Horror is a genre that’s nothing if not diverse; no matter where your niche interests lie, there’s something for everybody beneath horror’s umbrella. The same can be said of 2015’s horror release slate, which is a gory smorgasbord of every kind of horror sub-category imaginable.
Need your ghost story fix? Check. Looking for a fresh take or two on zombie cinema’s decaying husk? Check. How about a reinvention of a classic horror narrative, or bravura, indie-minded offerings? Check, check. From evil clowns, to wicked specters, to ravenous undead, to holiday-centric monsters – 2015 has all a horror fan could ask for and more. Don’t believe us? Read on to see our most anticipated horror movies of 2015:
10. Paranormal Activity 5: The Ghost Dimension
Release date: March 13th, 2015. Cast: Katie Featherstone, Billy Shepperd, Tyler Craig.
Granted that the most recent Paranormal Activity movie – last January’s spin-off, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones – made more of a splash at the box office than among viewers; granted that the story is running out of gas, perhaps a side effect of its extended duration. But maybe all the series needs to rediscover its trademarked low-fi vitality is fresh blood?
Enter long-time editor, first-time director Gregory Plotkin, who leads an untested cast of victims against Featherstone’s recurring villainy in Paranormal Acvitiy: The Ghost Dimension, ready to hit theaters after being held back from a 2014 release. The basics are familiar – family in a suburban house haunted by weird, inexplicable occurrences – but a fresh set of eyes could be just the thing to steer this ailing franchise back on the right track.
9. Amityville: The Awakening
Release date: TBD. Cast: Bella Thorne, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Cameron Monaghan, Kurtwood Smith.
Okay, yes, all recent updates on The Amityville Horror – from 2005’s Ryan Reynolds vehicle to a pair of DTV efforts – have been uninspiring at best. So why does the saga’s twelfth entry deserve special notice? Because it’s helmed by Franck Khalfoun, director of 2012’s excellent Maniac, a remake bolstered by an awesome visual style and a tremendous Elijah Wood performance.
If Khalfoun brings the same stylistic flair to Amityville: The Awakening that he did to Maniac, then his take on the formula – in which Jennifer Jason Leigh moves her unwitting kids into the Amityville house – should easily be worth a look.
Release date: TBD. Cast: N/A.
Beyond premise, there’s little known about Rob Zombie’s latest (crowdfunded!) screen endeavor. But that’s okay, because as premises go, this one is guaranteed to turn heads. Five people are forced to compete in a game (called 31), where the object is “kill or be killed.” They’re pitted against a gang of vile clowns known as “the heads” and given twelve hours to survive in a man-made abattoir called Murder World.
Boom. That’s it. The film currently lacks distribution, and the cast hasn’t been revealed (though IMDB lists both Sherri Moon Zombie and Bari Suzuki as principals). But Zombie has promised that 31 is his most brutal film yet, and with a synopsis that insane, horror fans are going to find a way to see this, regardless.
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Release date: TBD. Cast: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pil, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, Jorge Garcia, Nasim Pedrad.
Speaking of great concepts, how about a zombie movie for kids? Or, more accurately, a zombie movie about kids who become infected with a virus and turn into bloodthirsty monsters. It’s teachers versus students, with Wood, Wilson, and Pil fighting for their lives against cannibalistic tykes. The National PTA ought to have a field day with that plot summary.
Seriously, though, how can a zombie aficionado resist? Zombie movies tend to lean on cliches more than most horror archetypes, but Cooties – which premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival but failed to find a 2014 release as planned – is a novel attempt at tinkering with tried and true elements of lore and coming up with gruesomely original entertainment.
6. Insidious: Chapter 3
Release date: June 5th, 2015. Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Stephanie Scott, Lin Shaye.
Like Paranormal Activity and The Amityville Horror, the Insidious series began taking a backward slide toward inferiority with 2013’s Insidious: Chapter 2. Cut to now and we’re staring down the barrel of Insidious: Chapter 3, the next installment in this eidolic chronicle, but without the benefit of having James Wan at the reins and Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson at the forefront of the cast.
Wisely, though, Insidious: Chapter 3 appears to realize that pushing ahead with a narrative that’s run its course is a recipe for stagnation. Thus, we’re taken back before the events of the first two films, as Mulroney struggles to protect his daughter from malevolent entities from the Further – with the help of horror icon Shaye and series writer Leigh Whannell, who steps into the director role for the first time in his career with this film.
5. Victor Frankenstein
Release date: October 2nd, 2015. Cast: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Mark Gatiss.
Don’t let the great McAvoy’s top billing, or the title, fool you: Victor Frankenstein is actually told from the perspective of Igor, played the equally great Radcliffe. Post-Harry Potter, Radcliffe has worked diligently to distinguish himself from his child star persona, particularly in his horror film appearances. (See: The Woman in Black, and Alexandre Aja’s Horns.)
So when it comes to horror, Radcliffe is old hat, which means that as far as acting goes, Victor Frankenstein should be golden. McAvoy and Radcliffe are backed by a gifted supporting cast of Findlay (Downton Abbey), Scott, and Gatiss (both of Sherlock fame); it may not hurt that this new version of Mary Shelley’s literary masterwork is written by Chronicle scribe Max Landis and directed by Paul McGuigan, who has called the shots on four different episodes of Sherlock, including “The Great Game” and “The Hounds of Baskerville”. That’s an impressive pedigree for sure.
4. [REC] 4: Apocalypse
Release date: January 2nd, 2015. Cast: Manuela Velasco.
There’s a pattern emerging here, in which longstanding, well-received franchises put forth a new entry that tries to get back to said franchise’s roots. But where Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Insidious: Chapter 3 do so by injecting new talent, REC 4: Apocalypse does so by bringing the REC series’ original director (Jaume Balagueró) and star (Manuela Velasco) back into the fold.
The film marks the return of Ángela Vidal, six years after [REC] 2 and two after [REC] 3: Genesis, and puts her on a boat in the middle of the ocean, under quarantine, in the hopes of finally containing the virus she’s carrying. If you’ve seen the trailer, or if you’ve ever watched a horror movie, you can guess where this goes. Time to break out the assault rifles and fire axes.
Release date: November 27th, 2015. Cast: Allison Tolman, Emjay Anthony.
Horror has its fair share of Christmas themed flicks – Silent Night, Deadly Night, the Jack Frost movies, Rare Exports, Black Christmas – and too many others to count. But these films turn normally benign Christmas emblems into killers and fiends, whereas Michael Dougherty’s Krampus takes a creature from Alpine folklore and drops it into a modern monster movie framework.
Not to be confused with Anti-Claus, Kevin Smith’s follow up to Tusk, Krampus is the first film Dougherty has made since 2007’s cult hit Trick ‘r Treat.Better late than never, of course, but it’s hard to believe it’s taken him this long to get another movie through production. Regardless, Krampus – in which the titular demon punishes naughty people during the Yuletide – arrives just in time to celebrate the season. Here’s hoping it has the same delightfully twisted spirit as Trick ‘r Treat.
2. It Follows
Release date: TBD. Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Jake Weary.
Horror is a great vehicle for allegory, and David Robert Michell’s It Follows – already acclaimed just on the strength of its festival circuit appearances – is poised to be the meta-textual horror movie of 2015. Here, Jay (The Guest‘s Maika Monroe) is doomed by a curse transferred to her through a seemingly innocent dalliance.
Trailers for It Follows suggest an atmospheric movie of ratcheting terror, but it’s that concept that makes the film read as compelling. Sex and horror have been intertwined throughout the genre’s history, and Mitchell capitalizes on that relationship by creating a creepy emblem for sexually transmitted disease and sexual trauma. It’s a clever way of exploring one of horror’s oldest tropes, and if the hype is right, It Follows could end up being 2015’s The Babadook, or at least its The Cabin in the Woods.
1. Crimson Peak
Release date: October 16th, 2015. Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jessica Chastain.
Any year where Guillermo del Toro releases a new horror movie is a year worth looking forward to; not that anyone should cast aspersions on the likes of Pacific Rim, but del Toro is at his best when he’s telling intimate, human stories against a horror backdrop, a’la The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth.
So after dipping his toes in kaiju waters, Crimson Peak feels almost like a return to form for del Toro, who here tells the tale of a young woman (Wasikowska) who slowly develops misgivings about her charming husband (Hiddleston). Del Toro has kept relatively mum on the film’s details thus far, and even sneak peeks do little more than show off elements of design. But what design the film has! It looks gorgeous. Add in that cast, plus the fact that del Toro is back in his usual milieu, and it’s plain to see why Crimson Peak snagged our #1 spot.
If somehow that slew of horror films doesn’t whet your appetite or otherwise get you amped for 2015, then how about a few honorable mentions? Sinister 2 is on its way to theaters come August, while The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death will help horror patrons ring in the new year this Friday. Also worth noting: The Hallow, the debut film from Corin Hardy, recently hired to direct the remake of The Crow. (And hey, maybe Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno will actually get a theatrical run this year! You never know. Like, literally.)
So whether you’ve got a hankering for mutant kid on teacher violence, or if you’re starved for a well-crafted metaphor, or even a taste for straight up, unfiltered mayhem, 2015 has you covered.
Did your most anticipated horror film of 2015 make the cut? Sound off in the comments section!
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