Monday, November 22, 2010

The Next Big Thing?

Usually I'd wait until the end of the year to start talking about next year's films but 2010 is coming to such a dull end, with Black Swan being the only film left to look forward to, that we might as well pretend that this year is already over. Sound good to you?

I wouldn't say the genre is in a rut right now - there's been far drier periods than this (you can't say horror is flagging when there's a grisly zombie show on TV that's killing in the ratings) - but it's definitely in transition mode. Found-footage films are continuing to do ok, with The Last Exorcist and Paranormal Activity 2 being the most recent examples, but I think the studios rightly sense the public has a limited appetite for that sub-genre so there won't be a flood of copycats anytime soon. The remake trend has cooled off some, just because most of the "A" titles, like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, have already been burned through and the only fear franchise that's on its way up now is Paranormal Activity. At this point, we're waiting for The Next Big Thing to kick off a new cycle and define horror in this decade. Will it happen in 2011?

I don't know - but these are the films I'm most looking forward to next year:


I have no interest in director Darren Lynn Bousman's upcoming remake of Mother's Day. I never cared at all for the ugly, unpleasant original and I think I'll be disliking the remake as well. 11-11-11 has me interested, though. It's based on some hokey numerology nonsense but I'm curious to see how Bousman does with something that's in a more cosmic or supernatural vein.

Apollo 18

I haven't gotten tired of the found-footage genre yet and anything involving government conspiracies and creepy shit about space exploration is all right with me.

The Apparition

I'm all for a good ghost story and I hope that's what this ends up being. I've liked most of Dark Castle's output but outside of Orphan (2009), they've stumbled a little lately and I'd love to see The Apparition be a return to the fun spookshows that got them started.

Area 51

Oren Peli's follow-up to Paranormal Activity has been kept under tight wraps but based on how well Paranormal Activity 2 came together under his guidance, I'm thinking that Peli didn't just have a fluke with his first film and that he can keep delivering the goods. We're overdue for a really scary alien movie so I hope this won't disappoint. On a side note, does anyone remember Hangar 18?

Battle: Los Angeles

If nothing else, we're in for some tasty destruction. The trailers alone eat Skyline for breakfast.

The Cabin in the Woods

I'm going to be optimistic and hope that MGM's troubles will be resolved enough by next year to get Cabin in the Woods into theaters. I just wish they hadn't done the whole post-conversion 3-D thing but whatever.


This Steven Soderbergh-directed tale of the efforts of an all-star cast (including Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law) to stop the spread of a lethal virus is being described as an action-thriller but for me, deadly, airborne diseases and epidemic shit always nudges things into the horror realm. Germs are friggin' scary - is there anyone who read The Stand who doesn't think of 'Captain Trips' every time they have a cold? I thought not. And I think this is in 3-D, too - so maybe characters in Contagion will do a lot of sneezing into the camera.

The Darkest Hour

Hey, more aliens! This story of a group of young people who find themselves in the middle of an extraterrestrial invasion of Russia is director Chris Gorak's follow-up to the acclaimed Right At Your Door (2006) so hopefully this will be another strong, scary effort.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

As with Cabin in the Woods, I'm optimistic that this film's studio problems will get resolved and this Guillermo del Toro-produced remake will hit theaters next year.

Dibbuk Box

This is a Ghost House production, which is seldom a sign of quality, but after seven years of Saw, I'm supportive of any and all films that get supernatural frights back into theaters for the Halloween season.

Dream House

When a director known for more prestigious fare like Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father) tackles a genre pic, it's usually an occasion to schedule a nap but the thought of Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts starring in a haunted house movie is reason enough for me to be excited.

Drive Angry 3-D

I didn't even know that Nicolas Cage's character was someone that had broken out of Hell until I saw Drive Angry's trailer. I thought he was just supposed to be some angry dude. Once I knew that this movie was steeped in the supernatural, I was all in. Although, to be honest I was already excited for Drive Angry as I really liked what writer Todd Farmer and director Patrick Lussier did with their remake of My Bloody Valentine. Here's hoping they can get a good winning streak going - and keep it going at least through their Hellrasier remake.

Final Destination 5

I guess some people - ok, a lot of people - consider this series to be a big joke but if it's a joke, it's the kind of joke that appeals to me. I love that we're five films in now and it's still always about nothing more than setting up the next kill. And I think it's smart that the producers haven't made the mistake yet of trying to develop a bigger mythology for the series. To me, that would be the real kiss of death.

Fright Night

The original Fright Night has charm to spare and I don't see how this remake can compete in that regard - especially when the character of Peter Vincent is now a Las Vegas magician rather than a former actor turned washed-up horror host. But, I'm still hoping for a fun vampire movie out of this.


Based on the early reviews for Insidious, the Saw team of director James Wan and writer/actor Leigh Whannell might have another giant genre hit with this ghost story. Saw was something I could never get behind but this - this sounds really cool.

Paranormal Activity 3

I would've bet money that PA 2 was going to do a Blair Witch 2-style belly-flop but not only did it do huge business, the movie itself was pretty solid. At the very least, it didn't shit all over what made the first movie great. So while I'm skeptical about the chances of a third film being good, the first sequel has taught me to give 3 the benefit of the doubt.

The Raven

I might be more stoked for this than for any other horror flick next year. It's such a daffy concept - Edgar Allan Poe spending his final days on Earth helping to hunt a serial killer who murders according Poe's own writings - that I'm already in love with this movie. If it ends up being smart, great. If it's completely ridiculous, it's still good. Director James Mc Teigue hasn't had a miss with me yet - I loved V For Vendetta and mostly loved Ninja Assassin - so I'm betting he'll go three for three with this one.

Red State

Kevin Smith has fallen on kind-of hard times lately so maybe this detour into horror will get him some favorable attention. It would've been easy for Smith to go the snarky, ironic Scream-style slasher route if he just wanted to cash in on the genre so the fact that he's going for something more serious here makes me hope it pays off for him.

Rise of the Apes

It's science fiction, yeah, but the Apes movie have always had a strong horror vibe with me. The first two Apes movies, in particular, scared the shit out of me as a kid. And the later, more revolutionary-minded entries, like Escape, Conquest and Battle were disturbing in their own way. Rise of the Apes is reportedly more of a remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and that's fine with me. I just hope they don't spare the ape-anger at all. If you're going to go ape, you've got to go ape all the way.

The Rite

Exorcism movies will never go away, even if none of them ever achieve a tenth of the power or success of The Exorcist. This latest entry in the sub-genre looks pretty middle-of-the-road but I thought director Mikael Håfström did a solid job with the King adaptation 1408 so maybe this'll be good stuff, too. And I figure a movie with Anthony Hopkins taking on the devil can't be all bad.

Scream 4

I was more hopeful about this movie before I saw Wes Craven's latest, My Soul To Take. That movie got me real worried. But if the Scream 4 script is strong, I don't see Craven dropping the ball. I'm not the biggest Scream fan - not much of a fan at all, really - but I'd like to see this be a satisfying comeback for the series rather than a case of they should've left well enough alone.

Straw Dogs

A remake of the notorious Sam Peckinpah thriller doesn't seem like such a smart move but I'm still curious to see what was lost and gained in the process.

Super 8

This Spielberg-produced, J.J. Abrams-written and directed alien movie - seriously, what is up with all the alien movies next year? - has top-secret written all over it but just going by the teaser, I'm betting there's something for horror fans to grab onto here.

The Thing
I wish this hadn't gotten pulled from its release date but I'm still confident that this'll prove to be a cool prequel to the Carpenter classic. I would be a lot more down on this project but Strike Entertainment has a solid track record with films like Slither, Children of Men and the Dawn of the Dead remake so I feel like there's a better-than-average chance of this being good. I'm just curious whether all the talk about the FX staying largely practical will turn out to be true.


Any time Kurt Russell does a genre film, it's an automatic event in my book. I'm not sure how dark this supernatural thriller about a private detective who finds himself in a case crossing between the worlds of life and death is going to be but I'm hoping it'll be a real moody, noir-ish affair. On the troubling side, filming on Undying was initally said to begin this fall but I haven't read anything new on it lately - hopefully the project isn't stalled out. If it has, though, maybe John Carpenter can get in there and start the ball rolling again. At least one more Carpenter/Russell collaboration isn't too much to ask for, is it?

If not in 2011, then soon, please.


Timmy Crabcakes said...

Wow, most of those weren't even on my radar.
Of the ones I was aware of the Thing prequel is the only one I was looking forward to.
I recently re-watched 'Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark'... knowing a remake was coming and, as much as I like it, I don't really have the usual trepidations about this new one.

I wonder what set off the invasion of alien invasion films?

Jeff Allard said...

Good question, Knob. No answers here, though. I hadn't even realized how many alien movies were in the pipeline for next year until putting together this list. Ghost movies will be out in full force in 2011, too, but aliens have the edge.

As for Don't Be Afriad Of The Dark, I recently rewatched the original too and I don't think the remake will have to work too hard to surpass it. I have fond memories of seeing it as a kid but it doesn't hold up all that well today.