Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by: Simon Barrett
Featuring: Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn
Adam Wingard's You're Next may be one of the most anticipated films of the summer for genre fans. After premiering back in 2011 at the Toronto International Film Festival's Midnight Madness program, the film generated exceedingly positive buzz and was swiftly picked up by Lionsgate before lingering in distribution hell (aka the 6th circle of Hell). Now, the film is almost at our doorstep with an August theatrical release, stylish trailers and a public ready for some savvy and entertaining indie horror. So the question becomes, is You're Next worth the wait?
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston
The great Stanley Kubrick once said to Jack Nicholson, "It's all been done before. So it's our job [as filmmakers] to just try and do it a little better." It's all been done before for sure, but in his haunted house film The Conjuring, director James Wan certainly finds a way to do it a little better.
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Written by: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Featuring: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon
To be fair, I'm coming into this movie as a person who has never read the comic book series it's based on, but the trailer for R.I.P.D. (that stands for Rest in Peace Department) made the movie seem like a fun romp, a nod to Men in Black, Dylan Dog and other such films that I thoroughly enjoyed, maybe even a little Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. However this film came into being, I will be shocked if it makes back its inflated budget. It is a stretch to call it "good," and it can't quite decide what it wants to be.
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Featuring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston
One might say I'm a bit skeptical of James Wan's films. I'm a fan of the original Saw, but I thought Dead Silence was ridiculous and I was one of the few people who thought Insidious was much more laughable than actually creepy. However, I'm also a sucker for paranormal investigation, and I'm fascinated by films that proclaim to be based on true accounts of hauntings, exorcisms, demonic activity and more. This has led to me seeing some things I really enjoyed (Paranormal Activity, Grave Encounters) and some I really didn't (Paranormal Activity 2-4, The Last Exorcism Part 2). Therefore, the trailer for The Conjuring had me hooked and I knew that I needed to see it the minute it hit theaters.
Directed by: Larry Fessenden
Written by: Tony Daniel, Brian D. Smith
Featuring: Daniel Zovatto, Bonnie Dennison, Chris Conroy, Jonny Orsini, Griffin Newman, Mackenzie Rosman
While the film Beneath is a Chiller original film, which may make some people balk, don't let that fool you. This movie is garnering major buzz from the outlets that've screened it, so I put my skepticism aside to check it out. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a pervasive fondness for any kind of creature film, especially mutated animals — I'm the worst about the Syfy hybrid films, and I have a painting of Sharktopus in my living room. However, Beneath is nowhere near that level of bad and shouldn't be written off as "just another creature film." It has depth, plot twists, effective kills, characters with dimension and, best yet, a creature that actually looks, well, freaky.
Written and Directed by: Paul Soter
Featuring: Pell James, Johnathon Schaech, Jenn Foreman
After the marketing blitz of the After Dark Horrorfest films, some of which were fun and others were abysmal, the production company decided to branch out into the original content arena. These releases, done on independent-film budgets and often leaving any real lasting impact, are straight-to-DVD horror films that are more suited to screening on a lazy weekend afternoon on the Chiller channel than anything that would become someone's new favorite film. Still, I've been a fan of Johnathon Schaech since The Doom Generation, so when I saw Dark Circles sitting on the new release shelf at my local video store, I picked it up.
Directed by: Brian Netto
Written by: Adam Schindler
Featuring: Laurel Vail, Danny Barclay, Colter Allison
(This review includes spoilers.)
The 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival kicked off yet another jam-packed year, one light on horror movies, but full none the less. One of the scary movies that was screened is Delivery, a horror/found-footage/reality TV/hybrid movie. Let's get right to the point: If you don't like any of those elements, or combination thereof, you will not like this movie.
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Written by: Moira Buffini
Featuring: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Caleb Landry Jones, Jonny Lee Miller, Sam Riley
Neil Jordan gave us one take on the vampire myth in the glossy 1994 Hollywood version of Interview with the Vampire. Almost 20 years later, he's back with a fang with Byzantium, a much grittier Brit rendition of those who walk by night. It's a much smaller story, although it too spans several centuries, but it doesn't quite manage to distinguish itself among the current glut of bloodsucker yarns.
Written and Directed by: Matthew Cooke
Produced by: Bert Marcus and Adrian Grenier
Featuring: Eminem, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, "Freeway" Rick Ross, "Big John" Harriel Jr., Skipp Townsend, Brian O'Dea, "Pepe," Barry Cooper, Mike Walzman, Susan Sarandon
The "War On Drugs" has been waged, in different incarnations, since the first attempts at prohibition in the early years of the 20th century. It's a class war, and a race war, engineered by men like Harry J. Anslinger, first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. He firmly believed most drug users in the 1930s could be classified as "…Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others."
Directed by: BJ McDonnell
Written By: Adam Green
Featuring: Danielle Harris, Derek Mears, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Robert Diago DoQui, Caroline Williams, Rileah Vanderbilt, Cody Blue Snider, Sean Whalen
Adam Green's landmark franchise, Hatchet, has been controversial among horror fans since its debut in 2006. While some panned it as a rip-off of Friday the 13th and accused Green of being an overzealous fanboy hack, other fans bonded together to form a fiercely loyal fan club called The Hatchet Army who devour everything related to the series. These fans helped launch Hatchet into the stratosphere and ensured not only one sequel, but two.
Written and directed by: Peter Strickland
Featuring: Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco, Fatma Mohamed, Eugenia Caruso, Antonio Mancino, Tonia Sotiropoulou
A fond tribute to giallo, a hymn to analogue recording equipment, a vehicle for the irresistible Toby Jones – on paper at least, Berberian Sound Studio looks like it might be the best movie ever made. Peter Strickland's second feature is certainly a delight for the senses, indulging the audience in the intensity and theatricality of 1970s Italian horror, aural and visual details heightened for maximum effect. Unfortunately, the delicate plot threads spiral out of control in the third act, leaving the audience awash with all the delicious possibilities (mysteriously disappearing technicians, dead chaffinches, actresses taken ill, an unseen intruder lurking within the studio) that never come to pass. Nonetheless, this arthouse horror movie offers some noble, rather than the usual guilty, pleasures to genre aficionados.
Directed by: Anthony J. Rickert-Epstein
Written by: Renae Geerlings, Tyler Mane
Featuring: Tyler Mane, Muse Watson, Derek Mears, Leslie Easterbrook, Renae Geerlings, Susan Angelo, Alex Saxon
In early May, Dallas hosts a huge horror convention called Texas Frightmare Weekend. TFW always features some of the most prominent and exciting guests in the horror genre as well as some terrific screenings, and this year was no exception.
Directed by: J. J. Abrams
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Featuring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Bruce Greenwood, Peter Weller
Star Trek: Into Darkness might just be the perfect summer blockbuster. (Yes, I know it's still spring, but my thesis stands.) It's big, it's loud, it's well crafted, it's immensely entertaining and quite clever (or, more important, feels clever in the moment). What else could you want from a major Hollywood popcorn flick?
Directed by: Ivan Zuccon
Written by: Gerardo Di Filippo
Featuring: Debbie Rochon, Tiffany Shepis, Tara Cardinal, Domiziano Arcangeli, Suzi Lorraine
From the trailers, I expected Wrath of the Crows to be in the vein of the classic Italian exploitation films, and in a way it is, with a generous amount of extreme gore and a scream queen in fetish gear throughout the film. But what I wasn't expecting to see was a very personal, metaphysical exploration of life after death told through heavy symbolism.