The world loves horror movies. God bless them, I say. When they’re good, we get treated to an enthralling story that just might even give us a decent scare here and there. The better of the batch allows us to escape into a world of suspense and often times, even mystery. And when they’re bad… well, at least, we get a good laugh out of it most of the time.
The horror genre has gone a long way. And with recent additions as new as the past five years like Get Out (2017), The Babadook (2014), and A Quiet Place (2018), it lives on stronger than ever.
2019 has its own offerings of horror films, however, and here are ten.
1. Us (March 20)
A couple takes their family to a beach house looking to spend some quality time with some friends. But their trip quickly goes awry when a group of murderous doppelgangers arrives to spoil their fun.
Us is brought to us by the comedian-turned-horror-director Jordan Peele, who also directed the aforementioned Get Out. It stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke (both from Black Panther) as the leading couple. The film actually premiered March 8 of this year on South by Southwest and was met with staggering reviews. Rotten Tomatoes even comments saying, “…we have seen how to beat the sophomore jinx, and it is Us.” Indicating that if you thought Get Out was a one-hit-wonder for Peele, then you are happily mistaken.
From what I could glean from the trailer, Us isn’t going to be a standard bottle horror, where the characters are trapped in a single place for the entire duration of the film like I expected it to be. It seems to edge into psychological and supernatural territory, and even brings the terror out into broad daylight.
2. Pet Sematary (April 5)
The second film to adapt from Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Pet Sematary follows a doctor who discovers a mysterious burial ground near his family’s new home. After his dead cat was resurrected by being buried in the titular cemetery, the good doctor decides to try it out with his fleshly deceased son to awful results.
This remake of the 1989 horror classic is helmed by directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer. The two have worked together closely in underground indie projects before and are also being poised to direct the sequel to the dark fantasy/supernatural horror film Mama (2013). The film stars Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Zero Dark Thirty) and Amy Seimetz, an all-around woman who has acted in, wrote, directed, and produced multiple titles.
Based on the trailer, this new Pet Sematary doubles down on the eeriness that Stephen King stories are known for, but without the camp of the original. However, I personally preferred the original look of the nominal Pet Sematary over this new one. Despite not being too well received critically, the original has developed a cult following; a following that might not be looking to revive this one if it chokes on itself. Regardless, the uniqueness of its premise and its predecessors’ popularity paired with modern cinematography and a talented directing duo just might be the perfect recipe for a good horror remake.
3. The Curse of La Llorona (April 19)
Based on an old Mexican folktale, The Curse of La Llorona is set 1970s Los Angeles and follows a social worker who seeks to protect her children from the titular ghost and must enlist the help of a local faith healer.
The film is directed a relative unknown, Michael Chaves, who is also currently set to direct the upcoming third installment of the Conjuring (2013) series, so that’s definitely a good sign. I mean, if James Wan, who’s producing this film, trusts him then we maybe should too. It stars Linda Cardellina (Scooby-Doo, Brokeback Mountain) in the lead role alongside Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad).
The trailer features the children more than the mother, which is a good thing since the plot is centered around La Llorona wanting to kidnap the children. Child characters are excellent elements in horror films because you tend to fear for them more. That coupled with what seems to be an atmospheric horror thrill ride makes The Curse of La Llorona a promising horror film, to say the least.
4. Brightburn (May 24)
Brightburn asks the question, “What if Superman had a horrible childhood?” This film is a unique take on that classic origin story cliché of an alien kid with superpowers who gets adopted by an all-American family in a small town. But instead of becoming a beacon of light and the savior of all mankind, he goes on a rage-fueled murder spree across not-Smallville.
Produced by Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) director James Gunn and written by his brothers Mark and Brian, Brightburn was first announced as an “untitled James Gunn horror project”. It’s directed by David Yarovesky, who has directed various video shorts himself and has worked extensively with Gunn in multiple projects. David Denman (The Office) and Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect) as not-Jonathan and not-Martha Kent, respectively. It also features child actor Jackson A. Dunn as not-Clark Kent.
The superhero element of this film seems to play well with the classic horror tropes that they use. Things like the monster disappearing and reappearing again out of nowhere, hovering and seemingly-hanging feet, and the monster suddenly rushing into the camera are all explained away with super speed and flight. But this doesn’t seem to take away from the film’s suspense. Plus, the makeshift cape and cowl the kid makes is equal parts awesome and frightening. That alone makes me want to watch this movie.
5. Child’s Play (June 21)
Here’s another remake of a classic horror movie. Like the original 1988 slasher, Child’s Play follows a mother who buys her son a new doll. But unbeknownst to them, this doll has a slightly inconvenient feature of murdering people. Such fun.
This remake is brought to you by Norwegian director Lars Klevberg, who has found success directing short horror films since 2012. It (2017) producer Seth Grahame-Smith is also onboard as producer, hopefully, his experience in the horror genre can help guide this budding new director. Actress and comedian Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) is poised to take on the role of Karen Barclay, while child actor Gabriel Bateman (Lights Out) gets to play Andy Barclay, Chuckie’s owner.
Being a 2019 remake, the Chuckie gets a high-tech upgrade. The trailer seems to show that doll having face-recognition software and digital lenses for eyes. Its look is much more child-friendly compared to the original (even before the stitches). All this leads me to believe that maybe they’re steering away from the supernatural elements of the original film and driving toward more sci-fi territory with Chucky’s AI being faulty; a fault that leads him to kill innocent nannies. But we’ll have to just wait and see when the movie drops in June.
Also, I was really hoping to hear the line: “Hi, I’m Chucky and I’m your friend ‘til the end.”
6. The New Mutants (August 2)
Our second entry to the superhero-horror genre mix, The New Mutants is an actual entry into the X-Men film franchise. It tells the story of five young mutants who are haunted by their new and uncontrollable superpowers while being held in a secret facility.
Planned to be a trilogy, the film is directed by Josh Boone, who directed A Fault in Our Stars (2014), and written by Knate Lee, who produced Bad Grandpa (2013). The film was initially scheduled for a February premiere but was delayed to make room for X-Men: Dark Pheonix (2019). This led to reshoots that reportedly made the film even scarier than it already was. The film features the mutants Magik, Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Sunspot, and Mirage who are to be played by bonafide scream queen Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split, Glass), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things), Henry Zaga (13 Reasons Why), and Blu Hunt (The Originals), respectively.
The trailer presents the film as a true psychological horror flick with all the foundations associated with the subgenre. Without the Marvel logo and the new title, you would have absolutely no clue that this was a superhero film. The creepy asylum setting gives the film an atmospheric advantage that seems to have been put to great use. It’s a refreshing addition to a franchise that hasn’t had much luck since its first two movies.
7. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (August 9)
Based on the children’ book series by Alvin Schwartz that I could never dare pick up as a kid, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is set in a small town in 1968 America where a tortured woman from a haunted family would turn to the page, inscribing the details of her tormented life.
With a story by Guillermo del Toro, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is presumably set to be another masterpiece from the horror master. André Øvredal, who also directed The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016), is set to bring del Toro’s imagination to life. The film features a plethora of actors, the most prominent of which are Austin Abrams (The Walking Dead), Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), and Gil Bellows (The Shawshank Redemption).
The original book series was an anthology that featured a number of short, scary stories with each entry. Judging from the trailers, it seems that the movie will follow suit. CBS Films released multiple teasers, each about 15 minutes long, that depict various unsettling monsters ripped straight out of the original tales. As per any Guillermo del Toro films, the monsters featured in the teasers look absolutely terrifying. In fact, they’re creepy enough to give me a chill down my spine. And if you ask anybody who knows me, they’ll tell you that I don’t scare easily from horror movies. Definitely excited for this one.
8. It: Chapter II (September 6)
Set 27 years after the events of Chapter One, Pennywise the Dancing Clown returns to Derry and the adult Loser’s Club comes home to put a stop to the homicidal demon clown once and for all. However, the vengeful It has been preparing for this return for a very long time, and he’s pissed and stronger than ever.
Like the titular It, Andy Muschietti returns to direct this sequel. The child actors from the first film have also reportedly returned, indicating flashbacks to the events directly after the first chapter. James McAvoy (X-Men First Class, Split, Glass), Jessica Chastain (Interstellar, The Martian), Jay Ryan (Beauty & The Beast), Bill Hader (Barry), Isaiah Mustafa (he’s the Old Spice Man), James Ransome (The Wire, Sinister), and Andy Bean (Power, Swamp Thing) have come on to play as the adult members of the Loser’s Club. Bill Skarsgård, who played the Dancing Clown in the first film, is returning to his role in this sequel
Muschietti, the director, very clearly wanted to point out that this second chapter is not a sequel at all. In his words, “… it seems like we’re going to do it. It’s the second half, it’s not a sequel. It’s the second half and it’s very connected to the first one.” So, we can expect a similar tone and a plot that heavily takes from the first It (2017) film. As of the writing of this article, Warner Bros. has not released a trailer yet. But since principal photography wrapped October of last year, we should be expecting one soon.
9. Zombieland: Double Tap (October 11)
It’s a movie with horror elements, so yes, it gets to be on this list. Fite me.
After ten years, the zombie slayers are back, but they’ve lost Little Rock. In a quest to find her, they traverse the White House and America’s heartlands. Along the way, they encounter new zombies and a female zombie hunter whose skill set could give Tallahassee a run for his money.
The original cast and crew return for this long-awaited sequel. With Ruben Fleischer back at the helm, the cast has reportedly stated that they’re feeling the same vibes from the original – all the same fun and off-the-wall antics that made the original so special. And aside from the four main stars, we’re also getting Rosario Dawson (Rent, Daredevil) as Nevada, the aforementioned female-version of Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee, as well as Avan Jogia (Victorious, Twisted) in the role of Berkeley, the man who’s stolen Little Rock from the family.
Filming for Zombieland: Double Tap just started on January 12st of this year. It’s set to premiere on the 10th year anniversary of the original. Not much is known about the film so far, but the studio was kind enough to release the poster for the film. It perfectly recreates the original poster with the characters ten years older. Sony Pictures revealed the poster on their Twitter account, getting on the #10YearChallege trend. One thing’s for sure though, I could use a Twinkie.
10. Doctor Sleep (November 8)
By far the film on this list that I’m most excited for, Doctor Sleep is a direct sequel to Stanly Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), which starred Jack Nicholson in the lead role. Both films are adaptations of the Stephen King novels of the same names.
Doctor Sleep follows Danny Torrance (originally played by Danny Lloyd) who is gifted with a physic power called “The Shining”. Since the events of the first film, Danny has fallen into alcoholism like his father, but just take a stand when he runs into a cult that feeds on the power of physic children like himself.
Mike Flanagan, who directed Gerard’s Game (2017) and The Haunting of Hill House (2018), is set to step into the shoes of the late, great Stanly Kubrick as director. Let’s all hope that his recent successes with his previous works of horror will follow through to Doctor Sleep. Ewan McGregor (Star Wars, Christopher Robin) takes on the iconic role of the main character Danny Torrance in place of Danny Lloyd, who retired from acting two years after playing the character. Opposite him, the absolutely stunning Rebecca Ferguson (The Greatest Showman) stars as Rose the Hat, the primary villain of the film. With a lineup like this, you’d expect this sequel to the acclaimed classic to be nothing less than golden.
Flanagan expressed that Doctor Sleep would be less of a sequel to Kubrick’s version of The Shining and more of a direct adaptation of the 2013 book of the same name. While still heavily inspired by the original novel, Kubrick took a number of liberties while making his film. Doctor Sleep will presumably be more focused on being a faithful sequel based on King’s original novel, instead. But Flanagan also says that his film would still “acknowledge Kubrick’s The Shining in some way” to my reassured relief.
The film is currently in its post-production stage, so we should be seeing a trailer for it in the coming months.
Which of these are you most excited for? Anything else you wanna see that’s not on this list? Sound off in the comments!