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SXSW: All the movies we're excited to see this year
From Nic Cage's Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent to X, these are the genre films you gotta watch this year at the festival.
In-person film festivals are slowly coming back to life this year, and that includes the return of SXSW, Austin's annual event that often highlights a unique roster of genre films. The festival is always an interesting showcase for filmmakers ranging from short form documentarians to experimental feature directors, and horror and sci-fi movies are well-represented.
The festival's reputation, plus its in-person return in 2022, means we've got a rather healthy crop of genre films to look forward to when SXSW kicks off this weekend. So, from a Sandra Bullock/Channing Tatum adventure vehicle to an A24 throwback to '70s sleaze, here are the movies we can't wait to check out.
1. Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood
Austin filmmaking legend Richard Linklater helms this animated reflection on American life at the height of the Space Age, with a cast headlined by Shazam! star Zachary Levi and Linklater's frequent collaborator, Jack Black. Part recreation of Apollo 11's mission control, part coming-of-age exploration of a young boy's fascination with space flight, Apollo 10 1/2 feels like it could be something very special.
2. Bitch Ass
Director Bill Posley helms this intriguing new take on slasher films, which follows the story of a bullied young boy obsessed with board games as he eventually transforms into a frightening urban legend. Billed as the story of the first Black serial killer to ever transform into a masked slasher, it looks like an incisive, darkly funny look at a well-worn subgenre.
3. Bodies Bodies Bodies
Boasting an impressive ensemble that includes Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson, Rachel Sennott, and Lee Pace, Halina Reijn's Bodies Bodies Bodies is poised to become the next great film in the horror subgrene of "rich kids throw a part that goes horribly wrong." With the backing of A24, Bodies has the potential to be your next slasher movie obsession.
4. The Cellar
Brendan Muldowney (Pilgrimage) wrote and directed this occult thriller, which stars Elisha Cuthbert as a woman who goes searching for her missing daughter in the cellar of the house that they recently moved into. The deeper Cuthbert's character goes, the more she finds out about the house's strange history, including its builder's attempts to access an undiscovered (and, shocker, evil) dimension. It has all the makings of an excellent descent into folk-horror madness and we are here for it.
5. The Cow
I'm a sucker for a thriller that is all about putting strangers in a confined location and letting weird stuff happen. And weird stuff happening seems to be exactly what The Cow promises. Starring Winona Ryder, Dermont Mulroney, and John Gallagher Jr., the movie centers on a couple who rent a secluded cabin, only to find that another couple is already there. Things get very strange and creepy from there.
CryptTV veterans Vanessa and Joseph Winter bring us this high-concept genre piece about a washed-up internet personality clawing for relevance in a social media landscape that's passed him by. His solution? Livestreaming his attempt to spend one night in a haunted house. What could possibly go wrong?
7. Everything Everywhere All At Once
Everything Everywhere All at Once is one of the biggest headliners at the festival. This mind-bending sci-fi dramedy from Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan stars the legendary Michelle Yeoh as a woman who's just trying to get her taxes finished. What she finds amid her visits to a tax prep specialist (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a wild exploration of the multiverse, which allows her to see every side of herself, and use the gifts all her different iterations have gained to potentially save all of existence. Any film smart enough to put Yeoh front and center is a film worth seeing.
Indie icon Pete Ohs directs this story of a woman who can't seem to escape the mysterious man shadowing her. So, when she reconnects with an old friend who happens to have access to a secluded ranch, it feels like the perfect escape. Unfortunately, even the ranch isn't a good enough hiding place, and the two women decide to look for a little supernatural help in banishing what appears to be a very human monster.
Jim Gaffigan's transition from stand-up comedy icon to character actor has led him to Linoleum from writer/director Colin West, and it feels like it has the potential to be very special. Gaffigan stars as a father whose space age dreams are reignited when a satellite crashes into his house. While he tries to use the parts from the crash to build his very own rocket, his family starts to worry about him, especially as strange things happen around them. (Think October Sky meets Take Shelter.) With a cast that includes Rhea Seehorn, Michael Ian Black, and Tony Shalhoub, this sci-fi drama feels like a can't-miss adventure.
10. The Lost City
An adventure in the vein of Romancing the Stone, The Lost City has just about everything you'd want from a rom-com action blockbuster. A romance novelist in over her head? Check. Explosions? Check. Fish out of water adventures in the jungle? Check and mate. Throw in an eccentric billionaire played by Daniel Radcliffe, alongside the star power and impressive comedic skills of of Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, and Brad Pitt, and The Lost City seems poised to be one of the best studio comedies in years.
After building major buzz at Sundance, where it was acquired by Amazon for release later this year, Mariama Diallo's thriller Master brings its dark tale of academia-centric horrors to SXSW. Regina Hall plays a dean of students at a New England college when an old campus legend seemingly casts a deadly and haunting spell over the students. Master thrilled audiences in January at Sundance, with its potent mix of supernatural horror and searing social commentary. It seems poised to have the same effect on SXSW's crowds as it positions itself to be one of the most talked-about horror films of the year.
12. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
The internet's favorite actor, Nicolas Cage, takes on the most challenging role of his career: Himself.
Cage stars as a fictionalized version of himself, in a very meta and action-packed story that requires him to attend the party of an obsessive superfan/criminal for some much-needed cash. When he gets there, though, Cage finds himself in the middle of a CIA sting operation that forces him to tap into some of his most iconic characters and films (like Face/Off and Gone in 60 Seconds) to save the world. This movie can't get into our eyeballs fast enough.
Another horror film with tons of Sundance buzz, Chloe Okuno's Watcher casts genre mainstay Maika Monroe as a woman who moves into a new apartment in a city beset by terror, just as a serial killer stalks the streets. As she settles in, the woman notices a mysterious figure watching her from next door. Is it the killer who's horrified the city, or something even darker?
The latest film from writer/director Ti West, X is a throwback to 1970s grindhouse horror, when people made both porno movies and creepy backwoods horror films with equal fervor. West's X feels like a combination of both aesthetics, as he tells the story of a crew of friends who head to a secluded location to shoot an X-rated movie, only to find that their hosts have something more sinister on their minds. With a cast that includes Scream's Jenna Ortega, Mia Goth, and Brittany Snow, X should be high on your must-see list.