Every so often I feel like we’ve been blessed as a horror fan. Yet it is increasingly more and more difficult when so much of what we see on the big screen is utter garbage. I’ve written many times about how independent scares and genre television are oftentimes superior to major studio fare. Yet every so often we have a decent year of chills. The last time we had a solid twelve-months of genre was back in 2013. Back then, we had a number of cool flicks including THE CONJURING, YOU’RE NEXT, EVIL DEAD, STOKER and the Elijah Wood weirdness of the MANIAC remake/reboot. Since then, most of what we’ve been offered had been utterly disappointing - aside from the indies. So what about 2016? Well for this horror fan, judging from what we’ve already seen, this year could be even better.
While we started off rough with the dull spookfest called THE FOREST, I didn’t mind the Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sisto ghost story, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR. And when it came to limited run, you had a couple of smart features like, INTRUDERS (aka SHUT IN), NINA FOREVER, THE INVITATION and SOUTHBOUND. And for all of you seeking a bit of humor in your horror, I actually enjoyed the hell out of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES - I think this is one that audiences will have more fun with on home video. Sure, none of these particular titles really blew up the box office, but there are a couple of other films that did have an impact - even if one happened to be quite divisive amongst the paying crowd.
Both GREEN ROOM and THE VVITCH offered up a suspenseful time at the movies in very different ways. In the Jeremy Saulnier thriller, a punk band is held captive by a bunch of skinheads led by Patrick Stewart. This is one of those rare tales that packed so much tension that I was completely taken in by the frightening situation playing out before me. And then there was THE VVITCH. Look, I get it, this slow burn tale of a puritanical family in the 1630’s terrorized by an evil entity didn't sit well with every viewer. However, I was under its spell. Both films had pretty low budgets, and they also managed to garner some buzz. The biggest success story was THE VVITCH. This just under 4 million dollar motion picture managed to scare up over 33 million worldwide. Not too shabby for an independent horror flick.
The best news is that we may have more in terms of spooky stories coming our way. The biggest of them all is THE CONJURING 2. We have the very talented James Wan back directing. Both Vera Farming and Patrick Wilson are back taking on the real life Ed and Lorraine Warren. Now I had the pleasure of visiting the set of the sequel and I can honestly say that it seems like we are in for something special. The new cast is terrific including Frances O’Connor, David Thewlis and a possible star-making performance from Madison Wolfe. If you’ve witnessed the trailer, then you’ve seen what happens to the crosses that are covering the walls. Those of us who were on set can attest that this was a practical effect without the benefit of CGI. This was happening in front of us and it was creepy as hell.
Aside from THE CONJURING 2, we also have a few promising flicks heading our way. Fede Alvarez is getting great buzz for his latest DON’T BREATHE. And with Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and the great Stephen Lang, we could have something really intense. If you have been hungering for a killer shark feature with a bit more bite, you have the lovely Blake Lively battling a great white only 200 yards from shore in THE SHALLOWS. And what about Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello and Billy Burke in LIGHT’S OUT (which also comes courtesy of James Wan)? Despite the PG-13 rating, it could be spooky good. Even Nicolas Winding Refn is getting bloody this year with THE NEON DEMON, starring Elle Fanning, Keanu Reeves and Christina Hendricks. And finally we have THE WOODS, the latest from director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett (YOU’RE NEXT, THE GUEST). I was lucky enough to catch this one and I loved it. While I can’t say anything about it yet, I will say that you are in for a treat, but what else would you expect from these fine fellas.
Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but we may have another solid year of horror for 2016! Funnily enough, looking back at what I was excited for in 2013, you will notice many of the same filmmakers are back including Alvarez, Wingard and the fantastic James Wan. From THE CONJURING 2, THE SHALLOWS and THE WOODS, there is definitely something that horror fans can look forward to. And if you haven’t had the chance, you can always find THE VVITCH, NINA FOREVER, GREEN ROOM and THE INVITATION. While the jury is still out on a few of these, here is hoping that 2016 continues to offer cool scary flicks that will have audiences coming back for more!