SXSW announced the final films for their 2019 festival slate and two of the most hotly anticipated horror titles will bookend the festival. As previously announced, Jordan Peele will open the festival with US, his follow up to the Oscar-winning cultural phenomenon Get Out, and as announced today, the world premiere of Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s Pet Sematary will close it out.
The latter, a remake of an adaptation of Stephen King’s terrifying novel about zombie pets tormenting families, first gained our attention when a trailer for the film dropped late last year. The Starry Eyes directing duo bring their version, led by John Lithgow and Jason Clarke, to the Lone Star State’s premiere film festival exactly thirty years after Mary Lambert’s Pet Sematary hit theaters in 1989. But these are not the only frightening titles we noticed. We expect scares from several entries in the ‘Midnighters’ section, including Daniel Isn’t Real, the tale of a troubled college student who resurrects his childhood imaginary friend as a means to cope with his hectic life.
The festival favorites section features Sundance standouts Knock Down the House and Apollo 11, as well as some of our fave picks from the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, like the Elisabeth Moss punk rock musical Her Smell. We singled out these ten features as ones we’re anxious to see with that infamously raucous SXSW crowd. You can find the full list of films that will screen Austin here.
Director/Screenwriter: Alex Gibney
Elizabeth Holmes was once the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, heralded as the next Steve Jobs. Then, overnight, her $10-billion-dollar company dissolved. The rise and fall of blood-testing company Theranos is a window into the psychology of fraud; Holmes sent shock waves through Silicon Valley when her company collapsed amid scandal. With the story set to be adapted into a feature film starring Jennifer Lawerence in 2020, uber-documentarian Alex Gibney set his sights on the false promises of the Silicon Valley start-up.
Director/Screenwriter: Ninian Doff
When four city-bred schoolboys embark on a traditional Duke of Edinburgh Award camping trip that takes them deep into the Scottish Highlands, they find themselves chased by a deranged masked couple with aims of culling the teenaged “wildlife.” What looks to be a grim version of Stand By Me set in the Scottish countryside has us more than a little intrigued.
Director: Janice Engel
Screenwriters: Janice Engel, Monique Zavistovski
Six feet of Texas trouble, Molly Ivins, a legendary journalist and a warrior for the Bill of Rights, fought Good Old Boy corruption with a razor-sharp wit that left both sides of the aisle laughing and craving ink in her columns. The Texas icon who famously dubbed George W. Bush “Shrub” (the Little Bush) gets her big screen debut in a film that looks to embody all that Ivins stood for: Brains, Brass, and Booze!
Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer
Screenwriters: Brian DeLeeuw, Adam Egypt Mortimer
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.
Directors/Screenwriters: Britt Poulton, Dan Madison Savage
Set deep in the wilds of Appalachia, where believers handle death-dealing snakes to prove themselves before God, Them That Follow tells the story of a pastor’s daughter who holds a secret that threatens to tear her community apart. Olivia Colman and Walton Goggins lead an ensemble cast in a terrifying examination of faith and collective hysteria.
Director/Screenwriter: Stella Meghie
A comedian hauls the baggage of her defunct relationship on a weekend getaway with friends, which happens to include her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend. Stella Meghie, the director of Everything Everything, brings her latest effort, which premiered at the Toronto Internation Film Festival, to the festival favorites section.
Director: Michael Chaves
Screenwriters: Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis
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. Linda Cardellini leads what looks to be another female-led fright fest.
Directors: Stephen Cedars, Benji Kleiman
Screenwriters: Stephen Cedars, Benji Kleiman, Scott Yacyshyn
After a popular teen has sex for the first time, she finds herself pregnant — with an alien. With no one to turn to but her nerdy ex-best-friend, she’ll have to risk her neck — and social status — to fight the freaky extraterrestrial threat. Snatchers might bring just the right mix of off-kilter insanity to refresh the teen sex comedy genre.
The 100% Certified Fresh YouTube Original Series Cobra Kai will screen the first two episodes of its second season, followed by a Q&A panel with series stars Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso), William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence), and Martin Kove (Kreese). In Season 2 we’ve been told to expect more from Kreese and some new additions to the dojo, including Daniel’s daughter Samantha.
Director: Michael Dowse
Screenwriter: Tripper Clancy
When a mild-mannered Uber driver (Kumail Nanjiani) picks up a cop (Dave Bautista) hot on the trail of a brutal killer, he’s thrust into a harrowing ordeal where he has to keep his wits, his life, and his five-star rating. Nanjiani follows up his Oscar-nominated mega-hit The Big Sick with a comedy-fueled version of Collateral. With two Guardians of Galaxy (Bautista and co-star Karen Gillan) in tow, we expect plenty of action with this one. Though not a completed effort, other films have headed to SXSW with the “work-in-progress” label and gone on to great success, such as The Disaster Artist, Keanu, and Sausage Party.