Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a biweekly column on all things horror.
The year 2013 was something of a mixed bag for horror films – we had some treats, but there were a whole lot of tricks in the mix as well. That’s all behind us now, and with 2014 in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about what ghoulish cinematic delights we’ll experience over the course of the next 12 months. By the time you read this, things will already be rolling – the Paranormal Activity spin-off The Marked Ones is currently in theaters, with more titles set to debut before we even hit Valentine’s Day. With so many titles looming on the horizon, here’s a handy little cheat sheet highlighting some of the films I’m really looking forward to in the new year.
The Green Inferno
Eli Roth is back, and this time out he’s paying homage to one of my favorite cinematic subgenres – the Italian cannibal films of the ’70s and ‘80s. The setup is pretty standard for this sort of film: a group of students head to the Amazon to help a native tribe, but run afoul of cannibals when their plane crashes. Like Deodato’s seminal Cannibal Holocaust, this film asks the audience to explore who the real monsters are – the gut-munching cannibals, or the supposedly civilized Americans. Take a bite out of this classic in the making on September 5.
French filmmaker Alexandre Aja (High Tension) adapts Joe Hill’s gruesome novel for the screen. Daniel Radcliffe stars as a young man named Ig Perrish. Ig’s life is turned upside down after he’s marked as a suspect in the rape and murder of his girlfriend – but things get even stranger when he notices that he’s growing a pair of horns that allow him to see the deepest and darkest secrets of those around him. With his newfound demonic powers, Ig sets out to solve the mystery of his girlfriend’s death – with unexpected results.
Aja’s a great director, and the source material is top notch, so I’ve got high hopes for Horns. Unfortunately, there’s no official wide release date yet.
Big Bad Wolves
When Quentin Tarantino cites a movie as the best of the year, I tend to take note of it. Such is the accolade bestowed on Israeli genre effort Big Bad Wolves – a title that took top honors at Tribeca last year and will make its way toward a wide release later this month.
The tale of a vigilante cop and a distraught father who capture a murder suspect and attempt to torture a confession out of him might not seem particularly original, but this is another film that wants us to think about who the real monsters are. As our own Scott Weinberg points out, the film rises above the familiarity of it synopsis thanks to great performances and good writing. That and a heady mixture of violence, mystery and even a few laughs have me really looking forward to finally seeing if these wolves live up to their billing in the title.
A found-footage Sasquatchsploitation film directed by Bobcat Goldthwait? How could you possibly not be interested in seeing Willow Creek? The oddity factor alone should have you intrigued.
Bigfoot movies are pretty popular these days, and found footage isn’t going away anytime soon, so it was basically a no-brainer to craft this Blair Witch-esque tale of a couple hunting for the mythical Sasquatch who find more than they bargained for. Goldthwait has had an interesting career behind the camera (he directed World’s Greatest Dad and God Bless America in the past few years) and this is a marked departure for the comedian turned filmmaker. Horror often looks deceptively easy to outsiders – but maybe Goldthwait can pull it off. We’ll have to wait and see.
Joe Begos merges slasher-film aesthetics with alien abductions in his indie chiller Almost Human – and the results look quite engaging.
A man goes missing and is presumed dead during a town-wide blackout, but his friend suspects something more nefarious is afoot when locals start turning up dead in gruesome fashion. It appears as though his friend is back – and he’s not quite human anymore. IFC Midnight picked up the rights to distribute the film, which means we’ll most likely see it on disc and VOD in 2014. No official date has been set so far.
Ti West has quickly become a fan favorite in horror-film circles, thanks in no small part to his film House of the Devil. West is looking to continue to delight genre fans in 2014 with his latest effort, a found-footage film entitled The Sacrament. The story finds a young man and his friends going to a Jonestown-like commune named Eden Parish. He finds his sister there and in good health, but as they interview the other residents, they uncover something much darker happening behind the scenes.
West excels at slow-burn horror films – and this story seems like it should play to his strengths. Book your trip to Eden Parish on May 1.
Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead
Tommy Wirkola’s Dead Snow was a gory and amusing homage to the early works of men like Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson. A group of skiers unwittingly resurrect a battalion of Nazi zombies and laughs and gore ensue. Wirkola took a break from that story to make last year’s Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, but 2014 finds him picking up where he left off in Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead.
The new installment starts where the previous one ended, and brings back all the survivors and zombies from the first go-round. Add in some body-part horror (just like we years ago in Jeff Fahey’s Body Parts), and more comedy and carnage, and you know what to expect from this sequel. Red vs. Dead is set to make its debut at Sundance later this month. No word yet on a wide release.
[REC] 4: Apocalypse
Jaume Balaguero is back to finish off his and Paco Plaza’s ongoing demonic possession/zombie apocalypse franchise with [REC] 4: Apocalypse.
While the third film in the series made the wise decision to break off from the main storyline (which takes place in an apartment building where quarantined people must fight off the monsters trapped in the building with them), the fourth brings us back to the story of reporter Angela Vidal as she’s rescued from the building and taken to a new quarantine sight on a high security oil tanker. Unbeknownst to her rescuers, she’s already carrying the strange infection.
Hopefully Balaguero and partner Plaza can wrap up the series in a way that satisfies fans and answers the many questions that have been raised over the past three films. We’ll find out in October, when the film debuts in Spain.
I’m not the biggest fan of horror remakes (because many of them have been so disappointing), but I will admit to being more than a bit intrigued by the idea of someone remaking Richard Franklin’s 1978 Aussie horror film Patrick. I always liked the sleazy Italian knockoff sequel (Patrick Lives Again) almost as much as Franklin’s film – but the idea of a remake of this rarely seen cult oddity feels like the right kind reboot. The titular character is a comatose man with psychic abilities who unleashes them on those around him when he falls for his nurse. I won’t say more than that for fear of giving away all the little joys of the original story, but needless to say, things go badly.
I’m really on the fence about Patrick – it’s all too easy to imagine the remake going off the rails – but I’m keeping my hopes up until we get to see it (supposedly) sometime this spring.
Wolf Creek 2
Greg Mclean’s sequel to his outback slasher flick Wolf Creek has been a long time coming – and a regular guest on pretty much every “Horror Film Sequel We’d Love to See” list over the past few years. Well, the wait is finally over in 2014 – John Jarratt is about to stalk a new set of unlucky vacationers when the film hits U.S. theaters sometime in the next 12 months.
Truthfully, I couldn’t be happier – Jarratt’s villainous serial killer is one of the better horror-film bad guys to emerge in the new century, and he certainly deserved a second film. Mclean is also a pretty interesting filmmaker – and horror can always use another talented voice doing his best to expand the genre. Will Wolf Creek 2 live up to the original? Only time will tell – but based on the first trailer, things definitely look promising.
Deliver Us from Evil
Sinister director Scott Derrickson is back – and this time he’s tackling a sort of horrific version of a buddy-cop movie. Based on “true events," Deliver Us from Evil finds Eric Bana playing a cop who teams up with a priest to investigate supernatural cases involving demonic possession and the like. Edgar Ramirez is set to play Bana’s priest partner, and Olivia Munn is also in the cast.
Screen Gems is clearly hoping that Derrickson can deliver this year’s The Conjuring – and has scheduled Deliver Us from Evil for a July 2 release – right in the heart of blockbuster season. Should the film find an audience, it could become a franchise – with other investigations providing the backdrop for future films. Given Derrickson’s track record, there’s a good chance that will come to pass.
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