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Horror Movies 2019 – Guide

6th  Midsommar
Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter
Director: Ari Aster
Released: July 3, 2019

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best horror movies 2019

A young woman (Pugh, ‘Lady Macbeth’) reluctantly joins her boyfriend (Reynor, ‘Detroit’) on a trip to a fabled mid-summer festival at a friend’s village in Sweden (Poulter, ‘Detroit’). There they discover the residents’ peculiar traditions and rituals, and since one of them is carrying the pain of a recent death, these rituals begin to take on an unexpected menace. As things go awry the couple is pushed to an “apocalyptic breakup”… This comes from Ari Aster, writer-director of ‘Hereditary’, easily the most intelligent and chilling horror of last year (despite getting a D+ audience CinemaScore). ‘Midsommar’ is another straight up chillfest, this time described as “Scandinavian folk horror”. Again it features the recent death of a family member and a pagan cult, which sounds like a retread, but Aster says “it has no ties to the supernatural,” and focuses more on “a generous amount of psychedelia.” The meticulously designed house in ‘Hereditary’ showed the importance Aster puts on aesthetics and production design, and here he’s designed and constructed an intricate 15-building village. He says it’s his last project in the genre for a long while, as he wants to move onto other things.

5th  Doctor Sleep
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Bruce Greenwood
Director: Mike Flanagan
Released: November 8, 2019

Sequel to ‘The Shining’. A now-adult Dan Torrence (McGregor) has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally he settles in a New Hampshire town, within a AA community that sustains him, and takes a job at a nursing home where his psychic “shining” power provides the final comfort to the dying. Aided by a cat that senses terminal illness, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.” But when he meets a young girl with powers like his, he must protect her from a quasi-immortal, RV-dwelling cult known as True Knot (headed by Ferguson). They feed off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death… Wendy Torrance, Danny’s mother, and Dick Hallorann, the cook from the Overlook Hotel, both feature. Stephen King’s 2013 novel (published 35 years after the original) enjoyed strong reviews. The story lacks the conceptual strength of ‘The Shining’ (“Vampires” that feed on the Shining?) but, damn, this is the sequel to (possibly) the greatest horror film ever made. Prolific and capable director Mike Flanagan brought us ‘Oculus’, ‘Hush’, ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’, Netflix’s highly-regarded ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ and the quietly-impressive King adaptation ‘Gerald’s Game’. It’ll be interesting to see if he employs Kubrick’s visual style for this, it’s a horror language that’s so effective but curiously rarely employed. Ewan McGregor is a great actor, but it could be hard to see past ‘scruffy Obi-Wan’.

4th  Head Count
Starring: Isaac Jay, Ashleigh Morghan, Cooper Rowe, Bevin Bru
Director: Elle Callahan
Released: June 14, 2019

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 -Seen It-  A student visiting his brother’s trailer in the Californian desert is drawn into a big group of strangers in his pursuit of a girl. Leaving bro behind, he drinks and parties with them in their remote holiday rental. But something unknown is also present, and keeping track of who’s there and who’s not – the head count – will become a matter of life and death… This is the best cinematic mystery story in years, but watching more than a few seconds of the trailer or reading the spoilerific IMDb summary will seriously impact the experience. ‘Head Count’s brilliant concept plays with audiences’ inability to follow more than about 6 characters in a group ensemble. And it makes you hyper-observant in a way I’ve not been during a film before. The believable setup makes the protagonist the outsider in the group of longtime friends, setting things uneasy right from the beginning. That unsettled feeling gradually escalates through a series of creepy paranoia moments, brilliantly sinister soundtrack, naturalistic performances, masterful suspense, chilling lines and hair-raising shocks. By the 2nd act I was on edge constantly, with a sense that anything could happen at any moment. The 3rd act lays down a memorable series of rules which the story’s been playing by, and only slips with a couple of moments of ill-advised (but understandable) cgi. ‘Head Count’ feels like it belongs in a tonal trilogy with previous dark, smart L.A. indie mysteries ‘The Invitation’ and ‘Coherence’.

3rd  Us
Starring: Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker
Director: Jordan Peele
Released: March 15, 2019

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Director Jordan Peele (of ‘Key & Peele’) is returning to “social-horror thriller” territory after ‘Get Out’. And who can blame him with the phenomena that was, taking $255 million theatrically worldwide from a $4.5m budget, entering the cultural psyche, provoking discussion, and earning an Oscar for Peele’s screenplay (not to mention nominations for Picture and Best Actor). As George Romero showed us long ago, mixing social allegory in with horror gives it a special potency and protects it against critical sneering. ‘Us’ is being called an unofficial sequel, or spiritual sequel, but the plot is under wraps. The only clues are the poster, its description as a “new nightmare”, a budget 5x larger, and reporting that it’s about a black couple (Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong, ‘Black Panther’) and a white couple (Elisabeth Moss, ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ and Tim Heidecker, ‘Tim & Eric’). Expect this to make waves all over again, even if it’ll struggle to top the extraordinary impact of ‘Get Out’.

2nd  The Lighthouse
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson
Director: Robert Eggers
Released: TBC 2019

Set in the world of old sea-faring myths, this is the story of an ageing lighthouse keeper named Old (Dafoe) who lives in early 20th-century Maine… Director Robert Eggers’ first film since ‘The Witch’ is a dark fantasy-horror, a psychological nightmare, with both leads pushing each other to the brink of madness. It’s been shot by the DP from ‘The Witch’ to look like footage that’s sat in a vault for a century, with the same cyan black and white colours and almost-square aspect ratio that was used in the early sound years. Being historically-set, like ‘The Witch’, is a huge asset. Eggers’ last used period language in a way that was extraordinarily literate for the genre (see the boy’s soliloquy). This time Pattinson’s lines are based off Maine farming dialect, while Dafoe’s is the jargon of Atlantic fisherman and sailors of the time. Pattinson has said that filming ‘The Lighthouse’ was “the closest I’ve come to punching a director” due to repetitious takes and the physicality of Eggers’ watery conditions, but critics have said the result is best performance of Pattinson’s career. Dafoe too has been tipped as an early Oscar contender. Has there actually been a scary black and white film since 1960’s ‘Psycho’ and 63’s ‘The Haunting’? A score of 98% on RT from 40 festival reviews suggests ‘The Lighthouse’ has joined that short list.

1st  It: Chapter Two
Starring: James McAvoy, Bill Skarsgård, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, Bill Hader
Director: Andy Muschietti
Released: September 6, 2019

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The Best Horror Movie Of 2019

27 years after the horrific events of the summer of 1989, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away. But a devastating phone call brings them back to Derry, to fulfil their promise and put an end to “It”, the terrifying shape-shifting beast, once and for all… Adaptation of the second half of Stephen King’s 1986 novel. James McAvoy takes over as Bill, the stuttering yet resourcefully determined leader of the Losers’ Club, who’s now a mystery writer. Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, and Andy Bean portray the other adult versions of the Club, with the original cast returning for flashback scenes. The first film was simply a phenomena, becoming the most profitable horror film of all time ($700 million worldwide from a $35m budget), and establishing Pennywise as a household name. It was also a strong film, a perfect re-encapsulation of the world of King for a new generation. The young cast were smart, funny and had great chemistry – if you can take out the monster and still have a great film that’s saying something. Pennywise’s scare sequences were inventive and memorable. With the same excellent director and screenwriter on board, and the material long since established, expect this to feel more like a conclusion than a sequel.

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Also See: 25 Best Horror Movies 2018

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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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