When March rolls around and South By Southwest invades Austin, Texas, we salivate at the thought of all of the morbid, bloody disgusting, shout-out-loud horror films about to be unleashed on the silver screen. Years past saw the Mad Max-inspired lethal love story Bellflower, Amy Seimetz’s subdued road-trip thriller Sun Don’t Shine, and the terrifying slow-burn psychological head trip that is Honeymoon.
So what’s showing this year? There are a few standouts from festivals past, like Rodney Ascher’s The Nightmare, his eerie follow-up to the Kubrick conspiracy doc Room 237. There are genre-bending options, too. Deathgasm is a film about a couple of demon-slaying metal heads. We hear it’s the slasher party of 2015.
But this year, we took a creepier approach to our South by selections – we’re on the hunt for those films that stick with you long after Sixth Street’s smoked hog stench wears off. Here are the 6 scariest films of SXSW you’ll want to keep an eye out for as they creep into the theaters.
Can’t wait? No sweat, compadre. We selected some like-minded creeper features to feed your need for blood.
1. The Boy
Perhaps our No. 1 must-see at the fest is The Boy, an ‘80s-set purgatory-style thriller exploring the deadly adolescence of a killer in the making. Touted as “an intimate portrait of a 9-year-old sociopath,” writer/director Craig Macneill’s latest promises a truly chilling watch.
WATCH NOW: The coming-of-psycho film, We Need to Talk About Kevin.
2. The Invitation
Director Karyn Kusama, who polarized audiences with the high school possession film Jennifer’s Body, debuts her latest – a dinner party thriller starring a couple whose reunion two years after their son’s death is a bit, well, sinister. It has good word of the mouth at the fest and should see a pretty decent VOD push.
WATCH NOW: The dinner party mind-bender, Coherence.
3. We Are Still Here
You’ve seen her in plenty of ‘80s gore horror movies like Re-Animator and Puppetmaster. But actress Barbara Compton is taking on her most vengeful project yet. She plays Anne, a grieving mother who along with her husband inadvertently purchases a haunted house in New England that demands a sacrifice every 30 years. And guess what? The next bloody round is on the not-so-lucky new homeowners.
WATCH NOW: Ti West’s The House of the Devil.
Jeremy Sisto’s becoming a bit of a horror staple of late. He stars in A&E’s American remake of French zombie series The Returned. And now he leads a found footage home invasion film written and directed by genre regular Adam Mason. Watch the trailer and you can’t help but think of The Poughkeepsie Tapes, which is unfortunately harder to find than a chicken with teeth.
WATCH NOW: The festival cult hit, V/H/S.
5. Nina Forever
You’ve heard of the threesome, but what about an undead threesome? Nina’s dead. Rob’s moved on with Holly. But every time the two, ahem, do the nasty, Nina crawls up from under the sheets all bloody and broken. Nina Forever is technically a romance – undying love, if you will – but there’s enough of the sticky stuff – blood, that is – and morbid storytelling told through a deftly dark lens to keep genre enthusiasts interested.
WATCH NOW: The horror comedy Life After Beth.
What sounds like another tech-obsessed cautionary tale about cyberbulling, quickly proves to be a cleverly constructed creeper, unfolding entirely over Skype, Google Chat and the like. Unfriended’s premise of a teen suicide victim mysteriously reappearing online is eerie enough to grab our attention. What’s more, the spooky cybernatural film comes from Blumhouse, a mega-production studio that rarely gets it wrong when it comes to spine-tingling horror – Oculus, Insidious, The Purge.
WATCH NOW: Check out the disturbing TIFF 2013 short film, Noah.
Still from "Unfriended" via Blumhouse Productions; Still from "The Boy" via Spectre Vision; Still from "We Are Still Here" from Snow Fort Productions; Still from "Nina Forever" via Jeva Films