Looking at the movie release schedule for 2019, there seems to be a higher than average quotient of interesting horror films being released this year that could turn 2010’s horror around with three seconds left on the clock. Without further delay, here are the ten most anticipated horror films of 2019.
10. The Turning
Since he directed Jaws and (allegedly) Poltergeist, horror fans have been waiting decades for Steven Spielberg to return to the genre. This year, he will – as a producer. The film? The Turning, the umpteenth film adaptation of Henry James’ classic novella, The Turn of the Screw.
The title alone is hilarious. How does one make a nineteenth century English class book look cool to modern teenagers? Make it sound like The Conjuring. And who does Mr. Spielberg get to direct the film? Floria Sigismondi, a director remembered mostly for directing the music videos for the Marilyn Manson song “The Beautiful People.” If the movie is subpar, Spielberg’s choice of director will be seen as a sign that his is out of touch; if his choice works out well, it will be seen as pleasant ‘90’s nostalgia.
James’ novella has been adapted to film faithfully, most notably as Jack Clayton’s brilliant film, The Innocents. It was also loosely adapted into The Others, one of the most acclaimed horror films of the past twenty years. It will be interesting to see what new ideas Spielberg and Sigismondi bring to the story. If it’s anything as twisted as a good Marilyn Manson video, it’s sure to be great.
9. 3 From Hell
Rob Zombie occupies a bizarre place in the history of horror. Twenty years ago, he was beloved by fans of the macabre for being part of a new generation of rock singers whose music had a decidedly ghoulish sensibility, like Trent Reznor and Corey Taylor.
In 2019, any goodwill he had with his fellow horror fanatics has mostly been stripped away after bad film after bad film. Those who try to defend Zombie’s cinematic output always point to his most well-regarded feature: The Devil’s Rejects. Sitting at a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, The Devil’s Rejects remains Zombie’s most acclaimed project by far. While Rejects didn’t win any Oscars, it did find a cult audience composed mostly of people who find the rest of Zombie’s filmography grating and repetitive.
After three flop films in a row, – the last of which he had to resort to online donations to produce – Zombie has finally crawled back to his biggest success in the hope that he can once again make a movie that’s liked by a decent number of people. Will his plan work? Who knows? It’s not like Zombie has a history of making subpar franchise films.
8. Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Someone thought that The Twilight Zone could work for children if it were goofier and less cerebral and created the iconic horror-lite franchise known as Goosebumps. After that took off, Nickelodeon debuted its Goosebumps knockoff, Are You Afraid of the Dark? Now that the Goosebumps franchise has produced two successful feature films, Nickelodeon wants their slice of the market and will release the film adaptation of Are You Afraid of the Dark? later this year.
What Dark? had over Goosebumps was its ambiance; each episode opened with a group of friends known as the Midnight Society introducing a new scary tale while sitting around a campfire. If that didn’t capture the essence for children interested in horror, I don’t know what does. The catch is that the Goosebumps book series managed to stay relevant long after the Goosebumps TV series had been cancelled.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? disappeared from popular culture nineteen years ago. It has no relevance to modern kids and isn’t beloved enough by millennials to make it a huge hit. Then again, if Hollywood was able to make successful films based on the Care Bears and My Little Pony, Dark? probably has a fighting chance.
7. The New Mutants
The transformations that superheroes go through to become super is usually portrayed as a cool, enviable experience in films. This is odd given that getting bitten by a radioactive spider could be a terrifying disastrous experience. Surely, a film which explored the David Cronenberg body horror element of superhero mythologies would be groundbreaking and brilliant.
Actually, Venom wasn’t all that good, but second time’s the charm. The New Mutants is set to focus on younger versions of X Men characters as they deal with gaining their new powers and will feature the first onscreen appearance of Nightcrawler in nearly twenty years. On one level, the superhero craze is going to have to begin embracing other genres to feel fresh, and horror is still a genre in its infancy, unless you count the Joel Schumacher and Zack Snyder Batman films as horror.
On another level, there’s reason to believe that the people behind The New Mutants aren’t the most creative bunch. We already know that their film is going to have a Marilyn Manson song on its soundtrack, which might be the most obvious musical move that a horror filmmaker could make. Come to think of it, Manson contributed a song to the soundtrack of Spawn, the first real superhero horror film, and that film didn’t turn out so great. Maybe the film’s soundtrack is a bad sign.
6. Happy Death Day 2U
2017’s Happy Death Day performed a laudable tight rope act, combining genre thrills with the mean girl humor needed to satisfy fans of Regina George and Pitch Perfect. The premise was simple: a college student named Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) gets killed by a masked stranger, only to begin her day again. She slowly realizes that she will die over and over again in a time loop until she learns the identity of her killer.
Why exactly Tree gets stuck in this time loop is never explained. Is it the result of an anomaly in the space-time continuum? A demonic entity? Did Tree get on the wrong side of the goddess Athena? The film never answers this question, and it works just fine anyway.
Of course, some Hollywood bean counter seems to have realized that there are a significant number of people who do want to see the film’s central secret revealed, and an even more significant number of actors, directors, writers, and film technicians in need of work. It’s a perfect storm for a sequel!
The major issue here is that the first Happy Death Day ends with Tree having learned the error of her bitchy ways, which doesn’t leave much room for character growth in a sequel, though Happy Death Day 2U wouldn’t be the first slasher film to deliver the goods via flat characters.