Year after year, SXSW proves itself to be one of the best film festivals in the world, offering an astonishing variety of programming that appeals to every taste. Emotional arthouse dramas? Yep. An always stellar documentary line-up? You betcha. An insane midnight program that offers a look at bonkers movies from all over the world? Of course. Gigantic premieres and previews for upcoming studio releases and high anticipated TV shows? Take a guess.
So when we decided to limit our 2016 SXSW preview to only ten titles, we knew we were leaving dozens of fascinating movies on the cutting room floor. But that’s the joy of any film festival – you go in with certain expectations, only to stumble over a whole slate of great films you never saw coming. /Film will be in attendance at SXSW, bringing you news and reviews straight from the fest, but here are the screenings we’re looking forward to seeing the most.
Beware the Slenderman
Synopsis: BEWARE THE SLENDERMAN tells the story of the internet’s elusive Boogeyman and two 12-year-old girls who would kill for him. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier lured their best friend into the woods, stabbed her 19 times, then set out on an odyssey to meet the tall and faceless man known online as Slenderman. Shot over 18 months with heartbreaking access to the families of the would-be murderers, the film plunges deep down the rabbit hole of their crime, a Boogeyman and our society’s most impressionable consumers of media. The entrance to the internet can quickly lead us to its dark basement, within just a matter of clicks. How much do we hold children responsible for what they find there?
Why We’re Intrigued: If you’ve read New York Magazine’s stomach-churning account of the crime at the center of this documentary, you already know that this is a fascinating, heartbreaking, and terrifying true crime story that deserves a long, hard look. This is a story for and about the modern internet age, a portrait of how urban legends are born in the age of web forums and social media. This has the potential to be infinitely more unsettling than a straightforward horror movie about the “Slenderman” mythos.
Everybody Wants Some
Synopsis: A “spiritual sequel” to DAZED AND CONFUSED set in the world of 1980 college life, EVERYBODY WANTS SOME is a comedy that follows a group of friends as they navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood. Get ready for the best weekend ever.
Why We’re Intrigued: We were sold at “A Film by Richard Linklater” and we were further sold by the overwhelmingly positive response at an early screening. There doesn’t seem to be much plot here – a group of friends, united by being on the same baseball team, hang out and drink and party and struggle through life while attending college in the ’80s – but this is from a filmmaker who has mastered making conversations and genial hangouts so compelling. Plus, how could we attend a film festival in Austin, Texas, where Linklater is regarded as a god among mortals, and not check out his latest opus?
Synopsis: Strap in. HARDCORE HENRY is an unflinchingly original wild-ride: You remember nothing because you’ve just been brought back from the dead by your wife. She tells you that your name is Henry. Five minutes later, you are being shot at, your wife has been kidnapped, and you should probably go get her back. Who’s got her? His name’s Akan – a powerful warlord with an army of mercenaries, and a plan for world domination. You’re also in an unfamiliar city of Moscow, and everyone wants you dead. Everyone except for a mysterious fellow called Jimmy. He may be on your side, but you aren’t sure. If you can survive, and solve the mystery, you might just discover the truth behind your identity.
Why We’re Intrigued: Hardcore Henry looks insane. We’re not even sure if it looks good or bad (the jaw-dropping trailers suggest it could go either way) but it certainly looks unmissable. This movie looks like it deserves to be seen on the biggest, loudest movie screen imaginable, preferably in a packed house. The movie’s central gimmick, that it’s a big, bombastic action film shot entirely from the first person perspective, makes this one of the first modern movies to truly embrace video game storytelling as a narrative device. That alone makes it fascinating.