The 2012 South by Southwest Film Festival officially kicks off today in Austin, Texas, featuring a couple weeks full of interactive panels, shows, films, music and so much more. If you’re a fan of art, exploring creativity and just plain having fun, no festival in America comes close to SXSW. It’s why we at Fandango make the trip out every year, and it’s why you should also keep your eyes on the buzz escaping out of Austin because some of it may help shape the entertainment landscape in the coming year.
Plus the films they play rock hard. Here are seven buzzed-about flicks premiering in Austin that you’re likely to see hitting movie theaters in the coming weeks and months.
1. The Cabin in the Woods (Opening Night Premiere)
Plot: Chris Hemsworth leads a cast of five friends who plan out a trip at a remote cabin in the woods. Things don’t go so well from there. To say any more would spoil a very fun, inventive plot that’s familiar and new all at the same time.
Buzz: Of all the films playing SXSW this year, The Cabin in the Woods is probably the most anticipated. Partly because it comes from super-nerds Joss Whedon (The Avengers) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield), and also because it’s been sitting on a shelf for a couple of years, teasing fans with its potential awesomeness. Now, however, it’s ready to make its big splashy debut, and word from those who’ve seen it is beyond positive. The film premieres tonight in Austin, so stay tuned for our reaction.
Release Date: April 13, 2012
Plot: Based on the ‘80s TV show, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as two rookie screw-up cops who are assigned to an undercover assignment as students inside a high school where a new drug is spreading throughout the student body.
Buzz: This thing is a laugh riot from beginning to end, so much so that I have no problem calling it the funniest comedy of 2012 so far. It’s aware of what it is and what it’s based on, and it plays to those strengths. The humor here is smart, silly, foul-mouthed and a ton of fun. Don’t worry about being familiar with the TV show either because this thing is its own animal, and it’s an animal you’ll want to ride over and over again. This sucker has so much buzz around it they’re already writing the sequel.
Release Date: March 16, 2012
Plot: A SWAT team attempts to infiltrate a building where a drug kingpin and his thugs are hiding out.
Buzz: Already at its third film festival (Toronto, Sundance, SXSW), The Raid: Redemption is being hailed as the best action movie in decades. Yes, decades. Essentially this foreign-language (born out of Indonesia and directed by Gareth Evans) thrill-ride is just non-stop fighting from beginning to end. Hardcore, bloody beat-downs. If you’re a fan of action flicks, this might just be your holy grail.
Release Date: March 23, 2012
Plot: A found-footage anthology film about a group of thieves who break into a home and discover a bunch of old VHS tapes that hide some pretty horrific stuff on them.
Buzz: Broken off into several short films directed by the horror genre’s most exciting up-and-coming talent (Ti West, Adam Wingard, Glenn McQuaid, among others), the film tore the roof off Sundance when it premiered there back in January, and it looks to continue that impressive festival run in Austin. You may not be keen on the growing popularity of the found-footage genre, but trust us when we say this film gets it right.
Release Date: TBD 2012
5. Killer Joe
Plot: Emile Hirsch plays a guy in some serious debt who hires a contract killer (Matthew McConaughey) to off his own mother for the insurance money.
Buzz: Continuing our theme of excessive violence, this film has already been hit with an NC-17 rating, which has us intrigued, but it was also directed by the legendary William Friedkin (The Exorcist), which automatically grants it a spot on this list.
Release Date: TBD
Plot: From the Broken Lizard comedy team comes this off-the-wall-sounding comedy about a guy who can’t get his wife pregnant, and so he comes up with a plan to break into a sperm bank to steal the deposit he left there years ago.
Buzz: And we’re back to the funnier flicks with this one from the same group behind silly stuff like Super Troopers and Club Dread. This time Olivia Munn, Aisha Taylor and Paul Schneider join in on the fun, and the plot is absurd enough that we kinda have to see it.
Plot: Two brothers come up with the grand idea of creating a 25-event Olympics with the sole purpose of competing against each other in all of the events.
Buzz: We’re big fans of the dramedic (is that a word?) stylings of brothers Jay and Mark Duplass (Cyrus, Baghead, The Puffy Chair), and their latest looks to bring them back to their super-low-budget roots with a relatively unknown cast and a plot that plays to their family-comedy strengths.
Release Date: June, 2012
Of course there’s so much more premiering at the festival this week and next (check out a more extensive list over at our sister site, Movies.com), and we’ll be back later in the fest to let you know what else has people talking.