For every great horror movie there are a slew of stinkers. While the only thing frightening about a number of this year's offerings is how delusional the studios are if they think people will pay to watch some of the pablum passed off as horror, there are some stellar big-screen scares worth dropping the dough for. Below is our list of a few on both sides of the aisle.
Subversive horror flick Get Out (Feb. 24) has raked in more than $150 million in domestic box office sales, with Jordan Peele (Key & Peele, Keanu) breaking the record for highest grossing original debut by a writer-director, which was previously held by the 1999 genre-defining The Blair Witch Project—Peele is also the first black writer-director to gross $100 million+ with a debut.
Also here—and quickly gone—is the universally unliked The Bye Bye Man (Jan.13). A creepy character becomes corporeal when his name is uttered or even imagined, hence the mantra of the film's twisted teens: "Don't think it. Don't say it." Too bad none of them said, "Don't make it."
In the it's-about-time category, is the critically acclaimed M. Night Shyamalan written/directed Split (Jan. 20), which The New York Times described as, "At once solemn and preposterous, sinister and sentimental, efficient and overwrought, Split represents something of a return to form for its writer and director."
In the "Wasted Potential" file we have A Cure for Wellness (Feb. 17), directed by Gore Verbinski. This one is particularly disappointing because it should have been better: Verbinski directed the first three Pirates of the Caribbean, Rango and the brilliant The Ring. A Cure is eye candy, but Rotten Tomatoes suggests its "surfeit of visual style [is] wasted on a derivative and predictable story."
Least but not last is Rings (Feb. 24), which brings the Americanized versions of the heart-stopping Japanese original, Ringu, to three. Variety says Rings is a "blah generic ghost story that's half-heartedly built around the premise of a videotape that kills. It's now the file-share that kills. I don't know why that's less threatening, but it is."
Last but not least is The Devil's Candy (March 17), a well-received flick about a painter possessed by the Prince of Darkness. Rotten Tomatoes says it, "Subverts horror tropes while serving up more than enough stylish thrills to satisfy genre enthusiasts."
A Dark Song (April 28) described on its Facebook page as an "Irish Welsh occult horror film," is about two desperate people who turn to black magic. Wired.co.uk called it a "claustrophobic horror that's equal parts haunted house and pot-boiler thriller."
As a prequel to 2012's Prometheus, Alien: Covenant (May 19) promises to dig further yet into the history of the terrifying Xenomorphs, exposing the extent of the species' rapacious appetite for resources. It's a must-see for fans of the franchise.
Speaking of awakening, the 19th installment in The Amityville Horror saga, Amityville: The Awakening (June 30) hits theaters more than a year after its original release date.
This time around, it's the story of young Belle (Bella Thorne) and her comatose twin James (Cameron Monaghan of Shameless) who wakes up after they move into the house with their single mother. Apparently, James isn't the only one "awakened." ATA sounds like a shitshow, but is worth seeing—maybe wait for a second-run showing or streaming—if only as an homage to the 1979 original (which featured a terrifying James Brolin).
Later This Year
Once again, filmmakers will attempt to bring Stephen King successfully to the big screen and this year, they'll try not once but twice.
First comes the visual version of King's popular multi-volume sci-fi/fantasy The Dark Tower (Aug. 4), a sort of post-apocalyptic Western starring outstanding actors Idris Elba (Luther, Prometheus, Zootopia) as Roland Deschain a.k.a. The Gunslinger and Oscar award-winning Matthew McConaughey (True Detective, Dallas Buyers Club, Interstellar) as The Man in Black. If those two aren't reason enough to see the film, its producers might be: Stephen King, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman and Brian Grazer.
The following month, Bill Skarsgard (Hemlock Grove, Allegiant, Atomic Blonde) takes on the iconic role of Pennywise the Clown in It (Sept. 8), first embodied by Tim Curry in the 1990 TV mini-series of the same name. Where big-screen portrayals of King stories often fall short, the mini-series worked, mainly because it had the time to cover the breadth of the epic 1986 novel. When it was announced Skarsgard would play Pennywise, critics and fans alike questioned the choice. The recently released trailer, however, proved it either a genius move or a moot point: Within 24 hours, the trailer had received 200 million+ views, "blowing past the previous record of 139M set by Universal's The Fate of the Furious back in December," according to deadline.com.
Fall starts to go flat with Annabelle: Creation (Aug. 11), the origin story of the creepy doll in The Conjuring, and the fourth installment in the Conjuring franchise; Flatliners (Sept. 29), a reboot of the 1990 classic, which starred Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland, the latter of which stars in the 2017 version, too; Insidious: Chapter 4 (Oct. 20) gives us yet another prequel (ugh), again not directed by James Wan (double ugh) focusing on the life of psychic Elise Rainier, played again by the always awesome Lin Shaye; and Saw: Legacy (Oct. 27) the eighth installment of the franchise that should have ended when Jigsaw died in 2010.