Anyone that knows me well knows that I am a horror fanatic. I keep abreast of the genre and its filmmakers on a daily basis and as a result, I have a rather large list of projects that I am looking forward to finally seeing this year. Because of this, you’re not going to receive a simple “Top 10” or even “Top 20” rundown from me. Ladies and gentlemen, my roster runs far deeper. How does the number 60 sound to you? Too much? I disagree, but to make it more palatable, I have split the list up into five parts. Each one will contain a dozen regular entries, as well as a few honorable mentions.
Without further adieu, from monsters to serial killers to thrillers to comedies, here are 12 of my most anticipated horror films of 2019…
BAD HAIR (dir. Justin Simien)
The writer/director of Dear White People returns with his first feature in five years and it’s a horror comedy? I’m already sold on this one and we haven’t even gotten to the details…
Paralleling the rise of New Jack Swing in 1989, Bad Hair is a horror satire that follows an ambitious young woman who gets a weave in order to survive the image obsessed world of music television. Her professional success comes at a higher cost than anticipated, however, when she discovers her new hair may have a mind of its own.
It stars Laverne Cox, Vanessa Williams and Michelle Hurd. There are no release details at this time, but hopefully it gets in front of our eyes sooner rather than later.
BOOK OF MONSTERS (dir. Stewart Sparke)
This entry is a bit of a cheat, because I have seen it already. I caught this comedic creature feature at Nightmares Film Festival last year and had a blast with it. The plot involves an assortment of beasties accidentally unleashed up a Brit teen girl’s 18th birthday party. Naturally carnage ensues. The film plays like something that might have rolled out of Empire Pictures in the late ’80s and is well worth a look. Dread Central Presents scooped this baby up, so keep an eye out for it when it arrives in theaters and on VOD in March.
CRAWL (dir. Alexandre Aja)
After setting aside traditional horror to play around in dark fantasy thriller territory for a couple of films, Alexandre Aja has return to the genre that he gloriously punched in the face with the likes of High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes (2007), and Piranha (2010). I’ll watch anything this man makes and Crawl will be no different. The plot involves a woman (Kaya Scodelario) attempting to save her father (Barry Pepper) during a Category 5 hurricane. If the disaster movie element isn’t enough for you, she also has to contend with a horde of alligators that are busting into their ever-flooding home. That’s a fairly simple set-up and one I am confident that Aja will knock out of the park.
THE DEAD DON’T DIE (dir. Jim Jarmusch)
Indie legend Jim Jarmusch has played around in the genre to great effect before (Only Lovers Left Alive) and now he has returned. This time ’round, Jarmusch has decided to gift us with a horror comedy about zombies that stars Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Adam Driver, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Caleb Landry Jones, Selena Gomez, and do I really need to keep going? There are more notables among its cast, but I feel like I have already given you more than enough reason to be jumping for joy over this one.
EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE (dir. Joe Berlinger)
Famed documentarian Joe Berlinger returns to narrative filmmaking after a whopping 19 year absence! Given that his last film was the (unfairly) maligned Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, it’s understandable why he stepped away, but I’m glad he’s back. This time he’s left witches behind and instead focuses on an even more terrifying subject: Ted Bundy. The film will chronicle the life and crimes of Bundy (Zac Efron) from the perspective of his girlfriend (Lily Collins), who had a hard time accepting the truth about her brutal boo. John Malkovich, Dylan Baker, Jim Parsons, Kaya Scodelario, Jeffery Donovan, Haley Joel Osment, and James Hetfield(!) also star in what is sure to be a must-see affair.
GLASS (dir. M. Night Shyamalan)
The closing chapter in the trilogy that began with Unbreakable and Split is almost upon us. Naturally, it’s already been wildly debated now that the review embargo has dropped. None of that matters to me. The first two films in Shyamalan’s horror/thriller-tinged superhero saga are incredibly interesting and engrossing, so nothing can temper my excitement for the final entry. Not even the fact that Bruce Willis hasn’t been awake on screen in seven years gives me pause, as he’s surrounded here by some world class scene stealers (Jackson, McAvoy, Paulson). Bring it, M. Night! I’m ready.
GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS (dir. Mike Dougherty)
Speaking of superheroes, if you’ve ever wondered who my favorite antihero is, you now have your answer. The Big G returns to the big screen this year in grand fashion and my kaiju-loving synapses are firing in delight at the prospect of finally seeing this flick. As an unabashed lover of the 2014 start of this Monsterverse, I was admittedly already in the bag for it the moment it was announced. Once Mike Dougherty, director of the sublime Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus, came on board, I was over the moon. Toss in the additional sweetness of King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan in the mix? Well…is it May yet?
IT: CHAPTER TWO (dir. Andy Muschietti)
The last of the studio big guns on today’s list comes in the form of Andy Muschietti’s follow-up to his already-beloved 2017 Stephen King adaptation. Will he stick the landing? After all, the adult portions of King’s novel pack less of a wallop than the kids’ half did. That alone makes this a bit of a challenge and having to recast all of the roles makes things even harder, even if he’s rounded up a great roster of talent. As someone who relished almost every moment of the first film, I’m rooting for all involved to bring this home come September. Fingers crossed!
PIERCING (dir. Nicolas Pesce)
This is where I admit that I was not the biggest fan of 2016’s The Eyes of My Mother. That said, even though I wasn’t shook by that film like most were, there was never any denying the artistry and filmmaking prowess on display throughout its running time. Piercing is the first of two new features that Pesce has coming our way this year and I am excited to see both. He’s too talented for me not to be. This one is currently slated to arrives before our eyes at the start of February.
PRIMAL (dir. Nick Powell)
Between Brian Taylor’s Mom & Dad and Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, Nicolas Cage had a great year in 2018. Based on his list of upcoming projects, 2019 is poised to be no different. What makes Primal so special? Oh, nothing in particular. It just happens to involve a big game hunter (Cage) hitching a ride on a freighter filled with exotic and dangerous Amazonian animals. What could possibly go wrong? There’s no way that a captured political assassin, who is also on board, might break free and unleash said animals to help aid cover his escape? That would be insane! Does the world need Nic Cage running around on a ship full of killer critters? Yes. Yes it does.
TONE DEAF (dir. Richard Bates Jr.)
The man behind the madness of Excision, Suburban Gothic, and Trash Fire returns! I never know what kind of bizzare and/or disturbing tale I am going to get when I sit down to watch a Richard Bates Jr. movie, but that’s part of the fun of it. All I know is that it is a home invasion film starring AnnaLynne McCord, Robert Patrick, Amanda Crew, Ray Wise, Kim Delaney, and Ray Santiago, and that I will be a different person after witnessing it. That’s enough for me, as I love Excision so much that I will watch anything Bates makes going forward.
VELVET BUZZSAW (dir. Dan Gilroy)
The writer/director of the instant masterpiece that was Nightcrawler has jumped back into dark waters once more, this time diving fully into the genre. Described as a horror comedy set within the art world, this Netflix-produced film reunites its director with Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. Also along for the rides are Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Billy Magnusson, Pat Healy, and my absolute full attention. Best of all? Netflix announced this very day that it will be arriving on February 1st. Mark your calendars, folks!
And Five To Grow On…
Had I managed to get this undertaking completed before it’s release, Adam Robitel’s Escape Room would have made the core list. Still, it’s the first horror hit of the year and likely to launch a franchise, so it’s definitely worth mentioning. Michelle Iannantuono’s Livescream is a fun little indie offering that I managed to catch at Nightmares Film Festival back in the fall and one that will hopefully see release in 2019. After directing segments of both Southbound and XX, Roxanne Benjamin brings forth Body at Brighton Rock this year and I am there for it.
This spring should also see the release of Jordan Rubin’s Critters: A New Binge. Initially shot as a feature busted up into 10 webisodes for a now-defunct streaming platform, the project is seeing some sort of release in the coming months, be it as a feature or webseries. Now matter the event format, it has my attention. Lastly, there’s the upcoming feature film adaptation of the classic Nickelodeon anthology series, Are You Afraid of the Dark?. It’s still unclear whether the film will make its current October release date, but it has my interest nonetheless.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for another list of 12 (and five more to grow on)!