Nowadays, Hollywood blockbusters are all about the spandex, sequels, and reboots. But it’s also never been a better time for horror film buffs.
With so many genre festivals growing in popularity plus midnight screenings at big-league festivals like Sundance, TIFF, and South by Southwest causing a ton of buzz, horror films – large and small – are receiving a lot more attention.
Just because a creepy movie doesn’t get a full-fledged theatrical release doesn’t mean it can’t be one of the scarier films of the year. Streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon have purchased some of the more worldly independent horror films that show well at festivals, so we have more than enough content to fill the bloody void.
This year is going to have some fabulous horror films, but not all them are going to hit the mark. Instead of predicting which ones will do the best at the box office, like we have done previously, this time I’m giving odds on which film will the creepiest of 2016. Now keep in mind that “creepy” doesn’t always mean scary. Not all horror films have to make you jump. It’s more about how they make you feel.
Essentially, I’m giving you a list of horror films, some independent and some scheduled for wide release, that I think will be the best of the genre in 2016.
Odds on the creepiest horror film of 2016
The Witch (February 19, 2016) – Wide Release: 17/3
Imagine walking into Sundance as an unknown director with a horror film and leaving with the Directing Award in the U.S. Dramatic competition? That’s exactly what The Witch director Robert Eggers did in 2015.
This horror film has already creeped out moviegoers everywhere and has be receiving rave reviews. It’s not the type of movie that will make you jump or scream, but it will leave you feeling uneasy and jittery. The story is about a pious family in 1690s Massachusetts who are kicked out of their township for not being “Christian enough.” As they try to rebuild their lives on their own, they are haunted by black magic.
10 Cloverfield Lane (March 11, 2016) – Wide Release: 7/1
Considered a blood relative (not a sequel) to 2008’s Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a science-fiction/psychological thriller that was done in secret while J.J. Abrams (producer) was filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. First-time director Dan Trachtenberg does a fantastic job of building tension and unravelling the mystery as the story goes along. The film is focused on three people who are stuck in an underground bunker because it’s no longer safe to be outside. It’s tremendously suspenseful and creepy thanks, in large part, to a fantastic performance by John Goodman.
Green Room (April 5, 2016) – Limited Release: 9/1
We know Patrick Stewart as charming and sometimes a tad off beat, but we’ve never seen him as a neo-Nazi gang leader like the one he portrays in Green Room. The story follows a punk band called the Ain’t Rights who are about to wrap up their tour and play at some backwoods club in Oregon. The band quickly realize that the gig is for a bunch of neo-Nazis, and although their performances goes well, the rest of the night does not.
They find themselves stuck in a green room and their only means of escape is to kill their way out. Stewart is fantastic in this as Nazi Gruppenführer Darcy and the film has done great on the film festival circuit. This will be one of the bloodiest and most intense movies of the year.
Nina Forever (February 12, 2016) – VOD: 9/1
Nina Forever is a film festival darling that is more obscure, dark, and humorous than scary. The story is about a guy named Rob whose girlfriend, Nina, tragically dies in a car crash. After a failed suicide attempt, Rob falls in love with a co-worker named Holly. Things get complicated when Nina, unable to rest in the afterlife, keeps showing up in Rob’s bed whenever he is about to have sex with Holly. Awkward. Nina Forever is definitely worth checking out on VOD (video-on-demand).
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist (June 10, 2016) – Wide Release: 11/1
2013’s The Conjuring was actually well done and so a sequel based on another reported ghost story could provide more goosebumps. Paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raise four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits. This definitely looks creepy, and the fact that it’s based on a true story always adds that little bit of extra trepidation.
Under the Shadow (TBA 2016) – Netflix: 12/1
This is an Iranian-British horror flick directed by first-time director Babak Anvari. Netflix was able to snap this feature up and they’ll streaming it at the end of the year. It’s already drawing comparisons to another foreign hit: 2014’s The Babadook, which came to us from Australia. Under the Shadow focuses on a malevolent spirit that the Iranian’s call djinn who wreaks havoc on a mother and daughter in war-torn Iraq.
The Neon Demon (July, 2016) – Limited Release: 12/1
This is a Danish horror film that takes place in America and stars Keanu Reeves. The story focuses on Jesse, an aspiring model who moves to Los Angeles where her vitality and youth are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women. Not much is known about this film but it’s directed by Nicolas Winding Refn who gave us the film Drive and some other fantastic movies.
The Invitation (April 8, 2016) – Limited Release: 13/1
When this film first started getting reviewed at festivals, it was getting 100-percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by Karyn Kusama, The Invitation is a horror/psychological thriller that just keeps ramping up the tension. The story centers around a guy named Will, whose wife, Eden, leaves him in the wake of a tragedy. Fast forward to two years later and Will’s ex invites him to a dinner party with her new friends. The evening goes from weird to terrifying as Will believes that his ex and her friends have more nefarious motives.
Demon (TBA 2016) – Limited Release: 14/1
I love folklore-based horror because it gives us a close look at some of the intimate aspects of a culture and some of the things that freak those people out. Demon joins fantastic folklore horror films like Trollhunter, Krampus, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, etc. this one gives a modern take on dybbuk, which, in Jewish tradition, is the spirit of a person not properly laid to rest.
The movie takes place in rural Poland where a couple is about to get married. Of course, things go off the rails when the groom accidentally disturbs some human remains on the property. When this film was shown at TIFF, it got rave reviews, but the creepy factor was turned to 11 when director Marcin Wrona was found dead in his hotel room afterwards.
Southbound (February 5, 2016) – VOD: 18/1
Horror anthologies are making a comeback and Southbound has taken it to a whole new level. The film consists of five creepy vignettes set on a derelict highway and connected by the voice of a radio DJ. A few different directors add their shorts to this anthology with a stand out segment called “Accident” by David Bruckner. This is definitely worth the watch. Find it on Itunes and other VOD sites.
The Holidays (April 15, 2016) – VOD: 20/1
Like Southbound, this is a collection of subversive short films with a theme. Many fantastic directors like Kevin Smith and Gary Shore each put their stamp on some of our favorite holidays and add some creepiness to all the festivities. This will be on very limited release but should be available on video on demand in April.
Rings (October 28, 2016) – Wide Release: 25/1
This film was originally supposed to come out last year but was pushed to April. Rings will be the third installment of the series, taking place thirteen years after the events of the original film. So I guess we are getting away from VHS tapes now? The only returning character is the dreaded Samara. Maybe instead of video tapes she shows up in torrents? Who knows? The Ring Two (2005) was terrible but I have hope that Rings will bust out some big time scares with F. Javier Gutiérrez at the directorial helm.
(Photo Credit: Latest Movie Trailers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_iq9wMTXAo).)