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.

Once again, it’s my personal favorite time of the year: SXSW time. More specifically, the SXSW Film Festival, a loose, party-oriented celebration of independent cinema, with an emphasis on the bold, weird, and unconventional. This will be my third time heading to the stateside mecca for film enthusiasts, Austin, Texas, where the beer is cheap, the barbecue is tremendous, and the movie theaters aren’t AMC, Regal, or mega-corporate. 

Keeping the spirit of this column’s title, SXSW’s Midnighters program is the main attraction for me. Every night around 12:00 a.m., multiple new horror/sci-fi/thriller movies are unveiled by do-it-yourself filmmakers in venues like the Alamo Drafthouse, where a fully stocked beer and food menu turns screenings into darkly lit parties. In past years, the Midnighters section exposed me to some of the best genre films of the last few years, like You’re Next and The Lords of Salem, and this year’s lineup has the potential to keep that streak alive.

Before relocating to Austin for the next week, I hopped on the phone with SXSW producer and senior programmer Jarod Neece, who’s been with the festival since 2002 and has overseen the Midnighters section dating back to ’06. For the 2014 fest, he and his colleagues received a whopping 6,600 submissions from hungry filmmakers, 1,300 or so of which were narrative features. From that 13K-deep pile, Neece whittled it down to 10 Midnighters inclusions, featuring new flicks by the minds behind impressive new-millennium horror favorites like Inside, The Pact, The Last Exorcism, Lovely Molly, and the aforementioned You’re Next.

Here, Neece breaks down each of this year’s Midnighters selections. Pay attention—you’re about to be introduced to the future of genre movies.

As told to Matt Barone (@MBarone)

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