Two big horror deals were struck at this weekends SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Vincenzo Natali’s reverse ghost horror, Haunter, was sold yesterday, and E.L. Katz horror comedy, Cheap Thrills, was sold on Sunday.
Natali’s Haunter is a unique horror film which looks at ghosts from a different angle. Here it is the ghosts who are the victims, and IFC Midnight have bagged all US distribution rights. Natali first made himself known to the genre with the astonishing cult sci-fi flick Cube, and from there went on to direct the sci-fi that divided opinion, Splice. It sounds like Haunter will also be dividing opinion as early reviews are a mixed bag.
The pic came into SXSW with Canadian distribution set via Entertainment One and StudioCanal handling its UK release. IFC Midnight/Sundance Selects/IFC Films’ Jeff Deutchman negotiated the deal with CAA on behalf of the filmmakers.
Haunter, directed by Vincenzo Natali from a screenplay written by Brian King (Cypher, Night Train), is produced by Steven Hoban (Splice, Ryan, The Ginger Snaps trilogy), and co-produced by Mark Smith (388 Arletta Avenue, The Spine).
Cinematography by Jon Joffin (Daydream Nation, Alice, The Andromeda Strain) with production design by Peter Cosco (388 Arletta Avenue, Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl, Nothing), costume design by Patrick Antosh (388 Arletta Avenue, American Psycho) and editing by Michael Doherty (Survival of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, Land of the Dead).
The cast includes Abigail Breslin (Zombieland, Rango, Little Miss Sunshine), Stephen McHattie (300, Watchmen, Immortals), Peter Outerbridge (Silent Hill:Revelation, Lucky Number Slevin), Michelle Nolden (Red, Time Traveler’s Wife) and David Hewlett (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)
In this reverse ghost story, teenage Lisa (Breslin) and her family died in 1986 under sinister circumstances but remain trapped in their house, unable to move on. Lisa must reach out from beyond the grave to help her present-day, living counterpart, Olivia, avoid the same fate Lisa and her family suffered.
“HAUNTER vividly demonstrates that even ghosts have a lot to be afraid of. Brian King’s script constructs a Borgian Labyrinth out of the most mundane settings and shows us how even in our everyday lives, we are spirits living in the material world,” says Natali.
Also sold at the festival on Sunday was E.L Katz’ horror comedy, Cheap Thrills. Boasting an impressive cast including Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Elissa Dowling, David Koechner and Laura Covelli, the film has generated a lot of buzz among the horror crowd over the past few days. A teaser trailer for SXSW was released late last week, and you can view it below along with the festival poster for the film.
Drafthouse Films acquired all US distribution rights to the twisted tale, and you can read all the details in the following press release:
AUSTIN, TX – March 11th, 2013 – Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, in partnership with Snoot Entertainment, acquired US distribution rights to the twisted dark comedy thriller Cheap Thrills following its world premiere at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival. The directorial debut from E.L. Katz stars Pat Healy (Compliance) as a recently fired father facing eviction who agrees to take on an escalating series of insane challenges in exchange for cash payments from a rich couple with a twisted sense of humor. The film also stars David Koechner (Anchorman 2), Sara Paxton (The Innkeepers), Ethan Embry (Empire Records)and was penned by Trent Haaga (Deadgirl) and David Chirchirillo. A VOD and theatrical release in a minimum of 20 markets is planned.
The film debuted as part of SXSW’s Midnight section where it received praise from critics and thrilled audiences with its unique blend of social morality play, visceral brutality and razor sharp wit. “Class warfare comes perversely home in Cheap Thrills,” says Peter Martin of Twitch Film adding that it is “a fiendish, fierce, and funny morality tale about the true value of money.” James Rocchi at MSN Movies wrote that the filmis “cynical, amoral, tense and superbly shot and performed.”
“We are always in search of smart genre fare with defined characters and powerful performances. And we found it in Katz’s uniquely disturbing, funny, and remarkably thrilling film,” says Drafthouse Films founder & CEO Tim League, “we are proud to welcome Cheap Thrills to our roster and we are anxious to unleash it upon unsuspecting audiences.”