“INSIDE” Directors, Bigfoot lead SXSW ’14 Midnighters; EXCL Programmer Comments
FANGORIA turns its eye to Austin bi-annually, and as spring nears and Sundance fades, the first trip to Texas for horror and queso is gearing up. SXSW 2014 has begun announcements in earnest, already revealing 115 of the titles in this year’s lineup, but the fest is only now getting to the most thrilling news: The Midnighters. FANGORIA spoke with SXSW’s Producer & Senior Programmer Jarod Neece about what’s truly an exciting lineup of genre film, and all there is to look forward to at midnight.
With eight world premieres and two festival favorites, the SXSW 2014 Midnighters run a spectrum of anticipated works from acclaimed filmmakers (Eduardo Sanchez’s EXISTS, Adrian Bogliano’s LATE PHASES), the latest efforts from breakout talent (Daniel Stamm’s 13 SINS, Mike Flanagan’s OCULUS and Adam Wingard’s THE GUEST) and what just might be a true discovery, or two (Leigh Janiak’s HONEYMOON, Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer’s STARRY EYES). And that’s not to mention the best of all: the third film from INSIDE and LIVID French filmmaking team, Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury, AMONG THE LIVING.
Here, as our guide, is a conversation with Jarod Neece:
FANGORIA: Premiering the latest from Bustillo and Maury, AMONG THE LIVING, is very exciting indeed.
JAROD NEECE: We’ve been tracking that forever. Obviously, we’re big fans of INSIDE and LIVID. It was exactly what we wanted it to be. As they say, it’s STAND BY ME meets FRIDAY THE 13TH, which is a pretty good way to sum it up. We were just thrilled to be able to include it. It kind of gives the lineup some international flair. It’s definitely different from INSIDE and LIVID, but you can still tell those guys made it.
FANG: You have a slate of filmmakers that everyone is excited to see what they’ve come up with next. There are some who broke out, like Daniel Stamm or Mike Flanagan with LAST EXORCISM and ABSENTIA, respectively. These are filmmakers we’ve been waiting to see what their new films are going to be like. How have they delivered?
NEECE: 13 SINS for Daniel Stamm and OCULUS, for Mike, they’re just really finding their way as genre filmmakers. I think 13 SINS is a lot different than LAST EXORCISM, for sure, and A NECESSARY DEATH. It’s just so different than anything else he’s done. The casting in 13 SINS is really awesome. Mark Webber really holds it up. Ron Perlman gives a really great performance. OCULUS is just so fucking good. It’s just such an assured hand of directing. It’s just such a minimal concept. It takes a director with really good vision. I don’t know the best way to say it, but he is definitely doing exactly what he wants to do.
FANG: Similarly, there’s films that are feature debuts, but have come with anticipation like STARRY EYES and STAGE FRIGHT, from the gentleman behind THE LEGEND OF BEAVER DAM.
NEECE: With STAGE FRIGHT, we all love THE LEGEND OF BEAVER DAM. You could just play that film on repeat and it will never get old. For people like myself, who aren’t a big fan of musicals, it’s like, “I can get into this.” There’s blood and guts and it’s fun. It’s definitely interesting to see how he was going to take that concept and evolve it into a feature film. It’s a perfect midnight movie. Obviously, lots of signing, lots of gore, lots of fun. The cast, with Meat Loaf and Minnie Driver. Again, it’s “something-meets-something” as always, but they say it’s SCREAM meets GLEE and that’s pretty good. It’s definitely a Hard-R.
FANG: You’re finding these films and slotting them as what’s best in quality and what’s best for the program, but does a theme ever emerge once you’ve set the lineup?
NEECE: Sure, yea. In the general program, the other 115 features we’ve already announced, sci-fi and time travel are huge. It’s just weird how much that came up over and over. It was like, “Can we take another sci-fi film? Can we take another time travel film?” It was just, they were the best films. It didn’t matter that there were too many of those.
For me, a film like EXISTS from Eduardo Sanchez: it’s found footage in the woods. I don’t want to see any more of that, but this—kind of like Bobcat [Goldthwait] did with WILLOW CREEK—it’s a different take. It’s so well done and the monster in EXISTS is so fucking cool.
Somebody like Nicholas McCarthy with HOME, we love THE PACT. LATE PHASES, from Adrian Garcia Bogliano, we played COLD SWEAT. It’s just another awesome film from him with Ethan Embry and Tom Noonan. It’s always interesting—like Nacho too with OPEN WINDOWS, they’re both doing their first English-language films. You do get worried that maybe since English isn’t the first language, the direction of the actors or the dialogue may lose something, but I think both Nacho and Adrian really handled the material really well. LATE PHASES is also one of the big favorites of the festival.
The discovery would be HONEYMOON. Leigh Janiak, she’s a first time—she, which is awesome—filmmaker from NYU. It’s her first feature and the two leads are Rose Leslie from GAME OF THRONES and then Harry Treadaway, he’s like Luke Treadaway’s brother. He’s actually starring in a new Showtime series PENNY DREADFUL, where he plays Frankenstein. I love Rose, it’s pretty much the two of them the whole movie. It’s so fucking good. That was one of those films everyone loved. Where did this come from? Who is this person? That is definitely going to be a cool discovery at the festival.
Then, a film like THE GUEST, which we loved at Sundance. We have eight world premieres this year, so we didn’t have much room to play anything else from Sundance, even though I did love a lot of those films. STARRY EYES, which is Snowfort Pictures and Travis [Stevens, producer], who did CHEAP THRILLS and AGGRESSION SCALE and all that stuff. They just really pulled that together.
I’m thrilled. The lineup’s awesome. I love it. Some years, it’s like, “Oh, I got a couple of good things.” I can just imagine each one of the screenings and what the audience is going to be. There’s not going to be a lot of letdown, which is awesome.
FANG: You mentioned a heavy time travel theme. At Sundance, there were a lot of genre films and a lot of films that would be typical “Sundance” movies, if you took a small genre element out of it. From your perspective, what do you think is pushing these indie filmmakers to express themselves through the fantastic, when they might otherwise not have?
NEECE: Well, you get down to it, genre films are selling more. Genre films are the ones that are more exciting, I think. That’s what’s in right now. That’s what people are watching more. I think these filmmakers, like filmmakers that went into television, it’s maybe a different medium they haven’t worked in and they get to spread their wings a little bit. Maybe working in TV, you get to develop these characters and maybe working in genre, you get to maybe go places you didn’t get to go if you made a straight ahead drama or narrative. It’s just really cool to see all this stuff happening. It’s really cool to see all the lo-fi versions of all that happening. It’s not super CGI-heavy, or special effects. It’s more of like PRIMER, psychological thrillers and not showing you things. It doesn’t have to be this crazy thing. It’s another part of the story. It’s really exciting.
Outside of Midnighters, Neece is heavily recommending taking a look at the new one from the Spierig Brothers (DAYBREAKERS), PREDESTINATION, as well as PREMATURE, Riley Stearns’ FAULTS, the Mark Duplass-penned CREEP, and the massive repertory screenings including a the 40th Anniversary celebration of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE with Tobe Hooper and the original 1954 GODZILLA in 35MM, with 2014 GODZILLA helmer Gareth Edwards in person for a special Q&A.
For the entire Midnighters lineup, see below and for much more on SXSW, visit the fest’s official site.
Scary, funny, sexy, controversial – provocative after-dark features for night owls and the terminally curious.
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)
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)
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)
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
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)