A few days ago we offered up our best horror films of 2013 -- although truth be told the list was written by me and I'm not the only horror freak at FEARnet -- but we thought it would be helpful to highlight some interesting horror movies on their way in 2014. Plus it's a great way to get some new readers on reviews we published months ago. (What? It's true!) We'll start with the ones I've actually seen, logically, and finish up with an exceedingly long listing of currently scheduled titles. We're thorough about horror films here at FEARnet. Happy New Year!
Note: whereas the previous Top 12 was "ranked," this one is what's called "alphabetical." You'll simply have to read the review to see what we think. Isn't that sneaky?
Afflicted -- (CBS Films, date tba) -- No amount of creative camerawork or nifty special effects will matter if you don't have some characters worth caring about. Afflicted is a truly impressive debut: clever, creative, and (yep!) seriously creepy stuff that should please horror nuts and relative scaredy-cats in equal measure.
Almost Human -- (IFC Midnight, date tba) --Suffers from a few "first-timer" problems, but the important stuff (a cool story, a consistent tone, some interesting characters, and a lot of blood-drenched madness) is what matters. This is a low-budget indie genre film that delivers in those departments. Best of all, the movie feels like a "throwback" that's not a rip-off, and a mild satire that clearly loves the stuff it's poking fun at.
Big Bad Wolves -- (Magnet Releasing, Jan. 17 VOD) -- Big Bad Wolves actually works as three movies in one, provided you watch it from the perspective of each of the "wolves." An astute viewer will see a procedural thriller (not unlike Silence of the Lambs) briefly dip into Saw territory before switching over to a film noir of darkly amusing errors, and then a twisted psychological chiller about the disparate viewpoints of three highly violent men.
Blue Ruin -- (Radius/TWC, date tba) -- The score is ominous, the cinematography is unflinchingly powerful, the editing style provides a simple story with a forward momentum that could teach the Hollywood boys a couple of things about keeping an audience captivated, and the supporting cast is simply great.
Cheap Thrills -- (Drafthouse Films, March) -- It's not often you come across an indie film that's both joyously mean-spirited and also kind of moral at the same time, but Cheap Thrills breezes by on a twisted idea, a fantastic cast, and a bunch of ethical quandaries that are both eerily uncomfortable and slyly fascinating at the same time.
The Complex -- (Orchard/STYD, date tba) -- There's too much skill and talent on display in The Complex to dismiss it outright, but let's just say it's the sort of flick the J-horror veterans might enjoy -- even if it won't enlist many new converts. I also expect an even more forgettable American remake to arrive within 18 months.
Grand Piano -- (IFC Midnight, Jan. 30 VOD) -- Proof positive that simple "crowd-pleaser" thrillers can be produced on relatively small budgets and still hit the screen looking like well-crafted Hollywood fare, Grand Piano is nothing more than 90 minutes of quick, slick, and disarmingly classy fun.
The Green Inferno -- (Open Road, Sept. 5) -- Despite its few missteps, The Green Inferno works as both a gut-punch horror film and a distressingly downbeat adventure story, one that features both simple horrific pleasures and a small dash of socio-political food-for-thought regarding who the real "savages" are when all is said and done.
Memory of the Dead -- (Artsploitation, date tba) -- An homage to great gore classics and a legitimately fun, fast-paced, ferocious genre flick in its own right, Memory of the Dead is an example of how to respect your heroes while still forging your own ground. From its gooey practical gore to its bizarre CGI backdrops, for its bizarre mixture of dark gristle and weird humor, and thanks a dozen little touches in between, this is easily one of my favorite horror films of the year.
Missionary -- (Orchard/STYD, date tba) -- If the idea of an indie-style gender-reversal Fatal Attraction (with a religious twist) sounds appealing to you, well... it's not like Anthony DiBlasi's Missionary is a bad movie. It's well-made and actually pretty compelling; it's just that you know precisely where the film is headed within 15 minutes.
Nothing Bad Can Happen -- (Drafthouse Films, date tba)-- There's no doubt that Nothing Bad Can Happen is meant to be an ironic title -- indeed the film occasionally delves into some truly dark places -- but this is not a film in which "religion" is bad and the "free thinkers" are smart. Nor is it a film with any sort of pre-fabricated religious agenda; it's simply a dark and thoughtful film with a legitimately challenging and worthwhile message.
Odd Thomas -- (Image Entertainment, date tba) -- Fans of TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Gilmore Girls will no doubt appreciate the adorably quippy dialogue between Odd and his devoted girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin); movie geeks will appreciate the slight but fun contributions from Willem Dafoe, Patton Oswalt, and Arnold Vosloo, and (most likely of all) pre-teen movie geeks will find a frantic little genre concoction that their parents might actually approve of.
Patrick -- (Phase 4, date tba) -- Laden with simple jump scares and backed by a tone that's both brutally violent and darkly amusing, Patrick is a good example of how to remake an obscure but admired horror flick: remake a little, rewrite a lot, always respect the source material, and if you can actually address a few of the original flick's shortcomings in the process, well that's just a cool bonus.
Proxy -- (IFC Midnight, date tba) -- Mr. Parker and his team have created a frank and sometimes devastating thriller about the nature of mental illness, the ironic dangers in lying to people who trust you, and the freakish lunacy that may lie beneath the surface of even the mostly normal-looking people. This is a great horror film.
The Sacrament -- (Magnet Releasing, May 1) -- If you can't give the viewer a good reason as to why the cameras are still rolling once all the found footage freakiness kicks in, your movie probably isn't all that interesting. The Sacrament is not only interesting, but often fascinating, challenging, and (before all is said and done) more than a little disturbing.
Willow Creek -- (Dark Sky Films, date tba) -- The patient horror fans will certainly enjoy what the third act of Willow Creek has to offer, and soon there will be a lot of geeky discussions over the film's one "super-long" (almost 20 minute!) take, but speaking as a guy who sees a lot of movies in which two people point a camera at dark shadows, I say Willow Creek is a calm, cool. creepy little winner.
We also have reviews of to-be-released indie titles like The Borderlands, Daylight, Delivery, The Demon's Rook, For Elise, Goldberg & Eisenberg, Holy Ghost People, The Hunted, Livid (yes, still), Remnants, Savaged, Sawney: Flesh of Man, She Wolf, Thanatomorphose, and Torment... with a lot more on the way.
Speaking of the future, here's what "Hollywood" horror has scheduled for 2014:
January -- Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Paramount), Devil's Due (Fox), I, Frankenstein (Lionsgate)
April -- Oculus (Relativity), The Quiet Ones (Lionsgate)
May -- Godzilla (WB)
June -- The Purge 2 (Universal)
July -- Beware the Night (Sony)
August -- Jessabelle (Lionsgate), The Loft (Universal)
September -- No Good Deed (Sony)
October -- Dracula Untold (Universal), Paranormal Activity 5 (Paramount)