For the Love of Horror
This week, SXSW announced this year’s Midnighter lineup, a blend of horror, sci-fi and over-the-top action-thrillers that should propel any genre fan into attendance. SXSW has done a great job surpassing the high bar they set with last year’s lineup, which included breakout hits Hobo with a Shotgun, Attack the Block and Insidious.
Undoubtedly, most of our readers have already scanned the lineup, so instead of running through the list, we picked four of these genre delights (in no particular order) that can’t be missed — even if you’re just here for the music.
1. Iron Sky (Finland, Germany, Australia)
I first came across this film in 2008, when the team released a trailer filled with CG footage. The teaser reveals that, in 1945, a team of Nazi scientists were able to flee from their impending defeat on earth and establish a secret base on the moon. And they haven’t just been up there fiddling with their lederhosen. The film is set in 2018, when Sarah Palin is president and the Nazis decide coming back — this time with a fleet of flying saucers backing their Final Solution.
2. [REC]3 Genesis (Spain)
Paco Plaza will be bringing the latest installment in his horror-thriller series to the festival, which looks to be one of his most exciting yet. The third film in the series — which will conclude with [REC]4 Apocalypse — abandons the P.O.V. format used to great effect in the previous two, opting for a more traditional shooting style.
The story will take place before [REC] 1 & 2, at a wedding that quickly becomes infested with blood-crazed, aggressive quasi-zombies. Don't confuse the American remake of this film, Quarantine, with this series; the Spanish originals carry a much more terrifying sense of anxiety, with fantastic monster effects all wrapped in religious/paranormal horror. A combination that leads to a fast-paced thriller that genuinely scares.
(Spanish, no subtitles.)
3. John Dies at the End (U.S.A.)
I haven’t read David Wong’s webserial-turned-paperback phenomenon John Dies at the End, but that just makes me all the more eager to see his horror-comedy hit on film. The plot centers around a street drug called “Soy Sauce” that causes users to experience out-of-body paranormal psychoactive trips, causing some people to completely lose their humanity. Two college dropouts, John and Dave, become privy to an alien conspiracy to invade earth using the drug — and they're the only ones who can stop it.
Do they succeed? Judging from the title, no. But needless to say, any film that visualizes out-of-body paranormal drug binges already has something going for it.
4. V/H/S (U.S.A)
If there’s one film genre that the world has sorely missed, it’s the horror anthology. From stand-bys like Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt to modern classic Trick ‘r Treat (not to mention Drafthouse Films’ upcoming ABC's of Death), the format has been and can be widely appreciated. A huge hit at Sundance, V/H/S takes a daring step by combining horror anthology with the relatively new, but annoyingly ubiquitous, found-footage format.
Apparently, in the hands of capable directors (Ti West, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg and Adam Wingard) the formats merge not only successfully, but to a level of dreadful horror rarely seen in today’s formulaic nonsense.
So there you have it, four of the most promising genre films coming to SXSW 2012. Buy a film badge before the price increase!