Earlier this month the 347th Paranormal Activity film – a cheap spin-off from the original series, no less – was released to an exasperated sigh of despondent resignation from anyone who appreciates decent horror cinema. Because they churn these things out like they’re on a production line, there’s another one due in October. As I’m sure you’ll agree it was a pretty lacklustre start to the year for horror fans everywhere, though it’s not as if the last few years much better. In January 2013 we were treated to Texas Chainsaw – the cinematic equivalent of a burst colostomy bag – while the year before we were punished for something awful we’d done in a previous life with a visit from The Devil Inside, a film so resolutely loathsome that its writers couldn’t even be arsed to give it a proper ending.
Now, whenever I watch a remake (or a reboot or, worst of all, a “re-imagining) I tend to come out in a rash. As a horror fan this means that my skin is constantly blotchy. Yet such is the miserable state of the genre righr now that the two best horror films of last year – Maniac and Evil Dead – were both “re-imaginings”. There were others, of course, that weren’t a total write-off. Stoker, for example, was decent enough, while the straight-to-video sequel Curse of Chucky was gloriously entertaining, yet on the whole it was a terrible year for the genre.
It is therefore with an appropriate level of defeatism that I look ahead to what’s on offer over the next twelve months. To steal a phrase from our dear Prime Minister’s 2010 election campaign, “we can’t go on like this”… though deep down, I already know that that’s exactly what we’ll do. Nevertheless, I’m an optimist (no, seriously!) so here are five films that might just help to lift horror cinema from the mire this year:
Josh C. Waller’s Raze premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year and was met with a somewhat muted reception. Nevertheless, the plot of this unashamed exploitation film sounds pretty intriguing, and with stuntwoman / actress Zoe Bell in the lead role not a whole lot can go wrong. I just hope Waller’s claim that his film is ultimately empowering to women turns out to be true, though I shant hold my breath.
Unlike most Blair Witch Project rip-offs, the original REC was actually very good. With its low budget, B-movie sensibilities, this Spanish horror series has grown in popularity (though not necessarily in quality…) over the past few years. With Manuela Velasco – the Spanish version of Jamie Lee Curtis – returning in her role as Ángela Vidal, this one might actually turn out to be pretty good.
THE QUIET ONES
Set in 1974, The Quiet Ones stars Sam Clafin (best known for his role as Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games trilogy) and, based on the trailer, combines elements of The Awakening with last year’s surprise hit The Conjuring. Whether or not it’ll be any good remains to be seen, though it’ll at least be nice to see if Sam Clafin can act or if he is – as I often suspect – just a one-trick pony.
WOLF CREEK 2
The first Wolf Creek was a cheap but effective Australian exploitation film that made almost $28m on a budget of just $1.3m. A sequel was therefore inevitable, though I’m surprised that it’s taken them 8 years to make it. Sequels like this tend to be awful but I’m hopeful that Wolf Creek 2 might just buck that trend. After all, the director (Greg McLean) and main star (John Jarratt) of the first film have both returned, and that’s generally a good sign.
Perhaps the one film upon which all of our hopes rest, Godzilla isn’t strictly a horror film but when the rest of the year looks so awful, it’ll just have to do. Directed by Gareth Edwards and starring Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (a great cast list if ever there was one), this film promises to update this classic tale for the 21st century. There’s a lot riding on this one, so let’s hope Edwards does it some justice..
There are others that also might turn out to be quite good. In the next 12 months we can expect films such as Almost Human, a Canadian film from new director Joe Begos, Deliver us From Evil, Scott Derrickson’s follow-up to Sinister which stars Eric Bana and Olivia Munn, and The Green Inferno, a film about cannibals in the Amazon.
On top of those, there’s also a whole host of remakes / sequels for us to sink our teeth into. Poltergeist, Leprechaun and The Town That Dreaded Sundown – a 1976 slasher that is criminally underappreciated – have all been remade for a modern audience, while sequels of recent efforts come in the form of The Woman in Black 2, The Purge 2 and The Human Centipede III: The Final Sequence. Why a film like Poltergeist has to be remade I just don’t know but hey, I guess nothing is sacred nowadays.
What about you? What horror films are you looking forward to in 2014? Do you think the “inevitable decline” of the genre been greatly exaggerated? Let us know below! =)