Cinepocalypse: Everything to See at Chicago’s New Genre Film Festival

We cover the highlights of Cinepocalypse, Chicago’s newest film festival, here. In this post, a rundown of all the feature films. Note that dates and times are for first screenings only; some film screen twice. For a full list of films, events and ticket info, visit the Music Box Theatre.

Cinepocalypse happens at Music Box Theatre November 2-9

Sweet Virginia

Opening Night Film | Thursday, Nov. 2, 8pm | Midwest Premiere | Director: Jamie M. Dagg

A former rodeo champ with a dark past, Jon Bernthal (Netflix’s “The Punisher”), unknowingly starts a rapport with a young man, Christopher Abbott (It Comes at Night), who is stirring up a swell of disturbing, sociopathic violence that has suddenly gripped a small town. Rosemarie DeWitt (“Mad Men”) and Imogen Poots (Green Room) also star in this twisted, tense, modern-day, neo-noir masterpiece about an unpredictable predator.

Beyond Skyline 

Closing Night Film | Thursday, Nov. 9, 8:30pm | U.S. Premiere | Dir: Liam O’Donnell

The stars of The Purge: Anarchy (Frank Grillo, as a hard-ass detective) and The Raid: Redemption (Iko Uwais) join forces to battle the alien apocalypse in this pulpy, colorful, and wildly over-the-top action/sci-fi/horror mash-up that has to be seen to be believed. Set concurrently with parts of 2010’s Skyline but with all-new characters and in a different, undisclosed location during the nightmarish, worldwide alien invasion, this mind-bending lunacy somehow manages to be even more insane than its infamous predecessor.

Primal Rage

Friday, Nov. 3, 10pm | World Premiere | Dir: Patrick Magee

You may have seen a few Bigfoot-related horror films over the years, but it’s safe to say you’ve never seen a Sasquatch rampage like this. Primal Rage is a tale of a young couple, a group of hunters, a witch, and some Native American cops who butt heads with a wildly violent forest monster, causing all Hell to break loose. Helmed by practical special effects guru Patrick Magee (Spider-Man, Jurassic Park III), this may be the goriest, most aggressively angry film you’ll see all year, and it’s certainly one that has earned its hostile title. Not for the weak of heart…or stomach.


Sunday, Nov. 5, 6:30pm | North American Premiere | Dirs: Adolfo Kolmerer and William James

Take a dash of Tarantino, a splash of the Coen brothers, a metric ton of pretzel-logic self-awareness, and a fast-paced series of humorously violent misadventures, and you’re halfway to grasping the magnificent German madness of this bizarre import. Hunting down the murderer of their families in a near-future Berlin, a gang of lowlife characters all want revenge on each other, but along the way they must contend with a myriad of wicked fairytale types—assassins, madmen, a blood-covered angel, and an electric-powered superhero—all apparently come to life through a screenplay written by a demented but clueless dentist. Must be experienced to be believed, and guaranteed to twist your mind.

The Terror of Hallow’s Eve

Friday, Nov. 3, 3pm | North American Premiere | Dir: Todd Tucker

Timmy Stevens is a socially awkward 15-year-old, obsessed with horror movies and frequently beaten up by high school bullies. Timmy’s wish for vicious revenge unwittingly unleashes a particularly nasty creature known as The Trickster on Halloween Night. Genre veteran Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) provides an amazingly evil creature performance, but the real stars here are the array of surprisingly effective creature FX and affection for old-school ’80s mayhem.


Saturday, Nov. 4, 4pm | U.S. Premiere | Dir: Ryuhei Kitamura

A merciless, enigmatic sniper takes aim at a car filled with college kids, disabling their vehicle on a desolate country road and methodically picking them off, one by one. A perfect exercise in minimalist simplicity and slow-burn hysterical panic, this latest nail-biting offering from genre veteran Ryuhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train, Versus) contains the filmmaker’s trademark creeping tension, sudden violence, and extreme nihilism. In other words, things get pretty dark, especially when a second car shows up to provide relief, but only results in upping the body count.


Sunday, Nov. 5, 9:30pm | U.S. Premiere | Dir: Vicente Amorim

A slasher film by way of George Miller’s Mad Max meets Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes, this violence-fueled adrenaline ride will leave you absolutely breathless. In this visually stunning Brazilian import, a gang of dirt-bikers on a ride across an isolated region find themselves being hunted by a machete-wielding band of motorcyclists intent on killing them all. Based on characters created by Marvel comic book author Danilo Beyruth, this atmospheric and suspenseful genre film also functions as an allegory to our battles within. It’s as smart as it is downright frightening, and we’re damn excited to unleash this beast on U.S. audiences for the very first time.


All-New Cut | Tuesday, Nov. 7, 9:30pm | Midwest Premiere | Dir: Brad Baruch

A gaggle of powerhouse horror veterans, including Barbara Crampton (You’re Next), Brea Grant (Beyond the Gates), AJ Bowen (The Signal), Daniel Roebuck (At the Devil’s Door), and Chase Williamson (John Dies at the End), get together for what seems like a fairly standard “cabin in the woods” tale and then it gets weird… and weirder… and super gory, as a dear, caring mother loses her sanity. Let’s just leave it at that.


Saturday, Nov. 4, 9:30pm | Midwest Premiere | Dir: Tor Mian, Andy Collier

A rookie female detective, struggling to find acceptance in a police department defined by a culture of bullying and intolerance, watches as things go from bad to worse as her chief suspect in a series of brutal ritualistic murders takes a personal interest in her. A game of cat and mouse degrades the detective’s grasp on reality and, as she spirals out of control, this young woman must suddenly fight for her sanity, life… and maybe even her soul.

The Crescent

Sunday, Nov. 5, 9:30pm | Midwest Premiere | Dir: Seth A. Smith

A young widow and her two-year-old son take shelter in a massive, creepy seaside house after the sudden death of her husband. But rather than follow the tropes of standard jump-scare storytelling, The Crescent places a unique focus its child star, some truly impressive visual touches, and a consistently ominous sound design. This creepy Canadian import, which premiered in TIFF’s Midnight Madness program and was called a ghost story about loss, is guaranteed to get under your skin.

Get My Gun

Friday, Nov. 3, 7:30pm | Midwest Premiere | Director: Brian Darwas

This wonderfully executed homage to beloved and controversial exploitation classics of the past (namely Abel Ferrera’s Ms. 45 and Meir Zarchi’s I Spit on Your Grave) proves itself not just as an imitator, but in a self-styled league of its own. After a horrible attack leaves Amanda pregnant and out of a job, she finds herself on the verge of motherhood and the target of a psychotic stalker who will stop at nothing to get her hands on the unborn child.

The Lodgers

Friday, Nov. 3, 5:15pm | Midwest Premiere | Dir: Brian O’Malley

This eerie Irish offering is another example of how to combine classy scares and intermittent nastiness into a solid thriller. Director Brian O’Malley (Let Us Prey) brings us the tale of two young twins in the 1920s, the edicts that govern their existence, and what happens when a handsome newcomer threatens to upset the order of things. Each night, the property where they live becomes the stomping ground of a sinister presence, from which they are kept safe if they follow three rules. Things are disrupted when a war veteran returns home to the nearby village and falls in love with one of the twins, who is then tempted to destroy the stability of their home in the name of love.


Saturday, Nov. 4, 9:45pm |U.S. Premiere | Director: Ryan Prows

One of the most talked about films out of Fantasia 2017, Lowlife is nothing short of the brutal, often explicit, stripping away of any facade that still exists to hide society’s gross and desperate underbelly. The sordid lives of an addict, an ex-con, and a failed luchador collide when an organ-harvesting caper goes very, very wrong. The feature debut from director/co-writer Prows, this film is a calling card as both a wholly original crime thriller and a weigh station for some of the most memorable on-screen characters of the year.


Friday, Nov. 3, 1pm | Midwest Premiere | Dir: Mickey Keating

Prolific indie genre machine Mickey Keating (Pod, Darling, Carnage Park) returns with a tale of multiple, disparate psychos run amok. The execution of an infamous serial killer inspires a half-dozen maniacs to lose their collective minds and commit all manner of nasty acts, but this is not your standard, high-bodycount movie. Loaded with odd digressions, fractured narratives, and some enjoyably abstract weirdness, this is may be Keating’s strangest, creepiest movie yet.


Wednesday, Nov. 8, 7pm | North American Premiere | Finland, 2017 | Director: Jesse Haaja

Finland’s first superhero film, Rendel is dystopian action/fantasy unlike anything ever witnessed Stateside. When a massive criminal organization takes over his town, a masked vigilante strikes back through a series of brutal attacks that leave blood spilled and cash ablaze. A dark adventure that harkens to the finest in 80s era comics, Rendel is the anti-Marvel crusader: an all-too-human superhero from the streets, driven solely by rage and revenge.

Sequence Break

Monday, Nov. 6, 2pm | Midwest Premiere Dir: Graham Skipper

To call this freaky dark romance a love letter to David Cronenberg’s classic Videodrome would be an understatement, but at least writer/director Graham Skipper has awfully good taste in influences. Sequence Break is a story of a lonely guy, a sweet girl, a deserted arcade, and a video game with insidiously bio-mechanical tendencies…and innards—all of which become intertwined in a perverse, melancholic string of events that will leave all of them forever changed.

Attack of the Adult Babies

Friday, Nov. 3, 12:15am | North American Premiere | Director: Dominic Brunt

High-powered middle-aged men intend to refuel the world’s economy by very sinister, sick and monstrous means. Expect characters to be given enema after enema until they literally crap themselves to death. Expect blunt satire and gross-out humor, sure to make this one a cult favorite in years to come. Any movie featuring a character named the God of Shit can’t be all bad.

From the festival: $1 of each ticket sale will be donated to the ACLU to assist in continuing their support of defending us from further adult baby attacks.

Animals (Tiere) 

Thursday, Nov. 9, 1:30pm | Midwest Premiere | Director: Greg Zglinski

A vehicle collision with a sheep on a country road initiates a whole series of weird and unsettling experiences for a couple in this darkly comical, Lynchian nightmare. Are they in the real world, their own imaginations—or are they trapped in someone else’s imagination?

Dead Shack

Friday, Nov. 3, 11:30pm | Midwest Premiere | Director: Peter Ricq

While staying at a run down cabin in the woods, three children must save their parents from the neighbor who intends to feed them to her undead family. Fully loaded with an axe-wielding drunk dada, homemade weapons, buckets of blood, and genuinely funny one-liners for days, this Canadian zombie fare keeps things moving, with plenty of jokes and scares that play off the dysfunctional family dynamic.

Hagazussa–A Heathen’s Curse

Saturday, Nov. 4, 1:45pm | Midwest Premiere | Director: Lukas Feigelfeld

Set in the Austrian Alps during the middle ages, this morbid and visually stunning tale deals with the fine line between ancient beliefs in magic and delusional psychosis. An impressive, haunting, and almost entirely silent first feature.


Monday, Nov. 6, 11:45pm | Midwest Premiere | Director: Can Evrenol

On a snowy evening, a young girl’s sister and father are killed by her mother. Twenty years later, the survivor is slowly losing her grip on reality and runs into a celebrity psychic who claims he is destined to help her. And then things get ultra weird. From the Turkish director of Baskin.


Saturday, Nov. 4, 11:45pm | Midwest Premiere |Director: Jimmy Henderson

Sometimes all you need is a kick to the gut or a punch in the face to make you happy. Jailbreak marks an energetic action entry from Cambodia, helmed by a filmmaker who seems intent on giving his viewers a throwback to a time when action films were nothing but action. Using some very talented stuntpeople to populate the film as either police or inmates in this story of a massive prison riot and standoff, the brutality of the martial arts on display is breathtaking at times. This isn’t a pretty movie; it’s not slick or polished; it’s unfiltered, equal-opportunity ass kicking.


Tuesday, Nov. 7, 7pm | Midwest Premiere | Director: Ted Geoghegan

Late in the War of 1812, violent hostilities have arisen between the British and their erstwhile American colonial subjects. While the powerful Mohawk nation of the New York region maintain a position of neutrality, wanting no part in the killing–but the killing is coming to them. An impulsive attack on an American encampment has drawn the vengeful attentions of a ragged band of American military renegades, led by the vicious, racist Hezekiah Holt. Oak, Calvin, and their British lover Joshua flee into the woods so familiar to them, but the murderous musketeers are on their trail, hungry for blood. From the director of We Are Still Here.

Trench 11

Tuesday, Nov. 7, 4:30pm | Midwest Premiere | Director: Leo Scherman

In the final days of World War I, a shell-shocked soldier must lead a mission deep beneath the trenches to stop a German plot that could turn the tide of the war. But what lies beneath is more dark and sinister than they ever could have imagined.


Monday, Nov. 6, 9:30pm | Midwest Premiere | Director: Paco Plaza

After making a Ouija with friends and playing during a total solar eclipse, a teenager is besieged by dangerous supernatural forces that threaten to harm her whole family. Advised by a local nun (nicknamed Sister Death) about the nearby spirits, young Veronica desperately searches for a way to break the connection she seems to have formed with them. From the director of the [REC] franchise.

Tragedy Girls

Friday, Nov. 4, 7:30pm | Illinois Premiere | Director: Tyler MacIntyre

A twist on the slasher genre, the film follows two death-obsessed teenage girls who use their online show about real-life tragedies to send their small Midwestern town into a frenzy and secure their legacy as modern horror legends by kidnapping a serial killer and force him to be their mentor, resulting in a crime spree that becomes national news.

Steve Prokopy
Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film ( and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.