With the summer movie season officially behind us, it is time to look ahead to the fall: a time of fallen leaves, sudden drops in temperature, WAY too many holidays and, of course, Oscar bait. I’m sure there are tons of posts all over the internet listing every big movie seeking out one of those golden statues but I’m not interested in those. I’m interested in what the horror genre has to over us this fall. Halloween is right around the corner after all so expect genre flicks to start dropping every week or so. Some of them look great, some look terrible, and some fall somewhere in the middle. Below you’ll find a brief synopsis of each new offering, their trailer, and my final verdict on whether or not each film is worth your time.
Starring Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie ( Ygritte) and Penny Dreadfuls’s Harry Treadway (Dr. Frankenstein), Honeymoon looks real interesting. Leslie and Treadway play a young married couple who take their honeymoon in a secluded cabin in the woods, cuz yeah, that’s always a good idea. Once there, Leslie begins acting strangely, secrets about her past are revealed, and Treadway becomes convinced that she may not be who she says she is. It looks to be a character driven movie, which is rare in horror these days. I’m a little concerned that the big twist will just be ‘she’s crazy’ because that’s such a common, lazy solution that filmmakers so often like to use as a cop out. Early reviews have been very positive though, with most critics calling it creepy and emotional.
Verdict: Go on this honeymoon.
I’m practically foaming at the mouth for this one. Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barret are responsible for You’re Next, my favorite horror flick of last year and early reviews suggest this is even better. They also give very little away, suggesting that this is one of those ‘the less you know the better’ flicks. What we do know is that The Guest stars Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) as a solider who shacks up with the family of a fallen comrade. He begins helping the young kids in the family with things such as bullies and scoring booze and then…weird shit starts to happen. As I said, beyond that basic premise, nobody knows very much. Trailers don’t give much away either. However, critics are describing it as a genre hybrid mixing in action with a sci-fi conspiracy plot, scathing satire, and a throwback to violent 80’s thrillers ala John Carpenter. Oh, and the last 20 minutes of the film are apparently completely insane. I can’t wait.
Verdict: Let the guest in.
Speaking of insane, Kevin Smith’s Tusk has one of the most batshit crazy premises in movie history. Justin Long plays a podcaster who goes to interview a reclusive old seaman played by Michael Parks. Everything’s fine until Parks reveals his plan to turn Long into a…walrus. If you think that sounds like something Smith came up with while under a cloud of marijuana smoke, you’d be right. The idea was originally discussed on Smith’s own podcast and this movie is the result. It’s clearly a sort of spoof on the Human Centipede movies but is apparently even more violent and disturbing than either of those films, if that’s at all possible. I’m a life long fan of Smith’s and will watch anything he puts out. I also like that horror seems to have become his new genre. Red State had its flaws for sure but he’s clearly having a blast working outside the studio system and once again doing whatever the fuck he wants. Cuz really, what studio in their right mind would green light this? Haley Joel Osment and Johnny Depp are apparently in this as well, so in addition to the unbelievably weird premise, Smith has also managed to assemble one of the strangest casts in recent memory.
Verdict: Go see the walrus.
Remember that stupid fucking doll from The Conjuring? The one seemed to have, ‘I will kill you in your sleep’ written on its absurdly creepy face? Yeah well, so does Hollywood and they’ve decided to milk The Conjuring cash cow by giving us this clearly rushed together spinoff. The plot involves a man who buys the hideous thing for his wife and then they’re attacked by cultists and the doll does some shit and blah blah blah blah who cares? I am going to attack this film right at the premise: NO ONE WOULD BUY THAT FUCKING DOLL. NO ONE. EVER. That thing looks like it was designed by Satan, dressed up by Demons and put in a shop window by a child killer. Have you seen what the supposedly ‘real’ doll looks like? How much creepier would that be? When you see an evil looking thing doing evil things, you’re generally not too surprised. When you a happy figure of innocence doing evil things, you’re spooked beyond belief. Remember the first Chucky movie? It worked because the doll looked so harmless. This doll looks like it was tailor made to be in a cynical, cheap, cash grab of a horror film. Oh wait, it was.
Verdict: Put the fucking doll back in the box it came in and throw it off a goddamn cliff.
Note: The main characters should follow the above advice as well. They won’t though because reasons.
UGH. I guess since I, Frankenstein was such a great movie and a massive hit (in Bizarro world), Hollywood felt the need to give Dracula a similar treatment. In this re-imaging of the legend, Luke Evans plays the title character as a family man who decides to become a vampire to save his people form an invading army or something. It looks utterly bone headed but may fall into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category if it’s inept enough. More likely though, it’s just gonna be another boring, CGI heavy action flick that no one will remember in two months time.
Verdict: Let’s keep this story untold.
It’s PG-13 and it’s about a bunch of kids dealing with a haunted Ouija board. Need I say more?
I would really like this to be good but I have serious doubts. The cast, which includes Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine,Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Brendan Gleeson and David Thewlis, is terrific and the director is Brad Anderson, the man who gave us The Machinist, Session 9, and Transsiberian, three masterpieces. So why do I have doubts? Anderson’s work has been lacking lately with Vanishing on 7th Street and The Call both being big disappointments. Also the premise, about a young doctor who begins to suspect that ‘all is not as it seems’ at the mental intuition he works at, is very ‘been there done that’. I thought Shutter Island effectively closed the door on that sub-genre. I’m going to give this one a look but I can’t say I’m overly optimistic.
Verdict: I’m on the Asylum’s fence.
The ABCs of Death 2
Another 26 directors, another 26 violent, insane, disgusting, intense, and comedic short films. The first one had more good films than bad so hopefully this one will too. I like the idea a little more than the execution but still this is different enough than everything else out there to at least warrant a watch. WARNING THOUGH, the first film was EXTREMELY grotesque and the trailer suggests that this one will be even more grotesque. So, if you don’t have a strong stomach, stay away.
Verdict: Learn your ABCs.
This, along with The Guest, is probably my most anticipated fall release. I love the book by Joe Hill and based off the trailer, it looks like director Alexandre Aja absolutely NAILED the tone. Horns stars Daniel Radcliffe as a young man who falls under suspicion after his girlfriend is murdered. Then one night, he wakes up with a pair of horns growing from his head. These horns give him the ability to make people spill their darkest secrets and perform any task he commands them to. He decides to use them to seek out the real killer. The book was intense, darkly hilarious, and very suspenseful. The movie looks the same way. And if there is any role that will allow Mr. Radcliffe to completely free himself of Harry Potter, this is the one.
Verdict: Embrace the Devil.
Here’s another one I’m uncertain about. The director is Nacho Vigalondo whose Timecrimes was one of the best time travel movies ever, a real mindfuck. This is his English language debut. I’d like to be able to give him the benefit of the doubt but the central idea here is a bit troublesome and could easily go disastrously wrong. Elijah Wood stars as a lonely guy (does he ever play anything else?) who wins a date with a movie star (porn star Sasha Grey). She refuses to meet him and then a mysterious stranger gives him the ability to watch her at all times by giving him a feed into her computer. He accepts and then the stalking begins. The gimmick here is that the entire (or at least most of) the movie is shot through computer screens and that’s a gimmick that could get real old real fast. Or it could be brilliant. Hard to say.
Verdict: Let’s wait for the reviews before going through the window.
The first V/H/S was close to a masterpiece; an intense, searing anthology that managed to terrify and make some very interesting points about misogyny without hitting you over the head. V/H/S 2 was not so successful; only one segment really stood out and there was no main theme to connect all the stories together. So let’s hope that V/H/S: Viral (despite that idiotic title) is more in line with the first one. Anthology films are almost always a mixed bag but they are also fun and I’m enjoying their sudden resurgence in the past few years. If you haven’t seen V/H/S, check it out on Netflix. You can skip the second one.
Verdict: I’m gonna say this tape is worth watching.
‘The Descent in a pyramid’ seems the best way to describe this film. A group of archeologists discover a pyramid buried in the dessert. They investigate and then…well you know what happens. There is nothing exceptional about the trailer but nothing wrong with it either. It’s Rated R so that’s a plus. It’s also found footage so that’s not. This will probably end up being a fun ride and nothing more. I’m okay with that.
Verdict: Go exploring
This Australian flick has earned raves from every festival it’s played at and it looks absolutely terrifying. It tells the story of a widowed mother and her son as they move into a new home. The boy is plagued by strange dreams and believes a monster is coming to kill them. He finds a storybook in the house called Mr. Babadook and when his mother reads it to him, she begins to think the monster of his dreams might be all too real. I love horror moves with a fairy tale vibe and this one seems to have that going for it. It also looks like it deals with childhood fears in an introspective, relatable way. After all, we all had a boogeyman under our bed when we were kids, didn’t we? Then there’s that creepy tagline I can’t get out of my head: if it’s in a word or it’s in a book, you can’t get rid of the Babadook. Shudder.
Verdict: Read this book. Just be careful.