Top 10 Horror/Sci-fi/Thrillers to Look Forward to This Summer!
Holy hell, can you believe it's already April? F*cking insane right. However, one of the good things about time marching on and the seasonal change is, we're that much closer to kicking-off the summer blockbuster slate. Now, we typically tend to champion smaller, independent, non-studio fare when it comes to genre material, but let's be frank, we have some serious firepower hitting the cineplex between now and September. And from there of course, we plunge right into the heavenly Halloween season...always a time rife with fresh horror film releases. So, have you already mapped out what flicks you're going to check out in the theater during the next few months? Don't fret if not Jack, we got you covered. Here are the Top 10 Horror/Sci-fi/Thrillers to look forward to in the summer of 2014!
Previously dubbed ALL YOU NEED IS KILL, I'm really hoping the more than capable director Doug Liman does all he can to differentiate his new film from the Tom Cruise hit OBLIVION. Because, as it is now with the marketing, they kind of look too similar. But then again, with Chris McQuarrie co-adapting the script from Hiroshi Sakurazaka's popular novel, we should be in good hands. As for the story, it's sort of redolent of SOURCE CODE (itself redolent of GROUNDHOG DAY), where Tom Cruise's character gets trapped in a time loop on his last day of intergalactic battle with aliens...slowly kicking more ass each time out. Sounds fun right? Hey, if the last year or two has proven anything, it's the 50-year old Lilliputian action-star can still pack a motherf*cking wallop!
One of the low-key surprise festival hits that's been making the rounds this year is THE SIGNAL, William Eubank's sophomore feature about a throng of college kids abducted by a hacker and taken deep into a desert-set techno-facility. The dystopic looking sci-fi thriller has been generating all kinds of buzz, not just for its gripping story, but also for the gorgeous cinematography and production design (Eubank is a longtime DP-turned-director, and used to work for Panasonic). Throw in perennial genre stalwarts Larry Fishburne and Lin Shaye to add instant credibility, not to mention upcoming scream queen Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel, OUIJA, THE QUIET ONES) and Brenton THWAITES (OCULUS) and hey, THE SIGNAL just might be a beacon of things to come!
I'm throwing it out there right now, THE ROVER might be the critical sci-fi sleeper of the summer. What am I basing the supposition on? A few things. First, the pedigree. Anyone who saw David Michod's 2010 flick ANIMAL KINGDOM knows what a talent to watch he proclaimed himself to be with that flick. Then you have THE THING and WARRIOR star Joel Edgerton co-writing the script, as he did for such solid joints as THE SQUARE and FELONY. Then you have the dystopian, MAD MAX-like setup about a guy hell-bent on serving revenge in the desolate wasteland that has become the Australian outback. Still not down? How about Guy Pearce taking the lead? Still nothing? Okay then TWILIGHT fan, rest assured that your boy R.Patz and his perfectly mussed hair is too onbard.
Hard to believe it's been almost a full decade since RR's stylistic game-changer SIN CITY hit the streets. Damn we're getting old! Be that as it may, you telling me you aren't pumped to see the long-gestating noir sequel SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR? Is that what you're telling me? Then you're a liar! Come on, Frank Miller back in the chair with Mr. Rodriguez? Rourke, Willis, Alba and Dawson returning with the likes of Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Juno Temple, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Stacy Keach, Christopher Lloyd and tons more? It's an epic ensemble like no other, one that, given the quality hard-boiled source material, demands our undivided attention. Hell, what else you gonna watch that late August weekend, WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL? Please.
One of the pleasant surprise hit sequels of recent memory - both critically and commercially - was Rupert Wyatt's touching revenge tale RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Well, this time COLVERFIELD and LET ME IN director Matt Reeves is in the chair to continue the saga of DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (which, come on, should just be called DAWN OF THE APES). Not sure about you, but James Franco's absence makes me want to see it ten times more. Instead, we have Andy Serkis returning as Caesar the angry ape, with Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Judy Greer and Jason Clarke upping the support quotient. As for the story, it seems Caesar's dark nature will continue to grow as he recruits a super-army of apes to fight off humanity. Fingers crossed the flick isn't an unsatisfying mere middle-piece to an inevitable trilogy.
To be real with you, I'll have a much better idea of how high or low the anticipation level for Ti West's THE SACRAMENT ought to be after I review it in a couple of weeks. So stay posted! But as we stand right now, here today, I feel impelled to include it based solely on how much I dug West's prior picture, THE INNKEEPERS. I truly think that one's his best flick to date. Here's hoping West continues the upward trend and outdoes himself even more-so with THE SACRAMENT, which looks to employ the shaky-cam, found-footage aesthetic after a dude and his two journalist pals set out to locate his missing sister. The gas station attendant from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, Gene Jones, looks to give one hell of an inspired performance...Michael Parks in RED STATE style. The flick hits VOD on May 1st before rolling into theaters June 6th.
Color me curious, but I just can't tell whether or not GODZILLA is going to be any good. Sure, it has a killer cast, and has the opportunity to showcase newfangled technology married with an age old character, but to be honest, I'm still not sold on the director. This Gareth Edwards fella? Yeah, one picture prior, and it was the so-so, less-is-more creature-feature MONSTERS. Couple that with the fact the marketing for GODZILLA has been shrouded in almost too much secrecy...a frame here, a muddled still there...and my feelings that someone like Guillermo del Toro should direct a flick this big, bold and badass arer reaffirmed. Now perhaps Edwards is again going the less-seen-the-better route, a la JAWS, but if the special FX here come off corny and unbelievable, fits gonna hit the shan. Still, too much of a built-in tradition to miss this summer curio!
Eli Roth's first directorial feature since 2007's tepidly met HOSTEL PART 2 has to be among one of the most anxiously awaited pictures of the late summer. Here's a guy who started off with such tremendous promise, but sort of stalled out after making three parabolic features, before then branching off into various stages of production in front of and behind the camera. And while the jury is out whether Roth still has the directing chops or not, one thing is certain...the unabashed influence of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST upon his new joint THE GREEN INFERNO. The premise paints a band of student activists intent on saving an endangered tribe deep in the Amazon jungle. Thing is, their plane crashes and their left for lunch for an undocumented tribe of frenzied flesh-fiends. Fuck yes! Bon appetite!
Personally speaking, Greg McClean's much anticipated sequel WOLF CREEK 2 just might be the movie I'm most excited about seeing this May. Shit, I still fondly recall seeing the original in the theater with my sister, and how utterly marauded such a visceral experience left us once the credits began to roll. F*cking destroyed. Now, I know WOLF CREEK has gone on to foster a love-it or hate-it reception, but I'm still adamant the reason why it worked is the very thing many take umbrage with: the 40-minute character setup that starts the film. To me, without that awkward lust-triangle as preamble, the succeeding terror would cease to be. We wouldn't care. Let's hope McClean understands what worked so well and if not copies it, tries to recapture that emotional core of the original.
Okay, so here's the one non-summer cheat...sue me! Of all contemporary mainstream filmmakers, Chris Nolan has perhaps done the best job of marrying art and commerce. His films are big, bold and spectacular, yet hardly achieve such at the expense of the audience's intelligence. In simpler terms, dude makes the thinking man's blockbuster. And while I'm not personally the biggest Nolan fan in the world, I cannot front on the thematic weight of his new sci-fi mind-bender INSTERSTELLAR, due November 7th. Large existential ideas involving the cosmos, time travel, wormholes, and the infinite expanse of the universe are said to be the crux of the story. Factor in the A-list cast headed by McConaughey and Chastain, not to mention the confident track-record of Nolan's recent films, and yeah, INSTERSTELLAR becomes a star-studded must-see!