SXSW: Midnighters Lineup, World Premieres Announced

It was announced last week that John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place will be opening up the 25th South by Southwest Film Festival on March 9th in Austin, Texas. Beyond this opening horror film, however, there was very little genre film representation in the festival lineup. That all changed as the organizers just announced their annual Midnighters lineup. If their goal was to fill me with enough jealous rage to start my own purge, then they definitely succeeded.

The SXSW Midnighters are a celebration of the best in genre cinema. Year after year, this lineup if filled with horrifying and disturbing films that are almost always guaranteed to take the community by storm in the following year. Jarod Neece, SXSW’s Senior Film Programmer, said this about the Midnighters Program:


It is the highlight of my year to get to dive into the yearly pool of genre film submission and see what wild and devilish ideas these filmmakers have brought to life. This year’s Midnighters, made both by veteran filmmakers and many first-timers, are sure to delight and terrify lucky SXSW audiences.

Of the ten films included in the Midnighters lineup, six of them are World Premieres and another three are celebrating their North American Premiere. The lone non-premiere, not to be outdone, is the horror film that set the entire world on fire after Sundance. SO, without further ado, here are the films included in this year’s Midnighters program:


Ajin: Demi-Human (World Premiere)

Endless battle between human being and immortal demi-human “Ajin”. A stunning, strikingly original action masterpiece! Directed by: Katsuyuki Motohiro. Written by: Kouji Seko. Cast: Takeru Satoh, Go Ayano, Tetsuji Tamayama, Yu Shirota, Yudai Chiba, Rina Kawaei, Minami Hamabe.


Blood Fest (World Premiere)

SXSW Midnighters Blood Fest

In Blood Fest, fans flock to a festival celebrating the most iconic horror movies, only to discover that the charismatic showman behind the event has a diabolical agenda. Written and Directed by: Owen Egerton. Cast: Robbie Kay, Jacob Batalon, Seychelle Gabriel, Tate Donovan, Barbara Dunkelman, Nick Rutherford, Zachary Levi.


Untitled Blumhouse-Bazelevs (World Premiere)

SXSW Midnighters Untitled Blumhouse

A 20-something finds a cache of hidden files on his new laptop and is thrust into the deep waters of the dark web. From the makers of Unfriended, this thriller unravels in real-time, entirely on a computer screen. A warning for the digital age. Written and Directed by Stephen Susco. Cast: Colin Woodell, Betty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Andrew Lees, Conor del Rio, Stephanie Nogueras, Savira Windyani.


Field Guide to Evil (World Premiere)

SXSW Midnighters The Field Guide to Evil

They are known as dark folklore. Created to give logic to mankind’s darkest fears, these stories and others laid the foundation for what we now call the horror genre. Directed by: Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Peter Strickland, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Katrin Gebbe, Can Evrenol, Calvin Reeder, Ashim Ahluwalia, Yannis Veslemes.


Ghost Stories (North American Premiere)

An arch skeptic debunker of the supernatural embarks upon a terror filled quest when he stumbles across a long lost file containing details of three cases of inexplicable ‘hauntings’. Adapted from the Olivier Award Winning hit stage play. Written and Directed by: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman. Cast: Martin Freeman, Alex Lawther, Jill Halfpenny, Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse.



When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. Written and Directed by: Ari Aster. Cast: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro.


A Prayer Before Dawn (North American Premiere)

Based on the international best-seller, A Prayer Before Dawn is the true story of Billy Moore, a troubled young British boxer sent to one of Thailand’s most notorious jails. Written by: Jonathan Hirschbein, Nick Saltrese. Directed By: Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire. Cast: Joe Cole, Vithaya Pansringar, Panya Yimmumphai, Nicolas Shake.


The Ranger (World Premiere)

SXSW Midnighters The Ranger

Teen punks, on the run from the cops and hiding out in the woods, come up against the local authority—an unhinged park ranger with an axe to grind. Written by: Jenn Wexler, Giaco Furino. Directed by: Jenn Wexler. Cast: Chloë Levine, Granit Lahu, Jeremy Pope, Bubba Weiler, Amanda Grace Benitez, Jeremy Holm, Larry Fessenden.


Upgrade (World Premiere)

SXSW Midnighters Upgrade

In a utopian near-future when technology controls everything, a technophobe avenges his wife’s murder and his own paralysis-causing injury with the help of an experimental computer chip implant – STEM – that turns out to have a mind of its own. Written and Directed by: Leigh Whannell. Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel, Harrison Gilbertson, Benedict Hardie.


What Keeps You Alive (World Premiere)

SXSW Midnighters What Keeps You Alive

Majestic mountains, a still lake and venomous betrayals engulf a female married couple attempting to celebrate their one-year anniversary. Written by Colin Minihan, Brittany Allen. Directed by: Colin Minihan. Cast: Hannah Emily Anderson, Brittany Allen, Martha Macisaac, Joey Klein, Charlotte Lindsay Marron.

Obviously, I’m not going to actually start my own purge-like event, but I am really jealous of anyone that gets to hang out in Austin and take in this incredible slate of genre films. Keep your eyes locked onto Nightmare on Film Street and we will update you with any new information and reviews as they become available. In the meantime, join our official Facebook Group and hang out with the cool kids.

Tyler Liston

Purveyor of fine books, films and records by day; Mediocre (but improving) Dad by night.