSEASON
Director/screenwriter: Mickey Keating; producers: Eric B. Fleischman, Maurice Fadida. After receiving a mysterious letter, a woman travels to a desolate island town and soon becomes trapped in a nightmare. Cast: Joe Swanberg, Jocelin Donahue, Melora Walters, Richard Brake, Jeremy Gardner (World Premiere)

• SOUND OF VIOLENCE (Finland/U.S.)
Director/screenwriter: Alex Noyer; producers: Hannu Aukia, Alex Noyer. A young girl recovers her hearing and gains synesthetic abilities during the brutal murder of her family. Finding solace in the sounds of bodily harm as an adult, she pursues a career in music composing her masterpiece through gruesome murders. Cast: Jasmin Savoy Brown, Lili Simmons, James Jagger, Tessa Munro (World Premiere)

• THE SPINE OF NIGHT
Directors/screenwriters: Philip Gelatt, Morgan Galen King; producers: Will Battersby, Philip Gelatt, Jean Rattle. In this ultraviolent fantasy epic, ancient dark magic falls into sinister hands and unleashes ages of suffering onto mankind. A group of heroes from different eras and cultures must band together in order to defeat it at all costs. Cast: Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Betty Gabriel, Joe Manganiello, Larry Fessenden, Nina Lisandrello, Abby Savage, Tom Lipinski, Patrick Breen (World Premiere)

•.WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED: A HISTORY OF FOLK HORROR
Director/screenwriter: Kier-La Janisse; producers: Kier-La Janisse, David Gregory, Winnie Cheung. WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED is the first feature-length documentary on the history of folk horror, from the 1960s to today. (World Premiere)

Also of horrific interest are:

• HERE BEFORE (UK)
Director/screenwriter: Stacey Gregg, producer: Sophie Vickers. After new neighbors move in next door, a bereaved mother begins to question her reality in this unsettling psychological thriller. Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Martin McCann, Jonjo O’Neill, Eileen O’Higgins (World Premiere, Narrative Feature Competition)

• PAUL DOOD’S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK (United Kingdom)
Director: Nick Gillespie; screenwriters: Brook Driver, Matt White, Nick Gillespie; producer: Finn Bruce. When Paul’s chances of winning a national talent contest are ruined and his dreams of fame are slashed, he plans a deathly revenge rampage!! One lunch break, five spectacular murders! Each wrongdoer dispatched in a fitting manner by the sparkly suited Paul! Cast: Tom Meeten, Katherine Parkinson, Kris Marshall, Alice Lowe, Mandeep Dhillon, Johnny Vegas, Steve Oram, Craig Parkinson, Kevin Bishop, Pippa Haywood (World Premiere, Narrative Spotlight)

• ALIEN ON STAGE (United Kingdom)
Directors/producers: Danielle Kummer, Lucy Harvey. A British bus driver’s amateur stage show of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN accidentally makes it to a famous London theater! With awkward acting and special effects requiring more luck than judgement, will their homemade homage be alright on the night? (International Premiere, Documentary Spotlight)

• VIOLATION (Canada)
Directors/screenwriters/producers: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Dusty Mancinelli. A troubled woman on the edge of divorce returns home to her younger sister after years apart. But when her sister and brother-in-law betray her trust, she embarks on a vicious crusade of revenge. Cast: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Anna Maguire, Jesse LaVercombe, Obi Abili, Jasmin Geljo, Cynthia Ashperger (Texas Premiere, Festival Favorites; our review)

• WITCH HUNT
Director/screenwriter: Elle Callahan; producers: Eric B. Fleischman, Maurice Fadida. In a modern America where witches are real and witchcraft is illegal, a sheltered teenager must face her own demons and prejudices as she helps two young witches avoid law enforcement and cross the southern border to asylum in Mexico. Cast List: Gideon Adlon, Elizabeth Mitchell, Abigail Cowen, Nicholas and Cameron Crovetti, Christian Camargo (World Premiere, 2020 Spotlight)

SXSW will be accessible via multiple on-line platforms; for more information, head over to the festival’s website.

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and spent 28 years as a writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. In addition to RUE MORGUE, he currently writes for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM, IndieWire.com, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM and others. His book THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press) is out this fall, and he has contributed liner notes and featurettes to a number of Blu-ray and DVD releases. Among his screenplay credits are SHADOW: DEAD RIOT and LEECHES!, and he is currently working on THE DOLL with director Dante Tomaselli.