As the year 2019 continues to just fly by, the SXSW Film Festival is already right around the corner, kicking off on Friday in Austin, Texas. Not only does SXSW boast several impressive studio horror premieres this year, both opening and closing the festival, but it also features a Murderers' Row of talent in their Midnighters slate as well. This writer will once again be on site at the fest representing Daily Dead, and while I am really excited about everything on my docket over the next few weeks, here are 13 things happening at SXSW 2019 that have me especially amped to check out throughout all the film-related festivities.
Us (Director/Screenwriter: Jordan Peele)
I mean, it’s a new horror movie from Jordan Peele featuring a stellar cast oozing with raw talent. What more could I possibly need?
Festival Synopsis: An original nightmare from Oscar-winner Jordan Peele (Get Out), starring Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, Us pits an average American family against a terrifying opponent: doppelgängers of themselves. Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Anna Diop, Evan Alex, Shahadi Wright-Joseph, Madison Curry, Cali Sheldon (World Premiere)
What We Do in the Shadows (Showrunners: Jemaine Clement, Paul Simms, Screenplay: Jemaine Clement)
Considering the filmic version of What We Do in the Shadows is easily one of my favorite films of the last five years (and is easily in my top 10 list of favorite horror comedies ever), I am so stoked to see how this new FX series is going to go. Plus, having Jemaine Clement so heavily involved is certainly a good sign that the heart and humor from the film should carry over here as well.
Festival Synopsis: Based on the feature film of the same name from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, FX’s new comedy What We Do in the Shadows follows vampire roommates who have lived together for hundreds and hundreds of years. Cast: Matt Berry, Kayvan Novak, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, Mark Proksch (World Premiere)
Pet Sematary (2019) (Directors: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, Screenwriter: Jeff Buhler)
When it was first announced, I was already excited to see a new take on the story of Pet Sematary (I love the original film, but the new IT proved there’s always room for new interpretations of Stephen King’s stories), but now knowing that this iteration is going to take a different route than I think most of us were expecting, my curiosity is officially at peak levels. Plus, I’m a big fan of Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s Starry Eyes, and writer Jeff Buhler’s recent work on The Prodigy, too, so I am very much looking forward to seeing what they’ve cooked up together for Pet Sematary (2019).
Festival Synopsis: Based on the seminal horror novel by Stephen King. Cast List: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, Jeté Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Lucas Lavoie and John Lithgow (World Premiere)
Body at Brighton Rock (Director/Screenwriter: Roxanne Benjamin)
Roxanne Benjamin has two excellent anthology segments under her belt already (from XX and Southbound) and has also produced a handful of great indie horror films over the years, so not only is it pretty rad that we’re getting a full-fledged feature from Benjamin with Body at Brighton Rock, but it’s celebrating its world premiere at SXSW to boot.
Festival Synopsis: An inexperienced park employee discovers a body on a remote mountain trail and must stay with it overnight in the wilderness, facing her darkest fears in the process. Cast: Karina Fontes, Casey Adams, Emily Althaus, Brodie Reed, Martin Spanjers, John Getz, Miranda Bailey, Susan Burke, Matt Peters (World Premiere)
Tone-Deaf (Director/Screenwriter: Richard Bates, Jr.)
After seeing his work on the films Excision, Suburban Gothic, and Trash Fire, all I need to hear is that Richard Bates, Jr. has a new movie, and I’m immediately excited. For Tone-Deaf, Bates is collaborating once again with AnnaLynne McCord as well several other great talents, including Robert Patrick, Ray Wise, and Final Destination 3’s Amanda Crew, and I’m ready to see just how dark his home invasion flick is going to go (and knowing Ricky, it’ll probably be pretty damn dark).
Festival Synopsis: Two generations collide with terrifying results in this home invasion horror film that is also a darkly comedic critique of the bizarre cultural and political climates in the United States. Cast: Amanda Crew, Robert Patrick, Kim Delaney, Hayley Marie-Norman, Ray Wise, Johnny Pemberton, Keisha Castle-Hughes, AnnaLynne McCord, Nelson Franklin, Ronnie Gene-Blevins (World Premiere)
NOS4A2 (Showrunner/Screenwriter: Jami O’Brien)
NOS4A2 is probably my favorite book from Joe Hill, and as someone who has loved vampires longer than she has the horror genre (thanks to The Count from Sesame Street!), I’m so excited for this new series to make its way to AMC later this year. And while I am a big fan of Zachary Quinto’s, I must admit that the real thrill for me when it comes to NOS4A2 is seeing Hounds of Love’s Ashleigh Cummings in a prominent role here.
Festival Synopsis: NOS4A2 introduces Vic, a young woman who has a supernatural ability to find lost things. This ability puts her on a collision course with the evil and immortal Charlie Manx, a supernatural villain who feeds off the souls of children. Cast List: Zachary Quinto, Ashleigh Cummings, Jahkara J. Smith, Olafur Olafsson, Virginia Kull, Ebon Moss-Bachrach (World Premiere)
Girl on the Third Floor (Director/Screenwriter: Travis Stevens)
Travis Stevens has produced so many great genre films over the years, so I am beyond stoked to see him take the directorial reins for Girl on the Third Floor. And I will fully admit that having C.M. Punk involved is certainly a very intriguing aspect to this project as well, so my curiosities are fully piqued when it comes to what Stevens has concocted for his first feature.
Festival Synopsis: Don Koch tries to renovate a rundown house with a sordid history for his growing family, only to learn that the house has other plans. Cast: Phil Brooks, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Sarah Brooks, Elissa Dowling, Karen Woditsch, Travis Delgado, Marshall Bean, Anish Jethmalani, Bishop Stevens, Tonya Kay (World Premiere)
The Curse of La Llorona (Director: Michael Chaves, Screenwriters: Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis)
We’ve had a lot of stellar horror come out from Warner Bros. over the years, and I’m hoping that Michael Chaves’ The Curse of La Llorona is yet another fantastically frightening offering from the studio. I’m always on board for anything with Linda Cardellini, and considering all the creepy possibilities to explore in the mythology of “The Weeping Woman,” I am excited to see what the first-time feature filmmaker is going to bring to the table for La Llorona.
Festival Synopsis: In 1970s Los Angeles, La Llorona is stalking the night…and the children. Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother, a social worker is soon drawn into a terrifying supernatural realm, with the lives and souls of her own kids at stake. Cast: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez, Marisol Ramirez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Roman Christou (World Premiere)
Vampire Libraries (Courtesy of FX Networks)
In honor of the world premiere of the new What We Do in the Shadows series at SXSW, FX is setting up several bloodsucker-themed libraries in Austin where fans can sink their teeth into free vampire-centric books, which is seriously cool. As someone who grew up completely enraptured by vampire literature (as a kid, I read everything from Bunnicula to Bram Stoker’s Dracula), I love the idea that FX is doing the dark lord’s work with these pop-up libraries during the fest.
Description: From March 9 – March 12, dusk until midnight, fans can visit the vampire libraries to select a free book of their choosing. They will also be given specialized bookmarks that promote the opportunity to enter a sweepstakes for the chance to win cash prizes.
Fans can find the branded vampire libraries at the following Austin locations:
o El Naranjo, 85 Rainey Street
o Bat Bar, 218 E 6th Street
o Iron Works BBQ, 100 Red River Street
Daniel Isn’t Real (Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer, Screenwriters: Brian DeLeeuw, Adam Egypt Mortimer)
While I enjoyed Adam Egypt Mortimer’s efforts on Some Kind of Hate immensely, I must admit that this ’80s kid is mostly excited about Daniel Isn’t Real because it features Mary Stuart Masterson (Some Kind of Wonderful 4EVA) and that is what has me so very excited here. Although I just realized the similarity in titles between Mortimer’s previous feature and my favorite rom-com written by John Hughes, so I think that kind of serendipity can’t be all that coincidental.
Festival Synopsis: Troubled Luke suffers a violent family trauma and resurrects his childhood imaginary friend to help him cope. Charismatic and full of manic energy, “Daniel” helps Luke to achieve his dreams, before pushing him into a desperate fight for his own soul. Cast: Patrick Schwarzenegger, Miles Robbins, Sasha Lane, Hannah Marks, Mary Stuart Masterson (World Premiere)
Villains (Directors/Screenwriters: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen)
As someone who is always in the mood for a fun comedic caper, I think Villains looks to be like something right up my proverbial alley. Featuring the likes of Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Kyra Sedgwick, as well as Jeffrey Donovan (who I recently just saw in the Ted Bundy flick Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile), I think Villains is poised to be the biggest surprise of the fest for me this year. Plus, Monroe recently was a standout in Greta, so I’m excited to see what she can do in a crime-fueled comedy, too.
Festival Synopsis: When a pair of amateur criminals break into a suburban home, they stumble upon a dark secret and two sadistic homeowners who will do anything to keep it from getting out. Cast: Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Kyra Sedgwick, Jeffrey Donovan (World Premiere)
Us Fan Art Gallery (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)
Universal Pictures is celebrating Jordan Peele’s Us with a full-blown art exhibition in Austin, featuring pieces created by numerous talented artists who have been inspired by what they’ve seen so far from Peele’s sophomore horror film. Anyone attending SXSW this year can check out all the amazing artwork from Saturday, March 9th through Monday, March 11th.
Description: Check out select fan art from around the country celebrating Jordan Peele’s new thriller Us, in theaters March 22. The fan art gallery is located at 90 Rainey Street (formerly Container Bar), Austin, TX 78701.
SCHEDULE: Open Saturday, March 9 from 11am - 9pm; Sunday, March 10 from 11am - 7pm and Monday, March 11 from 11am - 2pm
I’m Just F*cking With You (Director: Adam Mason, Screenwriters: Gregg Zehentner, Scott Barkan)
Blumhouse’s Into the Dark series on Hulu has been a pretty fun ride overall since the anthology series launched in October, and for the April installment, director Adam Mason (his film The Devil’s Chair was one of the first films I ever covered as a horror journalist back in the day) is set to pull off some killer pranks with I’m Just F*cking With You. Personally, I feel like we’re well overdue for some more horror-related stories centered around April Fool’s Day (beyond the amazing 1986 movie that shares its name with the infamous day of hijinks), so I say, let the shenanigans begin!
Festival Synopsis: A young man and his sister endure a night of increasingly frightening practical jokes while spending the night at a secluded motel. Cast: Keir O’Donnell, Hayes MacArthur, Jessica McNamee (World Premiere)