2018 was an epic year for horror movies with the 40th anniversary of Halloween putting an end to our wait for the return of Laurie Strode and Michael Meyers. A Quiet Place lived up to its hype - a rare occurrence - and I sort of enjoyed the disturbing effect Hereditary had on its audiences. But from my perspective, a couple of streaming series that were not on the 2018 preview really stole the season. Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House may be the most terrifying and well done horror series I have ever seen. Although Hulu’s Castle Rock - based on themes from the Stephen King universe - is not far behind. Say what you will about the place Netlix. Amazon, and Hulu have in cinema, but these streaming services have turned out some great (and to be fair, not-so-great) stuff these past few years.
And streaming is where we start our 2019 preview. Hulu partnered with Blumhouse productions on another original series, Into the Dark. This horror-themed anthology consists of monthly episodes inspired by a holiday. The series actually released in 2018 and if you’ve seen The Body, Flesh & Blood, or Pooka, you are already watching season 1 of Into the Dark. Let’s get started.
January starts the year off with episode 4 of Into the Dark. What happens when a group old high school gal pals get together for a sort of reunion on New Year’s Eve? Find out in New Year, New You. Into the Dark is included with your basic Hulu subscription and it’s worth it for this series alone. The only other horror film released in January is Escape Room. A group of friends find themselves trapped in an escape room … because that’s the point of an escape room. Only this one has deadly consequences. I can only hope there is an axe-throwing follow up on deck.
There are six movies in February’s line-up starting with the Valentine’s episode of Into the Dark, Down. It is followed by a Netflix exclusive, Velvet Buzzsaw. This strangely titled film has an all-star cast that includes Toni Collette, Renee Russo, Jake Gyllenhaal and John Malkovich. Wow. Less star studded are The Prodigy and The Hole in the Ground - films that build their horror themes around children. Kudos to these directors because this is risky business with audiences that have a low threshold for kids in horror - but terrifying when it works. Moving on to the anthology-like Nightmare Cinema starring Mickey Rourke as a movie theater projectionst and curator of individual films selected for the five strangers who are lured into the cinema. Mickey Rourke is pretty creepy on his own so I can only imagine what happens when he is let loose on horror. And Happy Death Day 2U, the sequel to a movie that was so much funnier than I expected, rounds out the offerings for the short month.
I had some fun trying to figure out what holiday would be featured in the March episode of Into the Dark, and Treehouse didn’t even come close. You’ll have to watch this one for yourself because the brief descriptions don’t give it away. March also brings us the highly anticipated follow-up to Jordan Peele’s wildly successful horror debut, Get Out. Us is a story of a family terrorized by dopplegangers during their vacation. While the critics gave it almost as much praise as Get Out, the audience was less impressed according to Rotten Tomatoes and my own sources. I am keeping an open mind - and the explanation video on standby. A third films walks the line between science fiction thriller and horror, and that is Captive State. Decide for yourself whether this alien invasion film starring the great John Goodman meets your horror definition.
I really hate April Fool’s day. I just don’t understand 24 hours of practical jokes and misinformation - it’s not funny to me. But it does make for good horror. This month’s episode of Into the Dark, I’m just F**ing with You, takes the April Fool’s theme to a new level of disturbingly sick and wrong. And the first of two new films for 2019 from The Conjuring Universe opens this month. You will recognize the priest in The Curse of La Llorona as the same Father Perez who tried to deliver the Forms from the Annabelle doll in the 2014 prequel to The Conjuring. Trailers are promising. The remake of Pet Semetary is also due out in April. John Lithgow reprises Fred Gwynn’s role as Jud Campbell and while those of us loyal to the original want to be skeptics, it’s John Lithgow… The fourth film this month is The Wind, a turn of the century tale about the effects of isolation on a lonely mind. Sometimes reality is the most terrifying of all horror.
If you think Godzilla belongs in horror, then May is your month as the legendary creature fights for supremacy in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Or maybe Superman is more your style. If so then you don’t want to miss Brightburn, a tale about a sinister superman with powers that are used not for good, but for evil. And Blumhouse brings us two films to celebrate mother this month. Episode 8 of Into the Dark, All that We Destroy, will be available to stream on May 1 while Ma, starring the great Octavia Spencer, opens in theaters on May 31.
June’s episode of Into the Dark, They Come Knocking, releases on the 1st so turn up the air conditioner and enjoy a summer horror themed film at home because there isn’t much else to keep you cool inside movie theaters as we move into summer. A remake of Child’s Play for those of you who don’t think seven Chucky movies were enough and are ready to start over. This remake is brought to you by the producers of It and features Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky, so there’s that. The other film set to release in June is The Haunting of Borley Rectory. The Borley Rectory is - was - a real place and is still rumored to have been the most haunted place in the world. The World. That’s a lot to live up to and worth checking out.
July will start with the 10th episode of Into the Dark. Currently untitled my guess is it will be a 4th of July themed horror tale. The second film of 2019 from The Conjuring Universe is the third film dedicated to the Annabelle doll. Annabelle Comes Home occurs chronologically after The Conjuring, making it the most current in terms of events. Some skeptics are wondering if the story has run its course. I love Annabelle so my mind is open. Enjoy the performance by Mckenna Grace who played Young Theo in last year’s hit series, The Haunting of Hill House. She plays the daughter of Ed and Lorraine Warren, Judy, in this film. Midsommer was initially reported to be an August release but this film about a couple vacationing in a village full of eccentric residents should be out in time for your own 4th of July vacation. This film is from the director who brought us Hereditary. ‘Nuff said.
Five movies help to wind down the summer starting with Episode 11 of Into the Dark. Also untitled, it is a game of guessing what holiday will theme the mid-summer episode. The New Mutants was on last year’s agenda and fans of Marvel comics will be pleased to see a firm release date. Up next is the iconic book series, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, come to life. The film is not yet rated but expect it to be somewhat kid friendly given its roots. In the Tall Grass is also a book come to life, based on a Stephen King novella. There is little information in the movie description but Patrick Wilson should be enough to get you there. Plus it’s rumored to be a Netflix production so readily available. The last film in August definitely won’t get me into the theater and that is the sequel to 47 Meters Down, Uncaged. It is Jaws meets The Descent so my suggestion is you set your standards low, choose a theater with really good popcorn, and let me know if I am wrong. I love to be wrong when I pre-judge bad horror.
Who cares if there is only one horror movie in theaters in September? It’s It! Movie posters confirm my prediction of Jessica Chastain as the grown-up version of Beverly Marsh. And the final episode of Season 1, Into the Dark will give you a reason to stay home and catch up on what you’ve missed all year or watch a few of my pre-season selections.
Woody, Jesse, Emma, and Abigail are back in Zombieland 2: Double Tap. October is a busy month with Allman Halloween Group so here is a chance to take a little break and expect more of the same from this cast of zombie-fighting characters. And since it’s been 15 years since The Devil’s Rejects, it’s time for a sequel there, too. Rob Zombie returns his favorite leading lady to the screen in 3 From Hell. I didn’t find a plot summary but really, do we need one?
God bless Stephen King for making a film with a November release. Just about the time I should be taking a break from horror, I am like an alcoholic whose booze has been taken away. Just one little fix this month to get us through.
There are no movies slated for release after November and only a couple of movies announced with TBD release dates in 2019. Polaroid is celebrating its third year on the list. The Lighthouse, a fantasy horror starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, is in post-production waiting on its release date. December may be a good time to break out the holiday horror. Yes, its a thing and I will guide you through it.
If I count each Into the Dark episode separately, there are 35 films slated for 2019. Down ten from last year so not quite as epic in terms of numbers as 2018, but plenty of horror to keep you entertained. And I expect our streaming partners to put out some more original stuff that never makes it to the preview. Happy 2019, let’s enjoy the planned and unplanned horror together.