One of my favorite parts of the SXSW Film Festival is the Midnight Movies. The SXSW compiles the latest in Horror, Cult, and the absolutely insane and shows a different one each night at the South Lamar Drafthouse. Getting to watch these types of films late at night surrounded by fellow genre fans in one of the finest theatrical settings the Earth has ever known is literally every bit as awesome as it sounds.
Of the 9 announced Midnight feature films, the one I am most excited about is Rob Zombie's Lords of Salem. SXSW will be the movie's US premiere, a good month before it is unleashed upon the masses. The film focuses on Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a radio DJ living in Salem, Massachusetts, that receives a mysterious wooden box with a record inside claiming to be a "gift from The Lords." Upon listening, Heidi begins having visions of the atrocities that went on during Salem's violent past. Heidi is left wondering if she has gone mad with hallucinations or has she somehow summoned the "Lords of Salem" to return to enact their revenge? I have wanted to see this film more than anything the past year. I cannot wait.
Another big film joining the Midnight club is V/H/S/2 (formerly S-VHS), the sequel to last year's found footage anthology that wowed at festivals but found itself split amongst the horror viewing public. V/H/S/2 just premiered at Sundance and initial reviews were quite positive, promising a much more refined attempt than its predecessor while somehow building a bit of mythology into the mix. I personally love V/H/S and am happy to see its sequel in the exact same setting.
And those two are just the tip of the iceberg. Other standouts include Haunter, the latest from Vincenzo Natali, director of beloved cult favorite Cube. Haunter reads like a ghost story/Groundhog Day mash-up brought about by a serial killer that's possibly become supernatural himself. There's also the latest from director Mike Mendez, a film about a giant alien spider that wrecks rampage on the Earth, simply and beautifully titled Big Ass Spider!
Below is a complete list of Midnight Features that will be shown during this year's SXSW Film Festival, as well as a brief bit of info on each one. Don't forget to check back in March for reviews of these and so much more when SXSW kicks off!
Big Ass Spider!
Director: Mike Mendez, Screenwriter: Gregory Gieras
When a giant alien spider escapes from a military lab and rampages across the city of Los Angeles, it is up to one clever exterminator and his security guard sidekick to kill the creature before the city is destroyed. Cast: Greg Grunberg, Lombardo Boyar, Clare Kramer, Ray Wise, Lin Shaye, Patrick Bauchau (World Premiere)
Director: E.L. Katz, Screenwriters: Trent Haaga, David Chirchirillo
Recently fired and facing eviction, the married father of a newborn has his life turned upside down when he meets a wealthy couple who offer a path to financial security...but at a price. Cast: Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, Sara Paxton, David Koechner, Amanda Fuller (World Premiere)
Director: Vincenzo Natali, Screenwriter: Brian King
Lisa Johnson is one day shy of her 16th birthday and will be forever. She and her family are doomed to repeat the fateful day before they were all killed in 1985. Cast: Abigail Breslin, Stephen McHattie, Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden, David Hewlett (World Premiere)
Kiss of the Damned
Director/Screenwriter: Xan Cassavetes
Beautiful vampire Djuna tries to resist the advances of human screenwriter Paolo, but eventually gives in to their passion. When her sister Mimi comes to visit, Djuna's love story is threatened, and the whole vampire community becomes endangered... Cast: Josephine de la Baume, Milo Ventimiglia, Roxane Mesquida, Anna Mouglalis, Michael Rapaport, Riley Keough, Ching Valdes-Aran (U.S. Premiere)
The Lords of Salem
Director/Screenwriter: Rob Zombie
From the singular mind of horror maestro Rob Zombie comes a chilling plunge into a nightmare world where evil runs in the blood. Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Ken Foree, Patricia Quinn (U.S. Premiere)
Director: Dennis Iliadis, Screenwriter: Bill Gullo
When the party of the decade is disrupted by a supernatural phenomenon, the night soon descends in to chaos. Cast: Rhys Wakefield, Logan Miller, Ashley Hinshaw, Natalie Hall (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Calvin Lee Reeder
After being released from prison, a man known as The Rambler stumbles upon a strange mystery as he attempts a dangerous journey through treacherous back roads and small towns en route to reconnecting with his long lost brother. Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Lindsay Pulsipher, Natasha Lyonne, James Cady, Scott Sharot
Directors: Adam Wingard, Gareth Evans, Screenwriters: Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Evans, Jamie Nash, Jason Eisener, John Davies
Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his abandoned house and find another collection of mysterious VHS tapes. In viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be terrifying motives behind the student's disappearance. Cast: Adam Wingard, Lawrence Levine, L. C. Holt, Kelsy Abbott, Hannah Hughes
Director: Adam Wingard, Screenwriter: Simon Barrett
A fresh twist on home-invasion horror. A gang of masked murderers descend upon a family reunion, and the victims seem trapped...until an unlikely guest proves to be the most talented killer of all. Cast: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg
- Matt Hardeman