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Horror Movies 2019 – Guide

13th  Pet Sematary
Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow
Directors: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer
Released: April 5, 2019

best horror movies 2019

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?).

12th  Happy Death Day 2U
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma
Director: Christopher Landon
Released: February 14, 2019


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.

11th  The New Mutants
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt
Director: Josh Boone
Released: August 2, 2019 Moved To 2020


Five young mutants discover their abilities while being held in a secret facility against their will, fighting to escape their past sins and save themselves… Standalone spinoff expanding the X-Men universe. The mutants are Magik (Taylor-Joy, ‘Split’) a Russian with sorcery powers who uses teleportation discs to travel, Wolfsbane (Williams, ‘Game of Thrones’) a Scottish mutant struggling to reconcile her religious beliefs with her power to turn into a wolf, Cannonball (Heaton, ‘Stranger Things’) a Kentuckian mutant who can propel himself into the air and is invulnerable while doing so, Sunspot (Zaga, TV’s ‘Teen Wolf’) a Brazilian mutant with the ability to manipulate solar energy, and Mirage (Hunt, TV’s ‘The Originals’) a Native American mutant who has the power to create illusions drawn from the fears and desires of a person’s mind. They are overseen by stern mentor Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga, ‘Predators’) who has the ability to generate a protective bio-field around herself. The director says that while Demon Bear is not the villain (a creature which draws power from negative human emotion and is capable of transformation and the corruption of human souls) the story is “very much inspired” by the Demon Bear comic storyline. The film’s described as superhero-horror or “a haunted-house movie with a bunch of hormonal teenagers”, influenced by the likes of ‘The Shining’, ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ and ‘The Breakfast Club’. “Fox’s Marvel’s: Elm Street Dream Warriors Part 3” is a shorthand. It’s certainly a change of tone for director Josh Boone who’s only films have been romantic-dramas ‘The Fault in our Stars’ and ‘Stuck in Love’. The trailer dropped back in Oct 2017, but delays have meant the film isn’t coming out until two years later. Reportedly Boone originally wanted to make a full-on horror, but was forced by the studio to tone it more like a Young Adult movie. Then after a strong response to its (slightly mis-sold) horror trailer and the box office bonanza of ‘It’, Fox decided to move it back to Boone’s original horror vision, asking him to reshoot half the movie, which included several all-new characters. Phew. It’s hard to imagine that much indecision is a good thing, but whether reshoots made this ‘Fantastic Four’ or ‘Rogue One’ quality is hard to call.

10th  Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile
Starring: Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Jim Parsons, Haley Joel Osment, John Malkovich
Director: Joe Berlinger
Released: 3 May, 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, with his recent Netflix doc series on Bundy the most insightful and well-made I’ve seen on any serial killer. Berlinger 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 has the range and determination to pull it 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.

9th  Brightburn
Starring: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones
Director: David Yarovesky
Released: May 24, 2019


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.

8th  Child’s Play
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill (voice), 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 has been recast from Brad Dourif to Mark Hamill. 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, Hamill is a great voiceover artist (see the animated Joker) 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’.

7th  Zombieland: Double Tap
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Released: October 11, 2019

Nervy Columbus (Eisenberg), cocky Tallahassee (Harrelson), sarcastic Wichita (Stone) and her sneaky sister Little Rock (Breslin) go from the White House to the American heartland as they face off against evolved super-zombies, fellow survivors, and the growing pains of the snarky makeshift family… ‘Zombieland Too’ will open on October 11, the 10th anniversary of the original film’s release. Hard to imagine that crew of characters would still be together 10 years later, but somehow this feels like the right time. All four lead actors are now Academy Award nominees. Original ‘Zombieland’ director Ruben Fleischer returns, having last directed sleeper mega-hit ‘Venom’. He re-teams with original writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, who wrote both ‘Deadpool’ movies. In other words, the behind-camera team are as white hot as can be imagined right now. They could pick any project in Hollywood, so the fact they’re on this means it must have something special. I wonder who the megastar cameo will be this time?…

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