Here are 16 essential genre offerings to track on your fright flick radar as 2016 continues to spill its horror guts.
What ? : “Everyone in Justine’s family is a vet. And a vegetarian. At 16, she’s a brilliant and promising student. When she starts at veterinary school, she enters a decadent, merciless and dangerously seductive world. During the first week of hazing rituals, desperate to fit in whatever the cost, she strays from her family principles when she eats raw meat for the first time. Justine will soon face the terrible and unexpected consequences of her actions when her true self begins to emerge…”
Why ? : Because director/writer Julia Ducournau watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre when she was just 6 years old.
This fascinating film is in the prestigious critics’ week competition at Cannes and could well be the break out cult sensation of the festival.
Raw reportedly has an unusual tone flirting with the thriller, comedy and horror genres while exhibiting a primarily physical approach towards acting direction.
When ? : France – May 14th 2016 UK+US – Late 2016
GOKSUNG – (The Wailing)
What ? : “A stranger appears in a peaceful South Korean mountain village, but no one knows why. As mysterious rumors begin to spread about this man, the villagers drop dead one by one. They grotesquely kill each other for inexplicable reasons. The village is swept by turmoil and the stranger is subjected to suspicion. A policeman is drawn into the incident and is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter.”
Why ? : Because director Hong-jin Na is the man behind the stunning thrillers The Chaser and The Yellow Sea.
The rural environment and chilling cinematography should provoke sufficient momentum to steer it into the choppy waters of horror territory.
Even though it runs over 2½ hours you will not want in to end and the extended climax will leave you gasping for air.
It could well turn out to be the best Korean flick since I Saw The Devil.
When ? : Korea– May 12th 2016 USA + UK – Import DVD/Blu-ray/VOD – May 27th, 2016 (USA)
THE NEON DEMON
What ? : “When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women.”
Why ? : Because director Nicolas Winding Refn is arguably the most visually gifted talent in cinema and this is his first stab in the direction of the horror thriller. It will look ravishing.
Unusually for a horror movie The Neon Demon is premiering in competition at Cannes and is Refn’s third straight film to do so after Drive won him best director and Only God Forgives saw him booed and derided.
According to Dazed the film is based on the infamous Elizabeth Báthory who Guinness World Records name as the most proliferate female serial killer in history.
How can you resist the scrumptious irony of cannibalistic fashion models ?
When ? : UK– Nationwide cinema release July 8th 2016 USA – Cinema release June 24 2016
What ? : “Five friends stumble under the spell of a libidinous, otherworldly presence in the woods. Inhibitions drop and behavior becomes erratic as one of the friends tries to escape the carnal free-fall, ultimately bringing him face to face with the source of a mystery that will change his life forever.”
Why ? : Because director Scott Schirmer (Found) is one of the most naturally creative filmmakers on the indie scene.
Harvest Lake is quirky, quaintly perverse and splashes gleefully across the screen in a sun drenched splurge of other worldly tentacles and wanking.
Indirectly channeling the organic honesty of the NYC art scene of the 70’s you will spend much of the modest running time WTFucking.
It features the impossibly cool and ridiculously hard working Tristan Risk(American Mary,The Editor).
When ? : UK– Vimeo – May 30th USA – Out Now Blu-ray
TRAIN TO BUSAN
What ? : “A disastrous virus hits South Korea. Passengers on a KTX bullet train from Seoul to Busan struggle to survive.”
Why ? : Because director Sang-ho Yeon is an award winning risk taker with a background in animation who’s bleak film King of Pigs is superb.
At this years Cannes film festival Yeon will become the first director in Korean film history to have appeared in both animation and live-action categories.
This strapping offspring of 28 Days Later and Snowpiercer looks and sounds totally insane.
When ? : Korea– Summer 2016 USA + UK – Import DVD/Blu-ray/VOD – Late 2016
JACK GOES HOME
What ? : “Jack is an educated and well versed magazine editor living in Los Angeles. Grappling with the natural release of his childhood and the promise of his forthcoming adulthood, he is hit hard by the news of his father’s death. In a violent and horrific car crash, his father has perished while his mother has survived. He returns to his hometown of Denver, Colorado to nurse his mother through her physical and emotional injuries. During his stay at home, he uncovers long buried secrets and lies within his family history, his friends and his very identity. Jack’s journey to the truth is fueled by madness, sexuality, hauntings and violence. For Jack, there truly is no place like home.” sxsw
Why ? : Because it’s a personal and intimate film from first time director Thomas Dekker that promises to convert audience commitment into rewarding cinema.
It’s shot through the lens of Austin F. Schmidt who has a cultured eye for framing off kilter horror such as the haunting Last Shift.
The unshakable Insidious actress Lin Shaye is in it.
When ? : UK – Late 2016 US – Late 2016
THE WINDMILL MASSACRE
What ? : “Jennifer is an Australian girl on the run from her past who washes up in Amsterdam. In a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities, she joins a coach-load of tourists embarking on a tour of Holland’s world famous windmills. When the bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere, she and the other tourists are forced to seek shelter in a disused shed beside a sinister windmill where, legend has it, a Devil-worshiping miller once ground the bones of locals instead of grain.”
Why ? : Because what your life is absolutely definitely missing is a Windy Miller Leatherface mash up.
We haven’t had a decent slasher from Holland since the wittily titled Amsterdamned in the late 80’s.
The cast includes the gifted Noah Taylor (Red White And Blue) who is always brilliant.
When ? : UK – Autumn 2016
What ? : “Three young burglars — Alex, Rocky, and Money- break into the home of a blind military veteran thinking they’ll get away with the perfect crime. But breaking in is a lot easier than getting back out alive.”
Why ? : Because director Fede Alvarez helmed the voracious Evil Dead remake back in 2013 and everyone agrees that was excellent.
Don’t Breathe is being under-publicised and if 10 Cloverfield Lane is anything to go by that’s a very propitious sign.
Bloody Disgusting described the movie as “Hitchcock on crack !” when they saw it at SXSW.
When ? : UK– Nationwide cinema release Sept 9th 2016 USA – Cinema release Aug 26th 2016
THE DARK TAPES
What ? : “Genre-defying mixture of horror, sci-fi, myth, mystery and thrills told as four interlocking tales in one intelligent, original anthology. The movie stars an up and coming ensemble group of actors such as Brittany Underwood (TV star of Hollywood Heights, One Life To Live & Youthful Daze), Cortney Palm (Sushi Girl, Zombeavers) and Emilia Ares Zoryan (Amazon’s Bosch: Season 2). Ghosts, spirits, creatures, demons and more from the paranormal world collide with rational curiosity. Could the supernatural exist in our everyday lives and have a plausible, scientific basis? The Dark Tapes explores this and more with surprising, sometimes shocking results that will leave you questioning what could be real.” Fort Myers Beach Film Festival
Why ? : Because this micro budget compendium of horror shows just what can be achieved through shrewd writing, frugal use of exposition and bags of imagination.
The Dark Tapes has already scooped a host of independent film festival awards.
The movie is radical enough to break out from its stock found footage shackles and contains some nimble twists and genuine jump scares.
Brittany Underwood delivers a charmingly peppy performance that is a joy to watch.
When ? : UK+US – Should emerge Late 2016
What ? : “When Rebecca left home, she thought she left her childhood fears behind. Growing up, she was never really sure of what was and wasn’t real when the lights went out…and now her little brother, Martin, is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that had once tested her sanity and threatened her safety. A frightening entity with a mysterious attachment to their mother, Sophie, has reemerged. But this time, as Rebecca gets closer to unlocking the truth, there is no denying that all their lives are in danger…once the lights go out.”
Why ? : Because director David F. Sandberg was responsible for the source material short that has well over 2,000,000 views on You Tube and Lotta Losten reprises her role. James Wan produces but keeping the creative reins in the hands of the originators is a smart move.
Although rated PG-13 it is for -“terror throughout” and the intrinsically creepy premise should translate into a great deal of scattered popcorn. Frankly the trailer alone made me jump like a Himalayan goat with a cattle prod up its backside.
The film tested so well that the producers and distributors felt confidant enough to give it a prime summer release spot.
When ? : UK- Cinemas nationwide 19th August 2016 US – Cinemas nationwide 22nd July 2016
What ? : “In 2009 three young men were gunned down in cold blood in a remote part of Yellowstone National Park. Hours later, Dwayne Nelson walked into a ranger station miles away and confessed to the crime. Despite his detailed confession to authorities, the alleged gunman was allowed to go free due to a loophole in the US Constitution. The only thing more shocking than this senseless act of violence may be the bizarre events that followed, and the cunning execution of a legal homicide..”
Why ? : Because directors Julian T. Pinder and Adam Levins spent four years on this Docudrama and it is refreshingly original.
The films premise is based around the “Zone of Death” a 50 square mile area situated in Idaho that is alarmingly real.
Population Zero reportedly operates on many levels but manages to remain thematically harmonious and packs an emotionally powerful enough punch to earn its horror movie stripes.
When ? : UK- Late 2016 US – Late 2016
What ? : “Popular prank TV show, Scare Campaign, has been entertaining audiences for the last 5 years with its mix of old school scares and hidden camera fun. But as we enter a new age of online TV the producers find themselves up against a new hard edged web series which makes their show look decidedly quaint. It’s time to up the ante, but will the team go too far this time, and are they about to prank the wrong guy?”
Why ? : Because it comes from the creators of 100 Bloody Acres and they know exactly how to fuse wry comedy and carnage.
The subject matter is very current, the tone sharply judged and the effects practical.
Australian horror can do no wrong at present.
When ? : UK– Late 2016 USA – Late 2016
What ? : “When Nancy is attacked by a great white shark while surfing alone, she is stranded just a short distance from shore. Though she is only 200 yards from her survival, getting there proves the ultimate contest of wills, requiring all of Nancy’s ingenuity, resourcefulness, and fortitude.”
Why ? : Because the surfer girl v shark tension is orchestrated by director Jaume Collet-Serra who was responsible for the lovably bat-shit Orphan and more recently the ultra-generic but pacy Neesonfest Run All Night.
Blake lively stars meaning it will be great fun watching all the Gossip Girl fans getting more than they bargained for.
The effects department is ridiculously humongous both in size and pedigree.
When ? : UK– Nationwide cinema release Aug 12th 2016 USA – Cinema release June 29th 2016
I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
What ? : “Sixteen-year old John Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it. He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. Terrible impulses constantly tempt him, so for his own sake, and the safety of those around, he lives by rigid rules to keep himself “good” and “normal”. However, when a real monster shows up in his town he has to let his dark side out in order to stop it – but without his rules to keep him in check, he might be more dangerous than the monster he’s trying to kill.” sxsw
Why ? : Because director Billy O’Brien knows how to handle low budget horror as he proved with the underrated Isolation.
Expect great chemistry between a strong cast that includes Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are) , Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future) and Breaking Bad Madrigal attorney Laura Fraser.
The source book by Dan Wells is the first in the hugely popular young adult series featuring this character so this could easily blossom into a cult phenomenon.
When ? : UK– Late 2016 USA – Late 2016
I AM A HERO
What ? : “One day, after returning from work late in the evening, Hideo witnesses a traffic accident in which a car crashes into a nearby pedestrian, killing the victim instantly. However, despite severe injuries including a broken neck, the victim’s body stands up and walks away. Hideo questions whether this is another one of his hallucinations, but strange events begin happening around him.”
Why ? : Because it comes from CG master Shinsuke Sato adapted from the mental Kengo Hanazawa Manga of the same name.
Action horror zombie epics need a shot in the arm and this flick mainlines pure entertainment.
It is exceedingly gory and slayed them at the Imagine Film Festival in Amsterdam.
When ? : Japan – Out now UK– Late 2016 USA – Late 2016
UNDER THE SHADOW
What ? : “A shiveringly good ghost story set in a Tehran apartment building in the waning days of the Iran-Iraq War. As the film opens, Shideh is told she cannot continue her medical studies because of her past political activism. The decision exacerbates marital tensions with her husband who is already a doctor and has been drafted to the front lines of the conflict. Soon after he leaves, a missile crashes into their building; instead of blowing up, however, it unleashes something a little more malevolent on the building’s tenants. “- Rod Armstrong
Why ? : Because Director Babak Anvari grew up watching horror films on VHS back home in Iran – even though VCRs were totally illegal.
Despite being a low budget debut feature Farsi-language thriller shot in Jordan the mighty Netflix snapped up the worldwide streaming rights at the first opportunity.
After last years A Girl Walks Home Alone at Midnight Iran is a hotbed of horror right now.
It is totally bloodless yet utterly terrifying and will be the best ghost story of the year.
When ? : Worldwide – Streaming on Netflicks June/July 2016
Teaser Trailer :