As I’ve been off working hard at life, Hollywood has been working even harder to create a deliciously rich amalgam of Spring horror movies and to thus to pull me back toward my long-neglected blog. The list that Michael and I started composing after watching horror movie previews turned out to be too noteworthy to ignore. Couple that with the fact that I’m feeling chatty lately (more in the mood to shout from a roof top, less in the mood to crouch in a corner) and you have a recipe for my first self-composed blog post in exactly three months. I don’t claim this to be an exhaustive list of all-things-horror being released in the next few months, but I’m trying to be fairly thorough with the rather abundant supply of scary that’s headed toward the theaters. The first two entries on this list are films I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks, and the rest are films that haven’t been released yet, but that I’ll be sure to see when they are released. For your ease-of-reading, I’ve arranged the films by release date, accompanied by trailers. My discussion, of course, will be slightly more thorough for the two films I’ve already seen. In any case, here they are: five films to consider if you need a (decidedly terrifying, unnerving, exhilarating) movie night any time soon.
- Us (Jordan Peele) – March 22, 2019
Because I knew the basic premise of this movie and was blown away by Get Out, I entered this movie with reasonably (re: very) high expectations. These expectations were warranted, because Peele’s film was phenomenal. Far from being disappointed in any way, I was refreshed (weird but true word choice) by the unusual scenario and intensely engaged in this film from its incredibly creepy opening scenes to its multi-twist ending. The main twist was predictable to Michael, who guesses the ends of movies more actively and accurately than I do, but he still really liked the film, and I’d say he’s unusually adept at guessing movie conclusions—so the twists might not be that obvious to everyone. The basic situation – Adelaide Wilson’s (Lupita Nyong’o) fear of an unexplained doppelganger she encountered as a child and the actualization of that fear – is enough to freak anyone out. That said, I wasn’t consistently terrified during this film, but that’s not to say it wasn’t an excellent film. A very certain type of horror scares me, and a lot of it doesn’t. This was an innovative film that questions and de-stabilizes the boundaries we draw between the self and the so-called other in a really unusual, unsettling way. It made me think of how we describe monstrosity and the complications that lie behind isolating a specific character, or characters, as villainous. I could (and want to) say more, but I’m trying to make this a relatively spoiler-free post. So, if you haven’t seen Us, I’d highly recommend a theater trip.
- Pet Sematary (Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer) – April 5, 2019
Okay, so most of this movie was absolutely terrifying. Really—anyone who’s seen the original Pet Sematary or read the book knows that this is an especially bleak story that gets worse (as in, drearier, not less engaging) as the narrative progresses. And this particular rendition of the story left me uneasy for most of the film. Do you ever do that thing in the theater where you try to cover your eyes and ears at the same time? Not since you were ten? Well, a horror movie with specters, suspense, and particularly timed jump scares will still cause me, occasionally, to try this move (for some reason, for example, The Woman in Black horrifies me. The first time I saw it, I was definitely trying to cover my eyes and ears at once—okay, and the second time, and every time after that). Most horror, however, doesn’t scare me too much, and I imagine if I saw this film enough, its formidableness would fade. But, the first time through, it was really, genuinely scary. I would say the last 20-30 minutes were disappointing and less well-executed than most of the film (in my opinion, it gets a bit campy toward the conclusion), but the experience was still worth the time investment. Bonus: I’ve bribed my students with extra-credit points to meet Michael and me on Monday for viewing of the film. So, I can evaluate whether it maintains a reasonable degree of creepiness during a second viewing. “You’re going to see it twice?” one of my students asked with surprise. Of course, I would expect nothing less from myself.
- The Curse of La Llorona (Michael Chaves) – April 19, 2019
I’m willing to trust that this film will be scary and well-made because James Wan is producing it. In less capable hands, I think it could turn into a disappointment, one of those formulaic sort of horror stories that don’t have much of a plot and aren’t really scary. But since Wan is the producer, I’m expecting it to be a fairly higher caliber film – maybe not as well-done as the Conjuring movies (the depictions of Ed and Lorraine Warren are particularly catchy in those films) but with some degree of originality, strong characterization, and suspense. I imagine this is a film that will give us fun jump scares; I foresee a lot of theater audience members shrieking or nervously guffawing at pivotal narrative moments. Plus, it’s the story of La Llorona – a story that’s so conceptually creepy I’m surprised I’ve not encountered a film featuring her before (they may exist, but I’ve never run into one). I predict I’ll be in the audience for this one on opening night.
- Brightburn (David Yarovesky) – May 24, 2019
I’m way excited for this conceptually brilliant inversion of the Superman story. Everything about this movie looks CREEPY AS HELL. Seriously, there’s something incredibly unnerving – perhaps I am looking for the word “uncanny” – about re-imagining an iconic American superhero as an insidious being. The Brightburn filmmakers have taken the plot line of Superman and the superhero’s attributes and placed them in an ill-intentioned, seemingly vengeful child-aged vessel. The trailer does an exceptionally good job of depicting this scenario in an unsettling light; you’ve probably seen it, but if not, my description doesn’t do the trailer justice. (Lucky for you, I’ve included it below this paragraph). My only hesitation with this film is that my expectations are so high because I’m so impressed with the idea behind it that I can see myself being disappointed if it’s executed poorly.
- Ma (Tate Taylor) – May 31, 2019
I’m not just playing up my enthusiasm for all of these films; as I’ve been watching horror trailers lately, one looks more intriguing than the next. I hadn’t heard of this one until going to see Us and witnessing the trailer for the first time, but Octavia Spenser looks like a fantastic, and fantastically terrifying character as the seemingly benign, friendly, cool, but ultimately twisted “Ma.” This is one of those horror movies with a plot driven largely by teenagers, which only becomes problematic when the writer and/or director turn said teenagers into completely douchey characters, which is a sadly typical pattern for so-so horror films. However, I’m expecting better from this movie. My impression from the trailer is that we can expect at least a little depth and nuance in the characterization. While I wonder if we’ve seen the bulk of the plot and the film’s most horrific incidents in the trailer, I’m hoping they saved some equally shocking scenes and surprises for the actual film. In any case, there’s only one way to find out. I’m really looking forward to this one as an apropos way to kick off a hopefully semi-relaxing summer.
I think I’m at a stopping point now. There are still six movies I want to write about, that I’ve listed below this post; they’re films that come out in the summer, from June—August. Expect a post about these films, probably somewhat closer to their release dates. I’m making this decision because not all of the films below are accompanied by trailers yet, and because there are so many exciting horror films on the horizon that you might have to consume all the possibilities in two small doses instead of one large one, lest you get over-hyped and overwhelmed. Actually, in all reality, I have other work to do before I go to my second job this evening, so I need to stop enmeshing myself in the worlds of WordPress and Twitter and start focusing on what needs to be done. Blog-writing is also oddly challenging right now, because I’ve not done it for a while. So this is goodbye for now. Stay tuned for some reviews and analyses of these films once they’re officially released. Happy viewing!
Summer 2019 films:
- The Dead Don’t Die – June 14th, 2019
- Child’s Play – June 21st, 2019
- Annabelle Comes Home – June 28, 2019
- 47 Meters Down: Uncaged – June 28, 2019
- Brahms: The Boy II – July 26, 2019
- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – August 9, 2019