By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Slotted for fest berths earlier this year, two buzzy independent genre features are headed for wider play.
INITIATION, which was selected as a world premiere as part of SXSW’s Midnighters section under the title DEMBANGER, has been snapped up for North American release by Saban Films; XYZ Films has taken the international rights. Directed by John Berardo from a script he wrote with Brian Frager and Lindsay LaVanchy, based on his short film also called DEMBANGER, it stars Lochlyn Munro, Isabella Gomez, Jon Huertas, Froy Gutierrez, Bart Johnson and Yancy Butler. The synopsis: Teen horror is back with a vengeance in this edgy slasher about a cruel social media game that spins out of control. Whiton University unravels the night a star-athlete is murdered in the wake of a buried assault allegation, kicking off a spree of social media-linked slayings. As a masked killer targets students across campus, a trio of sorority sisters race to uncover the truth behind the school’s hidden secrets–and the horrifying meaning of an exclamation point–before they become the killer’s next victims.”
“We hope that the film’s topical themes and innovative portrayal of social media resonate with the cultural zeitgeist to create a thought-provoking thrill ride that will appeal to digital natives and genre fans alike,” Berardo says. “INITIATION pays homage to the ’90s horror classics I grew up on, but with a modern take for today’s socially conscious generation. We’re thrilled to partner with Saban and XYZ Films, both huge forces in the genre space.”
Meanwhile, Dark Sky Films picked up North American rights to the horror/comedy IT CUTS DEEP (pictured above), which was slated for this year’s Boston Underground Film Festival, and is planning a November release. The feature debut of writer/director Nicholas Payne Santos, it stars rising comedian Charles Gould, Quinn Jackson and John Anderson. The synopsis: “While on Christmas vacation, a young couple contemplates their future together. Ashley [Jackson] is interested in marriage and kids, which terrifies Sam [Gould]. But when the handsome and paternal Nolan [Anderson] enters the picture, Sam’s life spirals out of control as Ashley questions their relationship. Chaos reigns as Sam desperately clings to Ashley while fending off the threatening Nolan.”