Much like January before it, February has often been a dumping ground for films (especially horror films) that studios know won’t do well. But don’t fret, this February has a lot of hidden gems, the kind I’m not used to seeing this early in the year. I’m stoked to see Natalie Portman’s sci-fi horror film Annihilation as well as a fresh take on a zombie outbreak in The Cured. Then there’s Netflix’s latest acquisition, The Ritual, the promises a scary fun time in the woods.
There’s also a fair bit of movies that are less than exciting, but it’s a good sign that we’re already seeing strong horror films this early in the year.
February 2, 2018
“After the sudden death of her family, firearms heiress Sarah Winchester becomes convinced that she’s haunted by the souls of those killed by guns. Winchester then decides to build an enormous mansion that’s designed to keep the evil spirits at bay. When skeptical psychiatrist Eric Price visits the estate to evaluate her state of mind, he soon discovers that her obsession may not be so far-fetched after all.”
Uggggggghhhhh, this looks so silly. It seems like every other overly CGI-ed haunted house story with a jump scare every 5 minutes, and I’m bored. I sure hope Helen Mirren earned a big check for this movie.
If it was more of a psychological horror movie and focused more on Sarah Winchester’s grief and guilt about having married into a family that profits off of guns, then maybe I would be more intrigued. And although trailers can be misleading, I feel confident in saying that Winchester is not that movie.
I also have a problem with how this movie props up the legends surrounding Sarah Winchester. Having visited the Winchester House in San Jose, California, I don’t believe this woman believed that building a never-ending house would appease the spirits haunting her family. I think she was a lonely, grieving widow who had too much money and too much time on her hands, so she set about on an endless remodel of her house in addition to starting businesses, inventing household items, and employing a small city for her estate. You can read more about my visit here, but the whole thing is a disrespectful way to remember a woman, capitalize on her pain, and rake in cash. Looking at you, Winchester Repeating Arms Company, who is definitely not the mysterious current owner of the Winchester house.
February 9, 2018
The Ritual (Netflix)
“Reuniting after the tragic death of their friend, four college pals set out to hike through the Scandinavian wilderness. A wrong turn leads them into the mysterious forests of Norse legend, where an ancient evil exists and stalks them at every turn.”
OOOOO This looks scary!!! And a hell of a lot better than the other survival horror movie on this list Primal Rage.
Based on the 2011 horror novel by British author Adam Nevill, The Ritual premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. There, it garnered positive critical acclaim and was acquired by Netflix for release in the United States. Specifically, Variety gave a lot of credit to the film’s “solid atmospherics” that make the film feel “distinctly different” and “elevate a not-particularly-original conceit.” Because yeah, getting lost in the woods and being terrorized by witches is not super original. However, precise attention to detail and excellent filmmaking will always turn out a better movie than one with an entirely novel plot and shoddy execution.
I can’t wait.
“When a woman gives birth to twins, only one child survives. She begins to suspect that something supernatural has chosen her remaining child, and it will stop at nothing to take it from her.”
I’m not sure how I feel about this movie from the trailer. On the one hand, it could be a very tense, horrific interpretation of post-partum depression and grief. On the other, it could be a hooky movie about a demon stealing a baby, relying completely on baby monitor jump scares. Unfortunately, I don’t feel invested either way, but if this shows up on Netflix or Amazon Prime, I’ll give it a shot.
February 16, 2018
The Housemaid (VOD)
“When an orphaned Vietnamese girl is hired to be a housemaid at a haunted rubber plantation in 1953 French Indochina, she unexpectedly falls in love with the French landowner and awakens the vengeful ghost of his dead wife… who is out for blood.”
We don’t get a lot of Vietnamese horror movies here in the states, which makes The Housemaid appealing on its face. This period piece horror movie takes place at a fascinating point in history, on the eve of the Second Indochina War, aka the Vietnam War. I think The Housemaid could be a unique take on the vengeful ghost trope by setting it in such an era and exploring a romance tainted by the race, class, and colonial powers. Lord knows we could do with more foreign horror.
Black Creek (VOD)
“Returning to their family’s cabin in the dark, Wisconsin woods to scatter the ashes of their father, a troubled young man and his brash sister are terrorized by signs that an ancient, Native-American spirit, awakened by a ritual murder, has marked them for death.”
“Oh, yeah, of course, an old *Indian soul-catcher*! That’s totally a thing and not a lazy, stereotypical excuse for a plot device in this movie, we promise.”
Everything about this looks lazy and stereotypical, from the group of “city kids” spending a debaucherous weekend at a creepy cabin, the folksy but ultimately badass sheriff’s deputies, to the Indian spirit-monster-thing.
February 23, 2018
“A group of soldiers enters an environmental disaster zone and only one soldier comes back out alive, though he is grievously injured. In an attempt to save his life, his wife Lena, a biologist, volunteers for another expedition into the zone to figure out what happened to him.”
I am so ready for this movie!!! Because I love science fiction/horror movies like Alien, The Thing, and Event Horizon, I put Annihilation on my most anticipated horror films of 2018 list. Nature is scary, even more so because we don’t fully comprehend the natural world around us as it is. Just imagine if shit starting mutating uncontrollably!
The film’s mysterious premise is intriguing, the cinematography and special effects look stunning, and I love the heavily female cast. I hope this effort from Ex Machina director Alex Garland lives up to the hype. I also hope that Natalie Portman kicks but in the role.
“1920, rural Ireland. Anglo Irish twins Rachel and Edward share a strange existence in their crumbling family estate. Each night, the property becomes the domain of a sinister presence (The Lodgers) which enforces three rules upon the twins: they must be in bed by midnight; they may not permit an outsider past the threshold; if one attempts to escape, the life of the other is placed in jeopardy. When troubled war veteran Sean returns to the nearby village, he is immediately drawn to the mysterious Rachel, who in turn begins to break the rules set out by The Lodgers. The consequences pull Rachel into a deadly confrontation with her brother – and with the curse that haunts them.”
I love a gothic haunted house movie as much as anyone, mostly because something about the gloomy, decaying atmosphere resonates with me. And this trailer gives me that in spades! So creepy! So beautifully dreary! Ugh, I love it! I would be excited about this movie, but apparently, it’s not the best haunted house movie. Variety reviewed it at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and called The Lodgers, “a ripe chunk of pure baroque atmosphere” but lacking “of meat on [its narrative] bones.” The Hollywood Reporter was far kinder, noting that the script “remains deliberately vague.”
Soooo…I’m going to wait for this one to come to Netflix.
The Cured (VOD)
“After years of a zombie plague that ravaged Europe, humanity grapples with how to reintegrate the former zombies into society.”
Oooo, I love this idea for a zombie movie! It focuses on the aftermath of a zombie outbreak that, while just as heartbreaking and catastrophic, is not the same old retread of post-apocalyptic fare. I also love the idea of cured zombies struggling to assimilate back into human society. This movie seems full of compelling themes and excellent acting (not to mention a bit of good-old zombie action for the genre fans). What’s not to love? I can’t wait to see this.
February 27, 2018
“A newly reunited young couple’s drive through the Pacific Northwest turns into a nightmare as they are forced to face nature, unsavory locals, and a monstrous creature, known to the Native Americans as Oh-Mah.”
That bigfoot has quite the arm on him! Precise enough to hit that guy right between the eyes and forceful enough to send him tumbling down the ENTIRE side of a mountain? LOL! That part of the trailer was so over the top and ridiculous that I couldn’t concentrate on the rest of it. Upon a second viewing, I guess Primal Rage looks like a pretty basic but entertaining survival horror/creature feature movie. If you into that sort of horror, you’ll probably enjoy this.