It’s been a rather rough year for horror. So far, there hasn’t been a surprise hit like The Conjuring or very many strong films at all for that matter. The Purge: Anarchy and The Sacrament are good enough, but if I’m tallying up the 2014 releases that I’ll probably watch again in the coming years, there’d only be three on the list – Stage Fright, Afflicted and Oculus.
But the good thing is we’ve still got four more months to go, and September and October alone have a lot to offer. Hit the jump to find out which upcoming horror movies could be worth checking out in our Fall 2014 Horror Preview.
In Theaters, On Demand & iTunes September 12th
What It’s About: Penny Dreadful’s Harry Treadaway and Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie lead as Paul and Bea, newlyweds heading off to a remote cabin for their honeymoon. They’re loving to the max and beyond thrilled to finally be husband and wife, but shortly after their arrival, Bea disappears in the middle of the night. Paul manages to find her sleepwalking in the woods, but soon after, he starts to notice that something isn’t quite right with his wife.
Why You Should See It: If you prefer your horror with chills via eerie plot progressions and character development rather than jump scares, Honeymoon is the fall 2014 release for you. There is some creepy and unsettling imagery, but for the most part the scariest thing about Honeymoon is walking into the situation completely smitten by Paul and Bea’s honest, deep affection for one another and then seeing it warped in the most sinister way.
In Theaters September 17th
What It’s About: Dan Stevens leads this one as David, a young man who shows up at the Peterson family’s door claiming to be their deceased son’s friend from the war. He presents himself as a standup houseguest, helping with chores, befriending the kids and even beating up bullies for them. However, when people in town start to turn up dead, some suspect the deaths are connected to David.
Why You Should See It: Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett have been delivering standout work for a while now, but The Guest is above and beyond anything you’ve ever seen from them before. You don’t just slap something like The Guest together with an ultra low budget and a group of friends. This is some highly stylized stuff and in order for that to work, you need to see it in every single bit of the film, down to the tiniest detail, and the duo pulls it off. It rocks an infectious energy, visceral action and an undeniably mesmerizing main character all wrapped up in this wildly well-defined and unique tone, making the complete package something you’ve truly never seen before.
In Theaters September 19th
What It’s About: Get ready for this one. Tusk stars Justin Long as a podcaster who talks to the craziest subjects he can find, and next on his list is a guy from Bifrost in Canada. Turns out Howard Howe (Michael Park) isn’t really interested in telling someone about his storied life as he claims, but rather, he’s out to capture Long’s character and turn him into his favorite animal, a walrus.
Why It Could Be Worth Seeing: Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but have you seen the trailer for Tusk? Long’s character is a little grating at the beginning of it, but once it hits the material with Long and Parks in it together, it’s incredibly unnerving, especially that deranged laugh-off at the end. Now let’s just hope the full feature sticks to it instead of promising one thing, trying to deliver more and then feeling completely disjointed because of it like Red State.
In Theaters October 3rd
What It’s About: Annabelle is a movie about the creepy doll introduced in the opening sequence of The Conjuring. It’ll begin with John Form (Ward Horton) giving his wife, Mia (Annabelle Wallis), the perfect gift – a rare vintage doll. One night, the Forms are attacked by a satanic cult and in the process, those cult members wind up conjuring an evil entity that takes up residence inside the doll.
Why It Could Be Worth Seeing: It’s hard to image Annabelle living up to The Conjuring, but based on the promo material we’ve seen thus far, especially the most recent trailer, it looks as though it has a shot. Yes, it’s got jump scares, but it also has the appropriate timing, composition and ingenuity to support them. Take the trailer ending for example. Really, it’s just a jolt courtesy of something that pops up out of nowhere, but it also isn’t something predictable like a mirror scare or something surprising you in a dark corridor. It’s a neat visual trick that catches you off guard and earns it.
DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS. DEAD
In Theaters October 10th
What It’s About: Herzog (Orjan Gamst) is back, but this time, the Nazi zombie commander isn’t just out to get some gold back from an unsuspecting group of students vacationing at a remote cabin during Easter break; he’s out to decimate an entire town full of people. There’s no way Martin (Vegar Hoel) can stop him on his own, so he calls in some “professionals:” The Zombie Squad.
Why You Should See It: Do you like horror comedies? Then it won’t get much better than Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead. The film’s got flaws, namely one character who’s such a comedic failure you can’t help but feel sorry for the actress playing her, but there are so many must-see jokes and zombie novelties that that one issue is well worth overlooking. Click here to read my full review.
In Theaters & iTunes October 17th
What It’s About: Morgana O’Reilly leads as Kylie Bucknell. When a judge decides that she needs some stability in her life, Kylie is sentenced to home arrest and forced to live with her mother who insists that her house is haunted. At first, Kylie thinks she’s just nuts and brushes the whole thing off, but the longer she’s in the house the tougher it becomes to dismiss the fact that there are some weird things going on.
Why It Could Be Worth Seeing: There’s really nothing in that synopsis to suggest that Housebound is a standout, but all the buzz at SXSW is making me think otherwise. I caught the large majority of the Midnight lineup at the festival this year, but this is one of few that I missed, and I still haven’t heard the end of it. Again, the trailer for the film isn’t particularly mind-blowing and certainly doesn’t highlight the “witty comedy” Peter Jackson insists the film has, but at this point, it doesn’t matter. The feeling that I’m missing out on something good is driving me crazy.
On Demand October 23rd, In Theaters November 21st
What It’s About: V/H/S: Viral is the third installment of the V/H/S franchise, a series of horror anthology films all shot from the found footage perspective. This time around, the action kicks off with a police chase involving a “deranged ice cream truck,” which inspires tons of teens to hit the streets with phones and video cameras to see if they can capture the next viral sensation. However, there’s something far more sinister at work here, and it’s targeting anyone trying to get their 15 seconds of fame by exploiting the chase.
Why It Could Be Worth Seeing: V/H/S is a solid film, but V/H/S 2 is on a different level entirely. There’s nothing wrong with anthologies, but there’s no denying that they’re tougher to market and have a narrower appeal. V/H/S 2, however, is one of the first horror anthologies to suggest the format could compete with traditional narratives. V/H/S 2 is four (or five, if you include the wraparound) short films, but each is so clever, cinematic and truly terrifying, that they’re just as satisfying as any 90 minute feature. If the team behind V/H/S: Viral continues the trend and churns out a movie that’s even better than the last, it could draw a bigger crowd and earn the franchise a fourth film.
In Theaters October 24th
What It’s About: The movie’s inspired by the board game and, based on the trailer, follows what happens after a girl dies and her friends attempt to communicate with her by using a Ouija board.
Why It Could Be Worth Seeing: Admittedly, this one’s tough to defend. The trailer is pretty rough around the edges and there’s just something silly about trying to make a group of kids pushing a piece of plastic around a board compelling, but perhaps Ouija could be a fun, cheesy, PG-13 pre-Halloween guilty pleasure type of thing. But, if I’m being honest, I’m betting this will be Prom Night all over again.
In Theaters & iTunes October 24th
What It’s About: Exists stars Chris Osborn and Samuel Davis as Brian and Matt, two brothers who try to host a party-packed weekend for their friends by bringing them to their uncle’s abandoned cabin out in the middle of nowhere. However, it turns out they’re not the only ones in the area. Sasquatch is looking to crash their party.
Why It Could Be Worth Seeing: That new trailer for Exists is a toss up, but this is the Midnighter that took home the Audience Award at SXSW this year, so there’s got to be something good about it, right? Based on the promo material we’ve seen thus far, the characters aren’t particularly original or likable, but once it gets to the Sasquatch attacks, things do pick up. Plus, when’s the last time we’ve seen a decent Sasquatch/Bigfoot-type movie? Perhaps this thing could have some fresh scares to offer up. It is an Eduardo Sánchez film. Between The Blair Witch Project and his segment in V/H/S 2, if anyone can pull off a shaky cam thrill in a wooded setting, it’s him.
ABCS OF DEATH 2
On Demand & iTunes on October 2nd, In Theaters October 31st
What It’s About: Like V/H/S, ABCs of Death is a horror anthology. However, whereas the V/H/S movies typically have just four or five segments, ABCs has 26, one for every letter of the alphabet. The way it works is that the producers pick 26 directors, assign them each a random letter and then the director has to come up with a word and deliver a short film pertaining to that word. We don’t know much about what this new crop of directors came up with, but some examples from the first film include “B is for Bigfoot,” “M is for Miscarriage” and “T is for Toilet,” just to name a few.
Why It Could Be Worth Seeing: I only like about half of the films in ABCs of Death, but some of them are so good, it’s worth sitting through the bizarre, off-putting or just plain old bad ones to get to them. But still, 26 short films are a lot to watch in one sitting. ABCs of Death 2 has a strong line-up of directors including Larry Fessenden, E.L. Katz, Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado, Jerome Sable and so many more, but it will be a challenge to sell this thing as a viable full feature. In fact, when people ask if they should watch the first one, I advise them to give it a go, but to skip around and just bypass the ones they’re not into.