It’s a new year, which means that there are a lot of new opportunities to try something new and different. For fans of horror cinema that’s especially true as the genre renaissance marches on into another year of exciting new properties and new chapters in some old favourites..
From an update to the original slasher franchise, to a superhero favourite redressed in horror clothes. From a haunting based on a true story, to a haunting based on silence. From creepy nuns, crazy moms, and journeys to a new dimension, as well as a reminder that no one can hear you scream in space, 2018 has got something for every horror fan. Let’s now check out 10 of them!
Celebrating four decades of frightening babysitters, Halloween will return to theatres this fall with its highly ambitious 11th entry into the franchise that will reputedly ignore all other films in the series save for the original. It’s not a new strategy. Halloween has been remade once before, and everything that happened after Halloween II was erased with Halloween: H20, but if there were ever a reason to forget the history of one of cinema’s most vaunted slasher series, it’s the return of John Carpenter.
The combined resources of Miramax and Blumhouse were enough to not only get Carpenter on board as a creative consultant, but also as the composer for the film. And as Carpenter adapts his classic theme for the 21st century, the heavy filmmaking lifting will be done by director David Gordon Green and his co-writer Danny McBride. Although the duo are best known for their comedic collaborations, McBride promised in February that this movie will be “dark and vicious horror. Nobody will be laughing.” To prove it further, Jamie Lee Curtis will be back as Laurie Strode, back to evade the grasp of Michael Myers almost exactly forty years after their first fateful encounter.
9) The God Particle
How did you like the trailer for this one? You haven’t seen it? Well that makes all of us. Who can command the type of extreme secrecy that keeps all promotional material under wraps even a month before a film’s release? None other than J.J. Abrams of course, and especially when it comes to the latest entry in his Cloverfield saga. If you we’re paying attention, then you caught the message heard from the International Space Station in 10 Cloverfield Lane, and this is, supposedly, where The God Particle comes into effect.
The plot, that we know of, finds the crew of the ISS on their own when a particle accelerator experiment seems to make the Earth vanish. All hope is lost until a space shuttle suddenly appears, but does it bring salvation or horror? Guess which one! Other than that, we know nothing except that it stars Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo and Zhang Ziyi, and it’s being directed by Julius Onah making his second feature length film after The Girl is in Trouble. See you February 2 at a theatre near you to learn more.
8) The Nun
Following the surprise smash success of Annabelle: Creation, the Conjuring Cinematic Universe will veer off next to its earliest spectral encounter: The Nun. Bonnie Aarons returns as Valak the Demonic Nun whose origins are explored in this chapter of the franchise, which is set against the backdrop of the scary real-world history of 1952 Romania, when communism was tightening its grip in Eastern Europe. At a monastery in southern Transylvania, a nun dies under mysterious circumstances.
That’s about all that’s been revealed about The Nun so far, though James Wan is overseeing things as a producer, and the directorial duties have been left in the capable hands of The Hallow’s Corin Hardy. As for the cast, Aarons will be joined by Demián Bichir as a priest, Father Burke, and Taissa Farmiga as Sister Irene. Farmiga is an interesting choice because her big sister Vera is the star of the main Conjuring series, so is Sister Irene connected to Lorraine Warren in some way? Is that why Valak attaches itself to Lorraine decades later in The Conjuring 2? Perhaps we’ll find out…
7) The New Mutants
We must be at a peak for superhero movies when they turning one that’s not typically of the horror genre, like Blade or Hellboy for example, and are purposefully making it scary. Enter Josh Boone, who’s turned the X-Men spin-off The New Mutants into a haunted house saga as a group of five young mutants deal with the literal and figurative horrors of adolescence and their abilities. It’s an interesting tact given that the elevator pitch of New Mutants in comic book form has been “X-Men: The Next Generation” for over 30 years.
And if the tantalizing possibility of a horror-themed X-Men set in a haunted hospital isn’t enough to get you excited, consider the cast. You have Anya Taylor-Joy, the reigning millennial Scream Queen thanks to The Witch and Split, as Illyana, a teleporting mutant who can literally go to some dark places. You also have Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton as Sam, who can propel himself along with the speed and density of a “Cannonball”, plus Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams as Rahne, who’s mutant ability basically makes her a werewolf. But are they tough enough to overcome their past, their powers, and the maybe evil machinations of Sonya Braga’s Dr. Reyes? Be afraid.
6) Poor Agnes
Before you start saying, “This sounds like Misery,” you should know that this isn’t exactly like Misery. This low-budget Canadian film was the toast at the two major genre film festivals of last year, Fantasia Montreal and Toronto After Dark, but just because it’s about a woman torturing a man, don’t compare this to the Stephen King classic. While our titular Agnes does enjoying luring men in order to torture them to her heart’s content, she’s not doing it for anything so noble as resurrecting her favourite romance novel character.
Indeed, the word from the festival circuit is that the script by writer James Gordon Ross does a lot to invert traditional expectations when it comes to movies about female killers, and a lot of that credit seems to go to lead actress Lora Burke who manages to be both unstable and insightful. Perhaps it’s timely given the #MeToo movement, and the subsequent open season on male predators in the media, to get a movie where the female is the predator, and director Navin Ramaswaran seems to have created something special here to capture all that discomfort well.
5) Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built
It’s a tale so insane it’s a wonder that it took this long for someone to make a movie out of it. After loosing her husband and her only child, Sarah Winchester was told by a Boston psychic that there was a curse on her due to all the people killed by the main product of her husband’s family company: the Winchester repeating rifle. Her penance was to move to San Jose, build a new home, and not stop construction on it until the day she died. The result was a sprawling mansion with 40 bedrooms, 47 fireplaces, three elevators, two basements, and one completed ballroom. Then there’s all the oddities.
When you’re talking about a woman directing the construction of a house with missing floors, cabinets that are windows to other rooms, and staircases that lead no where, there’s only one actress that can bring the gravitas and reality you need, and that’s Dame Helen Mirren. Directed by the Spierig Brothers (Daybreakers, Jigsaw), Mirren’s Winchester finds herself being evaluated by psychologist Jason Clarke at the behest of the Winchester board, who think Sarah’s crazy and want her controlling interest in the company. Guess what though? The ghosts are real! Guess they weren’t satisfied with the house after all, or is that a spoiler?
4) The Cured
The ratings for The Walking Dead have been down this year, so maybe it’s time for the post-zombie craze to begin! What happens after the end of the zombie apocalypse when all the monsters are gone? That’s the question at the core of The Cured, the feature directorial debut from David Freyne which asks, can you rehabilitate a zombie? Not in a Fido way, but suppose they found a way to cure all those zombies and reintegrate them into society, what would those people have to deal with?
The Cured premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, which is impressive given that the only brand name involved is star and producer Ellen Page. In other words, The Cured sailed into TIFF, and into the hearts of Midnight Madness fans, based only on the performances of its mainly Irish cast and the topical social commentary. How are you supposed to feel as a former zombie about all those brains you ate? How are you supposed to feel about the former zombie that ain’t the brains of your loved one? In taking a serious look at the implications, Freyne seems primed to inherent the zombie innovator crown from the late, great George Romero.
3) Mom and Dad
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen and enjoyed Nicolas Cage in first gear. Like Bad Lieutenant zany Nicolas Cage, or Wicker Man overacting Nicolas Cage. He’s been definitely phoning it in with paycheque journeymen work like Left Behind and USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, so can you blame a guy for wanting to cut loose and take part in a tender tale about parental relations and that special time when mom and dad zombie-out and try to kill their children. Now that’s a Nicolas Cage we want to go to the cinema to see.
Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time in recent history that someone tried to combine horror and comedy while trying to make a statement about suburban living with Suburbicon, but Matt Damon can’t do the things that Cage can. Singing the “Hokey Pokey” while smashing stuff with a sledge hammer? Let’s see Damon do that with even half the nutso commitment of Cage. And let’s not underestimate Selma Blair, she knows from crazy having survived 43 episodes of Anger Management with Charlie Sheen. But let’s face it, when a movie like this is being billed as a “twisted remake of Home Alone on bath salts,” you can’t not watch it.
2) A Quiet Place
I don’t think we’re in The Office anymore. A bearded John Krasinski co-wrote and directed this film which revisits a horror classic – the house in the middle of nowhere – but relies on a key element to all great scary movies, which is sound design. Or maybe that’s a lack of sound design. Krasinski and his real-life wife Emily Blunt play the dad and the mom of a family that lives in a secluded woods and love the silence so much they use sign language and make no noise at all. Of course, there’s a reason for that.
In the one teaser trailer we’ve seen for A Quiet Place so far, not much has been revealed about what plagues this poor family, but something that looks like a claw mark seen in the main staircase seems to be a pretty big clue. And then the entire house shakes when the lamp gets knocked over… Are we in the same cabin in the woods as Cabin in the Woods? Because there was a big monster living under that house too. Whatever’s going on, A Quiet Place looks set to be one of the most innovative and disquieting horror films of the new year. Pun intended.
Before he hit it big as a director with Ex Machina, Alex Garland is the man that redefined zombies for the 21st century as the writer of 28 Days Later. He also wrote Sunshine, Dredd, and Never Let Me Go, so in other words, this a man that knows genre entertainment like the back of his hand. For his next trick, Garland will adapt the first in the Jeff VanderMeer series of novels called Annihilation, which is about a trip into a startling new world discovered right here on planet Earth. Things are going to get weird, and scary.
Natalie Portman leads a group of five female scientists into a place called Area X, a “disaster zone” behind an energy field where the laws of science and nature have seemed to take a permanent vacation. For Portman’s biologist, it’s a personal mission: find out what happened to her husband, a soldier that entered Area X and returned alive but deeply affected by what happened there. The trailer looks like Garland is channeling The Arrival through Wonderland, and it looks like he had a little more money to work with versus Ex Machina. It’s hard to think of a more anticipated sophomore film for a director coming out this year, so here’s hoping Garland can deliver.