There are some months where the horror movie fountain overwhelms with a wide selection of scary films across a plethora of subgenres. Other months, not so much.
April has turned out to belong to the latter category, with barely any wide-release horror movies to be found (though the one wide-release horror film looks awesome). But don’t despair! April has brought us a small but eclectic mix of horror movies covering a range of subjects. There’s a serial murder thriller aiming for social commentary, a vicious survival gore-fest, a moody and stylish exploration of insanity, and a darkly surreal collection of fairy tales.
So while you might be counting the days until June when The Conjuring 2 comes out or July for the Purge: Election Year, maybe expand your horror horizons and try a movie you wouldn’t normally watch. While most of these films have secured only a limited theatrical release, they will be available on VOD the same day.
The Girl In the Photographs (Limited)
“A bored young woman in a sleepy community called Spearfish starts receiving photographs of brutally murdered young women. Are they real or staged? The culprit is either a serial killer or some creep with a sick sense of humor.”
Let’s see here, we’ve got a pair of creepy-mask wearing serial killers stalking young, attractive women. We’ve got an insufferable celebrity photographer seeking to exploit the situation for his “art.” We’ve got a sweet ingénue who is being stalked by someone who likes to leave her f*cked up pictures of tortured girls. And we have a disinterested sheriff who refuses to take seriously the situation seriously.
This trailer was muddled, confusing even. The lack of well edited trailer paired with the synopsis, and I would normally be inclined to dismiss this movie out of hand. However, I’m really intrigued by the way the film seems to investigate photography, both as an art form and a way to intimidate and humiliate someone. In our modern era, where videos and selfies are pervasive, this film might be able to say something interesting. Or maybe not, who knows?
It certainly doesn’t hurt that director Nick Simon was mentored by the great Wes Craven. Craven was a fan of Simon’s script and offered to help him get it made by producing it. That’s a good sign in my book, since I LOVE ME some Wes Craven.
“A lonely young woman (Lauren Ashley Carter) descends into madness when she becomes the caretaker of a mysterious New York mansion that has a troubled past.”
Oh snap, I kind of love this movie already.
One reviewer called this “an artfully shot black-and-white riff on Repulsion and The Shining.” Considering those are two of my favorite horror films, I’m definitely keeping a close eye on this film.
The trailer makes this movie look super compelling, what with the pulsing images and tightly framed shots. I love the return to stylish black-and-white. And I love how the main character, played by Lauren Ashley Carter has such expressive eyes. Previously, she starred in Jug Face, one of the more criminally unknown indie horror films, and turned in a nuanced, poignant performance. Just from the trailer I can tell she’ll be great at portraying a full-blown descent into madness.
By all accounts, this horror movie is a slow-burn which culminates in a bloody climax. Keep that in mind when deciding to watch this movie. If you like your horror to get right to it, this may not be for you.
Before I Wake (?)
“A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps.”
I actually profiled this movie last September before it’s release date was pushed back. The bankruptcy woes of Relativity Studios has long plagued Before I Wake. The picture was originally scheduled to release in May of 2015, then pushed back to September 2015, and then pulled from the schedule entirely. It has been in a kind of limbo ever since. Now it’s finally found a release date. Hopefully this one will stick.
All that being said, I still feel like this movie is going to be kind of lame. I’m not a fan of Kate Bosworth or her completely flat affect, which made this trailer so. Damn. Boring.
At least Jacob Tremblay, the little boy from Room, is in it? That’s a redemptive quality for sure. I know he’s really good, but I’m not sure he’s good enough to carry this film.
Green Room (Limited, then it gets a wide release on April 29)
“A band straying into a secluded part of the Pacific Northwest, stumbles on to a horrific act of violence. Because they are the only witnesses, they become the targets of a terrifying gang of white power skinheads who want to make sure all the evidence is eliminated.”
If you had told me that Patrick Stewart would star in a gruesome, gory horror movie about a punk rock band fighting to escape a gang of murderous neo-Nazi skinheads, I would not have believed you. It seems so random on paper, and not like any horror movie I’d want to see.
However, I saw the trailer and read some reviews, and now I really want to see it. For one, it looks like a smartly-made and brutal slasher, a fresh twist on the escape-the-rednecks-in-the-woods plot, with nary a bad CGI ghost in sight (thank God!). Two, Patrick muthaf*cking Stewart is apparently awesome in it. Slashfilm called Stewart’s performance “Stone cold” and “intimidating as hell.” Variety wrote that, as the neo-Nazi gang leader, Stewart is, “plainly relishing the chance to play unmitigated malice.” And third, most reviewers really liked this movie. Reports out of Cannes, where Green Room was screened the Director’s Fortnight section, described the audience’s reaction to the film as “rapturous.”
Say no more. I’m totally on board for this horror movie.
Tale of Tales (Limited)
“Once upon a time there were three neighboring kingdoms each with a magnificent castle, from which ruled kings and queens, princes and princesses. One king was a fornicating libertine, another captivated by a strange animal, while one of the queens was obsessed by her wish for a child. Sorcerers and fairies, fearsome monsters, ogres and old washerwomen, acrobats and courtesans are the protagonists of this loose interpretation of the celebrated tales of Giambattista Basile.”
I love movies that blend fairy tales with horror, like Pan’s Labyrinth, Company of Wolves, and Alice. I’ve written about Tale of Tales before, when it made a splash at Cannes last summer. To say the least, the film looks gorgeous, with stunning locations, rich cinematography, and lush set design. So yeah, it should be worth it just for the visuals.
But I know what you’re thinking—this doesn’t look scary, it just looks weird. You’re right. This movie is apparently really, really weird. Yet, while it is a total art house film, it combines fantastical and disturbing elements to produce “underlying horror that is unnerving even for adults.”
I mean, just what is that hideous flea-looking-thing that Toby Jones fawns over? Why is that scary ogre chasing that girl? What on earth is Salma Hayek devouring and why?
The Hollywood Reporter described Tale of Tales as a “dreamy, fresh take on the kind of dark and gory yarns that have come down to us from the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault, only here they’re pleasingly new and unfamiliar.” IGN said it was “grim and gorgeous…a fine reminder that fairy tales weren’t always only, you know, for kids.”
If you like old-school fairy tales, not just the sanitized and watered-down Disney versions, I think you’ll really enjoy this horror movie.
Happy watching! Let me know if you see any of these horror movies and what your thoughts were!