2018 HORROR PREVIEW

Unlike some other film genres, 2017 was another pretty good one for horror fans. “IT” busted box-offices all around the world to become one of the biggest horror movies ever. “Get Out” was one of the best reviewed films (regardless of genre) in ages, and is on track to win a bundle of industry awards. And lower-budget fun films like “Happy Death Day” quietly made a whole heap of money and profit for studios like Blumhouse.

Happily, 2018 looks to be just as lively and as interesting to horror fans as the previous year. So here are our picks for the ones that we’re looking forward to catching during the next 12 months. Of course, there will always be sleeper hits and currently unannounced movies that will do the shizzle. It’s also wise to remember that some of these projected dates will change as we circle the sun (and some look extremely suspect). But check them out, and share your views with us on Facebook and the usual communication links, letting us know which films you’re particularly gasping to see next year.

In a rough order of release date we have;

The Shape of Water

Due 16th February (UK) / Already on limited release in the US

You could be forgiven that this film has been out for months, given the amount of attention that it has received on the festival circuit, and the award nominations. Thanks to the ridiculous distribution delays that occur for some films, we Brits still have another couple of months before we slap eyes on it. (NB: At least we get Bond and Marvel films first). Guillermo del Toro’s romantic monster movie has been pretty much universally acclaimed and is a creature feature by way of Mills and Boon.

In the 1960’s a mute and lonely female cleaner (a reportedly phenomenal turn by Sally Hawkins) encounters an aquatic humanoid in a secret government facility, and falls in love with him. Basically it’s del Toro’s love letter to the Universal monster films and a lot more mature and respectful to that era than “The Mummy”. It’s “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”, if Julie Adams had been a bit more liberal and consensually attracted to the Gill Man. All of that aside, we’ve heard nothing but good words about the movie and the entire cast (including Doug Jones as the creature and Michael Shannon as the real “monster”) are apparently fantastic. We look forward to (finally) seeing it.

Insidious: The Last Key

Due 12th January (UK) / 4th January (US)

Here’s the first franchise movie of the year. “Insidious” was great, “Insidious: Chapter Two” was a little disappointing, but “Insidious: Chapter Three” was a surprisingly good prequel. So it stands to reason that this third sequel (once known predictably as “Insidious: Chapter Four”) will concentrate on Lin Shaye’s parapsychologist again (Elise Rainier). We’re kind of lost in the twists of the franchise timeline now (it was definitely a mistake to kill her character off in the first film!), but we believe that this is set after Chapter Three, but before parts 1 & 2.

In this entry Elise goes on to investigate the apparent haunting in a family's home in New Mexico (a building that she used to live in during her youth), which leads her to an evil presence drawing her deeper into The Further. The fact that the film’s release was pushed back to this dubious date (January tends to be a bit stinky for horror releases) is a little worrying, but the trailer (with its key-fingered ghoul and sleight-of-hand scares) and the presence of Shaye should be a mark of quality. It’s also directed by Adam Robitel – who made the great “The Taking of Deborah Logan” - and is written by Leigh Whannell again. Whannell also appears again as ghost hunter “Specs” along with his trusty partner Tucker (Angus Sampson). Fingers crossed that it will be a worthwhile addition to the franchise and another hit for Blumhouse.

Cloverfield 3 (or whatever)

Supposedly 9th February (UK)/ 2nd February (US)… but don’t count on it.

We put this on last year’s list… and we’re doing it again this year, godammit!! Nobody really knows what’s going on with this movie now. Filming reportedly finished in September 2016 and it was due to be released last year. Pushed back, it still shows a scheduled screening date for February 2018 on most film listing sites… but nobody seems to have heard anything about it since the middle of 2017. There are no trailers and no promos, but this space-set horror/thriller directed by Julius Onah, is supposed to tenuously continue the sci-fi links with the OG found-footage monster movie from 2008.

The synopsis remains unchanged; a team of astronauts on an orbiting space-station find that Earth has literally disappeared after a scientific experiment, leading them to fight for survival when a mysterious shuttle appears. Elizabeth Debicki, Daniel Brühl, and Chris O'Dowd (who even spoke of it in glowing terms on a chat-show over a year ago) star in the film. But the silence is deafening, and to be honest we’ll be surprised if that release date is honoured. But then again, we’ve been wrong before. And “10 Cloverfield Lane” pretty much appeared from nowhere with no fanfare and still managed to blow everyone away. We hope to be surprised in a pleasant way if and when it finally makes an appearance. We don’t want to have to mention it again on the 2019 list!

Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built

Due 2nd March (UK) / 2nd February (US)

This is a period ghost story based on the real-life “most haunted house in America”, and starring the grand dame of British actresses Helen Mirren. Has that whet your appetite yet? The “Winchester House Mystery” is an infamous US urban legend which centres on the ancestral home of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Winchester (the founder of the firearms company). Although the rambling building (which has over 160 rooms) is now a genuine tourist attraction, this story looks back at its origins.

In the 1880’s Sarah (Mirren) believes that she is haunted by the souls of people killed by her husband’s invention, the Winchester repeating rifle. Given the multitude of victims, she continually adds rooms to her house to distract the spirits. Jason Clarke is on hand as a doctor hired to see if she’s loopy or not. The trailer indicates that it’s aiming for spooky chills closer to “Insidious” rather than “The Amityville Horror”, with an excellent jump scare involving a mirror. The atypical time period and Mirren’s presence also bodes well. Directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, their recent reboot of “Jigsaw” didn’t really do it for us, but their previous films have been pretty good (“Daybreakers”, “Predestination”). Hopefully it won’t be a shot in the dark.

The Strangers: Prey at Night

Due 9th March (US) / UK TBA

How long have we been waiting for this sequel? Bryan Bertino’s 2008 psycho thriller was the pivotal home invasion movie, and inspired a number of other movies. Creepily riding the old it-could-happen-to-you fear factor, the sheer sadistic element of random and unwarranted violence hit a nerve with horror fans, as three masked nut-jobs terrorise poor Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman. This long overdue sequel looks to mine the same themes, but is determined to act as an 80’s slasher throwback as well.

This time a family (including Christina Hendricks) are visited by three familiar psychopaths as they stop in a secluded mobile home park for the night. It’s directed by Johannes Roberts, who recently made the Shark thriller “47 Meters Down” and spook-fest “The Other Side of the Door”. Roberts has been very vocal in interviews that he wanted to recapture the feel of 80’s slashers and the early work of John Carpenter. The story is based on an original screenplay by Bertino, and teaser footage is promisingly full-on with the slash n’ stalk motifs. Let’s hope it’s a worthy follow-up.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Due 23rd March (UK/US)

The inevitable sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s guiltily enjoyable 2013 monster fisticuffs. If truth be told there was a little too much military gung-ho dick-waving in the original, coupled with far too much time spent on nonsensical guff like “compatible drifting” and training (why do they need two people with a psychic connection to power giant robots again?). Anyway, mahoosive mechs punching extra-dimensional monsters in the face, and Idris Elba shouting about the apocalypse was good fun and everybody’s up for more of that surely…

A lot of the plot is shrouded in secrecy, but it basically boils down to a new generation of Jaeger pilots being thrown into the deep end, as the dimension breach opens up again and there’s a new Kaiju threat. Stars Wars actor John Boyega plays the son of Stacker Pentecost (Elba) who bit the big one in the previous film. It’s directed by Steven DeKnight, who is best known for the epic gore n’ grind “Spartacus” TV series. We’re hoping that the fights and characters are jazzed up to the extreme and that the monsters have a bit more substance this time. Fingers crossed.

Unsane

Due 23rd March (UK/US)

Do you fancy seeing a horror film shot entirely on iPhones? No? What about if we said that that it was directed by Steven Soderbergh, maker of the “Ocean’s Eleven” trilogy. Still don’t fancy it? Well how about the fact that it stars Claire Foy (from “The Crown” and soon to be the new Lisbeth Salander), Juno Temple, Amy Irving (“Carrie”), and Josh Leonard (“The Blair Witch Project”). A low budget horror with some high-budget talent, it’s been building a bit of a buzz in the industry.

Details are scarce, but it follows the tale of a young woman who is committed to an asylum, where she has to face her fears, although the question of her sanity remains. The basic plot is a little generic, recalling the likes of “The Ward”, “Gothika”, or even something like “Shutter Island”. But with Soderbergh behind the camera… err… phone, it at least promises to be something different, and similar in tone to “Get Out”. The method of filming reportedly also adds a great deal to the footage (not that we’ve seen any yet). Could be great, might not be. But it’s one we’ve got our eye on…

The New Mutants

Due 11th April (UK) / 13th April (US)

Cue the rolling of eyes from many diehard genre fans. Yes, we’ve included a superhero film in this listing. This is a film that exists in the 20th Century Fox “X-Men” movie universe to be precise. But if you’ve seen the trailer or read the reports, you’ll know why we’ve included it. Based around a younger generation of super powered comic book characters, it’s being directed (and written) by Josh Boone who’s a huge fan of the comics. You wouldn’t think that the maker of the sickly “The Fault in our Stars” would be on this list, but Boone was up for directing a new version of “The Stand” and “The Vampire Lestat” at various points. And he intends this film to be the first of a trilogy of horror/superhero films.

Five young mutants are just discovering their abilities, when they’re locked inside a facility that seems to hold a supernatural presence that is hell-bent on destroying them. Basically a “haunted house” story, the cast includes GOT’s Maisie Williams as a werewolf-like character called Wolfsbane, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Magik, a sorceress that can use a spectral sword. The trailers and posters are indistinguishable from straight horror. Currently rated as a 15 by the BBFC, it will either be rated R or PG-13 in the States, although it’s likely to be the latter, despite “Logan” and “Deadpool” making R-ratings acceptable for comic characters again. Might be the first film since “Blade” to make horror fans eager to see comic characters kick ass…

A Quiet Place

Due 4th May (UK) / 6th April (US)

A film that has mainly been skimming under the radar of genre fans so far, until an eye-catching trailer dropped online. Directed and written by John Krasinski, who is probably best known for his role in the US version of “The Office”. The trailer and plot intrigued many with its air of mystery and its innovative concept. Krasinski also stars in the film alongside his real-life wife Emily Blunt, in her last role prior to “Mary Poppins Returns” (which is not on this list…).

An ordinary family live in a remote house and follow a code of absolute silence, lest they attract an unidentified predatory presence that could destroy them. The idea of the cast having to (presumably) remain mute for much of the running time is interesting, as is the unexplained nature of the menace, although it is reportedly supernatural. And nepotism aside, Blunt and Krasinski should provide solid leads. Looking forward to “hearing” more about this one…

The Purge: The Island

Due 4th July/ UK TBA

The original “Purge” was an example of a great concept taking off and going in new directions. The 2013 film was mostly a home-invasion yarn, but the backstory of a future dystopic America where every year there is a 12-hour period during which all crime is legal, certainly gripped imaginations. Frank Grillo was ace in the sequels “Anarchy” and “Election Year”. Franchise creator James DeMonaco is also working on a TV series, but in the meantime this new entry will be hitting cinemas next year.

Taking place well before any of the events of its predecessors, the film will be a prequel that will focus on the events that led up to the very first Purge. The “Island” of the title is said to be Ellis Island in New York, where a trial-run for the Purge Night is being tested on a group of unlucky individuals. Directed by Indie filmmaker Gerard McMurray, the film is said to be gritty, action-packed, but still incorporate the usual political themes. We were big fans of “Anarchy”, so we’re cautiously optimistic about this…

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Due 13th July (US) / UK TBA

With first official trailer just released, hype is building up for this sequel to “Jurassic World”. Everyone still loves a dinosaur movie, and for all its perceived faults, JW was still a blast and easily enjoyable. The impossible-to-hate Chris Pratt is back for more hi-jinks, as is the just-as-likeable Bryce Dallas Howard (minus the high-heels this time). It’s directed by J.A. Bayona, who also made “A Monster Calls” and the brilliantly creepy Spanish horror “The Orphanage”, so there’s no reason for it not to be scary and spectacular.

Continuing the plot started in “Jurassic World”, apparently there was a dormant volcano near the island’s theme park and it roars into life threatening all surviving dinosaurs. Owen Grady (Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Howard) feel obliged to save them… for reasons. A returning Jeff Goldblum (as Ian Malcolm) will be sticking his intellect in their business and there are rumours of a Sam Neill appearance as well. In all honesty the trailer looked a little generic, but apparently the word is that the teaser is based on selective sequences from only the first third of the film. Hopefully it won’t leave us dino-sore…

The Predator

Due 3rd August (UK/US)

This is another franchise entry that’s been a long time coming. We’ve not seen a Predator on the screen for seven years, since Nimrod Antal’s “Predators” took us off-world on a hunting mission with Adrien Brody and Laurence Fishburne. Ace screenwriter Shane Black has followed up his last directorial film (the rather brilliant “The Nice Guys”) with this reboot of the franchise. It’s set back on Earth again and echoes some elements of (the underrated) “Predator 2”, with its inner-city and suburban locations. It also boasts a pretty cool cast with Thomas Jane, Olivia Munn, Yvonne Strahovski, Alfie Allen, and Edward James Olmos.

The plot is virtually an unknown quantity at the moment, with barely any set photos and only rumours as to the story. It is said to focus on a group of PTSD-suffering marines, who take on the title character when nobody believes their accounts of the alien. The only link with any previous entry (as far as we know) is that Jake Busey will be playing the son of the character that his father (Gary) played in “Predator 2”. Worryingly, we have seen some negative comments appear online from some secret test screenings that claim the comedic content is too high and that the audience scored it badly. But given Black’s previous films and scripts, we’re hoping that this has been exaggerated… or is just “fake news”.

The Meg

Due 2nd March (UK) / 10th August (US) {An early UK showing? We can’t see that happening…}

Some movies just sell themselves. Jason Statham vs. Giant Prehistoric Shark. *Drops mic. Walks away* Based on the best-selling series of books from author Steve Alten, this has been in development hell for ages. It was set at one point to be directed by Eli Roth, but it eventually fell to Jon Turteltaub (“National Treasure”. The Nic Cage film. Not a description of Turteltaub) to shoot it. With the seemingly endless fascination that film audiences still have with the toothy predators (“The Shallows”, “47 Meters Down”, etc); this could be a perfect storm of guilty pleasure.

Former Naval captain and expert diver Jonas Taylor (Statham) is hired to rescue a group of Chinese scientists under attack from the 70-foot white shark, a creature he has encountered before. Don’t expect flesh-tearing shenanigans, as this is expected to be a PG-13 film. But we’d like to think that this may turn out to be a fun action flick with a cool central monster, and a nice bit of scenery chewing from Statham. We’re pretty sure it will be head-and-shoulders above stuff like the “Sharknado” films and “Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus” anyway…

Venom

Due 5th October (UK/US)

Yeah, another superhero film… but hold fire. There are lots of reasons for looking forward to this and thinking of it as a genre film. For a start it will be hard R-rated, with plenty of violence (and maybe a little blood). It stars Tom Hardy, who couldn’t be not-awesome if he tried. And it reportedly will be a full-on depiction of the title character in CG/Mo-Capped glory. If you’re familiar with the anti-hero at all, you’ll know that it’s an alien parasite that bonds with its host and this one transforms into nightmarish pitch-black version of Spider-Man. Complete with a huge tooth-filled mouth, saliva-dripping tongue, and continued threats to eat people’s heads. The version of him in “Spider-Man 3” was pretty rubbish, but this is Tom-Freakin’-Hardy, who’s scary enough, without growing fangs and tentacles!

The plot is top-secret, but will be distanced from any other Marvel-based film (in the way that “Logan” was). Hardy has hinted that it will partially follow a comic-book plot, where Venom becomes a violent guardian of a homeless community in San Francisco, and fights some of his own kind. The origin is likely to be updated and changed from the comics, and they could go the less-monster-like “Agent Venom” route, but early promos suggest the “classic” look is in store. From the director of “Zombieland” (Ruben Fleischer), this could turn out to be pretty cool, especially as Michelle Williams and (just announced) Woody Harrelson have joined the cast. Consider us webbed…

Halloween

Due 19th October (UK/US)

Possibly the most anticipated film of the year for long-time horror fans. If you’re being picky, the “Halloween” franchise has been rebooted at least twice during its lifespan; once with “H20” in 1998 (also with Jamie Lee Curtis) and again with Rob Zombie’s twisted reimagining in 2007. “Halloween’s” 4-6 can also be seen as a wholly separate story arc from John Carpenter’s original, with Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) as the central figure. But here we have a labour of love from writer Danny McBride and director/writer David Gordon Green. Though the duo has a history of comedy (“Pineapple Express”), they swear this will be a bona-fide slasher true to the original.

Returning to its classic roots, the plot is said to focus on the mature Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis. YESS!!) as she faces a final confrontation with Michael Myers, the boogeyman who has hunted her for four decades. McBride has gone on record to say that this is a direct sequel to the 1978 original, and ignores ALL other sequels and reboots, including 1981’s “Halloween II”. This means that Michael may not even be Laurie’s estranged brother anymore and will have a clean slate. The other difference is that Laurie will have a daughter and granddaughter in peril during the story as well. We’re quietly excited about this. Carpenter is heavily involved and all major decisions are run by him, Curtis is happy to be back and impressed with the script, and the filmmakers known that they can’t screw this one up. We think this will be in good “shape”…

Suspiria

Due in 2018.

Like “Jaws”, some films just defy the need for a direct remake, and this was long thought to be one of them. Dario Argento’s 1977 supernatural giallo is usually considered to be the Italian director’s best work. A beguiling and gory modern-day fairy-tale, it follows the misadventures of US dance student Suzy Bannon (a jittery but determined Jessica Harper) as she encounters a series of murders in a German ballet academy. Absolutely bonkers in places it combines witchcraft and the occult, with superbly choreographed bloody death-scenes, and a seriously brilliant (and disturbing) soundtrack from prog-rock band Goblin. When the remake was officially announced, most genre fans were understandably sceptical, especially for such a cult movie.

This time it’s Susie Bannon (played by Dakota Johnson) who journeys to the German dance school, and encounters something weird. The film has an excellent female-centric cast, including; Chloë Grace Moretz, Mia Goth, Tilda Swinton, and a returning Harper (in a different role obviously). The director is Luca Guadagnino, another Italian auteur who recently made the well-received “A Bigger Splash” and “Call Me by Your Name”. The soundtrack is from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, and should be suitably eclectic. Guadagnino promises to do the source material justice, and some of the leaked on-set photos are predictably weird. The film wrapped in March of this year and supposedly has a 2hr 50min run-time in its current edit! Guadagnino has moved onto his next project (with Jennifer Lawrence), but there’s still no news on a release date for this remake. Seems a bit suspicious, but maybe we’ll hear something more in the coming months as a 2018 release is still on the cards.

Unfriended: Game Night

Due in 2018

“Unfriended” was the surprisingly good social media horror from 2014. The idea of supernatural slasher filmed entirely from the POV of a PC, should be enough to make you bang your head against the wall, let alone chuck your laptop out the window. Another high-concept/low-budget/good-profits genre offering from Blumhouse, it was actually pretty accomplished and quite effective. Telling the story of an evil presence stalking a group of friends during an online group-chat, it managed to run with the current themes of social media misuse and cyber-bullying, and throw in some creepy moments. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good and an innovative twist on the found-footage sub-genre. It had a really good opening and made 64X its own budget. So the lack of a sequel is a little surprising, until online rumours and reports stated that one had already been made and screened to unsuspecting fans…

Next to nothing is known about it, apart from the synopsis on IMDB: “A teen comes into possession of a new laptop and soon discovers that the previous owner is not only watching him, but will also do anything to get it back.” The same laptop from the first film, or the same “spook”? The only other thing that we do know is that it was penned by the writer who scripted the first one, Nelson Greaves. It wouldn’t necessarily be very hard to make this in secret, given that it probably follows the same rules as before, and won’t have any “named” actors in the cast. So that gives credence to the secret screenings, and it has apparently tested very well with those it’s been shown to. Expect to hear more about this in the coming months…

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