Last year offered a treasure trove of great horror films, from Get Out to It Comes At Night to Gerald’s Game, each of which made fans jump from fright, get goosebumps, and even think about social issues. The malevolent clown, Pennywise, from Stephen King’s IT got the chance to make an appearance on the big screen to scare a whole new generation of teenagers from ever going near a storm drain again. Blumhouse Productions even expanded the universes of its horror films, which added a richness and mythology that got fans diving deeper into their terror.
While franchises like The Conjuring continued to cover the tried-and-true, filmmakers like Jordan Peele found a new avenue for the genre. He elevated it by building Get Out on the foundation of a social horror that Black Americans face every day due to institutionalized racism. It was stunning and unexpected, but welcomed by horror and mainstream audiences alike. This year, 2018, has a number of horror films that may compete with those movies by the sheer talent attached to them. They are reinventing children's games into matters of life and death while classic films are tackled by hugely inventive writer/directors that might lead to the second year of this newest horror renaissance.
15 THE PURGE: THE ISLAND (JULY 4)
After the events of The Purge: Election Year, fans weren’t expecting another film set in the universe anytime soon, but as the trilogy was so successful, the filmmakers wanted to explore the concept from another angle. The film is titled The Purge: The Island because they’re setting the entire film on Long Island to isolate their sinister program. The reason behind the isolation is because it is the first time the US Government will employ the controversial and nationally destructive laws in the country.
That’s right! This film is a prequel to the original trilogy, but its writer/director James DeMonaco wanted to delve into the exploitation of the lower and working class in this film. People are paid to participate in the diabolical program which leaves only those in financial hardship accepting the risks for cash. It is an allegory for economic class conflict, which is as timely as ever.
14 TRUTH OR DARE (APRIL 13)
Blumhouse has become a staple in the horror game by creating miniature supernatural franchises out of properties like Insidious and The Conjuring. With its new film Truth or Dare, the plan is to take a children’s game and convert it into a sadistic trial of life or death. Spirits possess the game and if anyone doesn’t abide by the rules given to them, it could cost more than some embarrassing revelation.
The dares that occur during the game get pushed to the extreme, like having to break your best friend's hand or afflict some other type of bodily harm. Instead of the game having the participants commit to their actions, it starts to take a life of its own by completely disregarding the gamers' discretion. It'll make viewers think twice before uttering the words Truth or Dare.
13 SLENDER MAN (MAY 18)
The Slender Man was a meme that (quite literally) took a life of its own as it crossed over into the pop culture. It started with a photo of a long-limbed faceless man who stalked and preyed upon children and is now the subject of its own movie. Slender Man will follow the fictional events of a small town where four girls perform a ritual to prove that the creature isn’t real. Unfortunately, after the ritual, one of their friends go missing.
The girls start to believe that the Slender Man myth is true and the whole movie dives into deep psychological torture from there. The remaining three girls start to witness the Slender Man out of the corner of their eyes and notice changes in their behavior that they assume are symptoms of Slender Sickness. The trailer is reminiscent of 2002’s The Ring, which can only mean good things.
12 WINCHESTER (FEB. 2)
Winchester is based on the true story of Sarah Winchester, whose husband William was treasurer to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. After the death of her son and husband years later, she believed that her family was cursed by spirits of people who died by Winchester firearms. She sought the advice of mediums and occultists on how to prevent becoming their next victim.
They advised her to build an elaborate mansion that would ward off any spirits wishing to do her harm. The film follows that story as Sarah Winchester cannot escape the souls who wish to do her harm. Her maze-like house has become a thing of urban legend as those who visit it quickly realize the dizzying and confusing mind it takes to navigate it. It stars Helen Mirren in the titular role as the widow who couldn't escape her haunting.
11 INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY (JAN. 5)
This is the second of three Blumhouse films featured on this list that will be building one of its supernatural franchises. This expands on the Insidious franchise that has followed parapsychologist Elise Rainier try to help families who are being plagued by malevolent spirits wishing to return to the real world to commit more harm. Now, Rainier must revisit her childhood home to save someone from a demon that haunted her past.
What’s always been interesting about the Insidious films has been Rainier’s exploration of this spiritual realm referred to as "The Further." This film will build on that mythology by having her visit other places within The Further that these ghosts and demons inhabit. It will be interesting to see what she uncovers about this spiritual plane while also diving into her own past.
10 BEFORE I WAKE (JAN. 5)
Netflix put out a new horror film this year titled Before I Wake that follows the lives of two grieving parents who adopt a young boy named Cody. They are thrilled to have the child in their home until one night, their own son who has passed away pays them a visit. The parents are grief-stricken yet elated to see their son again until he disappears right before their adopted son enters the room.
It's a strange premise that only gets weirder from there. They find caffeine pills in Cody's room and when they ask him about it, he reveals a dark secret. He is afraid to sleep because his dreams come true. It is the reason Cody’s previous foster parent is in a psychiatric institution, because it isn't just his dreams that come true. His nightmares start to put the family in danger and risk their death.
9 THE NEW MUTANTS (TBD)
This is an X-Men film that features lesser-known mutants who find themselves in a strange institute while they attempt to understand their powers. Strange things start occurring outside of their powers and they must find a way to break out or suffer the most likely terminal consequences. Spirits start pushing against the walls and warping the foundations of reality. These so-called "New Mutants" must confront their pasts and themselves if they are going to fight for their freedom.
This is a film as experimental as last years Logan, and far more atmospheric. It brings horror to the Marvel brand in a way that could be as effective as something like FX’s Legion. Perhaps the institution itself is haunted or maybe it is a mutant who doesn’t realize they are bending reality (of course, longtime comic book readers will already know). The film was slated for a spring release, but may have been pushed to 2019.
8 THE NUN (JULY 13)
The first Conjuring film was a critical and commercial success, which led to a sequel and two spin-off films that followed the cursed Annabelle doll. Now, the series takes one of the demons witnessed in The Conjuring 2 and gives it an origin story that's set in a Romanian monastery. A Catholic priest, a nun, and an apprentice are sent there to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding a nun’s suicide.
As their investigation reveals more and more information, they must confront a demon who takes the blasphemous form of a nun. It is a prequel that will startle anyone who jumped at the sight of the Nun in the Conjuring series. If it is successful, there are talks about future installments for The Nun, as well as another that will tie back to the protagonists of the original Conjuring.
7 SOMETHING IN THE DARK (OCT. 5)
When a blind woman finally has the ability to see thanks to the advent of some technological glasses, it seems like she found a solution to her disability. It isn’t until she starts to notice that the people that she sees while wearing the glasses may actually be people that aren’t there. It starts to dawn on her that these are spirits visible to only to her.
The interesting part is that she can’t distinguish between people who are spirits and people are alive and well. She starts to feel odd and depressed and decides to put a gun to her head, but notices it's a spirit driving her to do so. It isn't until she gets a glimpse of Death that she realizes the supernatural world may be inflicting more harm on humanity than she ever understood. Something In The Dark has all the best characteristics of an episode of Black Mirror, and could potentially be a breakout horror smash this year!
6 THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALL (SEPT. 21)
For fans of Supernatural and Cabin Fever comes this new film written by Eric Kripke and directed by Eli Roth. It is a gothic horror film that finds a newly orphaned boy named Lewis Barnavelt sent to live with his peculiar uncle who turns out to be a warlock. At first, it doesn’t seem odd and even feels like Harry Potter in its premise, until it's revealed that the house was owned by a sinister couple who dabbled in the dark arts.
The actual clock in the wall was created by the evil couple to try to bring the world into alignment with their dark magic to effectively destroy it. It is up Lewis to stop the clock from causing the world’s end, but he must first contend with the wonder and terror of this magical world. It stars Kyle MacLachlan, Cate Blanchett, and Jack Black set for release in September.
5 POLAROID (NOV. 22)
The producers of The Grudge and The Ring are coming out with a new film titled Polaroid. It follows a high school loner who owns a polaroid camera with supernatural consequences for any who has their picture taken by it. The camera curses each one of its subjects, which leads police to believe that the person who is in possession of it may be behind all those tragic events.
When one of the teens notice that a shadow in the photo may be behind the deaths of their friends, they try to burn it! The only problem is, it starts burning the person in the photo. This one is a supernatural mystery that could give something like the original Final Destination a run for its money. It seems to take the concept of that classic film to create a hybrid with The Ring, and we can't wait to see what that looks like!
4 HALLOWEEN (OCT. 19)
While David Gordon Green and Danny McBride aren’t known for their ability to produce any horror films, they are tackling the infamous ‘80s serial killer Michael Myers for future generations. While not much is known about the new project, it does seem that Jamie Lee Curtis will reprise her role as Laurie Strode from the original Halloween films. Almost 40 years after Michael Myers' initial massacre, he is returning to terrorize Strode once again.
John Carpenter, creator of the Halloween films, was not a fan of Rob Zombie’s take on the serial killer with a hockey mask. He hated the origin story he inserted because it took away from the near supernatural force he felt the character truly was. When Carpenter heard Green and McBride’s take on the Halloween murderer, he immediately believed they understood what made the character horrifying. An approval from the horror master is a great sign.
3 THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT (MARCH 9)
The Strangers film had audiences looking over their shoulders for months after its release, so when a sequel was announced by producers in the late 2000s, it seemed like it would happen anytime. Unfortunately, it’s taken well over a decade to get the newest chapter featuring the strangers who preyed upon a married couple on their honeymoon to get made. This time, the films features the serial killing family going after another family on vacation in a deserted trailer park.
It starts off similar to the original film and slowly turns into the anxiety-inducing events that made the first one a classic. It also looks like it’s taking some cues from films like The Guest that use its music effectively to create a vibrant atmosphere set against its gruesome nature. It will be interesting to see if they reveal any information on the family of slashers or why they do what they do.
2 A QUIET PLACE (APRIL 6)
One does not immediately think of John Krasinski when they think of horror films, but he’s directed his first one and it looks terrifying. It follows the story of a family that must avoid detection of a supernatural monster who is hyper-sensitive to sound. They communicate through sign language while making any everyday object in their homes completely soundproof.
It’s an effective use of one of the horror genre’s biggest tropes where an unsuspecting victim must worry about being found by their serial killer, malevolent spirit, or creature. It builds tension in a viewer's mind because any slight noise could potentially doom the family. It is as endearing as it is sad to watch this family trying to go about their daily routine with the fear that it can all end at the drop of a hat.
1 NOSFERATU (TBD)
Robert Eggers’ directorial debut of The Witch had true horror fans enamored by his use of atmosphere as well as crafting a disturbing story about faith. He created a small world on a patch of land where anything could happen to those exposed to what lurked in the woods. His ambition has not dimmed as he is now going to tackle the remake of the classic Nosferatu film. The original is built completely on atmosphere and a creepiness which Eggers has a proven knack for thanks to The Witch.
He has cast Anya Taylor-Joy, who played Thomasin in The Witch, for his remake. While the director/writer didn’t think tackling something like the classic vampire film would be his next project, he seems up to the task. Hopefully, he finds a psychological and disturbing angle on vampires similarly to his take on witches.