The summer season isn’t exactly known for producing quality horror, but with the recent boom in VOD releases, we’re starting to see some of the best films the genre has to offer as they quietly sneak around the blockbusters. And while July doesn’t have the strongest line-up we’ve seen this year, it does offer a diverse group of films, some of which could turn out to be the surprise hits of the year. Before we get started, here’s a quick recap of what I watched in June:
- The Midnight Swim (review): For those of you who like a little bit of a challenge in your films, Sarah Adina Smith’s feature debut is a solid slow-burn with enough creepy tension to make it worth a look.
- Insidious: Chapter 3 (review): Leigh Whannell gets behind his first feature film in the third chapter of the Insidious franchise, but despite a couple of creepy moments, the film is unfortunate miss with way too many jump scares.
Director: Marcus Nispel
Cast: Brittany Curran, Stephen Lang, Kelly Blatz
A group of teenagers accidentally release an evil spirit that starts to possess them one by one.
Director: Benni Diez
Cast: Clifton Collins Jr., Jessica Cook, Tony de Maeyer
An fancy garden party turns into upper class prey when a colony of killer wasps mutates into seven foot tall predators.
The Treatment (Blu-ray)
Director: Hans Herbots
Cast: Geert Van Rampelberg, Ina Geerts, Johan van Assche
Inspector Nick Cafmeyer seems to have it all – looks, brains and a successful career. But a dark cloud hangs over his life: since the age of nine, he has been haunted by the unsolved disappearance of his younger brother, Bjorn. Plettinckx, a known sex offender, was questioned but quickly released. Plettinckx lives close by and takes fiendish pleasure in harassing Nick. Then, when a disturbing case comes to light involving a missing nine-year-old, Nick heads a massive search which turns into a relentless manhunt.
Director: Tarsem Singh
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Matthew Goode, Ben Kingsley
An extremely wealthy man, dying from cancer, undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man. But all is not as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body’s origin and the organization that will kill to protect its cause.
The Gallows (Theatrical)
Director: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
Cast: Cassidy Gifford, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos
20 years after a horrific accident during a small town school play, students at the school resurrect the failed show in a misguided attempt to honor the anniversary of the tragedy – but soon discover that some things are better left alone.
Director: Patrick Brice
Cast: Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass
When a videographer answers a Craigslist ad for a one-day job in a remote mountain town, he finds his client is not at all what he initially seems.
It Follows (Blu-ray, VOD)
Director: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi
For nineteen-year-old Jay, Autumn should be about school, boys and week-ends out at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone, something, is following her. Faced with this burden, Jay and her friends must find a way to escape the horrors that seem to be only a few steps behind.
Director: Fabrice Du Welz
Cast: Lola Dueñas, Laurent Lucas, Héléna Noguerra
Michel, a murderous womanizer, meets introverted Gloria online and treats her to a whirlwind one-night-stand. Offering herself as an accomplice in his seductive crimes, the unhinged lovers embark on a deadly odyssey amplified by wild sex, unbridled jealousy, and passionate forays into the dark arts. This smart and gory shocker breathes new life into the lovesick horror genre to serve up a chilling tale of white-hot desperation and terrifying devotion.
Dark Was the Night (VOD)
Director: Jack Heller
Cast: Steve Agee, Nick Damici, Kevin Durand
An evil is unleashed in a small town when a logging company sets up shop in the neighboring woods.
The Vatican Tapes (Theatrical)
Director: Mark Neveldine
Cast: Kathleen Robertson, Djimon Hounsou, Dougray Scott
A priest and two Vatican exorcists must do battle with an ancient satanic force to save the soul of a young woman.
Director: Miguel Ángel Vivas
Cast: Matthew Fox, Jeffrey Donovan, Quinn McColgan
And suddenly, overnight, the world came to a halt. Two men, two survivors, one kid, and hatred that separates them. A place forgotten by everyone, including the creatures that inhabit the Earth… until now.
The Gift (Theatrical)
Director: Joel Edgerton
Cast: Jason Bateman, Joel Edgerton, Rebecca Hall
A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.
What you shouldn’t miss:
July is an interesting month for the genre because while there are a couple of sure-fire hits, most of these movies are a question mark that could go either way. What you shouldn’t miss this month, however, is the indie horror hit It Follows and Alléluia.
- While It Follows already saw a theatrical release a couple of months ago, a lot of people didn’t get a chance to see it because the release was a rather small one. Now that it’s officially hitting VOD, though, it’s no doubt one of this month’s must-sees.
- There’s a good chance you didn’t even know about Alléluia until you saw this fantastic trailer, but with strong word-of-mouth and a totally twisted concept, you’re no doubt going to want to give this one a shot.
What you should take a chance on:
As I stated above, with this month’s horror selection made up of so many unknowns, it makes this particular section a little more difficult to sort out. That said, Stung, The Gift and The Gallows could be making some noise.
- Stung looks like a really fun throwback to the creature features of old, mixing both humor and horror into a practical effects driven killer wasp movie. I’ve heard some mixed things about the film so far, but if you like a little bit of humor with your horror, Stung is probably this month’s best choice.
- If you’re into found-footage horror and you think The Gallows might finally prove that they aren’t all a huge waste of time, then give this one a shot based on its surprisingly solid trailers.
- With Joel Egerton making his feature film debut with The Gift and featuring a great cast, I had to throw this one onto the list. It’s a psychological thriller that looks like it could be the surprise hit of the month. We’ll see!
Which film are you looking forward to the most?
It’s definitely It Follows because I was one of the few who missed out on the theatrical release. Will it live up to all the hype? I sure hope so!
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