Finally! School is out, summer is here, and we’re finally getting some good horror movies!
After a few months of anemic offerings, June is stepping up to the plate with some heavy-hitting horror flicks. Of course, the biggest name here is The Conjuring 2, sequel to 2013’s box office smash The Conjuring. But there are some other big names here too, like The Neon Demon, which offers a look into the shadowy, dangerous world of the modeling industry, and The Shallows, which serves up a straightforward horror movie involving a stranded Blake Lively and a huge man-eating shark. I don’t know if you can go wrong with any of these films.
There are some smaller titles, mostly foreign films that haven’t gained much press here in the States. But don’t let that dissuade you from checking them out in either their limited theatrical release or their digital releases on VOD. Sometimes great horror movies come out of left field.
1. The Wailing, (Limited)
“In THE WAILING, the arrival of a mysterious stranger (Chun Woo-hee) in an otherwise quiet village coincides with a rash of vicious murders, causing panic and suspicion amongst the villagers. When the daughter of investigating officer Jong-Goo falls under the same savage spell, he calls for a shaman to assist in finding the culprit.
Recently, I wrote about The Wailing and the splash it made at Cannes. And I still really want to see it! I’m not well versed in K-Horror (which is bad, I know), so this seems like as good as any place for me to start. I’m also interested in the story–the mystery element, the insular community, the cinematography–all of that gives me some serious True Detective vibes (the magnificently broody Season 1, not the dismal Season 2). I’m not sure how deep the film will delve into the psychological horror element, but anytime a film endeavors to explore the dangerous intersection of fear and community, I’m there.
- The Conjuring 2
“Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren travel to London to help a single mother and her four children rid their home of malicious spirits.”
FINALLY! Oh, how I enjoyed the original! So well-made, with a great balance of story and horror, tension and jump scares. And oh, how I adore Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson! They are such gifted actors, capable of taking almost any script and elevating the material with their nuanced performances. I enjoy their separate work, but I really enjoyed them in The Conjuring. They make such a great team, with an amazing chemistry that anchored the first movie.
So I’m excited for the sequel, which looks just as creepy and fun as The Conjuring. I’m dying for a solid, suspenseful, intense haunted house horror movie. Also, the fact that The Conjuring director James Wan is back speaks volumes about the quality of this film. It’s a good sign that this film will match the level of filmmaking of its predecessor, since too many horror sequels take on new writers and directors and end up being terrible.
I can’t wait!
2. Therapy For A Vampire (Limited)
“A depressed vampire with marriage issues goes to Sigmund Freud for psychoanalysis.”
Random fact about me: I have a degree in Psychology, and I’m a nerd. Consequently, this movie looks really cute and witty to me. Seriously, vampire ennui has been played out for a while, so it’s nice to see a movie confront it head on. And I love that Sigmund Freud is a character.
Putting aside my psych-nerd tendencies, I have to admit that this film doesn’t look scary. At all. Maybe there are bloody bits that didn’t make it to the trailer, or maybe the movie really is that bloodless. I’ll need either more laughs, i.e. What We Do In The Shadows, or more genuine scares to convince me to pay full ticket price for this movie.
Redbox it is.
3. Queen of Spades: The Dark Rite (Limited)
“There is an ancient ritual known to humankind for more than a hundred years…According to the legend, an ominous entity known as The Queen of Spades can be summoned by drawing a door and staircase on a mirror in the darkness, and by saying her name three times. The Queen of Spades gets her energy from reflective objects; she cuts locks of hair from those asleep, and those that see her go mad or die. Four teenagers decide to call The Queen of Spades as a joke. But when one of them dies of a sudden heart attack, the group realizes they are up against something inexplicable and deadly dangerous.”
Oh, snap! A Russian horror movie! I haven’t seen a Russian horror film since Night Watch, which was inventive and gritty and a little weird.
This seems a little familiar, maybe even trite, what with the whole kids-accidentally-summon-a-murderous-ghost schtick, but the trailer looks intense. Parts of this trailer legitimately creeped me out, especially the parts with ghost children, dead children, and possessed children. Maybe it is a rehash of a bunch of other horror movies, but it seems like Queen of Spades goes hard and is not messing around. I expect nothing less from Russian cinema, which likes to grip a roll of quarters in each fist and refuses to pull punches.
- Clown (Limited)
“A loving father becomes a savage killer while wearing a cursed clown costume that won’t come off.”
LOL I remember when this trailer for a fake movie went viral and Eli Roth decided to make it into a real story! And now, four years later, we have this wondrous, crazed movie in its official U.S. release.
I have to admit, I actually burst out laughing when the trailer revealed the origin of the cursed clown costume. HOW DRAMATIC. And it the origin story comes complete with some extra-grainy found footage and a hobo-looking Peter Stormare to provide all the necessary exposition? That’s very handy. (But seriously, thank God for Peter Stormare. The man is a treasure.)
All kidding aside, this totally reminds me of that old-school Goosebumps novel The Haunted Mask, which actually did scare the crap out of me as a child. It would be legitimately terrifying to transform into a murderous clown, especially if the clown costume literally becomes a part of your body. As such, I think body horror aficionados might really like this movie for the gnarly makeups.
As for me, I’ll probably pass. It just doesn’t look that good to me.
- The Neon Demon
“When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.”
I also profiled this movie in my Cannes Film Festival post, which you can read here. Director Nicolas Winding Refn delivers another slick, visually stunning movie about beautiful people behaving murderously. That might sound boring to some, but as someone who enjoyed Drive and was confused by Only God Forgives, I can tell you with confidence that you will never be bored watching Refn’s work. You might not know what’s going on, but you’ll never be bored.
And yeah, the reviews for this movie haven’t been great, but I’m still pumped for this movie. I love beautiful horror movies, and this one is giving me some serious Italian giallo horror vibes, specifically Blood and Black Lace. Which, in my humble opinion, is reason enough to pay to see this on the big screen. Add in the praise for Elle Fanning’s performance, and I’m officially marking it as a must-see.
- The Shallows
“A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills.”
A survival-horror film involving a massive great white shark and Blake Lively? This looks like a perfect summer horror flick! Look at those gorgeous shots of crystal-clear green waters, cresting waves, Blake Lively’s bum, and a shark gobbling up surfers.
No doubt this film will receive some criticism as a rehash of 2003’s Open Water, but I think that may be a bit premature. For one, Open Water was horrific in that there was literally no way the couple would survive being stranded out in the middle of the ocean like that. But The Shallows seems to want to give Blake Lively a fighting chance, and that in and of itself can be extremely scary. What is she willing to do to survive? Will it actually work?
I’m game to see.
Which of these films are on your summer horror list? Have you seen any already? Leave your comments below!