Happy New Year! 2015 was kind of a crazy year, and we saw some really great horror movies. 2016 horror movies promise to be equally solid, with films like Visions, The Witch (my personal most anticipated), Neon Demon, and The Purge 3. The first crop of theatrical releases for looks intriguing, with January 2016 horror movies hitting everything from haunted forests to remakes of French classics to possessed dolls.

To be honest, it could go either way this month, because January isn’t really known for being the release month for home-runs. Not that we couldn’t have a sleeper-hit on our hands. Any one of these could be a genre-defying movie.

But enough talking, let’s get to these five theatrical releases!

January 8, 2016

The Forest

“When her twin sister disappears in Japan, a young American named Sara becomes determined to find out what happened to her. Sara’s investigation leads her to the legendary Aokigahara Forest, located at the base of Mount Fuji. Accompanied by expatriate Aiden, she enters the mysterious wilderness after being warned to “stay on the path.” Her investigation plunges her into a dark world where the angry and tormented souls of the dead prey on those who dare to explore the forest.”

First off, I should note that this film has generated a lot of controversy before its release, especially since it depicts the real Aokigahara, a forest in Japan where scores of people go to attempt suicide every year. Among legitimate complaints of white-washing and marginalizing Japanese people, there are real concerns that this film could trivialize depression and suicidal ideation by failing to respect these struggles.

I think these are valid points to raise. If The Forest fails to afford the proper weight and nuance to the real people who have died in Aokigahara, then we should address those failings. However, I haven’t seen the film yet, and everyone knows how misleading trailers can be. Stay tuned.


The Abandoned (Limited)

“Take a terrifying plunge into the warped mind of a disturbed young woman. Desperate to get her life back on track, the unstable Streak takes a job as a security guard, working the graveyard shift at a once upscale, now abandoned apartment complex. But on her first night on duty, she discovers a horrifying presence lurking deep within the bowels of the decaying building. With her nerves already on edge, Streak must confront demons both real and imagined as she struggles to keep a grip on her sanity.”

This film hasn’t a lot of buzz, which is a pity, seeing as how a lot of people really liked it. Demonica Vansant over at HorrorNews.net called The Abandoned “Not only one of the creepiest films i have seen in recent years.” Staci Layne Wilson over at DreadCentral.com said the film was “beautifully shot, and it’s got plenty of white-knuckle dread and suspense. It could be the twisted love child of The Tenant and The Descent.” Well then!

Personally, I’m digging how claustrophobic the film looks. I’m not super sensitive to claustrophobia, but I am terrified of crawling through cramped stone tunnels. Hell no.


January 22, 2016

Martyrs (Limited)

“A young woman, Lucie, and her childhood friend, Anna, seek revenge on those who tortured Lucie as a child.”

Of course, this is the remake of the genre-defining, French horror movie Martyrs. And of course, it’s nowhere near as good and brutal as the original. Apparently, the filmmakers this time around de-emphasized the torture scenes and focused more on Lucie and Anna’s relationship. The result seems to be that the remake forsakes the original’s unique edge for something a bit more run-of-the-mill.

Then again, the French original was incredibly violent and genuinely shocking, so maybe the remake is more suited to those who aren’t total gorehounds.

I’ll probably watch this when it comes out on Redbox, after I’ve re-watched the original, and after I’ve chugged a bottle of wine.


JeruZalem (Limited)

“When a couple of American young adults fly to Israel to visit the city of Jerusalem, a biblical nightmare falls upon the city.”

Haven’t you always wanted to go to Jerusalem? It’s the center of major world religions and, consequently, the center of unending political and socio-economic importance. It’s also a lovely city with tons of history and cultural significance. It may not be the best place to vacation, but it would be beautiful.

And that’s what this trailer shows, right before some biblical sh*t goes down.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of found-footage films because I think they’re very hard to do well, but I plan on making an exception for this film. Especially when The Hollywood Reporter wants me to know that, “The haunting final shot alone makes it worth the price of admission.”

The Boy

“A young American named Greta (Lauren Cohan) takes a job as a nanny for an 8-year-old boy in a remote English village. To her surprise, Greta learns that the child of her new employers is a life-size doll. They care for the doll as if it was human, which helps the couple to cope with the death of their own son 20 years earlier. When Greta violates a list of strict rules, a series of disturbing and inexplicable events bring her worst fears to life, leading her to believe that the doll is alive.”

Oh. My. God. This trailer reminded me immediately of the legend of Robert the Doll, a supposedly haunted doll that terrorized his family. This movie seems to cross off every point on the horror movie checklist–Cavernous English manor? Check. Weird old English couple? Check. SUPER creepy, awful porcelain doll with creepy, awful black eyes? Check. But based off this trailer, it kind of looks like every other possessed doll movie, with lots of “where-did-it-go!” and “why-are-you-taking-a-shower-with-a-creepy-doll-in-the-house” and “GAAAH-How-is-the-doll-crying/blinking/turning-its-head!” Hopefully this movie brings something new and unique to the possessed-doll-horror-movie table, because there are kind of a lot.

Are you planning to see any horror theatrical releases this month? Have you already seen any? Let me know in the comments!