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Horror Movies 2019 – Guide

13th  Grudge
Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Demián Bichir, John Cho, Lin Shaye, Jacki Weaver
Director: Nicolas Pesce
Released: June 21, 2019 Moved To 2020
best horror movies 2019

A single mother and young detective (Riseborough) runs to save herself and her son from demonic spirits from a cursed house in her neighbourhood… Reboot of 2002 vengeful ghost Japanese horror ‘Ju-on’, which was remade by its director in 2004 starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. For me the 2004 US version is the most under-rated horror of the last 20 years. It’s the last time I recall getting consistent chills of fear in the cinema, while employing a clever narrative, deeply creepy atmosphere and brilliant scares. The production here says the new mission is to “explore the horrors of American suburbia. Not approaching this as a remake of the Gellar film, or of ‘Ju-on’. This is pushing the mythology forward, while keeping the concepts and spirit of those movies, finding a new way to tell a story within that world.” The cast is good, but seem to have been chosen because they were already in other horrors: Andrea Riseborough (‘Mandy’), Demian Bichir (‘The Nun’), Lin Shaye (‘Insidious’), John Cho (TV’s ‘The Exorcist’), William Sadler (‘The Mist’) and Jacki Weaver (‘Stoker’). The ‘Rings’ re-launch didn’t exactly go well and the moment for J-horror seems to have passed. But it was partly the Japanese setting for the Gellar film that gave it a unique feeling for western audiences. It was also it’s masterful playing with timelines and out of sequence storytelling. ‘Grudge’ 2019 sounds linear and, from the logline, much by the numbers. However this does have Sam Raimi producing again, as the 2004 remake did, and has the writer-director of the critically-lauded ‘The Eyes of My Mother’ and ‘Piercing’. For now I’ll trust they know what they’re doing.

12th  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?).

11th  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.

10th  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

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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.

9th  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

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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.

8th  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.

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

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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’.

6th Place >

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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

    ADDED
    Preview – Doctor Sleep
    Trailers – It: Chapter 2, Crawl, Child’s Play, Midsommar, The Dead Don’t Die, Scary Stories To Tell, Hole In The Ground, Annabelle Comes Home, and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile.

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