Permanent Midnight is a weekly Complex Pop Culture column where senior staff writer, and resident genre fiction fanatic, Matt Barone will put the spotlight on the best new indie horror/sci-fi/weirdo cinema, twisted novels, and other below-the-radar oddities.

Launched in 2002, New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival has become a yearly highlight for Manhattan’s most adventurous cinema buffs. You know, the kinds of movie lovers who’ll gladly spend up to eight hours a day watching independent films made by mostly unknown directors and actors. People like myself—this will be my third straight year covering Tribeca here at Complex, and I’m more excited than ever before to do so. The reason: the festival’s 2014 lineup looks like its strongest one yet, with splashy world premieres starring your TV actors (i.e., About Alex, with Aubrey Plaza and New Girl’s Max Greenfield), standouts from the Toronto International Film Festival and Sundance (Starred Up and the Mark Duplass/Elisabeth Moss rom-com The One I Love, respectively), and intriguing debuts from rookie filmmakers hailing from all across the globe.

If there’s one thing that Tribeca’s narrative features have in common, based on past years’ experiences, it’s heavy drama. Devastating, emotionally searing drama. Last year, two of the best movies I saw, the Israeli youth-gone-bad film S#x Acts and the quietly traumatic coming-of-age flick Hide Your Smiling Faces, lingered in my thoughts for months after their initial screenings. With all of those feelings bouncing around during the day, it’s necessary to unwind at night, which is where Tribeca’s Midnight section comes into play. And, mirroring Tribeca’s 2014 status as a whole, the festival’s late-night fare has the potential to shock, awe, and introduce audiences to their new favorite genre films.

Among the most unique offerings in this year’s Tribeca Midnight lineup: Indigenous, a killer-in-the-woods movie in which the killer happens to be a Chupacabra; The Canal, Ireland’s answer to supernatural chillers like Japan’s Ringu and Hollywood’s Sinister; and a little Internet sensation known as Zombeavers, a tongue-in-cheek B-movie that’s been billed as the “next Sharknado.”

As diverse as that all sounds, though, there’s a unifying theme running throughout the Midnight section. We don’t program with any kind of agenda,” says Tribeca programmer Cara Cusumano, “but once we’ve finalized the lineup, we do look back and see if there are any threads running through it. In the Midnight films this year, there’s a trend of people taking on really classical genre stories and frames and really making them their own. It’s these really amazing new voices saying, ‘I’m going to make a ghost story,’ or, ‘I’m going to make an alien invasion story,’ or a ‘sports underdog movie.’ They’re these genres and frames that exists as types, but the filmmakers this year have completely twisted them and turned them into something new and distinctive.”

How so? Cara Cusumano breaks it all down for you in this exclusive preview of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival’s Midnight section, along with a few midnight-minded films from the fest’s other programs.

As told to Matt Barone (@MBarone)

RELATED: Permanent Midnight: It's Sex, Bloodsuckers, and Babadooks at MoMA's New Directors/New Films Series
RELATED: Permanent Midnight: SXSW's Midnighters Lineup is About to Turn Austin Into Ground Zero: Darkness
RELATED: Green Label - 10 FIlm Festivals Everyone Should Know