Considering how little money is spent on the average horror movie it comes as a surprise that 2017 has a lot of big budget studio scary movies coming out. This is in part due to a renewed, and long overdue, interest in Stephen King’s novels but also long gestating projects have gone before the cameras to give us horror fans a treat. This list is far from complete and for all I know some of these might be a complete load of old nonsense but we can but hope for some classics to come this year, and with some serious studio cash behind them…
The Autopsy of Jane Doe – Soon!
As has been the case for the last few years one of the first films out of the block is one that has been getting a lot of buzz from the festival circuits. Following The Witch, It Follows and The Babadook before them, can The Autopsy of Jane Doe survive the overhype to be a genuine horror classic? Certainly it has a good pedigree with Andre Ovredal of Trollhunter fame, and stars Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox bringing some class to the tale of a strangely perfect female corpse being brought into the father-and-son morticians with one night to discover who she is and how she died. I can tell you now (as I’ve already seen it) it lives up to the hype… which might be me overhyping it again, so now you will think its over rated… damn it!
Split – 20th January
M. Night Shyamalan has realised that instead of messing around with different genres he should just stick to what he is amazing at. So we get, hot on the heels of The Visit, another potential classic, this time involving split personalities, kidnapping and James McAvoy acting his socks off as 24 characters (in the same body obviously).
Don’t Knock Twice – 3rd February
There’s not lot of British horror this year (hello Hammer? Where are you when we need you?) but Don’t Knock Twice has some very strong imagery in the trailer and witches are all the rage at the moment, so let’s hope it can hold our flag up proudly this year and be less of an embarrassment than the people who voted for Brexit.
A Cure For Wellness – 24th February
Director Gore Verbinski may have tested his audience’s patience to the limit with the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels and the bizarrely dull The Lone Ranger, but whatever you think of him you have to agree that he is a visual master of mainstream cinema. The trailers for A Cure for Wellness certainly back this up and with Jason Isaacs and Dane DeHaan in the cast what could possibly go wrong? Okay IMDB says the running time is 146 minutes which seems to suggest Verbinski is still making over long, flabby stories and I’m not sure the tale of a mysterious spa can sustain such length. But hey! What do I know, this is just a preview list, let’s judge it when it comes out yeah?
Kong: Skull Island – 10th March
King Kong is back and is ALWAYS welcome in my books even if he is clearly played by a man in a monkey suit. Sadly, those days have long since gone but this new version is setting up not only a new franchise but also will serve as a prequel to a grudge match between our giant furry friend and Godzilla. When did the studio system embrace B-movie silliness so fully? Next they’ll be making a big budget remake of… actually you know what? I was trying to think of a ludicrous cheap movie for a studio to remake but I think they’ve done them all now. Hey, I ain’t complaining!
Get Out – 17th March
Directorial debut from comedian Jordan Peele, Get Out stars the very likeable Daniel Kaluuya travelling to his white girlfriend’s parent’s house only to discover some nasty goings on. At a time when race relations are at a very low point in America, this horror version of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? couldn’t come at a better time.
The Belko Experiment – 17th March
The poster says this is a cross between The Office and Battle Royale so that is the plot basically. I can’t say I’m that excited about such a premise but then it is written by James Gunn and is getting lots of whispers of greatness so we’ll find out soon enough whether its worth getting all worked up about or not.
Raw – March
This French horror movie has a young vegetarian forced to eat meet during a hazing ritual, after which her taste for flesh gets somewhat out of control. Every few years a horror movie comes out which claims that people passed out during a screening or had to be carried out on a stretcher or even died. Raw is the latest in this fine tradition so I’m hoping to see it at a OAP or mother-and-baby screening to see what happens.
Alien: Covenant – 19th May
Being one of two people who had no problem with Prometheus I can’t wait for Alien: Covenant. Obviously 20th Century Fox and Ridley Scott are making sure people know this is an Alien prequel rather than a Prometheus sequel and if they haven’t had a panic-stricken rewrite of the script a month before shooting then this shouldn’t have the problems that had so many people up in arms last time round. Really people: characters doing stupid things in terrible situations is the bread-and-butter of horror movies, get over it. Also, judging by the poster and trailer this Alien movie is really getting back to it’s horror roots. I LOVE the Alien franchise when its at its best, let’s hope Scott, in his twilight years, can pull another classic out of the bag.
The Mummy – 9th June
Although yet another big budget Mummy movie in theory isn’t that exciting, especially after the Brendan Fraser/sand particles years, Universal is trying to kick start a movie monsters shared universe franchise with this new version. What self respecting horror fan isn’t interested in that? Plus Tom Cruise rarely does bad films so there’s real hope here. There still seemed to be a lot of sand particles in the trailer though so I’m not getting my hopes up too much.
The Dark Tower – 28th July
The King revival starts here… this time with a massive budget, a franchise stretching over cinema and television, and some of the best Hollywood stars acting today. I’ve not read any of the horror fantasy western epics this is based on but I have only ever heard amazing things about them. Lots of fingers crossed here.
Annabelle 2 – 11th August
Another sequel to a film no one but me liked but you know… suck it. This time the director is David F. Sandberg who did a very solid job with Lights Out so things are looking up. Plus the setting is an orphanage and orphanages are ALWAYS creepy places. At least it isn’t a family being harassed by a demon which I have had enough of, and if it has one scene that is half as good as the basement sequence from the first movie then I’ll be happy.
It – 8th September
The novel It is probably Stephen King’s best work and turning it into a film has been a long and painful process. Folks have fond memories of the TV miniseries from 1990 but really, apart from an amazing turn from Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown it has not aged well. Things were looking very much up when True Detective‘s Cary Joji Fukunaga was attached to direct but a lot of hopes were dashed when he was replaced with Mama‘s Andres Muschetti. This seems a little unfair as Mama was very good entry in the haunted kid sub genre, and as long as the studio hasn’t interfered too much, this It could still turn out rather good. The story, characters and the town of Derry are so strong and well defined in King’s novel that it would take a real load of numpties to bugger this one up. Please let this be good.
Friday The 13th – 13th October
After a weird and unnecessary EIGHT year wait we are finally getting a new outing for Jason Voorhees. Little is known about the plot but hopefully they haven’t spent all this time overthinking things – just give us Jason, some hot teenagers, some outrageous kills and a bit of a twist and we’ll be quite happy. If it turns out to be an origin story then that WILL be depressing (it didn’t work for Michael Myers, Hannibal Lecter or Darth Vader so why would it work for Jason?), but on the positive side it is directed by Breck Eisner who has done solid work in the past so lets see how this latest entry turns out. I mean there have been so many of these films now, and so many terrible ones, that it can’t really be that bad, can it?
Before I Wake – One Day!
Mike Flanagan’s career is going great and it has been since Oculus hit the screens. Immediately after that modest hit he set to work on the follow up, shooting Before I Wake at the end of 2013… and here it is four years later after various production and distribution companies have gone bust whilst handling it. Will the story of a boy who’s dreams and nightmares manifest themselves in real life be worth the wait? Well it has Kate Bosworth in it so… um… let’s see huh?
Gerald’s Game – When Netflix feel like it
Mike Flanagan is back, again, working with Netflix to make one of Stephen King’s least filmable novels. The plot centres on a woman tied to a bed after her husband drops dead in the middle of some rumpy pumpy. You couldn’t get much less cinematic than that, but then last year’s Hush was clearly a dry run for Flanagan’s attempt at horror experimentation and with Netflix willing to take a few risks let’s hope this turns out to be the next Misery, rather than, say, the next Dreamcatcher.
Sadako Vs Kayako (AKA Ring Vs Grudge) – Soon!
Okay, there is an American sequel to the remakes coming out at some point this year but who cares about that when you have a verses movie where you have the black haired ghost of the Ring movies having a fight with the black haired ghost of the Grudge movies. This is what trashy horror movies are all about, and this as silly as you can get… in a good way.
Suspiria – This Year
Last year the remake no one wanted was Martyrs, and so it proved as not only did no one watch it but no one even notice it quietly slop onto VOD like a dying fish. This year we have Suspiria. The original is one of Dario Argento’s finest and remaking it seems quite, quite pointless: the plot barely made a scrap of sense and the film’s main selling point was Argento’s magical set pieces and visuals. No one wants a new version of the story of a girl sent to a ballet school which turns out to be run by a coven of witches. Sure witches are in, and sure ballet was in the other year when Black Swan came out but… really? Okay so its got a good director in Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) and a solid cast… and lets face it we were all wrong about the Evil Dead remake so I’ll still probably see it, and maybe, with a bit of luck, even love it.
This, in fact, could be a bumper year for horror. As much as I have loved so many of the small independent features we have had of late, I am so excited for some of these big studio pictures. Maybe we will get another Carrie or The Exorcist, or at the very least another The Keep. Or if we’re really lucky a Lifeforce. We can but hope…