Horror genre fans in South Africa can look forward to Gaia, a local movie that is set to debut on Showmax this Halloween, 31 October 2022.
This breakout South African horror film won director of photography Jorrie van der Walt the 2021 Zeiss Cinematography Award at South by Southwest (SXSW) – widely considered one of the five most prestigious film festivals globally.
‘Gaia’ movie set for Halloween debut on Showmax
Gaia follows an injured forest ranger on a routine mission (SAFTA nominee Monique Rockman from Nommer 37) who is saved by two off-the-grid survivalists (Silwerskerm winner Carel Nel from 4 Mure and SAFTA nominee Alex van Dyk from Die Stropers).
But what starts out as a welcome rescue grows more suspicious as the son and his renegade father reveal a cultish devotion to the forest. When their cabin is attacked by a strange being, it’s clear there is a far greater threat in this unrelenting wilderness.
Set in the Tsitsikamma National Park, Gaia won Best Film, Director, Editor, Sound Design and Hair and Make Up at Silwerskerm, as well as Best International Film at Trieste Science + Fiction Festival, among other accolades.
Gaia was released in cinemas, on Hulu and via video on demand in North America last year by Decal, a joint venture between Neon and Bleecker Street. It has an 85% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Praise for ‘Gaia’
The movie has won praise from critics, with Variety likening it to another South African film that made waves internationally, District 9, and ranking it in their list of Best Horror Movies of 2021.
“As a stylistic calling card for [director Jaco] Bouwer, it portends bigger things and bigger budgets, showcasing a quivery facility with atmosphere and crafty technical nous that recalls his compatriot Neill Blomkamp at the outset of his career,” the publication states.
Celebrating Gaia as one of the top 10 horror films of 2021, Forbes says, “Gaia boasts strong performances, a massive menace with a big impact and incredible tension throughout. The realisation of the threat in question, namely its effects on human bodies, is one of the most haunting images of the year in ANY horror entry.”
A week into filming Gaia, production was halted due to the outbreak of COVID-19. They only resumed shooting three months later.
“Suddenly what was fiction became a strange form of reality and our pre-apocalyptic film started to resonate more with cast and crew,” says Bouwer. “We experience a searing grief and horror when the collapse flickers into view… I don’t think the performances in Gaia would’ve had the same emotional undercurrent if it wasn’t for the pandemic and its interruption into our work.”
That sense of fear and uncertainty has resonated around the world, helping Gaia making Best Horror of 2021 lists everywhere from IGN to Rotten Tomatoes to Thrillist.
The trailer is available to watch on YouTube.