Happy New Year!
January is one of my favorite times of the year because there’s so much hope for this brand new shiny year we have before us. With a new year comes new surprises and delights, and I feel particularly optimistic since I think 2017 owes us for 2016. Hopefully that will extend to horror movies.
The good news is that, if the January horror movie release calendar is anything to go on, 2017 is off to a solid start. We’ve got some awesome horror-action films, a M. Night Shyamalan psychological thriller, and a promising urban legend supernatural horror movie, among others that could surprise us.
Underworld: Blood Wars
“Death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) must fend off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the vampire faction that betrayed her. Joining forces with allies David (Theo James) and Thomas (Peter Andersson), she embarks on a quest to end the eternal war between the two races, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.”
ERMAGARD I LOVE THESE MOVIES. Everyone has guilty pleasures, and Underworld is by far my favorite guilty pleasure. The whole Underworld series consists of perfect B Movies—crazy plots, awesome action, Kate Beckinsale being a boss, and a whole lot of sexy monsters battling each other. I also note that this entry into the series continues the grand tradition of casting distinguished British character actors—hello there, Tobias Menzies from Rome and Game of Thrones!
As for the film itself, plot is never what we want from an Underworld movie, so I’m really just wanting to see how Kate Beckinsale ends up fighting everyone in the Nordic while wearing that magnificent fur coat. I’m so ready.
The Bye Bye Man
“People commit unthinkable acts every day. Time and again, we grapple to understand what drives a person to do such terrible things. But what if all of the questions we’re asking are wrong? What if the cause of all evil is not a matter of what…but who? When three college friends stumble upon the horrific origins of the Bye Bye Man, they discover that there is only one way to avoid his curse: don’t think it, don’t say it. But once the Bye Bye Man gets inside your head, he takes control. Is there a way to survive his possession?”
You know, this movie has a pretty interesting premise. I dig the idea of an evil monster that infects people through word of mouth. I don’t know why, but that idea is so compelling to me. It could make for an interesting movie if done right. Maybe the film does that. But you wouldn’t know if from all the not-scary jump scares featured in the trailer, which kind of lessen the impact of the monster.
Maybe this just is a bad trailer for a promising movie, or maybe it’s a great trailer for a bad movie. I can’t decide.
“When a law student uncovers chilling secrets and places her life at risk, a bitter, rough-around-the-edges detective gets assigned to her case.”
Hoo boy, this looks low-budget as hell. Not that there’s anything wrong with a low budget, but some filmmakers can hide it better than others. And would it kill Eric Roberts to put some effort into this? For me, he’s one of those actors who looks like he’s perpetually phoning it in and never disappears into a role. I don’t care if he earned an Academy Award nomination thirty years ago.
It also looks…boring? Like, this is not a good trailer. I was so excited when I saw this takes place in Sugarland Texas, which is a suburb of Houston, but all this trailer did for me was confirm for me that Sugarland is so boring and suburban that even their horror movies are boring and suburban.
Also, I chuckled a bit at that title, which seems like a blatant attempt to invoke The Conjuring.
Bad Kids of Crestview Academy (VOD)(Limited)
“Spoiled kids are placed in Saturday detention at the prestigious Crestview Academy. After one of the kids locks away the teacher, the kids find themselves trapped in school with no way out, wondering who (or what) set them up. Their ranks quickly dwindle as each falls victim to a gruesome accident while trying to escape.”
Apparently, this is a sequel to Bad Kids Go to Hell, which I never saw but maybe should. This movie doesn’t seem like my kind of horror film, but part of me wants to see this just for the cast: what in the world would a horror movie starring Drake Bell, Sean Astin, Gina Gershon look like? It looks like it could be a lot of campy fun and corny jokes, but at least the film seems to know and has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek.
Also, I kind of love the teachers coming after the students. Any teachers out there that want to open up about frustrations with bad students?
Attack of The Lederhosen Zombies (VOD)(Limited)
“Zombie action in the Alps: a group of young snowboarder is stuck in a remote mountain ski resort, where an all-night aprés-ski party soon turns into a hellish nightmare of zombie mayhem.”
Zombie-ski horror comedy with heavy doses of Dead Snow and Dead Alive? Got it.
“While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being. Though Kevin has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher, there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him – as well as everyone around him – as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.”
I guess this is a good opportunity to talk about horror’s readiness to use psychological disorders and mental illness in horror films. It can be done well and it can be done horribly. For every Black Swan, there are 50 movies where the villain kills people because he’s crazy. I’m worried that Split could veer into this territory as a way to spice up what would otherwise be a basic serial killer movie.
It’s not that it would be impossible for someone suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder to have a personality that was a serial killer. The problem is that the film must be careful to using a mental illness as the sole explanation for violent behavior. The vast majority of individuals who suffer from mental illness don’t run around killing people, and a whole lot of murders don’t suffer from mental illness.
That said, I’m encouraged by James McAvoy’s involvement. He’s an extraordinary actor and I think a good choice to keep Kevin and his personalities from sliding into horrible caricature. He’s also a big enough name that he would think twice before taking work that irresponsibly dealt with mental illness (I hope). M. Night Shyamalan…I don’t know how I feel about that. His early work is great, but he’s had some real missteps. I hope this film proves to be an example of his more thoughtful works.
The Axe Murders of Villisca
“‘Villisca’ is a ghost story set in the actual house of the notorious and still unsolved 1912 ax murders. Three outcast teenagers break into the house in search of answers, but discover something far beyond their worst fears.”
When this trailer started, I was really worried that this would be a dramatization of the actual Villisca murders, where eight people, including 6 children all under the age of 12, were slaughtered. It was a despicable crime, and one I didn’t have any faith in the film to handle with sensitivity.
But then the trailer took a hard right into tired, stereotypical ghost hunter territory and I stopped caring. Sorry if that sounds harsh.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Picking up immediately after the events in Resident Evil: Retribution, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity’s final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began – The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse.
I confess I’ve never really watched these movies, but I may have to start, because this looks intense!!! Is this the zombie version of Underworld, only with Milla Jovovich and way more explosions? Because if so, I’m sold.