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Horror Movies 2019 – Guide

13th  Wounds
Starring: Armie Hammer, Dakota Johnson, Zazie Beetz
Director: Babak Anvari
Released: March 29, 2019
best horror movies 2019

New Orleans barman Will (Hammer, ‘Mine’) is affable, charismatic and a little shallow, he’s been skating across the surface of life, carefully maintaining contentment. But when he discovers a cell phone after a violent brawl, inexplicable messages prompt him to explore its deeply disturbing contents, dragging his life into a nightmare… Based on the novella ‘The Visible Filth’, which has scored great reviews for its characterisations and for being creepy as hell. It’s adapted and directed by Brit Babak Anvari, writer-director of the terrific Iranian ghost story ‘Under The Shadow’. Armie Hammer has become far more likeable in recent years, and here he’s teamed with Dakota Johnson (‘Suspiria’) and Zazie Beetz (Jinx in ‘Deadpool 2’), making for a very solid trio of in-demand actors.

12th  Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile
Starring: Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Jim Parsons, Haley Joel Osment, John Malkovich
Director: Joe Berlinger
Released: TBC 2019

A chronicle of the crimes of serial killer Ted Bundy (Efron) from the perspective of his longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer (Collins), who refused to believe the truth about him until his pre-execution confessions… Likely it will be more about the terror of living with a secret serial killer and the two court cases than it will be about the actual killing. Bundy, who was also a necrophile, murdered at least 30 young women across 7 states between 1974 and 1978. His looks, charm, intelligence (he was a law grad) and apparent normalcy made him the most chilling of killers (there was a good film of his life made in 2002). Director Joe Berlinger has been a prolific documentary filmmaker for decades, often covering very dark material including the child murders of ‘Paradise Lost’. He famously stepped into narrative filmmaking with the misjudged ‘Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2’, but doubtless learnt a lot from that experience, and this is more in his wheelhouse. Zac Efron does have the range and determination to pull this off, and it’s a brave role to take on. Combined with Lily Collins (‘Mortal Instruments’, ‘Love, Rosie’), it’ll be fascinating to see a gold Hollywood pairing tackle the most depraved of subject matter. Hopefully too much sugar coating won’t be involved.

11th  Brightburn
Starring: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones
Director: David Yarovesky
Released: May 24, 2019

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A childless couple in rural America are shocked by the crash landing of an alien vessel carrying what looks like a baby boy. Seeing it as a gift, they raise him as their own. As superpowers of levitation, speed and strength become apparent they try to guide his development and make him a force for good. But there is an evil growing inside him that cannot be stopped, and the now teenager soon has blood on his hands… It’s Superman done as a horror film (with shades of ‘Damien: Omen II’ as the kid comes to terms with what he is). Produced by James Gunn (‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’), ala ‘The Belko Experiment’ in 2016. ‘Brightburn’ is written by his brother and cousin and directed by longtime buddy David Yarovesky, who’s done various jobs for Gunn over the years, but whose only feature ‘The Hive’ was big on ideas that weren’t well executed. Elizabeth Banks (‘The Hunger Games’, Gunn’s ‘Slither’) is a rock solid lead and ‘Brightburn’s trailer was well done. The most obvious merging of superhero and horror this year has grabbed people’s attention and could lead to a sleeper hit.

10th  Happy Death Day 2U
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma
Director: Christopher Landon
Released: February 14, 2019

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Student Tree Gelbman (Rothe) unexpectedly re-enters the time loop and finds her friends are now in their own. Unless she allows herself to be killed by the end of each repeated day, their deaths will be permanent. Since the original killer is eliminated, Tree must unmask the new killer to break everyone free once and for all. Perhaps discovering why these loops even exist along the way… Slasher-comedy ‘Happy Death Day’ was one of the pleasant surprises of recent years, lifting ideas from ‘Groundhog Day’ but remixing them in a likeable and watchable way (and claiming $55 million domestic from a $5m budget). Here the same director returns (this time taking over writing duties), as do all the principle cast with a couple of nerdy additions. Judging by the trailer’s tone this one’s moving a little further away from black comedy to more zany comedy. Which means it’ll have to be pretty clever to keep things from devolving into a low stakes, low threat incoherent messaround. But ‘Death Day’ has exceeded expectations before.

9th  Pet Sematary
Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow
Directors: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer
Released: April 5, 2019

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Behind a young family’s home in Maine is a pet cemetery laid in “sour ground” that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, its draw becomes irresistible… Remake of the 1989 film, based on the 1983 novel. Jason Clarke plays the patriarch, while Jon Lithgow is neighbour Jud, the role made famous by the deep tones of Munster Fred Gwynne (shame Lithgow has avoided doing the New England accent). Composer Christopher Young is doing his first Stephen King soundtrack since ‘The Dark Half’ in 1993 (which was a great score btw). The directors of ‘Starry Eyes’ should be up to the task (that movie’s only failing was 3rd act plotting, which isn’t a problem here). The trailer’s procession of kids in animal masks (which is not in the book) has some worried they may try and evolve it in a kid occult direction. Hopefully not. With ‘It’ becoming the all-time highest grossing horror there’s a major Stephen King reanimation in Hollywood. Expect more classic low-budget titles to get splashy remakes in the near future (‘Salem’s Lot’ anyone?).

8th  Velvet Buzzsaw
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, John Malkovich, Toni Collette
Director: Dan Gilroy
Released: February 1, 2019

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Horror-thriller set in the contemporary Los Angeles art scene. After a series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, a supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art. Big money artists and mega-collectors pay a high price when art collides with commerce… Featuring a Robert Altman-like large ensemble cast, this reportedly has a ‘The Player’ vibe to it, but has also been described as surreal, darkly comic, satirical, violent and quirky. It’s all significant because ‘Nightcrawler’ director Dan Gilroy is reuniting with Jake Gyllenhaal (and Rene Russo, Gilroy’s wife). Gyllenhaal gave one of the performances of his career there in one of the best thrillers of the decade (which was also LA-set). Here his character is called Morf Vandewalt and the film is produced by Netflix, which already puts it on shaky ground, but if they can recapture the intensity, darkness, messaging and character nuance it could really be something.

7th  Child’s Play
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, Gabriel Bateman
Director: Lars Klevberg
Released: June 21, 2019

A mother (Plaza, ‘Parks and Rec’) gives her son a toy doll for his birthday, the most high-tech and interactive on the market, featuring cloud-backed voice recognition, and intended as a companion for the whole family. But this ‘Buddi’ is defective, its programming code hacked to have no limitations to learning and violence by a Chinese factory worker who commits suicide. Before long a detective (Tyree Henry, ‘Widows’) is investigating a mysterious string of murders… Contemporary reboot of the classic 1988 slasher. Chucky’s voice will be recast from Brad Dourif. Fans are up in arms, but I’ll court controversy by saying I always thought the backstory and voice could be improved. Whether this will do it depends on the execution. From the producers of ‘It’. The director’s only other feature is ‘Polaroid’ which after Weinstein delays is also out this year and seems bog standard. The screenplay is the first from the writer of videogames ‘Quantum Break’ and ‘Sleeping Dogs’. So it doesn’t have an established creative pedigree behind it. Nonetheless, Aubrey Plaza is an interesting and unpredictable performer, the new doll design looks great, and the franchise has been begging for a big budget reboot for years. We’ve had Annabelle representing the horror doll in cinema, but her refusal to move or talk had been, limiting. ‘Child’s Play’ is releasing on the same day as ‘Toy Story 4’.

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6 Comments »

  • gd smith said

    I love the Brightburn trailer. I suspect the Bundy film will be more of drama than a horror movie

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    • Sheridan Passell said
      Sheridan Passell

      So far so great on Brightburn. Yeah Bundy could easily go the way of ‘My Friend Dahmer’, which didn’t have a drop of blood. It was still sinister and fascinating though.

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  • ReneCat said

    First of all I must disagree with what you said about Jarmusch as I LOVED Paterson and normally I hate those kinds of movies. But you are right about The Dead Don’ t Die having a stellar cast. Now I must REALLY disagree with what you said about Child’s Play! I believed there was NOTHING wrong with the back story and Chucky WON’T be Chucky without Brad Dourif. Just sayin’.

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    • Sheridan Passell said
      Sheridan Passell

      Fair enough. I haven’t seen ‘Paterson’ and am open to my mind being changed. Each to their own on Chucky, Dourif gave him a ton of character but there’s been enough comic Chucky movies for my liking, I’m hoping for something frightening this time out. I know I’m in the minority there.

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    • gd smith said

      Ghost Dog. A hip Hop samurai inspired gangster movie about being loyal to your master with an awesome Wu Tang soundtrack, cool plot, good shoot outs and some funny scenes.

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  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    Updated with: ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ trailer

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