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GoNOLA Guide to the Overlook Film Festival

The festival takes place May 30 – June 2, 2019.

Overlook film fest
Photo: Luke Cogliano & Charlie DelGrande

Billed as “a four-day festival of all things horror,” Overlook Film Festival is coming back to New Orleans for its third iteration.

The festival, named after The Shining’s “Overlook Hotel,” is held from May 30 until June 2. Horror fans will flock to the French Quarter from around the country for a long-weekend of genre cinema, alongside live radio plays, virtual reality experiences, storytelling, and an immersive and interactive alternate-reality game experience.

“We chose New Orleans and the French Quarter, where every bar, house, and shop seems to have a haunted history,” explained the festival’s Public Relations Manager, Zaf Yumru. “We couldn’t imagine a better setting for horror fans, filmmakers, actors, and journalists from around the country to come together for a party and to watch the best and latest works of the genre.”

Although it’s a relatively new festival, it’s shaping up to be a star-studded event. Joe Dante Director of the hit movie, “Gremlins,” and Elijah Wood, who you may know as Frodo Baggins from “Lord of The Rings,” are just two big names on the Advisory Board. Past festival honorees include Roger Corman, actor, producer, director, and co-founder of New World Pictures, Jason Blum, producer of “Whiplash,” “Get Out,” and “BlacKkKlansman,” and Leigh Whannell, writer and producer of the “Saw” series of movies.

Attending Overlook

There are a few different ways for attendees to enjoy the festival.

With a Film Pass ($250) attendees receive priority seating to all panel discussions and regular festival screenings. Film Pass holders will also receive standby admission to the opening and closing films, as well as to the centerpiece film and any live shows.

The All-Access Pass ($360) allows priority admission into all festival screenings (opening, closing and centerpiece films included), live shows, panels, parties, and interactive programs. This pass also allows access to registration for all immersive experiences, the Overlook Immersive Game trivia, and any other activity requiring advance sign-up.

Finally, the Platinum Immersive Pass ($650) provides all the benefits of the All-Access Pass, but also includes exclusive access to bonus immersive game content, as well as priority access to interactive programming and registration for all immersive experiences and special events.

You can also purchase individual film tickets here if there’s just a couple that you want to see.

Photo: Luke Cogliano & Charlie DelGrande

Our Overlook Picks

Now that you’ve got your passes, it’s time to choose what to see. With so much happening throughout the French Quarter during the fest, that’s no easy task. So, these our picks for the best of this year’s Overlook Film Festival.

Film screenings will take place at Le Petit Theatre, as well as at the theaters on the third floor of Canal Place. The fest boasts 21 feature-length films and 18 short films, and while we’d love to see them all, these are a few what we are most excited about.

Jim Jarmusch is back with the Overlook Film Festival opening night film, “The Dead Don’t Die.” This horror film starring Adam Driver, Bill Murray, and Tilda Swinton follows Centerville, a once-sleepy town now under attack by a horde of zombies rising from their graves. It’s a great, exciting way to kick off your festival experience.

Blumhouse Productions has been busy working on “Happy Death Day” as well as Jordan Peele’s first two films: Academy Award-winner, “Get Out,” as well as the recently-released “Us. Now the same team is behind director Tate Taylor’s “MA,” starring Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann, a loner who invites a group of unsuspecting teens to hang out and drink in her basement. But, when their host’s hospitality turns toward obsession, the group goes from fortunate guests to terrorized captives.

“Extra Ordinary” is a hilarious and sweet-natured Irish comedy starring Will Forte about a driving instructor able to communicate with spirits. He then becomes enlisted to save an innocent teenager from a washed up rock star. The Overlook Film Fest also features comedy films.

In director, Chelsea Stardust’s gory comedy, Satanic Panic,” a pizza delivery girl’s final order of the night goes terribly wrong when she meets a group of blood-hungry Satanists looking for a sacrifice.

In the festival’s closing night film, “The Lodge,” a soon-to-be stepmom get snowed into a remote cabin with her fiance’s two children. It seems like a great opportunity for some bonding, but a series of bizarre occurrences prove her wrong.

For a look at all the full Overlook Film Festival schedule, you can read the summaries here.

Overlook Special Events

A stacked lineup of podcasts, immersive performances, live shows ,and special presentations will take place at various locations throughout the French Quarter. You can check out a full rundown of all special events here, but these are a few that we’re most excited about.

Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah have helped to give the genre game-changing horror films like “A Girl Walks Home Alone and Mandy.” In their new podcast, Visitations with Elijah Wood & Daniel Noah, the duo chat with creative friends and colleagues about their lives and work. In this live episode at Overlook, Wood and Jones are joined by a very special guest for an exclusive conversation ahead of the ten-episode Shudder Original Podcast, set to air this summer.

The Robert Rodriguez Film School is a masterclass in low budget film making. In 60 minutes, Rodriguez, the iconic filmmaker of “El Mariachi, Sin City, and Grindhouse,” shows attendees how he was able to make his new film, “Red 11,” on a budget of just $7,000. Following the class, a special screening of the movie will be held about an aspiring filmmaker who is  forced to become a human guinea pig.

A unique element of Overlook is the number of immerse performances and virtual reality experiences that take place. One of these, Fire Escape, was created by virtual powerhouse, iNKStories. This cutting edge VR adventure blurs the line between game, film, and episodic storytelling. In the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” participants are thrust into a world of deceit and murder via text, chat and immersive audio in this three-part interactive series (this event is available only to All-Access and Platinum Immersive pass holders).

Best known for creating the “Masters of Horror” television series, and for his Stephen King adaptations, Mick Garris is a leader in the suspense and horror genres. In his Post-Mortem Podcast, he “dives deep into the devious minds of the greatest filmmakers and creators of your worst nightmares” in interesting, one-on-one conversations every other week. His live show at Overlook shouldn’t be missed.

Photo: Luke Cogliano & Charlie DelGrande

Overlook Immersive Game

Imagine a full festival-long horror-themed alternate reality experience, featuring puzzles, performers, scenes, tasks, and activities that combine to form a branching narrative. Sounds pretty cool, right? Now imagine it’s starring you! Each year, Overlook invites a design team of professional creators to be guest artists of the experience, and this year’s team includes E3W Productions (In Another Room), Eva Anderson (You’re The Worst, Comedy Bang! Bang!, Amos: A Play With Music), Eric Hoff (DryCraeft Los Angeles, Thinkwell Group, Amos: A Play with Music), Tommy Honton (Stash House, Museum of Selfies), and Mali Elfman (The Circle, Before I Wake, Fun Size Horror: Volume One).

You can play at your own speed, in groups, or on your own. Past games have included an ancient cult trying to resurrect an evil force, warring Carnival krewes, and a hunt for a serial killer on the loose. The game will be taking place throughout the fest, but if you want to engage with it more fully, you should consider purchasing the Platinum Immersive Pass for exclusive game content. Passes are the way to ensure you get the full festival experience, a unique experience horror fans won’t want to miss.

Matt is a freelance writer who has lived in New Orleans for nearly 10 years - though he understands that doesn't mean his Uber driver will call him a local anytime soon. He hiked the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2017, and is now writing a book about that journey, which you can read along with daily accounts of the bizarre adventures he gets into around New Orleans at matthaineswrites.com.

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