One of the films premiering in the Midnighters section of SXSW this weekend is Xavier GensThe Divide, about a group of eight strangers who find shelter in a basement when a huge explosion demolishes New York. It’s a fun premise for a psychological thriller, if not exactly an original one, and the first teaser had me curious see how the film would turn out. I still have no idea, of course. But the first 97 seconds of the film have just been released, and so far, it’s looking good. Watch it after the jump.

[via Twitch]

I especially like the way the quiet horror of the opening seconds quickly devolves into panic and chaos. The footage looks pretty similar to what we saw in the teaser, but it’s still nice to know that the film gets off to a solid start. Now it just remains to be seen whether the other 98% of the film lives up to its that promise.

Here’s the official synopsis:

When a cataclysmic explosion devastates New York, eight strangers take refuge in the basement of their apartment building, a converted fallout shelter designed by their paranoid superintendent Mickey. With just three connecting rooms it’s barely big enough, but with stockpiles of food and water, the group are at least safe from the horrors outside, and they settle in and attempt to fathom the catastrophe that has ended the lives of so many of their loved ones.

But suddenly men in HAZMAT suits storm their shelter and open fire. The strangers join forces in a desperate bid to take on this enemy, with no one understanding what these HAZMATS are looking for and what drives them to be so merciless. With fatalities on both sides and the remaining HAZMATS temporarily pushed back and locked out, the worst is yet to come for the group. Cabin fever sets in as the perception of the shelter shifts from safe-haven to claustrophobic rat-trap.

The Divide has its world premiere this Sunday, March 13, at SXSW. The film stars Michael Biehn, Lauren German, Rosanna Arquette, Courtney B. Vance and Milo Ventimiglia, who seems to really have a thing for watching New York City get destroyed. Gens’ previous directorial efforts include Frontiere(s) and the critically panned Hitman.

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