SDCC 2017: Notes From The “Bold Voices Of Contemporary Horror” Panel

In which a number of up-and-coming horror filmmakers agree: THE BIG SICK is amazing.

Earlier tonight, I attended the "Bold Voices Of Contemporary Horror" panel at SDCC, a chat featuring filmmakers Aaron Moorehead and Justin Benson (Spring, the upcoming The Endless), Mette-Marie Kongsved (NOWHERE), Mickey Keating (Darling, the forthcoming Psychopaths), Marianna Palka (Bitch), and Elijah Wood (Maniac, The Good Son). As moderated by the great Amy Nicholson, the panel was breezy, fun, and featured two very intriguing clips from Moorehead/Benson and Keating's latest films.

Here are my notes. Do with them what you will.


-- Elijah Wood was brought onstage to rapturous applause. Of course he was. Science has proven that it is physically impossible not to love Elijah Wood.

-- Moderator Amy Nicholson kicked off the panel asking everyone to introduce themselves, along with name-dropping a film they consider to be legitimately frightening. Justin Benson immediately name-checked Ben Wheatley's Kill List, which means that Justin Benson and I should definitely become best friends.

-- It didn't take long for The Guardian's notorious "post-horror" editorial to come up, and there was much discussion of the term. Mette-Marie Kongsved pointed out that we don't call unusual dramas "post-dramas" (she used Anomalisa as an example), while Elijah Wood reminisced about that time when people were somehow debating whether or not Robert Eggers' The Witch was actually a horror movie (it's a horror movie).

-- Nicholson brought up that ol' "Horror gets no respect from the Oscars" chestnut, and went on to ask Moorehead and Benson if they'd like to win an Oscar one day. Moorehead: "That'd be nice."

-- Justin Benson further ingratiated himself with the crowd at one point by saying, "Horror fans are the most dedicated fans in the world." This went over very well in the room (and with this writer), but one suspects that the superhero-movie fans who camped out for 36 hours to get into today's DC/Marvel panels would disagree.

-- Nicholson gave Fantastic Fest a shout-out, noting how welcoming and nurturing the evironment was for the horror community, and described it to the crowd as a film festival where "You watch movies and drink beer and do karaoke for a week." She's not wrong.

-- Elijah Wood mentioned that he'd like to see a really great, legitimately scary, animated horror film. This caused someone else on the panel (either Keating or Moorehead, I'm not sure) to say that he'd really like to see a horror-centric take on Batman. Please, god.

-- Out of context highlight: there was a 2-3 minute period where a large portion of the panel talked about how great The Big Sick is.

-- We were shown two clips. The first was from Keating's upcoming Psychopaths, and featured Ashley Bell staring straight into the camera while applying makeup, carrying on an argument with her own multiple personalities. The clip was really something - Bell's got screen presence for days, and the ease with which she segued in-between "voices" was astonishing - and I am now very much looking forward to seeing Psychopaths.

-- The second clip was actually something of a trailer/sizzle reel that Moorehead and Benson had put together for The Endless (apparently, it was used - successfully, I might add - to sell the film over at Cannes). We were told the trailer wouldn't ever hit theaters, which is a damn shame, because this thing was incredible. Hypnotic and weird and featuring sound design that called to mind the aforementioned Kill List, I was blown away by this footage - it was the clear highlight of the panel - and I would now step over any of your dead bodies to see The Endless. Here's hoping that makes its way to Austin sometime soon.

Aaaand that's it! Stay tuned for more from SDCC as the weekend soldiers on.