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