20 Films to Prove the Horror Renaissance is Far From Over
Something amazing happened in the later 2000s/2010s. The horror film took over the world. I know that obviously the superhero genre has a monopoly on box-office receipts and marketing prowess, but the sheer enthusiasm for horror seemed to usher in a brand-new wave of exciting, diverse stories that had an intention to frighten. Critically acclaimed hits lead to the ridiculous term ‘elevated horror’ being floated around but in actuality, this was just ‘damn good horror’. And the best thing is it managed to survive and keep surviving.
I know it’s not really news. But it is exciting that we could constantly be on the verge of a contemporary classic of horror cinema. Whether it’s Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake or Jennifer Kent’s now-queer icon The Babadook, it feels as though the creative freedom and lack of overall mainstream appeal (and restraint) has resulted in an untouchable era for a genre the likes of which haven’t been seen since the golden age of Hollywood. It’s even spread across to television too (but that’s a story for another time).
The best part is, even if you’re not a fan you know the usual suspects. It Follows – check. Hereditary – yep. What about Raw, Train to Busan and Tigers are not Afraid? The examples come from across the globe. Everyone’s been killing it. A huge pat on the back and keep them coming please.
Oh, what’s that? You ARE?! HELL YEAH!
Here are 20 recently released or upcoming horror films to prove that there’s no stopping the genre now. I’ve tried to include a wide variety of pieces so if one you’re looking forward to isn’t included fret not, it’ll still probably be awesome. Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic has meant a huge shake up for release dates but we’ll keep moving on regardless. It just means there’s more stuff to catch on physical release/streaming!
Now then, in no particular order let’s get started…
*Please bare in mind that I will be providing trailers for the following films when available, and that often films are better when you go in blind so view at your own risk, though I will try and include the teasers with the least amount of spoilers possible*
Written & Directed by Brandon Cronenberg
Out Now in the US, release date unknown elsewhere
Oh yes, the Cronenberg runs strong in this one. After Antiviral, son of horror legend David Cronenberg seems to be channelling part of his father’s ExistenZ with this high concept science fiction horror/thriller/I don’t know yet, it’s not released here in the UK. It stars Andrea Riseborough, Sean Bean, Christopher Abbott and Jennifer Jason Leigh and will most likely feature a more-than-healthy dose of identity switching, sex, gore and horrific imagery. What more could you want? I initially stumbled upon Possessor after seeing its singular promotional image at the start of 2019, and it just stuck with me so much that I’m glad it’s being used in the advertising material. I mean, just look at that would you? Why would you not want to watch that?
Written & Directed by Rose Glass
Out now in the UK.
What looks to be another winner for A24, Rose Glass’ directorial debut follows a devout hospice nurse who becomes obsessed with saving a patient’s dying soul. Of course, it most likely doesn’t go according to plan. It looks to be another dread-infused introspective comment on faith, madness and salvation with a killer star turn from Morfydd Clark as the titular Maud. Whilst comparisons to The Exorcist are inevitable in the mainstream due to the subject matter, Saint Maud looks to offer a more unique and demented look at the devotion to religious deities.
Written & Directed by Steven Kostanski
Release date unknown.
From the writer/director of practical effect-laden monster goodness The Void a few years ago, Psycho Goreman looks like the perfect cross between an 80s family adventure film…and a batshit crazy blood fest. Sign me the hell up. After resurrecting an ancient alien overlord using a magical amulet, siblings Mimi and Luke befriend this horrifying monster as their new best friend. Unfortunately, his awakening brings forth an army of terrifying intergalactic assassins to their small town so you can bet there’s gonna be a lot of fighting. Originally supposed to be released around March-time, this is another film COVID-19 has cruelly torn away from us. But if you’ve always wanted to see an R-rated Power Rangers or He-Man adaptation with some twisted humour and great practical effects, this’ll probably be right up your alley.
Written & Directed by Anvita Dutt
Available on Netflix now.
Possibly the oldest film on this entire list (released all the way back in June if you can believe that), Bulbbul is an exciting promise by Netflix to continue its diverse look into international horror with this Bengali feminist gem. Underrated Bollywood actor Tripti Dimri is a powerhouse in the central role, providing a deep humanity and desperation equal to anything from an A-lister across the pond. As a story of empowerment it’s important, but the horror comes from the real challenges that are just as present now as in the 19th century. Gothic legends and demon women may be real, but they’re nothing compared to the devious acts that humans are capable of.
Written by Natalie Erika James & Christian White
Directed by Natalie Erika James
Out everywhere from 30th October.
Dementia is terrifying, so of course it fits right in within a horror movie. In fact, just like the disease itself, Natalie Erika James’ directorial debut promises the slowly-winding dread and tension of something going…wrong. Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin & Bella Heathcote are the family trio haunted by their homes’ attachment to the affliction. Whilst it’s been noted for some similarities to other films of its ilk, it seems as though the emotional weight and sensitivity shines strong in this one. Sounds like a winner to me.
Written by Akela Cooper & J.T. Petty
Directed by James Wan
Release date unknown.
We know pretty much nothing about this film, and that’s exciting for a start. Originally set to be released in August before, yep you guessed it, Malignant is said to be an original story crafted by Wan and Ingrid Bisu that we can only assume features a medical component based on the title alone. Whatever it is, James Wan has proven himself to be the closest thing to a blockbuster director the horror genre has with hits like Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring 1 + 2 and…Fast and Furious 7/Aquaman under his belt. Judging by his track record alone, Malignant will be a mainstream smash hit for sure.
Spiral: From the Book of Saw
Written Josh Stolberg & Peter Goldfinger
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Released May 21st 2021.
Consider me cautiously optimistic for this one. Based on a story by self-proclaimed Saw fan and star Chris Rock himself, this is already the most high-profile entry in the series to date, as it also features Samuel L. Jackson and Max Minghella. Although the ninth official entry in the so-called ‘torture porn’ franchise, little is known about this film’s connection to the main story. The teaser trailer shows more of a focus on the cop procedural side of things, something the Saw series has never exactly excelled at, yet with the talent involved it could be a most pleasant surprise indeed. No matter what I’ve always been a fan of the series, but to see it be injected with some new life could give it a whole new identity and that alone is cause for excitement. Y’know…as long as this doesn’t mean Jigsaw’s still alive somehow. That’d be ridiculous.
Written by C. Henry Chaisson, Nick Antosca & Scott Cooper
Directed by Scott Cooper
Released February 19th 2021.
Based on The Quiet Boy by Nick Antosca, this Guillermo Del Toro-produced supernatural monster tale looks like the perfect palette cleanser for the new year. A teacher (Keri Russell) and her sheriff brother (Jesse Plemons) become convinced that one of her students is keeping a strange creature in his house, one that may or may not be responsible for strange local goings on. Whilst the concept is far from original, the presentation, atmosphere and creature design look to more than make up for it. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a tense monster movie every now and then?
Written & Directed by Johannes Nyholm
After what seemed like an eternity in the festival and limited release circuit, this was finally released here in the UK in September. It seems as though a film as blissfully surreal and quirky as Swedish/Danish Koko-Di Koko-Da has no right to also be as disturbing as it is, and yet it all works. Combining live action grim reality with animated shadow puppet sequences and a sci-fi concept deep in its heart, it feels like a breath of fresh air and a breathtakingly original vision boiled down to its most traumatic and emotional necessities. And somehow through it all it never manages to lose its charm.
Written by G.O. Parsons
Directed by Kevin Lewis
Release date unknown.
One name. Nicolas freaking Cage. Whilst it’s no secret Cage is currently on a race to appear in as many films as humanely possible, what’s surprising is that despite the handful of straight-to-DVD thrillers/dramas that a passable at best each year, he’s still managing to pump out a fantastic performance in a critically-acclaimed feature at least once a year. That alone is more than most actors. And people dare to stick their nose up at the cage. How dare they? After 2018’s Mandy fried everyone’s brain off with its neon existential screaming madness, Cage continued to stand out in bold horror choices at the start of this year in Richard Stanley’s H.P. Lovecraft adaptation The Colour of Space. This means that any horror film with Nicolas Cage has that potential from now on – and the premise of Wally’s Wonderland alone allows for some peak on-screen craziness from the star. Essentially just a Five Nights at Freddy’s or last year’s The Banana Splits Movie re-tread, the film apparently sees Cage’s character as a janitor for an abandoned animatronic theme park. Of course, the animatronics are set to ‘evil’ mode and Cage is forced to fight back and survive until morning. I don’t even need to say anymore. You’re in. I know you’re in. And who knows? Maybe we’ll see more of Nicolas Cage before this list is over…
Frank and Zed
Written & Directed by Jesse Blanchard
No wide release date yet.
Still mourning the loss of Netflix’s The Dark Crystal series and pining over some unique puppet-based entertainment? Well this might quench your thirst a little bit. One of the most unique entries on this list, Frank and Zed is a classic, gory, funny horror story about two monster brothers who must face their own dark past…oh, and everything you see is done with puppets. But this isn’t necessarily family friendly, sure whilst the characters and effects are suitably goofy, there’s an underlying layer of genuine fear and gore within it all. It’s just shot in the most unique way possible. I love it when you can see the amount of effort put into a film on-screen, and Frank and Zed’s trailer had me from the first image alone. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.
Ooh that reminds me, I really hope we get a full release of Animortal Studios’ Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires at some point too.
Written by Scott Teems, Danny McBride & David Gordon Green
Directed by David Gordon Green
Released October 2021.
This one hurt. Not only were we supposed be getting the penultimate instalment in the Michael Myers story this month, but the year-long wait also means the final instalment Halloween Ends won’t arrive for another year either. But that’s okay. Because from what we’ve seen and what lord of horror John Carpenter has teased we’re in for possibly one of the definitive slasher films. And both Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode deserve that. Now, if only New Line could figure out how to end the Friday the 13th lawsuit and get Jason back on track…
Written & Directed by Joko Anwar
Available now on Shudder.
This Indonesian hellscape is not for the faint of heart. Produced by some of the team behind the masterpiece that is The Wailing, Impetigore (Perempuan Tanah Jahanam) tells the story of a woman who returns to her family’s small village after learning she might be worthy of some inheritance. Of course, her family and the community they live in has some differing opinions on the matter. The trailer alone has an atmosphere more intense the majority of other horrors, and Asian cinema has been finetuning its capabilities over the past few years in order to compete with the best the rest of the world has to offer. Definitely worth checking out. Possibly alone depending on your friends’/partner’s limit.
Last Night in Soho
Written by Edgar Wright & Krysty Wilson-Caims
Directed by Edgar Wright
Released April 23rd 2021.
There’s a reason Edgar Wright has influenced an entire generation of insufferable film buffs. The man knows his stuff, and every time he has a new release out there’s no doubt it’s a doozy. But despite his love of horror being in the DNA of his filmography, this is Edgar Wright’s first attempt at true horror. And there’s potentially nothing more exciting. Add onto that the fact it’s a psychological horror heavily influenced by British classics such as Don’t Look Now and Repulsion and that its cast includes Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie and Matt Smith and you’ve got an irresistible package. Not much is known about the film either except for its base premise of a young girl transporting herself back to Soho in the 1960s where she meets a dazzling wannabe singer; I’m placing a bet on something being not quite as it seems.
The Green Knight
Written & Directed by David Lowery
Release date unknown.
Is it a medieval fantasy horror? Or just a medieval fantasy with an incredibly oppressive atmosphere and gorgeously haunting visuals? We’ve still got some time to find out. But after the likes of A Ghost Story we can wait for years and it’d still be worth it. Based on the Arthurian legend, King Arthur’s nephew Sir Gawain (the brilliant Dev Patel) embarks on a quest to confront the titular Green Knight – a giant green-skinned creature of unknown power. If A24’s track record and the trailer’s sound design alone doesn’t get you pumped then I don’t know what else will. Inject it into my veins, yes please.
Written & Directed by David Marmor
Out now in the US. Release date elsewhere unknown.
In what could be a great little cult film in the making, a young woman moves into a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, only to get caught up in the goings on of her strange and elusive neighbours. Films like 1BR prove that original concepts aren’t everything, especially when they’re talent involved. Reactions across the pond and across the festival circuit have likened it to the likes of The Invitation and if that’s not a solid recommendation I don’t know what is. Just…maybe give it a miss if you’re a big cat person…
Written by Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfield & Nia DaCosta
Directed by Nia DaCosta
Released in 2021.
Someone said his name three times again. Nia DaCosta’s sequel/soft reboot of the modern classic deserves to be on your radar, and no not just because of the involvement of Jordan Peele. With a renewed (and unfortunate) social interest in the subject matter Candyman is steeped in, we live in a world perfect primed for him to return. It just seems as though socially-pronounced artist Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is about to get swept up in a whole new generation of the curse across the discarded streets of Chicago. I fell in love heart and soul with the puppet teaser above, which is apparently the opening sequence to the film, and if the rest of it is even half as imaginative and beautiful then this could be something special.
Books of Blood
Written by Adam Simon & Brannon Braga
Directed by Brannon Braga
Out now in the US. Release date elsewhere unknown.
Everybody loves a good anthology film, you get more bang for your buck and even if you’re not enjoying the current tale you won’t have to wait much longer for the next one. Not to mention, Clive Barker’s twisted mind is the best place to mine them from. This is the second attempt to adapt some of the author’s collected short stories, but what’s interesting is that aside from adapting the framing story from his Book of Blood, new stories have been created specifically for the film with input from the man himself. Knowing Barker the stories will veer towards the weirder side of psychology and astronomy before taking a deep dive into depravity. Great Halloween viewing.
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Written by Aaron Hendry & Reza Sixo Safai
Directed by Sion Sono
Release date unknown.
Take Sion Sono, one of the most eccentric and subversive Japanese filmmakers working today and combine him with Nicolas Cage (yes, he’s back) in a role that he himself has described as ‘my wildest movie I’ve ever made’ and you don’t even need a trailer to sell it. But how about a premise instead? All that’s known is Cage plays a notorious criminal who, get this, is placed in a skin tight black leather jumpsuit with grenades attached to different body parts as he goes to rescue the governor’s daughter from a state inhabited by ghosts so that the government can blow him up if he fails. Sold. Cut. Print. Check the gate. Stop filmmaking altogether there’s no coming back from this. I don’t know if I can wait.
Written by Gil Kenan & Jason Reitman
Directed by Jason Reitman
Released March 5th 2021.
Couldn’t leave without sneaking this one in, even if it’s unknown how hard this generation sequel to the classic horror-comedy will lean into its scary side. What’s surprising from the trailer so far though is how much it looks in keeping with Jason Reitman (original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman’s son) filmography. There’s a coming-of-age, slow tonal flavour that could lend itself nicely to a more grounded supernatural threat that’ll balance out Paul Rudd’s boyish energy. And with the original cast all apparently returning to pass the mantle, there’s never been a better time to be a ghostbuster. Those ECTO-1 sirens alone send shivers down my spine. Maybe it’s time to be afraid of some ghosts…
Well. That’s 20. And we’ve barely scratched the surface of what the genre is continuing to offer. Off the top of my head we’ve still got your R-rated horror comedy bases covered with body-swap film Freaky. Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula is offering up an epic-scale zombie invasion that looks like its had a baby with Mad Max. The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made me Do It looks to close off the horror blockbuster trilogy in capable hands without James Wan returning to direct. The new adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches provides a scratch for that itch those families and fans of Hocus Pocus are looking for. Let’s Scare Julie, Archenemy, Blood Quantum and She Dies Tomorrow are all living proof that horror still has a truly independent soul. Russian sci-fi Sputnik looks like an awesome cross between Alien and The Thing with some great effects. We’ll find out soon if Zack Snyder can strike zombie lighting twice with Army of the Dead. Blumhouse continues to pump out what fans are asking for, including a new sequel in The Craft: Legacy. Recent pandemic-filmed computer screen horror Host is one of the tightest and entertaining examples of dedication within the film industry in quite some time. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead continue to finely walk the line between sci-fi and horror indie sensibilities with Synchronic. Come Play looks like a jump-scare packed monster movie, the type of thing you need this time of year. Searching director Aneesh Chaganty takes the plunge into traditional filmmaking with tight-looking thriller Run starring the internet’s favourite current psychopath Sarah Paulson. Elsewhere Thunder Road indie maestro Jim Cummings has turned his attention to the werewolf genre with The Wolf of Snow Hollow, and the bland title shouldn't put you off Alone (the John Hyams one) which critics have been raving about as a tense and tight thriller. Oh, and the Spanish folktale of La Llorona finally seems to be getting a worthy adaptation away from the whitewashing of Hollywood in a self-titled release.
Phew, could you imagine if there were more? (He asks, playfully implying a continued list of horror films confirmed for distant points in the future)
*Coughs* New Sam Raimi horror, new Evil Dead, new Paranormal Activity (hey, it might be good), new V/H/S film, Scream 5, The Troop, Dark Harvest and A Head Full of Ghosts *Coughs*
My fear going forward? Much like the entirety of cinema I’m worried about the state cinemas are being left in after COVID-19 as well as the continued disinterest in physical media. Films that are made to be seen in HD (at least) are being pumped out on DVD alone with no accompaniment whatsoever and it’s a shame and a slap in the face to the teams that work on them. Films like Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale and new horror classics like The Wretched aren’t being made available on blu ray here in the UK despite DVDs being an outdated medium. And it’s a problem that’s only going to be getting worse but, again that’s a story for another time.
Other than that, I don’t think this horror renaissance is going to end any time soon. All hail our secretly evil lord and masters.
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Hola. It's me again, reminding you to try and take at least 10 minutes a day to keep up to date with current events and world problems, preferably from reliable sources. It seems impossible to forget, and yet the #BlackLivesMatter movement has disappeared from much of the public consciousness despite the unwarranted deaths of so many being deprived of justice.
In terms of COVID-19, whenever Trump's not taking up headlines with his moronic promises of good health, our outcome is looking worse and worse. Daily rates of infection continue to skyrocket, over ten times as many daily as there were when we were ushered into a lockdown and yet...if you look outside you wouldn't be able to tell.
Yes it's funny to make memes out of a fly who finds comfort on the head of a gargoyle during a live debate, but that comedic jeer whisks attention away from so much. People get angry when British MPs receive a pay rise during coronavirus, or scoff at the fact that the collective wealth of the world's billionaires has increased more-so during this pandemic than ever before, yet they'll still be the ones blaming immigrants for stealing their rights and voting conservative because of the inherent racism that's been passed down from generation to generation. And that's just the UK.
Internment camps continue to function in China. The famine and war continues to ravage Yemen. California is still on fire and hundreds of people are losing their homes as well as their lives to the point where, we seem to have forgotten just how much the exact same thing ravaged Australia at the start of the year. Plans are being erected to 'house' the homeless and migrated on ships around the country - HMMM, WHERE HAVE WE HEARD THAT BEFORE?! The just-passed mental health day worldwide again prompted much-needed speech about the subject, but how long can we just be appeased by speaking about it when so few are offered the treatment they need to continue being safe?
It can seem like too much. That's why 10 minutes is optimal. Arm yourself in conversation with the ignorant. Don't let these issues be swept under the rug just because people are up-in-arms about whether or not Boris Johnson is going to shut their local pub. I write about films and TV shows. I don't write about anything important and sometimes it weighs down a lot that I could be doing so much more, but the truth is it's overwhelming. I keep trying to bookend these pieces of fluff with some small but important instructions but I don't even know if anything works. But I'll keep doing it regardless.
Aside from Googling things, here's a carrd that's updated regularly. On it are hundreds of resources to charities and pieces of information on a whole load of news stories currently going on in the world. Spend 10 minutes. It's just 10 minutes.
I am aware that some of the links on this card are beginning to become outdated too, so if anyone out there can help direct me to another up-to-date carrd I'd be more than grateful.
On top of that here is a link that allows you to help and donate to various causes (you can choose) by just watching adverts. So disable that AdBlocker and put your time to good use.
Thank you for reading.
Stay safe everyone.
See you next week.
P.S. Fatima can have any job she damn-well wants. And from her pristine posture and profile I reckon she's a professional dancer through and through.