Tomorrow is the official kick-off of the Sundance Film Festival! That means you should get ready for a fresh round of groundbreaking, artistic, and unsettling indie horror films.
Sundance is the largest independent film festival in the United States and one of the beacons for upcoming independent horror films. Among the slate of prestigious arthouse flicks and top-tier foreign films, Sundance makes room for imaginative and innovative horror and genre films. Being the largest independent film festival in America and one of the most important film festivals in the world, Sundance provides invaluable exposure for horror films that buck the studio system and push the envelope.
All of which is great news for horror fans of all stripes.
Gosh, is it already December 2017? Have we already been through eleven months’ worth of horror movies with only December horror left?
Time flies, doesn’t it?
We’ve been through a ton of horror movies this year of varying levels of quality. It only seems consistent that December horror would go the same route. I’ve been waiting for The Shape of Water for what feels like ages, which, if it’s as good as everyone says, will make a great year-end triumph for the genre. December horror also has some indie gems, like Desolation. But there’s also the forgettable Slumber to contend with.
It’s really Guillermo del Toro’s month for horror, for sure.
Horror is always a mixed bag, and it seems like this December Horror list is no different.
Let’s get to it.
Halloween has come and gone, leaving horror movies in its wake like so many crumpled candy wrappers on my coffee table. Just as we kind of ignore Thanksgiving and skip from Halloween to Christmas, November’s horror release calendar makes me long for December when The Shape of Water will grace theaters.
And yet, even though it’s a slow time of year for horror movies, all is not lost. Yes, there are some real stinkers on November’s slate, but look at the bright side! I’ve found a few promising movies here, like My Friend Dahmer, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and Mayhem, all of which have toured the festivals and gained critical acclaim as examples of innovative and striking horror filmmaking. Sometimes it’s the most unassuming horror movies that make the biggest impact, right?
Fantastic Fest 2017 is here! Finally!a
Fantastic Fest is the largest film festival specializing in genre films, which basically means it focuses a lot more on sci-fi, horror, fantasy, action, and generally fun and weird movies. Fantastic Fest may not be a critical darling like Cannes, Venice, or Sundance, but it has a proven track record of showcasing crowd-pleasers and groundbreaking genre films. It usually picks up where TIFF leaves off, pushing the envelope even farther with non-horror movies like There Will Be Blood, Red, and John Wick.
These are the kinds of movies that really make you feel something, whether that’s a vicarious blood lust, a sense of wonder, squealing terror, or outright uncomfortable confusion. Fantastic Fest is always interesting and has something for every type of horror fan.
*Mild Spoilers for It**
I’ve known about It for as long as I can remember. It was that massive brick of book that sat on the shelf at the public library, daring me to secretly check it out and sneak it home, where I could read it under the covers at night. It was also that early 90s TV movie starring Tim Curry that my parents wouldn’t let me see, and that I didn’t see until I watched it during a slumber party. Growing up, It was the epitome of horror, not only because of the scary clown, but because children were the target of his evil, and It was not afraid to depict child murder.
It really went there, and many 90s kids won’t forget it. Many of us flocked to movie theaters last weekend and forked over cash to see the latest adaptation of It. I, for one, was almost giddy with excitement. I wanted to be scared sh*tless. I wanted to recapture some of the terror I felt reading the novel. I’ve grown up, but I still remember the exquisite and sickening pain of growing up, of realizing the evil in the world.
But this adaptation didn’t make me feel that.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) continues the 2017 film festival season in style! And with tons of horror movies!
Thank God! I was getting a little parched with the paltry (though potent) slates of horror movies at Cannes and Venice.
Honestly, it’s not a surprise that TIFF has much more horror than the other festivals. TIFF has always been a little more…risky than some of the more prestigious festivals. Not that TIFF isn’t prestigious–it regularly attracts top-level talent and Oscar contenders. It’s just that TIFF is a little more daring. A little more willing to recognize the worth and artistic accomplishments of genre films.
As Vox put it, “Cannes films often skew toward more rarefied and international films, while at Toronto…you can find bigger crowdpleasers that might also find more money at the box office and wind up bigger awards-season contenders…TIFF sets the pace for the year’s awards chatter.”
And just to underscore the point, TIFF regularly hits homeruns, especially in horror. TIFF has debuted such horror films as Dario Argento’s Opera in 1989, Peter Jackson’s Braindead in 1992, The Grudge in 2002, Hostel in 2005, Inside (À l’intérieur) in 2007, 2008’s The Loved Ones, Black Swan in 2009, The Lords of Salem in 2012, Emilie in 2015, and Raw in 2016, where multiple people passed out during the screening.
Thus, without further adieu, let’s get to TIFF 2017’s horror movies!
Did you know It, the long-anticipated major studio adaptation of Stephen King’s most messed up novel, is being released this month? Of course you did, because those freaky trailers have been everywhere!
Did you know that Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is also being released and marks the director’s return to exquisite psychological horror? You sure do if you follow this blog, because I won’t shut up about it.
With those two films only, September 2017 is a good month for new horror movies. The same garden-variety, lamesauce horror films crop up (Temple, The Sound), but we’ve also got a few Netflix and indie horror movies that are worth a closer look (The Limehouse Golem, Flatliners, Don’t Sleep).
Film Festival season continues with the venerated and show-stopping Venice International Film Festival. The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world, founded in 1932. Venice reigns alongside the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival as the three most important film festivals in the world. Kings are made, stars are born, and buzz-worthy films live or die by the reaction they garner at Venice.
As one of the most important film festivals in the world, Venice has done its fair share to elevate horror films of artistic merit and critical acclaim. The very first film ever screened at Venice in 1932 was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, directed by Rouben Mamoulian. In more recent years, Venice showcased Survival of the Dead (2009), Black Swan (2010), Under the Skin (2013), and The Bad Batch (2016).
And this year, Venice has two of the most highly anticipated horror movies on its slate – Darren Aronofsky’s mother! and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. It doesn’t get much more art-house horror than these two, and I am dying of anticipation.