Synopsis: A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones.
Release Date: November 30, 2018
Thoughts: In all honesty, zombie movies are just so not my thing. You can keep your walking dead and brain loving slow walkers for all I care unless you’re going to do something different with the material. Zombie movies like Warm Bodies gave us a unique slant to a familiar story which is another reason why the zombie musical Anna and the Apocalypse looks like it might be one to keep an eye (and ear) out for. Anytime a movie is compared to Shaun of the Dead and La La Land well, you have to take notice. With a nice buzz coming out of the early fall festivals, this might be a bloody brilliant movie or another non-starter that played better with festival audiences geared toward this kind of material. I’m thinking it looks like a riot…but I’ve been fooled before. For now, count on my attendance to this apocalypse.
Synopsis: Six strangers find themselves in circumstances beyond their control, and must use their wits to survive.
Release Date: January 4, 2019
Thoughts: Even if Escape Room has a concept that feels like a less extreme version of what was first cooked up in the Saw films, I have to say this teaser trailer definitely has me intrigued. Over the past few years escape rooms have popped up all over the country to growing popularity so it seems natural that sooner or later someone would play off of the confusion and frustration of these diabolical rooms. I’ve been in several and if there was a horror movie made of my experience it would just be 60 minutes of me growing frustrated while trying to unlock a safe that has nothing in it. I have confidence in director Adam Robitel who gave us the freaky gift The Taking of Deborah Logan and helmed Insidious: The Last Key, and Escape Room feels like it could be the jumping off point for a clever new franchise.
Synopsis: Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm.
Release Date: April 19, 2019
Thoughts: It appears that director James Wan is creating his own cottage industry (not to mention an expanding horror universe) in horror films like The Curse of La Llorona. Wan was behind The Conjuring and all it’s various off shoots (most recently represented with the box office smash The Nun) which have been gigantically profitable even though they were made for very little. After going outside his neighborhood for Lights Out he returns with this spooky tale based on a story from Mexican folklore. This first teaser has some spiffy moments in it while not giving away so much (take a page from the Warner Brothers marketing team, Halloween) that further scares will be spoiled.
Synopsis: A police detective reconnects with people from an undercover assignment in her distant past in order to make peace.
Release Date: December 25, 2018
Thoughts: Wow, Nicole Kidman continues to just be on a roll. It’s so interesting to see this actress continue to grow and flourish with each year, constantly surprising audiences with her choices and performances. Her bets may not always pan out but her films are never not worth noting. Coming out of its debut at several fall film fests, the buzz for Destroyer is that it’s another strong performance from Kidman (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) in an otherwise troubled film but this first look has got me hooked to know more. Directed by Karyn Kusama (check out her spooky The Invitation on Netflix pronto!) and co-starring Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya) and Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), it’s another transformative role for Kidman and one I’m quite intrigued to see.
Synopsis: When a cop who is just out of rehab takes the graveyard shift in a city hospital morgue, she faces a series of bizarre, violent events caused by an evil entity in one of the corpses
Release Date: November 30, 2018
Thoughts: After multiple death blows over the past few years the exorcism genre seemed to be pretty much a goner. How many times could we see people possessed, arching their back, screaming in agony, and angling their bodies in hideous poses while their friends, family, and priest tried to rid their demon infested bodies of evil? Well, Sony hopes to juice some box office this November with The Possession of Hannah Grace starring Shay Mitchell (Mother’s Day), a cheap-o looking horror film that likely gives away many of its scares in its attempt to lure audience members in. Even the tagline, ‘Death is only the beginning’, feels tired. The genre fan inside me hopes for the best and that this one turns out to be a nice surprise (like The Autopsy of Jane Doe) but the un-exorcised devil on my shoulder is prepping me for disappointment.
Synopsis: Behind a young family’s home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable.
Release Date: April 19, 2019
Thoughts: Remakes are a tricky thing and often I feel like to remake an already established film isn’t really worth the time or money. Why go back and revisit something that still holds up? Sure, movies like Oceans 11 and even last year’s re-do of Stephen King’s IT improved upon their originals but what about the Carrie remake or any of the sanitized updates to horror films like Prom Night or When a Stranger Calls? Tough stuff.
So here we are now looking down the barrel of a Pet Sematary remake and I’m conflicted. The original 1989 film retains much of the same scares and thrills as it did when first released but this look at the 2019 version has arrived and I’m not inclined to claw at the walls in frustration. I really enjoyed directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer previous film Starry Eyes and star Jason Clarke (All I See Is You) seems a good choice for the lead. I just hope they can exercise some restraint and give us a spooky tale and not go into excess. Don’t want audiences leaving the theater thinking that sometimes un-remade is better.
Make sure to check out my review of Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary, the documentary on the making of the first film.
Synopsis: On the eve of D-Day, a group of American paratroopers are dropped behind enemy lines to carry out a mission crucial to the invasion’s success. But as they approach their target, they begin to realize there is more going on in this Nazi-occupied village than a simple military operation.
Release Date: November 9, 2018
Thoughts: There’s a nice air of mystery surrounding Overlord and it’s 100% intentional. Produced by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek), many people are thinking this is another surprise entry into the Cloverfield franchise but Abrams and Paramount Pictures are in full denial mode. Still, they’ve played this game on us before when releasing 10 Cloverfield Lane and dropping The Cloverfield Paradox onto Neftlix without much fanfare. Whatever it ends up being about, this looks like a bonkers period horror film involving Nazis and zombies and I’m all for it. With a script from Oscar nominee Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) and Mark L. Smith (The Revenant) there’s some prestige already…will this be a slash above the usual zombie warfare?
Synopsis: A world famous opera singer becomes trapped in a hostage situation when she’s invited to perform for a wealthy industrialist in South America.
Release Date: September 14, 2018
Thoughts: It’s been four years since Julianne Moore won her long overdue Oscar for Still Alice and she’s largely avoided the Best Actress curse popping up in interesting, if underperforming, films like Wonderstruck and Suburbicon. In 2018 she’s back with two interesting projects: Gloria, a US remake of a popular Chilean film and this adaptation of Ann Patchett’s bestseller which casts Moore as a opera singer who becomes a hostage and political chess piece in a South American uprising. Written for the screen and directed by Paul Weitz (Admission, Grandma, Being Flynn) and co-starring Ken Watanabe (Godzilla) I have to say this looks more important than entertaining. Also, while I’m glad they are being transparent that Moore’s singing voice is dubbed by the legendary Renee Fleming based on the few shots of her singing I’m a bit nervous it’s going to look too fake-y. In the end, it’s Moore that appeals to me so I’m always interested in her work…but Bel Canto feels like it has an uphill battle in front of it.
Synopsis: A priest is sent to Romania to investigate the mysterious death of a nun.
Release Date: September 7, 2019
Thoughts: Man, the suits at Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema are really going for this Conjuring Universe, aren’t they? After The Conjuring, there was the lackluster spin-off Annabelle which was followed by the enormously entertaining sequel, Annabelle: Creation. Now comes The Nun which focuses on that terrifying bride of Christ who kept popping up to scare Vera Farmiga (and this critic) in The Conjuring 2. There’s nothing particularly special about this early teaser trailer but it does give the summer movie audiences a jolt of a reminder that there’s another scary film coming up this autumn to look forward to…after Halloween, of course.
Synopsis: From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight.
Release Date: March 29, 2019
Thoughts: I must say when I heard Disney was making a live-action version of their classic 1941 animated film Dumbo to be directed by Tim Burton I was less than thrilled. Dumbo is a family favorite and one that seemed unlikely to lend itself to the kind of success other adaptations like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Jungle Book enjoyed. Even more, was the dark whimsy of Burton (Dark Shadows) really the right choice to take this simple and lovely tale to the big screen? After watching this first look at the 2019 release, I’m relaxing into the notion that this marriage of Burton’s style and Disney’s chestnut might not be so strange after all. It looks downright charming. Starring Colin Farrell (Saving Mr. Banks), Michael Keaton (Spider Man: Homecoming), Danny DeVito (Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax), Eva Green (Cracks) and a big-eyed CGI elephant who is destined to fly to great heights, this just jumped up a few notches on my radar.