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Overlook Film Festival 2024 Preview: 10 Films to Look Forward To

April 2, 2024 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Abigail Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Overlook Film Festival 2024 Preview: 10 Films to Look Forward To

When it comes to American horror film festivals, the Overlook Film Festival stands tall. Taking place in New Orleans from April 4th through the 7th, the festival is a celebration of horror and has hosted some truly fantastic genre films. Last year alone saw the world premiere of Renfield as well as some of 2024’s best horror films like Evil Dead Rise, Talk To Me, birth/rebirth, The Wrath of Becky, and It Lives Inside, some strong films that have arrived this year like Monolith and Late Night With the Devil, as well as retrospective screenings of Only Lovers Left Alive, The Tingler, and The Dead Zone.

The festival is bringing another strong slate of films this year with 28 features and 24 short films starring the likes of Nicolas Cage, Melissa Barrera, Samara Weaving, Justice Smith, and Hunter Schafer as well as several international entries. There are a lot of potentially great films that will be on display, and today I thought I’d look at the top 10 films to look forward to out of the festival.

#10: The Beyond

Image Credit: Grindhouse Releasing

This one might be a pseudo-cheat because The Beyond is by no means a new film, but the notion of seeing Lucio Fulci’s nightmarish fever dream of a horror film in 4K on the big screen is hard to resist. The Beyond is a legendary film for fans of Italian horror cinema, a surreal ride of experiences full of gore effects and a fantastic sound design. The 1981 film is a must-watch for any lover of 1980s horror and Grindhouse Releasing’s 4K restoration is on my must-own when it releases this summer. The cast is excellent in this, but it’s Fulci’s direction and Fabio Frizzi’s score that take center stage here. A fun watch by any measure, seeing it in a cinema is something that, should you have the opportunity, you shouldn’t pass up.

#9: New Life

Image Credit: XYZ Films

I love a good cat-and-mouse thriller, and I love a good science fiction film. New Life promises to combine both into one film, and I am here for it. John Rosman’s chase film follows a woman (Hayley Erin) who is on the run from a mysterious and sinister-seeming agency and the field agent (Sonya Walger) who is on the hunt for her. Rosman’s feature directorial debut has been lauded for going beyond the fugitive-on-the-run premise — itself already a point of interest — to deliver some serious emotional stakes. This film got a decent amount of buzz after it premiered at Fantasia last year and with two strong leads, striking imagery and plenty of dramatic heft, this certainly remains one to look out for either at the festival or when it arrives for general audiences on May 3rd.

#8: Azrael

Image Credit: CBS

Listen, when Samara Weaving appears in a horror film, I’m going to be there. That’s pretty much an inviolable rule at this point. Weaving excels in the genre, with films like Ready or Not, Mayhem, The Babysitter, and Scream VI reflecting glowingly on her resume. I can say the same for Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, who had a scene-stealing supporting role in 2021’s Candyman and is the lead in my favorite film of 2024 thus far, the soon-to-release thriller Femme (available on VOD on Friday!). Put them together in a post-apocalyptic survival horror film from director E. L. Katz (Channel Zero: The Dream Door) and writer Simon Barrett (You’re Next)? Yes, I’m absolutely in.

Weaving stars in this film as the titular character, a woman who is on the run by a cult of mute individuals who want to use her in a ritual. The catch here is that the film is dialogue-less, a gimmick that has loads of potential if handled right. I haven’t always been a fan of films that go the dialogue-less route (see: last year’s Silent Night), but I’m always willing to give it a shot and with the talent both behind of and in front of the camera here I have very high hopes for a tense, bloody good time.

#7: Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person

Image Credit: Drafthouse Films

You’re always taking a risk when with vampire films. For every great vampire movie in the wild, there are probably a good three or four that aren’t worth your time. Fortunately, the wonderfully-titled Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person looks to be the former and not the latter. Ariane Louis-Seize’s French language film fuses a vampire story to the coming-of-age motif through the character of Sarah (Sara Montpetit), a teenage vampire who struggles with the morality of killing people to feed. Desperate for sustenance, she ends up making an agreement with a suicidal boy (Félix-Antoine Bénard) — she will help him finish the things he wants to do before he dies, and he will give his life to her. There’s a lot of potential in that premise, and both Bernad and Monpetit look to be giving fantastic performances. Adding horror elements to coming of age films is not uncommon and this film, described as a “tale of friendship and loyalty,” looks to one well worth checking out.

#6: Blackout

Image Credit: Glass Eye Pix

Most of these entries are based on the potential I see in each of the films. With Blackout, it’s not about potential because I can vouch for it myself. I was fortunate enough to catch Larry Fessenden’s small-town werewolf film at Fantasia last year and suffice it to say, it’s a lot of fun. Alex Hurt is pulling a lot of weight in this film as Charley, an artist in a town that finds itself victimized by a double murder. Charley is trying to get all of his affairs in order before he says farewell for good, all as the murder (and subsecquent ones) drive the town’s residents apart.

Fessenden is one of the kings of microbudgeted horror films, and he proves that again here thanks to a fantastic cast including Barbara Crampton, Marshall Bell and Addison Timlin. Fessenden’s script contains several small bits of referential humor while also playing on the topical notion of societal divisions. Blackout arrives on Digital later this month but it’s well worth catching in the theater if you have a chance to do so, and if you’re in New Orleans this would be a great opportunity to do so.

#5: Red Rooms

Image Credit: Utopia Distribution

Another film that got raves coming out of last year’s Fantasia, Pascal Plante’s dark thriller won the festival’s Cheval Noir award for Best Feature, as well as awards for Best Screenplay, Best Score, and Outstanding Performance for Juliette Gariépy’s lead role. Gariépy plays Kelly-Anne, a woman who becomes obsessed with the trial of a serial killer (played by Ludovic Chevalier) who is accused of killing three girls and streaming their deaths in the “red rooms” of the Dark Web. Plante’s third feature film hits on the themes of true crime obsession, internet conspiracy theories and how power has shifted to the hands of tech-savvy experts, all topics that are well worth discussing in the current day. The buzz around Red Rooms is strong; it looks to be a must-see for fans of dark thrillers.

#4: Arcadian

Image Credit: IFC FIlms

The Nicolas Cage renaissance has spent much of its time within genre filmmaking. The actor’s much-discussed career resurgence has come off the backs of such films as Mandy, The Color Out of Space, Prisoners of the Ghostland, Willy’s Wonderland, Renfield and Sympathy for the Devil, among other films. Genre filmmaking seems to be a natural fit for Cage’s talents, which makes any time he jumps into horror, thrillers and the like exciting. And Arcadian certainly seems to fit that bill. Ben Brewer’s film sees Cage play a father trying to protect his sons in a post-apocalyptic world where it becomes dangerous at night. The trailer teases a paranoid thriller that turns into a home invasion film, with the invaders of uncertain nature.

Brewer is known for his visual effects work, having served in such capacity on Everything Everywhere All at Once and other projects. But the early strong praise around this film centers on its performances by Cage as well as Jaeden Martell and Maxwell Jenkins, who play the sons. This is the kind of film that Cage always delivers in and the mix of horror and drama looks to be an exciting one here.

#3: I Saw the TV Glow

Image Credit: A24 Films

Few filmmakers have knocked me on my ass with their first narrative film quite like Jane Schoenbrun did. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair was a film that instantly took hold of me with its vibes and didn’t let go. Its mix of body horror, psychological thriller and coming-of-age drama elements made for a potent mix that may not have been everyone’s bag of tea due to the slow build and minimalist approach, but it was one that I found myself transfixed by. I was immediately curious to see what Schoenbrun would do next, and when I Saw The TV Glow began getting raves out of Sundance, the Berlin International Film Festival and then SXSW last month, it shot to the top of my most anticipated list for this year.

This horror thriller stars Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine as Owen and Maddy, who teenagers in the suburbs who bond over their love of a supernatural TV series. When the show is abruptly canceled, their realities start to become shaky. World’s Fair touched on elements of isolation and connection over shared obsessions, both of which seem to be in play here from the trailers and advance word. Schoenbrun seems to be leaning into somewhat more of a traditional narrative format while maintaining their keen sense of visuals and aesthetic. I couldn’t be more intrigued by this one and have very strong hopes that it will deliver even more than World’s Fair did.

#2: Cuckoo

Image Credit: NEON

I’ve been talking a lot about the festival buzz surrounding some of these films from previous screenings, and perhaps nowhere is that clearer than with Cuckoo. This horror thriller, which will be the closing film for the Overlook, has been earning a lot of praise for its performances, most notably from Hunter Schafer, Dan Stevens and Jessica Henwick. But it isn’t just the buzz that puts it this high on the list. Rather, it’s the wild, giallo-esque feel coming off the recent trailer that arrived. I’m a huge fan of the Italian proto-slasher and everything about this film makes it feel like it’s going to deliver that kind of sensibility, if not necessarily the conventions of the subgenre.

Schafer stars as Gretchen, a teen who moves with her family to the German Alps and ends up being subjected to visions and stalking that may be linked to the past of the town — and perhaps her own family. Schafer has already made quite a name for herself thanks to Euphoria, and Cuckoo appears to have every potential of being the film that breaks her out even further.

#1: Abigail

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

There’s a lot of slow-burn indie horror on this list, but my #1 pick with a bloody bullet is a vampire flick that promises to be just good, violent fun. Abigail comes from Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett of Ready Or Not and Scream fame (among others) and looks to combine their wicked sense of humor with their strong talents for delivering viseral, nasty horror. A re-imagining of the lesbian vampire Universal classic Dracula’s Daughter, Abigail centers on a group of criminals hired to kidnap and stand watch over the daughter of a powerful Russian underworld figure. Little do they know, our titular little girl is a vampire — or, as the trailer makes clear, “a ballerina vampire.” Hilarity and carnage ensues as the criminals try to escape the house and young Abigail’s hungry clutches.

And listen, if that synopsis doesn’t appeal to you then I don’t know what to tell you. The Radio Silence duo are firmly within their element here and they have a brilliant cast to work with including Melissa Barrera, Dan Stevens (for his second mention on this list!), Kathryn Newton, William Catlett, Kevin Durand, the late Angus Cloud, Alisha Weir as Abigail, and Giancarlo Esposito. Abigail will be the opening film at Overlook before arriving later this month and it’s not only the most must-see film of the fetival; it’s one of my most anticipated films of the year.


And there’s my top 10 films to look forward to! And that’s just some of what will be available at year’s festival. You can check out the full program here and keep an eye out for a few reviews from yours truly coming this week.