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SXSW Preview: 10 Films We're Battling Austin Traffic To See This Week

You can’t see everything.

That’s the first reality everyone has to embrace before covering a film festival, particularly one that boasts as rich and diverse a schedule as South By Southwest. So Fat Kid Rules the World conflicts with Cabin in the Woods. One has to be sacrificed.

And yet, after weeks of juggling, I think I have my 2012 SXSW schedule locked in … which only means it should be blown to bits by Sunday morning. Buzz on titles I’m currently not familiar with will dictate that I adjust. Planned interviews will run long, meaning I miss a shuttle. The only way to cover a fest as extensive as SXSW is to roll with those punches and see what you can.

Here are the 10 titles I’m going to move heaven, earth and Austin traffic to attend. Keep checking Cinema Blend throughout the week, as I’ll have reviews, commentary, interviews and video blogs shot with my colleague, Adam Frazier, who will be covering for MovieHole. SXSW always is a time for cinematic discovery. Here’s what I plan to discover, in no particular order.

The Cabin in the Woods

Director: Drew Goddard, Screenwriters: Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard

Why we’re interested: Buzz on this alternative horror film has been at an all-time high, even though I’ve avoided details as best as possible because from what I hear, the less you know, the better it plays. Whedon and Goddard’s involvement, alone, is enough for me (huge Buffy and Firefly fan), and the fact that this crowd-pleasing thriller sits in the opening night slot has us eagerly anticipating Friday evening.

The Raid

Director/Screenwriter: Gareth Huw Evans

Why we’re interested: Because I missed it at Toronto AND Sundance, and have been dying to see this bone-crunching action thriller since the minute I heard its plot. Rama and his special forces team must fight their way through a rundown apartment block when their covert mission to take down a notorious drug lord falls apart.

frankie go boom

Director: Jordan Roberts

Why we’re interested: A great cast: Lizzy Caplan, Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), Chris Noth and Ron Perlman, reportedly in drag. And the most abnormal plot description of SXSW’s entire schedule: “A flick by bruce about his little brother frank who's a crybaby fuck who shouldn't do lame-ass embarrassing shit if he dozn't want people 2 see it.”

Casa de mi Padre

Director: Matt Piedmont, Screenwriter: Andrew Steele

Why we’re interested: I really didn’t know what to make of this offbeat Will Ferrell comedy, which casts the SNL veteran as a Mexican rancher who must defend his father's home against the country's most infamous drug lord. Then I saw the hilarious trailer. I’m still not 100% sure what I’m getting into with Padre, but now I’m confident I can’t miss it.

Black Pond

Directors: Tom Kingsley, Will Sharpe, Screenwriter: Will Sharpe

Why we’re interested: This British thriller has been on my radar since it took home a BAFTA for Outstanding Feature Debut. It follows an ordinary family accused of murder when a stranger dies at their dinner table, and the buzz is deafening. I can’t wait to see if it can live up to its hype.

Nature Calls

Director/Screenwriter: Todd Rohal

Why we’re interested: A late addition to this year’s SXSW schedule, Nature casts Patton Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville as feuding brothers on a Boy Scout camping trip. The leads are worth it, but then you tell me Darrell Hammond, Maura Tierney, Rob Riggle and the late, great Patrice O’Neal lend support, and I put this one at the top of my list.

Safety Not Guaranteed

Director: Colin Trevorrow, Screenwriter: Derek Connolly

Why we’re interested: Because I’m a time-travel nut who loves to see how storytellers properly bend the space-time continuum. Because Safety rose a wave of positive buzz through Sundance earlier this year. And because Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass and Jake Johnson are red-hot rising talents right now, and I want to see what they can do on screen. (Add the Duplass Brothers’ Do-Deca-Pentathalon as a bonus, because the siblings always host raucous screenings when they come back to Austin.

Brooklyn Castle

Director: Katie Dellamaggiore

Why we’re interested: Because I’m a documentary junkie, and SXSW’s annual slate always promises multiple treasures. I’m hoping to catch The Imposter, Lost and Sound, Compliance and the Van’s Warped Tour screening of No Room for Rock Stars. But top of my list is the uplifting Brooklyn Castle, which promises an intimate look at the challenges and triumphs facing members of a junior high school’s champion chess team.


Directors: Ti West, Adam Wingard, Joe Swanberg, David Bruckner, Glenn Mcquaid, Radio Silence, Screenwriter: Ti West, Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Radio Silence, Glenn Mcquaid

Why we’re interested: The annual Midnighters program at SXSW is legendary, and this year’s line-up shouldn’t disappoint. While I’m looking forward to Citadel, John Dies at the End and Girls Against Boys, the one that really piqued my interest is V/H/S … and not just because it made Sundance audience members violently ill. Those above-mentioned directors are some of the most innovative voices working in horror today, and this sounds like a mixed tape of their greatest hits. Let’s see how it plays with a rowdy SXSW crowd.

Super Secret Screening

Director/Writer: ?????

Why we’re interested: Saturday night, the Alamo Lamar will be buzzing with anticipation for a mystery movie that’s coming to theaters soon. Speculation is running rampant that, with Joss Whedon in Austin for Cabin in the Woods, the Secret could be an early screening of The Avengers. I’m 98% certain it can’t be … but that 2% guarantees that I’ll be sitting front and center to see what SXSW has in store.

That’s 10, and I didn’t even mention 21 Jump Street, William Friedkin’s Killer Joe, Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn in The Babymakers, Matthew Lillard’s directorial debut Fat Kid Rules the World, the tender-sounding Leave Me Like You Found Me, countless other documentaries, Midnighters, and movies I haven’t even heard of yet but could stumble into during this too-short fest. Have a recommendation? Shoot me a line. And enjoy our ongoing coverage of the 2012 South By Southwest Film Festival.

(Top Secret image via Pablo H Carldad/Shutterstock)

Sean O'Connell

Managing Director at CinemaBlend. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.