January didn’t exactly get off to a strong start; the genre just wasn’t making enough noise despite there being a handful of promising looking titles. February looks to fix that, which is officially the month of The Witch (!), no doubt 2016’s horror movie to beat. But not only is The Witch making its highly anticipated debut, we’re seeing the release of a few noteworthy indies like Nina Forever and Southbound. But before we get started, here’s what I watched in January:
Intruders (review): A nice little twist on the home invasion genre, Intruders was a confidently directed, fast-paced thriller with a pretty cool concept and wonderful performances.
Ash vs. Evil Dead (review): While it wasn’t the return many were expecting, Ash vs. Evil Dead was non-stop blast that hit all the highs of the original trilogy and then some. Ash is back, baby!
Howl (review): Not bad, not great, Howl was all style over substance, offering not much other than a few cool monsters and carnage. It’s worth a look but keep your expectations in check.
The Pack (Theaters & VOD)
Director: Nick Robertson
Cast: Anna Lise Phillips, Katie Moore, Jack Campbell
A farmer and his family must fight for survival after a ferocious pack of wild dogs infiltrates their isolated farmhouse. Through a series of frightening and bloody encounters they are forced into survival mode to make it through the night.
Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Cast: Emma Watson, Ethan Hawke, David Thewlis
A young girl is sexually abused by her father. Thus, begins the disturbing tale of a father and daughter torn apart, thrown into the center of a conspiracy that shocks the nation.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Theaters)
Director: Burr Steers
Cast: Lily James, Lena Headey, Douglas Booth
Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England is faced with a new challenge — an army of undead zombies.
Director: Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath
Cast: Kate Beahan, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Susan Burke
Five interlocking tales of terror follow the fates of a group of weary travellers who confront their worst nightmares – and darkest secrets – over one long night on a desolate stretch of desert highway.
Nina Forever (VOD)
Director: Ben Blaine, Chris Blaine
Cast: Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Abigail Hardingham, Cian Barry
After his girlfriend Nina dies in a car crash, Rob unsuccessfully attempts suicide. As he begins to overcome his grief, he falls in love with a coworker, Holly. Their relationship is complicated when Nina, unable to find rest in the afterlife, comes back to life to sarcastically torment them whenever they have sex.
Director: Adam Levins
Cast: Craig Conway, James Cosmo, Amy Manson
January is forced to return home after six years traveling abroad. A near-fatal accident has left her temporarily wheelchair bound and depleted of her long-term memory. She is accompanied by her boyfriend ‘Callum’ whom she met whilst traveling. He was also the driver in the fateful accident. Not only has she forgotten her family, but her childhood as well and is surprised to discover that her home is a stately manor in the middle of the country-side. As January tries to settle in, she finds herself becoming even more estranged from her family, who just want their daughter back. The trouble is, she cannot remember who that daughter was, or why she ran away in the first place. Desperate to discover why she left all those years ago and with Callum’s help, she sets out to find the truth. They soon discover the family are not as loving as they seem to be. Was there a dark reason why she left them in the first place?
Cabin Fever (Theaters & VOD)
Director: Travis Zariwny
Cast: Gage Golightly, Matthew Daddario, Samuel Davis
The remake follows a group of five college graduates who rent a cabin in the woods. Soon, all hell breaks loose, as the group falls victim to a flesh-eating virus that attracts the unwanted attention of the homicidal locals.
The Witch (Theaters)
Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.
Director: Bernard Rose
Cast: Carrie-Anne Moss, Xavier Samuel, Tony Todd
Set in present day Los Angeles and told entirely from the perspective of the Monster. After he is artificially created, then left for dead by a husband-and-wife team of eccentric scientists, Adam is confronted with nothing but aggression and violence from the world around him. This perfect creation-turned disfigured monster must come to grips with the horrific nature of humanity.
Backtrack (Theaters & VOD)
Director: Michael Petroni
Cast: Adrien Brody, Sam Neill, Robin McLeavy
Psychologist Peter Bower’s life is thrown into turmoil when he discovers that the patients he has been seeing are ghosts. Risking his own sanity, Peter delves into his past to uncover a terrifying secret which only he can put right.
What you shouldn’t miss:
A lot of these films could have easily landed on my “must-see” list, which is always a good sign of the quality of films coming out. But my picks for this month’s must-sees are The Witch and Nina Forever. Take a look:
- With all the hype surrounding the The Witch and it absolutely crushing during its festival run, it’ll be interesting to see if it lives up to the praise or if we have another Babadook on our hands. We’ll see!
- I’ve been talking about Nina Forever since its premiere at SXSW, so I’m happy to finally have to chance to watch it for myself. The reason why it’s a must-see, though, is because of its wild concept and the fact that there’s really just nothing else like it coming out this year. All the positive buzz certainly doesn’t hurt either.
What you should take a chance on:
With something like The Witch releasing this month, there’s always a couple of films that go unnoticed that deserve just as much attention. So if your looking to take a shot in the dark on a horror film this month, I’d say go with Southbound and Estranged, which both look like they could be great.
- Southbound garnered a bunch of attention earlier this month when its absolutely phenomenal trailer dropped, offering a haunting and insane first look at the much talked about anthology. The short form horror format is back in a big way and Southbound promises to continue that trend, so definitely be on the lookout for this one.
- Estranged is an interesting one because we haven’t really heard much about the film, but it’s trailer made a lot of noise when it first dropped last year. I have no idea what to expect from this one but its concept is absolutely terrifying and no doubt could be one of the surprise films of the year.
Which film are you looking forward to the most?
The Witch, The Witch, The Witch! I’m excited to see what all this Black Phillip business is all about.