Every January, the film conversation turns to what was the sterling best of the previous year, and which profound drama has the best chance of winning many little gold statues. And if the impending year is considered at all, it is almost exclusively reserved for the blockbusters whose simple existence makes fans giddy.
Yet, not enough attention ever seems paid to the kind of movies that cause filmgoers to grasp their armrests — or another’s arm on said rests — after the lights go out. Where is the love and anticipation for a potential new slate of nightmares that make us swallow our breath with every creaking house groan in the night?
Of course, predicting what will be the most worthwhile horror movies in any year can be a bad dream in itself. After all, who would have predicted at this time last year that something as sinister as The Babadook was in the offing? Nonetheless, there is whole slate of potential creep-outs ready to invade your anxieties via theaters or VOD—and not one of them has to be a Poltergeist reboot, yet another Amityville remake, or Paranormal Activity: More Found Cashgrabs. Indeed, below we have collected 10 upcoming scary movies that have the potential of offering so much more that it makes your blood run cold…
The Lazarus Effect (February 27, 2015)
When Stephen King first published Pet Sematary, he posed an intriguing spiritual question to Mary Shelley’s secular myth about what happens to the soul (or lack thereof) upon reanimation and resurrection. Now, February’s The Lazarus Effect looks ready to take that consideration to an even more uncomfortable extreme when it is told from the perspective of the newly risen dead—a woman who has had more than a taste of Hell before being brought back to wreak it on the living.
In The Lazarus Effect, Blumhouse Productions unleashes a new nasty riff on the Frankenstein parable when a group of researchers cure death with a serum called Lazarus, but find that it’s best to let dead things lie when they resurrect their team leader (Olivia Wilde), who had perished in a freak accident. That won’t be the last freaky thing to happen when she comes bearing “gifts” from the undiscovered country.
It Follows (March 27, 2015)
Easily the most hyped horror film of early 2015, It Follows has earned its own unending procession of critical stares (and applause) from Cannes to TIFF, and from Fantastic Fest to Sundance. The consensus is that this is the kind of old fashioned chiller that will keep the lights on for weeks.
Playing on the existential dread of supernatural damnation—think Curse of the Demon for 2015—David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows is purported to turn convention on its head when 19-year-old good girl Jay (Maika Monroe) has her first sexual encounter with the worst kind of unprotected suitor: her pleasant beau insists that he seduced her simply to pass it along, and it will follow her until she likewise transfers its gaze…or it kills her. While Jay doesn’t know what it is, she already can feel a watchful gaze, getting increasingly closer with every passing moment.
Unfriended (April 17, 2015)
One of the better-received horror films out of Fantasia Festival, Unfriended takes the “found footage” gimmick to its grimmest and potentially most potent millennial end. In an era where youth culture (horror’s bread and butter) seems to prefer watching friends on the internet, here comes a thriller where that pastime becomes a nihilistic proposition.
One year to the day since a fellow classmate Lauren Barns (Heather Sossaman) committed suicide due to the ridicule of an anonymously posted slut shaming video, her supposed friends gather to plan a fun weekend via Skype. And it is on Skype they’ll spend the rest of their truncated lives when a mysterious stranger using Lauren’s defunct Skype account begins demanding to know who made the video—and counting down to the individualized death of each “friend.” If you log out, you die. If you stay logged in…well, it doesn’t appear like your odds are much better.
Once titled “Cybernatural,” Unfriended certainly has the potential to get a whole lot of likes, or at least ensuring audiences won’t be checking their phones for a while.
Yoga Hosers (June 1, 2015)
Love or hate Tusk (I came down closer to the latter), there is little denying that Kevin Smith has finally found his mojo again with something original to say, human-walrus or no human-walrus.
In his direct follow-up to that film, Yoga Hosers promises to be a continuation of his “True North Trilogy” that began with Tusk. Picking up the thread of two convenience store girls who couldn’t give less of a crap about life (Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp), their apathy will be tested when an unfathomable evil from beneath Canada’s crust rises. They will be forced to turn to French-Canadian detective Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp) if they hope to survive the terror from below long enough to go to a senior party.
Admittedly, this picture could go woefully wrong and end up being just a favor that Smith and Depp are passing to their daughters with their very own starring vehicle. However, while I found Tusk a frustrating experience of squandered potential, this Sam Raimi-ian premise gives me hope that Smith will conjure up the genuine unease of that film’s first act, as well as the much better Red State, to create an unholy good time. At the very least, genuine curiosity is strong with this one.
Insidious: Chapter 3 (June 5, 2015)
With it seemingly impossible to look at any year’s slate of horror movies and avoid a sequel, Insidious: Chapter 3 is nonetheless an intriguing one. Built on a stronger franchise foundation than Sinister (expect another installment of that, too), the Insidious films have a natural ongoing narrative with its merry band of nerdy Ghostbusters. This Jason Blum project also has a major part of the original film’s creative blood still coursing through the picture: Leigh Whannell, the writer of the previous two Insidious films (and the onscreen character of Specs!), is back at scripting duties, and he is also helming the film as director.
In actuality a prequel to the other films, Insidious: Chapter 3 follows a still very much alive Elise (Lin Shaye) as she leads Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) to the furthest reaches of the Aether when a teenage girl (Stefanie Scott) becomes a target for demonic and supernatural activity. Hopefully, this will be more than just another tiptoe through the garden.
Victor Frankenstein (October 2, 2015)
As one of the great stories of gothic, horror, and science fiction literature, it is hard to find new cinematic life in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein. But damned if 20th Century Fox’s attempt to do so with Victor Frankenstein doesn’t leave us at least a little bit smitten with the prospect. Owing just as much, it would seem, to James Whale’s 1930s Frankenstein films, as well as the 1939 sequel Son of Frankenstein (the first film to introduce the character of “Igor” to the electrifying mythology), Victor Frankenstein is actually told from the vantage of a young Igor (Daniel Radcliffe). Through his eyes, we will see the “dark origins” of the man whose mere name would cause villagers to foam violently at the mouth—Victor von Frankenstein (James McAvoy).
With an amusing enough set-up, this will hopefully be a little more playful with its premise than a straight period piece. But Radcliffe is increasingly earning his bonafides in the genre with films like Horns and The Woman in Black (the good one). And at the very least, it can only be an improvement over last year’s abysmal I, Frankenstein…
Crimson Peak (October 16, 2015)
Easily my own most anticipated horror film of 2015, Crimson Peak offers the prospect of a genre master attempting to summon some of the decadent dread of a bygone era. With a premise that could be pulling just as much from the writings of either Brontë sister as it could be from pulp magazines, Crimson Peak stands poised to be Guillermo del Toro’s ode to the gothic literature that birthed modern horror. In short, I’m hoping for more Dragonwyck or even Jane Eyre than simply Pacific Rim.
Set in the rural English county of Cumbria, Crimson Peak follows a young British novelist named Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) who has come to live with her enigmatic new husband Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) in his crumbling estate. There she will discover Sir Thomas’ macabre past, his mysterious sister Lady Lucille (Jessica Chastain), and with any luck, the stuff of eternal nightmares.
Krampus (December 4, 2015)
Not much is known about this Yuletide howler other than it is a Christmastime horror movie from the writer and director of Trick ‘r Treat. Another way to put that is Holy Night! Matt Dougherty is giving us what shiny toy this holiday season?!?
Yes, the guy who penned and lensed what is inarguably the best Halloween film of at least the last 20 years is spreading the goodwill to December in a film that also happens to star Fargo’s breakout star Allison Tolman. Being the antithesis of Santa Claus, the Krampus is a demonic force that originated from Germanic folklore (where else?). According to legend, it is a horned, anthropomorphic creature that gobbles up naughty children who misbehaved every Christmas. And on that premise alone, your ticket should be sold.
Cooties (TBA 2015)
It is hard to find a new angle on the zombie subgenre of horror. Yet, somehow, Leigh Whannell (Insidious, Saw) and Ian Brennan pulled it off when they wrote the “Cooties” title alone. Set in an elementary school where a viral disease has turned children into carnivorous undead, an unlikely band of teachers led by a substitute (Elijah Wood) must do battle with their former students if they hope to make it second period. Sink or swim, this is an irresistible premise.
Somnia (TBA 2015)
Oculus was one of the genre surprises of 2014, and it made the very prospect of staring into a mirror terrifying. As an encore, the director and co-writer of Oculus has found a new fervent ground of mundane activities to possess. Enter Somnia, Mike Flanagan’s new scary movie about what happens when an orphaned child’s dreams take on a nefarious reality for the adults around him. And with a cast that includes Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, and Annabeth Gish, there is likely more going on here than its unassuming synopsis would imply.
So there are 10 scary movies in 2015 that have us ready to jump. Are there any others you think worth mentioning? Let us know in the comment section below or by tweeting me @DCrowsNest.