This year’s Austin Film Festival and Writers Conference takes place between October 25th and November 1st. Though not specifically a genre film festival, they have a Dark Matters category that highlights terrifying and macabre offerings, both feature-length films and shorts. They’ve just released their full Dark Matters slate for 2018, and genre-loving attendees will want to take note.
Check out the films that made the cut (pun intended) below; you can learn more about the 25th annual Austin Film Festival, their entire program, and purchase tickets to attend, HERE.
Writers: Jules Vincent, Chuck McCue
Director: Rob Grant
Cast: Thomas Cocquerel, Angus Macfayden, Camille Stopps
A man wakes up in an abandoned sanitarium, severely injured and with no memory of his name or past. He finds a woman, also injured and also struggling to remember, and together they discover they’ve been tended to by a strange and sadistic caretaker who claims to have saved their lives but refuses to let them leave. Still weak and recovering, the two patients must reckon with their supposed savior who may hold horrific answers to their true identity.
Writer: Eileen Shields
Director: Albert Chi
Cast: Jeffrey DeMunn, Melora Walters, Christopher Denham
After suffering a debilitating stroke, wealthy industrialist Richard Kendrick and his younger wife Lily relocate to the lavish and luxurious Amaranth, where the privileged and powerful go to live out their twilight years. While a rejuvenated Richard thrives in this cult-like atmosphere, Lily becomes disturbed by the transformation she observes in her husband and in herself, prompting her to delve deeper into the dark underbelly of this beautiful Shangri La.
Beyond The Night
Writer/Director: Jason Noto
Cast: Zane Holtz, Tammy Blanchard, Azhy Robertson, Chance Kelly
Soldier Ray Marrow is suddenly called back stateside when his wife, Maisie, and their five-year-old son, Lawrence, are involved in a car accident, tragically killing Maisie. After years of serving as a soldier in Syria, Ray is now faced with burying the love of his life while also becoming a single parent. When Lawrence begins to reveal secrets about the town and its residents, Ray believes the accident triggered something in his son, giving him knowledge of things he had no way of knowing. Now, Ray is faced with a new battle, this time in his own hometown.
The Black String
Writers: Brian Hanson, Richard Handley
Director: Brian Hanson
Cast: Frankie Muniz, Blake Webb, Chelsea Edmundson, Cullen Douglas,
Jonathan is a lonely twenty-something, stuck in his hometown working nightshift at the local convenience store. When an unexpected encounter with a mysterious woman turns his life upside down, Jonathan is stricken by illness and nightmarish visions. Paranoid and desperate, he launches on a quest across the suburbs to find the seductress who started it all. Friends and family believe he’s losing his mind, but Jonathan is convinced he’s the target of something far more sinister.
The Dark Red
Writers: Dan Bush, Conal Byrne
Director: Dan Bush
Cast: April Billingsley, Kelsey Scott, Conal Byrne, Rhoda Griffis
When a young woman named Sybil is committed to a psychiatric hospital claiming that her newborn has been stolen by a secret society called “The Dark Red” in order to harvest the baby’s supernatural blood, her doctor must determine if she is dangerous or not before she can be released. Is “The Dark Red” entirely a figment of Sybil’s imagination—a complex coping mechanism to overcome a terrible personal tragedy—or is there some truth behind her story?
Writer: Mark Leidner
Director: Yedidya Gorestman
Cast: Zack Robidas, Jay Klaitz, Kathy Searle, Eric Berryman
Desperate to get back on top after being scapegoated in a multi-million dollar scandal, Silicon Valley financier Joel Eastman-Green convinces his in-laws to invest their savings in Empathy, Inc.—a VR startup that allows wealthy clientele to experience poverty in the name of spiritual enlightenment. But when Joel finds out the company is secretly allowing the rich to body-swap in order to live out depraved fantasies in other people’s bodies, Joel must find a way to stop his partners before they use their technology to endanger him and his family.
Writer: John Stimpson, Geoffrey Taylor
Director: John Stimpson
Cast: Cary Elwes, Carol Kane, Roger Bart, Danielle Campbell
A troupe of actors, led by a former soap opera star looking for prestige, take over a remote and eerie countryside barn and transform it into theater to put on a live production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. But when a disgruntled and arrogant understudy tempts fate by uttering the forbidden name of the Scottish King on stage, the sorcery of the Bard’s witches overwhelms the production, leading to chaos, misfortune, and death. All’s well that ends well… but not for everyone.
The Lake Vampire
Writer/director: Carl Zitelmann
Cast: Miguelangel Landa, Socrates Serrano, Abilio Torres, Julie Restifo
Ernesto Navarro is an ambitious writer who has yet to achieve success in his career. Desperate to find a subject for his next novel, he follows the tracks of a mysterious killer who decapitates his victims without leaving a trace. The investigation leads him to Jeremias Morales, a retired police detective who came across a similar case back in the 1970s. Morales was in charge of the strange case of Zacarias Ortega, a man obsessed with drinking blood and becoming immortal. Without realizing it, Navarro is dragged into a perverse game that began many years ago and from which Morales has never been able to escape.
Here There Be Monsters (Australia, 14 min)
Writer/director: Drew Macdonald
An incessantly bullied young girl wakes up trapped at an empty bus yard with something big lurking outside. The only way out is to unleash a monster of her own.
You Are The Captain (USA, 11 min)
Writer: Andrew Danks
Director: Dan Samiljan
A young woman looking for direction signs herself up for a mysterious self-help guru’s method to enhance her life. But when she tries to opt out, she finds out that she may have signed up for more than she bargained for.
Room Tone (USA, 6 min)
Writer/director: Nick Crawford
A sound mixer investigates a strange sound coming through his microphone.
Paranormal Relativity (USA, 9 min)
Writer/directors: Anthony Moran, Justin Cooper
Interviewed by a documentary crew, a ghost voices his grievances with his new, living roommate.
Minos Records (USA, 9 min)
Writer/director: Nickolas Grisham
An abuser discovers a difficult truth about himself.
Blood Runs Down (USA, 18 min)
Writer/director: Zandashe Brown
On the eve of Ana’s fifth birthday, her mom undergoes a frightening transition that forces Ana to decide between saving her mother or protecting herself.
Marta (Spain, 15 min)
Writer/director: Lucia Forner
Marta’s dream profession is to be a serial killer, so she decides to use Carlos as her first victim.
Laboratory Conditions (USA, 16 min)
Writer: Terry Rossio
Director: Jocelyn Stamat
In pursuit of finding her patient, a physician of faith finds more than she bargained for.