Movie review: Come To Daddy

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As sons, we always have unfinished business with our fathers. So I thought, ‘What would happen if that unfinished business came looking for us?

Ant Timpson – Director

These words surmise the kernel of Ant Timpson’s vision and directorial debut feature, Come To Daddy and its this beating heart that drives the narrative forward and compels you further into what is essentially a dark and twisted comedy. 

Visually and choreographically, this is a simply glorious film, with a beautifully hypnotic and enchanting score by Karl Stevens, that infuses old school 70s espionage thrillers with an eerie, unearthly bass-fuelled playfulness that is the perfect accompaniment to the narrative.

Come To Daddy encloses some of our greatest fears and trepidations by tapping into a family divided by place and time, but connected by blood and loyalty and this becomes tested by opening up Pandora’s Box to be faced with uncertainty and morbid curiosity.
What lies beneath the surface may be better left untouched, and for those that probe and tweak a little further, can herald some unpleasant surprises. Timpson had a clear vision in mind for his feature, drawing from a personal account with the passing of his own father as his inspiration.
This is evident throughout the film and gives the storyline the much-needed gravitas to direct the audience through the wild and strange happenings that occur and explores the relationship of father and son.

When Norval (Elijah Wood), a ‘privileged man-child’ receives a letter from his estranged father of thirty years to come and visit him. Seeing this as a chance to rekindle their relationship, Norval is surprised to find that his father may not be who he had envisioned. And what’s more, carries some baggage that he may not necessarily wish to inherit.

There’s something quite remarkable about off-kilter, independent films that despite appearances play a tune that is so perfectly in sync with its equilibrium and defies expectations and in this case, Timpson belies his novice attempt at a feature and you’d be forgiven for thinking that he was a veteran in his craft.
The notes and beats are flawless as Norval’s trials and tribulations play out on screen to the delight of its audience. Despite its macabre storyline, Come To Daddy peppers along with much amusement as it playfully dances with our hearts in the most dire of situations and keeps us guessing about the fate of Norval.

Wood is fantastic as the lead and is chameleonic in that way that he brings life to the character with his curious eccentricity, both physically and mentally, showing the flaws and humanity, which is both refreshing and ultimately rewarding as we follow Norval’s journey.
Wood’s performance is even more elevated by his support players, who are a real treat to watch, from Stephen McHattie’s suitably unbalanced Gordon, to the always fantastic Michael Smiley as Jethro, and Martin Donovan’s all-round solid delivery of Brian, make this an ensemble cast that would make most directors proud to be involved with.

The Prognosis:

So many ingredients that combine to make this a gem of a movie. 
It’s not something I can pigeonhole, if I’m honest.
Is it a quirky, yet intriguing independent feature? Yes
Does it produce some high quality visual treats in harmony with scintillating audio stimulation? Yes
Does it tickle the darkest humour of the human psyche? Yes
Does it prove Ant Timpson to be a master of his craft with an array of stellar talent? Yes.
So, what are you waiting for? Head over to Umbrella Entertainment and treat yourself to a superbly entertaining movie, that will not disappoint.

  • Saul Muerte

 Come To Daddy is NOW available to view via Video On Demand

Blu-Ray & DVD from June 2020

Retrospective: The Cabinet of Dr. Cagliari

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Director Robert Wiene was once creully dubbed a one-hit wonder following the success of his German expressionist silent film, The Cabinet of Dr Cagliari, which celebrates its centenary this year. Cruel because its stature as a film both in the horror genre and the celluloid art form as a whole is elevated, even now in modern times, audiences can still view the film and appreciate its vivid structure and powerful storytelling. This concept has been carried out through a number of Wiene’s films since and as such places the auteur in a higher pedigree as a result.

Part of the reason for TCoDC’s success is its beauty and why I believe that it still resonates today is because of how the Expressionist movement that Wiene articulates throughout the narrative heightens the sense of fear, horror and dread. The use of exaggerated framing within the set, scenery, dramatic lighting and obscure camera angles, all of which have been harnessed and inspire many great film directors today. This abstract style of filmmaking that broke down the parameters of the environment is a welcoming device that unsettles the viewer, and it’s this discomfort that is dialled up and emphasised during the early 1920s with films such as Phantom, Nosferatu, and The Golem: How He Came Into The World, that captured the imaginations of their audience and captivated them. 

I’ve alway been drawn to this style of storytelling and combined with Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer’s screenplay that twists and turns our perception of the world, we are left questioning our judgement and a little foolish at our trust in the storytellers.

The device is a simple one that plays with the audience, who have come accustomed to the conviction of the author, that when the reveal happens we see that the true horror lies within the mind of our narrator. This device has oft been repeated, but the simplicity of its tale is what continues to captivate audiences and any cinephile who has yet to catch this masterpiece, should do so without haste, and it is fairly easy to stream it without any restriction involved. Without it, the term calgiarism wouldn’t have been formed, a word that I might add warrants resurrection to highlight madness and obsession with distorted visuals.
In short, don’t judge this film by its age, black and white images, and lack of audio dialogue, as it is a strong and compelling film and a fascinating insight into the formation of the horror genre on screen. We at Surgeons of Horror raise a goblet and celebrate its centenary.

  • Saul Muerte

Movie Review: The Invisible Man

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There is someone walking behind you

The Invisible Man brought the fear of the unknown to the forefront.

Playing harmoniously with the horror classic first seen on the big screen back in 1933, The Invisible Man involves many untapped elements of what scares everyone.
Forget “there is someone walking behind you”, or that sound that suggests someone is next to you, what if they were right in front of you.
It’s haunting enough to make you watch your every step but to couple that with an obsessed, abusive ex who is known for his manipulative gaslighting and violent rage, this quickly becomes a great narrative, if only the trailer didn’t reveal everything! AGAIN!
I saw an awful cut of the new James Bond movie on television one night, and it looked bland and awful but then saw another trailer for it in the cinema and it looked like it has a great, engaging story. I was already halfway through the plot in my head, waiting for the movie to catch up, and it did just over halfway through the film.

Fantastic performances by the cast who all lead a stoic role in aid to the plot. I like the way films aren’t shying away from the kind of traumatic scares like in the recent Doctor Sleep and in this film, which were obviously showing off what the visual effects department could pull off. 

The Prognosis:

I feel like this is one that can be enjoyed by all, there is an ambiguity that lends to the possibility of multiple outlooks regarding events and perspective, coupled with the intriguing use of technology and optics.

It was great to see the NSW funding in the credits

It’s a great movie to watch on a first date! Just try and avoid the trailer before you see it but yeah definitely one for date night.

  • Richard Lovegrove

Movie review: Brahms: The Boy II

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When I first about the release of Brahms: The Boy II there was two thoughts that crossed my mind.

1. Was it really necessary to make a sequel? Sure the first film was okay and had a fairly decent plot line that didn’t irritate too much, with a twist that was well played out. Plus Lauren Cohan will always focus my attention. But, did it warrant a franchise to be generated? Evidently, the production team felt the desire to resurrect the porcelain doll and his antics for the big screen again. At least the same director, William Brent Bell would be attached, so the vision and style should be consistent.

2. It starred Katie Holmes, which struck me that I hadn’t seen her since the whole Tom Cruise situation and the last horror film that I can recall her starring in was Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which didn’t exactly ignite any passion in my heart.

The end result though is a curious one as it felt as though it completely forego the previous movies’ conclusion and went back to the heart of a possessed doll.

This in itself would be forgiven if the filmmakers really decided to ramp up the scares, but sadly this is lacking. I think they were attempting to build up on tension with a minimalistic approach, which didn’t come across at all. I know that the Brits (the supposed setting of the film is the UK) are incredibly reserved in many ways, but that’s taking the realism of the feature to the extreme.

The sequel does try to keep a theme throughout its franchise by having its central characters as victims of physical abuse. This time around mother, Lisa (Katie Holmes) and her son, Jude (Christopher Convery) of a house break-in that leaves them both mentally scarred. The latter is unable to talk since the ordeal.

So after numerous bouts of counseling, the father, Sean (Owain Yeoman) who is also feeling guilty from being away at work at the time of the attack, decides that the family needs to have a break and get away from it all. This brings them to the Heelshire’s property from the first film where Jude discovers a partially buried Brahms and instantly forms a close bond with it.

From here on in the feature attempts to instill some animosity with strange events occurring around the house, which Lisa believes is just her son playing up, but when things start to take a sinister turn, she begins to question her own sanity. Is Brahms real? Again this could have been played with more intelligence and evoked a reaction from both the character in delving into the psyche of Lisa and played upon the impact that physical abuse can have on people, especially if it ramped up the isolation component, a hard thing to do with 3 main characters, but not impossible. Instead it just coasts along content with ticking the boxes.

The only other character of note is Joseph the ominous groundskeeper who in fairness is expertly played by Ralph Ineson (The Witch). In fact all the cast deliver worthy performances, but the script and plotline is all too obvious. The only question I had for a brief second was whether there was an ulterior motive from the father Sean. Was he somehow involved in the ruse, but this was quickly swiped aside when it was evident that the movie was going in a very different direction.

The Prognosis:

There was ample opportunity to create a franchise from a fairly average film, but both director and the creative team seem content to rest on their laurels

The scares are absent. The thrill factor is non-existent. And my interest waned before the half hour mark, as I had no care or interest in what happened to the characters.

Another disappointment for the start of 2020.

– Saul Muerte

Retrospective: Pitch Black

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It was the year 2000 and I was in the infancy of my young adulthood, still high on the fumes of alcohol and potentially under the influence of some controlled substances, so one could argue that my views or opinions were clouded.
It was also at the turn of the millennium with the promise of new and prosperous things to come. So when two fellow like-minded comrades in celluloid crime and I spooled out of the local auditorium, we found ourselves in deep conversation about the sci-fi action horror film that we had just witnessed. I remember feeling greatly impacted by it with the entire concept and execution leaving me enthralled.
Specifically I recall stating that it was an instant classic with a potential cult following in the making and at least one of my colleagues nodded in full agreement with my bold proclamation.

On paper Pitch Black sounds like your average sci-fi action flick with Vin Diesel at the helm, (poised on the precipice of his portrayal of Dominic Toretto from The Fast and the Furious and Xander Cage from xXx that would cement his name in the genre for years to come) bringing a raw energy to his character that ripples beneath the surface and threatens to let loose on his fellow human counterparts, much like the real enemy lurking beneath the planets surface.
Pitch Black would even project the character of Riddick in a further two adventures on the big screen with a third film announced on its way, proving that there is still a lot of appeal on offer.

It’s this raw energy that still resonates on screen today on repeated viewing and connected once again with me, and this time I was not under the influence….kind of.

Supported by a cracking, primarily Australian cast in Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill, Rogue), Lewis Fitz-Gerald (Breaker Morant), Claudia Black (Farscape, Stargate SG-1), Rhianna Griffith, and Simon Burke (The Devil’s Playground), all of whom bring their “A Game” with a high level of intensity and humanity to their role. The irony in that the more human their characters display, the greater their chance of being exposed, and their emotions leading them to ruin. In order to survive in Pitch Black, you need to strip away all emotions or live with that mask permanently in place.
It also helps that there are a couple of excellent hard-hitters on screen to with hard-boiled futuristic cop without a conscience played by Cole Hauser, and the ultimate survivalist and in this instance, a man of faith, played by Ketih David.

David Eggby keeps the gritty realism throughout his stunning cinematography that eschews a beautiful landscape in a remote Australian landscape to bring an otherworldly factor on screen blasting the audience with a rich array of colours and visuals.

Both the creature effects and visual effects team also deserve their own accolades for bringing a rich and diverse approach to the nocturnal alien creatures that hunt down the humans and fighting among themselves for the scraps, highlighting once again the theme of survival in a desolate and harsh terrain. 

It’s a simple and age-old premise that works because of the combination of all of these elements that make this film still strong today. If you can forgive the odd blemish, Pitch Black deserves high praise and repeat viewing. It may be twenty years old but in this writers’ mind, it is one of the greatest sci-fi horror films since the turn of the century. 

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: Fantasy Island

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“Ze plane, boss, ze plane”

Whilst we’re a far cry from the original tv series inspiration that spawned this horror-themed adaptation, it is hard to shake off the image of Hervé Villechaize’s infamous cry at the beginning of most episodes to announce the arrival of the next unwitting visitors to Fantasy Island. The film does have its own nods with an entirely different character, Julie (loosely based on Mr. Roarke’s God-daughter from the series in name mainly) declaring the arrival of our main characters Melanie (Lucy Hale), Gwen (Maggie Q), Patrick (Austin Stowell), Brax (Jimmy O. Yang), and JD (Ryan Hansen).

Each of these characters come with their own baggage that slowly unravels as they try to live out their fantasy with inevitable consequences. 

Michael Pena does his best to wrangle out the magnanimous and mysterious Mr Roarke, so closely identified with Ricardo Montalbán’s tv portrayal, who in my pre-adolescent mind has strangely warped with Christopher Lee’s Saramanga from The Man With The Golden Gun, partly due to Villechaize starring in both projects. The problem is that Pena is left with little to do other than to play out the characters fantasies. Despite harbouring a secret of his own, this is underplayed to serve out the interactions of the island itself. 

This may have been a wise choice if these fantasies had any firm grounding, but instead seem a bit wishy-washy. Melanie is out for revenge from being bullied at school and admittedly the initial encounter is fun and intriguing as she unwittingly dishes out her anger through what she believes is a hologram of her tormentor, but once that has played its part the rest of her journey is left wanting. 

Likewise Patrick’s army pursuit to live out his father’s life only to encounter his real father, and brothers Patrick and Brax living up a bachelor style freedom and entertainment lacks any personality or appeal.

The only hook for me was Maggie Q’s performance of Gwen that remains believable, who at first believes her fantasy is to change her history by saying yes to a man’s proposal whom she loved and to have a daughter, however she never really believes she deserves this version of her life as like the others, she has a darker history lurking beneath and it is this reproduction that she realises needs to play out. 

Oh and a great cameo from Kim Coates who simply hams up his role gloriously. More of him was desperately needed.

The prognosis:

As the audience is left weaving their way through a convoluted storyline and the various morals and dilemmas that each of the characters faces, we’re left unable to truly connect to any of them as there simply isn’t enough substance. 

When the big reveal finally happens, it feels tacked on and peels slowly away with an incredibly unsatisfying conclusion. 

It’s poorly managed and no matter how much Michael Rooker tries to inject some much needed gravitas into the fold as the strange guy who knows the secret of the island, he simply can’t lift it out of the quagmire of murkiness. The problem appears to be that the film doesn’t know how to present itself; horror, comedy, thriller.

Blumhouse who have made a name for attracting audiences to their take on teen horror, may have fallen into tired territory now with the relatively week turnouts in  Ma, and Black Christmas last year. Has the fizz run out from this production company?

It would have been interesting to see it played out by masters of the fantastical in either Del Toro or Bayona and really blend those eerie mystical moments with horror elements. 

Maybe it just isn’t our fantasy that’s being played out after all and perhaps i should just go back to my morphed take of Montalbán and Lee to deliver my ideal of Mr. Roarke and a dark world that lay beneath Fantasy Island. A missed opportunity.

  • Saul Muerte 

Movie review: The Lighthouse

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Director Robert Eggers seems destined to divide audiences between digging his jam or struggling to connect with the style and pace that he subjects to his stories.
Thankfully, I fall into the former and simply adored his directorial debut, The VVitch starring Anya Taylor Joy which was an incredibly slow burn but was rich in storytelling and strongly supported by some fantastic acting, grounding the fantastical in reality. Combined with his brother and fellow scribe Max, The Eggers offer a fresh approach to the genre and for that I was eager to see what and how he would follow it up.

This love song to Greek mythology pits two strangers on an isolated location, in this case a two-manned lighthouse on a remote and savage island. During its 1hr 49 minute running time, audiences are subjected to a battle of egos, a battle of wills and a fight for power and sanity. Through the fantastical delusions on show, The Lighthouse relies heavily on its two central performers; Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson), contracted to serve 4 weeks at the lighthouse and continually forced to endure gruelling physical tasks by Thomas Wake (Willem Defoe), a miserable irate drunk who appears to get his kicks from punishing Winslow and basking naked in the glow of the light in the tower. Propitiously, both actors more than bring the goods as the bitterness between their characters escalates to an inevitable climax that forces an eruption of testosterone-fueled energy to overflow.

The Prognosis:

Shot entirely in black and white, Robert Eggers proves once again to be a master in storytelling and exerts a narrative that twists and turns, providing a remarkable modern spin merging together two age old tales.
Will it suit everyone’s tastes? No

Can it be classed as horror? Not really.

But it’s harrowing and beautifully crafted from one of this generation’s most imaginative directors. 

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: The Grudge (2020)

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Since the release of Ju On: The Grudge, Kayako has been scaring audiences with her twisted movements and haunting death rattle croak elevating her alongside her fellow japanese vengeful spirit, Sadako within the Horror community. Her image transcended across both Japan and America culture, spawning numerous movies with deep resonation along the way, including several filmmakers. Among them and heralding the reboot / reimagining is prolific director Nicolas Pesce, who sent ripples in the film world with his debut The Eyes of My Mother and his sophomore feature Piercing. I was eager to see what Pesce would bring to the celluloid space for his third outing, and was further intrigued by his choice to step into the Ju-On universe promising something more darker, grittier, and more realistic. Whilst I can acknowledge that the film has a realistic quality, unfortunately I struggle to connect with the other two components alleged to be Pesce’s approach.

I tried to scrutinise where he could have misfired and for me it came down to a couple of components; Firstly, the fractured storyline, ordinarily a device that doesn’t grate on me and I often welcome the fragmented reconstruction of narratives, but unfortunately the dots that are used to connect or reframe the films’ structure are weak and lack intelligence. With a lot more focus and planning, this technique could have paid off. Secondly, the dialogue needed to be tighter, at times feeling rushed or obvious, leaving the talented cast trying to do a lot of heavy lifting in order to reach the visualists’ aim for dark and gritty. Lastly, I had read that Pesce wanted to incorporate a conglomerate of visuals that typified the film series and inject with his own musings, but in doing so, the film loses its identity and becomes too convoluted in the process. 

The Prognosis:

For a director on the rise, Pesce clearly wanted to reach out and attempt to infuse his vision into a much-loved franchise in need of a reawakening. On paper, he had the right ingredients, a flair for the scare, a twisted outlook, actors with plenty of chop, and an already established franchise. He even projected the repetition of the number 4 into the fold to highlight the tetraphobia so closely associated with the film series, proving that Pesce knows his subject well.
The end result though fell flat, with too many ideas and not enough weight to ground Pesce’s creativity to produce a film to scare and delight the horror masses. Instead we are left floating around aimlessly, wondering if Kayako is turning in her grave at her latest on-screen treatment and if she has croaked her last croak.

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: Underwater

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Underwater sci-fi action horror films. How many can you name? There’s Leviathan 1989, Deep Blue Sea 1999, and Pandorum 2009.
Basically the 9th year of every decade Hollywood has to release an epic underwater sci fi horror adventure. It’s law.
And in 2019 we have Underwater.
Except Underwater was actually completed in 2017. And it was released at the beginning of 2020 (thank you Disney for your ongoing mission to buy up the world. If you don’t know what that means, just look it up).
Also Pandorum was more of a space epic (even though – spoiler alert – the ship was at the bottom of an ocean all along!) And before you say The Abyss was released in 1989 – that was epic in sci-finess, not so much horror.

Anyway, that’s enough connecting imaginary dots. Let’s talk about a film that has a lot of hardware, a whole lot of sea, and a lot of (another spoiler alert) sea monsters.

Underwater is a curious film in that its premise leaps right off the page as a textbook B-Grade Hollywood pitch. Ie: A group of deep-sea miners mine in the deep sea, and they mine too far and awake (dramatic pause) something… (hint, it’s sea monsters).
And that’s pretty much it. Sea monsters are pissed at a bunch of oxygen breathing aliens jack hammering the crap out of their neighbourhood, so they do something about it. And they are faster than the humans, stronger than the humans, and they like to eat the humans (because let’s face it, if they were weaker, slower and just wanted to lick us… that would make for a pretty awesome film actually).

Anyway, you just know that the humans – at severe disadvantage strength wise, oxygen wise, atmospheric pressure wise (the list goes on) are gonna go through an Alien-esque series of eliminations (ie: one-by-one) before we reach the end of the film.

Now it’s always been our stance at Surgeons of Horror that just because something has a B-Grade set up, doesn’t mean it has to be a B-grade movie experience.
There are more than a handful of films that fit this definition – Tremors, The Loved Ones, Alien Raiders (this is a list that goes on too) and there is no greater delight than watching a flick you think is going to be a switch-off event, but you come out of it thinking “holy crap that was surprisingly good”!

Misdirect – Underwater ISN’T that kind of film. BUT what it does have going for it is its budget – rumoured to be between $50 – $80 mill (probably closer to the higher end) and when you have an epic underwater disaster movie (as in disaster befalls the occupants IN the movie) the bigger and more visceral you can make it, the better.
And it is here where Underwater excels. Now I am a huge fan of what I call “hardware” movies, and from corridors that buckle and tear apart, to awesome mechanical wet suits that look like they’re straight out of Mecha; to the fact that the cast spend a lot of time walking underwater when in ACTUAL FACT they’re in a dry studio surrounded by convincing CG water – you can safely say every cent makes it on screen.
And Underwater is a BIG screen experience, as you want to literally feel the pressure of tons of sea water that can crush you in a second. It’s the rollercoaster/popcorn sensation you pay for when seeing this sort of movie.
Especially when you get to the end “reveal”. Because depending on the day, you’re either gonna say “oh that’s cool” or “that’s so stupid” because, as previously established, it’s has a B-grade movie premise.
So pro-tip, if you wanna enjoy it, go in with a “take me on an adventure” frame of mind.

The direction is solid (especially considering the director William Eubank is only 37) and Kirsten Stewart is half believable as a young mechanical engineer living and working on an underwater oil rig situated at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The other half of the time she plays stony and
stoic (compared to her other default acting style, which is stoic and stony) but on the other-other hand it sort of works; as most engineers, when faced with a crisis, tend to work the problem rather than squander energy by emoting too much.

T.J. Miller pretty much also plays T.J. Miller – a slob who wears hair clips firing off the best one-liners etc. Although they do give his character a security blanket in the form of a stuffed bunny. So that’s a little different I suppose.

Anyway, all up – from go-to-whoa – Underwater propels you along a wet ‘n’ wild marine ride that doesn’t let up. Also, there are no goofy credits, so feel free to get up and leave when they start to roll.

Prognosis:

You won’t be damp by the end of it, but you just might feel refreshed!
– Antony Yee

I thought it was a bit crap actually.
– Sara Yee

20 Horror films set to go under the knife in 2020

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100 years ago the Roaring Twenties came into effect with a social and economic boom that pushed the boundaries of experimentation and exploration dubbing it the crazy years. 

Cinema has evolved greatly during this time and spawned Robert Miene’s silent horror in German Expressionism, which is still considered a classic among some critics. 

While the tides have shifted and the boundaries of what is classified as horror has twisted through the years, moving numerous debates and discussions along the way, we come to a time when originality can be hard to come by, or perhaps the audience has become too critical and our perceptions have changed. 

Can the films of today cause a deeper development in the genre that we’ve come to love and like the films that were born a century ago stir the insanity again and break new ground in the process?

Let’s look at what 2020 has in store and see if indeed it will deliver.

Jan 23 – Underwater

This film has led some early reports to compare it to Alien but in the ocean deep instead of the far reaches of space. It does boast Kristen Stewart in the cast who may divide audiences and has been a bit hit and miss of late in her film choices but she is supported in this instance by Vincent Cassel, who is known for choosing experimental films. Does this then mean that this team of underwater researchers will uncover not only a few beasties but also break new ground in the process?

Prediction: Neither sink or swim. A drifter that will entertain some but not cast anything new into the cinematic landscape.

Jan 24 – The Turning

Based on Henry James novel, The Turn of the Screw and produced by Steven Spielberg, it stars Mackenzie Davis (Terminator: Dark Fate) and Finn “Can my hair grow any longer?” Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and bears close scrutiny as director Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep) is set to release an interpretation of the novel in Netflix series, The Haunting of Bly Manor, his follow up to the successful The Haunting of Hill House.

Prediction: Director Floria Sigismondi will no doubt bring some artistic visual flair that is evidence from her music videos, but could possibly fall foul of “popcorn syndrome” – Light, fluffy with a bit of crunch and serves the masses, but ultimately has no substance.

Jan 30 – The Grudge

Initially I was really excited about this release, being a fan of the Ju On franchise, plus Nicolas Pesce’s work with The Eyes of My Mother, and Piercing. Both movies have pushed the boundaries of comfort and shot in stylistic fashion that I was keen to see where Pesce would take The Grudge. Early reports haven’t been favourable however, so it could be another disappointment in the first month of the new decade.

Prediction: Could be another franchise instalment too many. The name alone will pull in the numbers, yet may not hit the mark on the scare front.

Jan 31 – Gretel and Hansel

It’s been over 200 years since The Brothers Grimm fashioned the fairy tale about a cannibalistic witch that kidnaps two children roaming in the woods. The fact that it is still resonates today is a testament to the strength of the storytelling and it will be interesting to see the story told from the perspective of Gretel played by Sophia Lillis (IT) who has already proved compelling as the young Beverly Marsh.

Prediction: Better than your average fair without necessarily offering anything new or compelling with the horror genre.

Feb 6 – The Lighthouse

Some may argue its place in this list, but it is billed as a psychological horror and director Robert Eggers has already made a name for himself in the artistic expressionism world within the genre with his debut feature, The VVitch, a film that also divided audiences. American audiences have already seen the movie too as it was released there last year, but as yet Australian audiences are still to see Eggers’ sophomore outing which pits Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson against one another in a battle of wills and sanity in a remote and confined island.

Prediction: Will wow audiences looking for the alternative and alienate those more into the mainstream. Either way, both audiences will applaud the performances and Eggers and cinematographer Jarin Blaschke will paint a stunningly beautiful canvas.

Feb 13 – Fantasy Island

Blumhouse Productions are about to shake things up again by breathing new life into a cult 70s tv series. With a star-studded cast – Michael Pena (Crash), Maggie Q (Nikita), Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars), and Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer).
On an island where your fantasies come true, only to turn into nightmares and the guests must figure out its mystery in order to survive.

Prediction: Another success for Jason Blum and the team which will connect with the cinema-going public. If it’s played right, it could offer a fresh take using a blend of fantasy and horror that could also spark a franchise 

Feb 21 – Brahms: The Boy ll

This one is a bit of an oddity. Whilst its predecessor was a middle of the road affair and proved to be better than expected. It did feel like a one-off movie that didn’t necessarily warrant any further journey into the world of Brahms. A sequel is here though and will pick up with the doll being discovered by another family.

Prediction: A flop that will fall by the wayside and may not even make a blip on the radar.

Feb 27 – The Invisible Man

Another Blumhouse movie, this time in collaboration with Universal to resurrect their monsters franchise after the abysmal Tom Cruise vehicle from a few years ago. In what is potentially a ripe and current topic being explored in domestic violence as its central theme The Invisible Man boasts a cracking cast with Elisabeth Moss taking lead duties. It’s also in great hands with director Leigh Whannel steering the ship following his successful movie Upgrade from last year, plus Whannel is a storyteller, so expect a decent script to boot.

Prediction: The first big success of the year bringing the Universal monsters franchise back on track and paving the way for future projects with The Bride, Renfeld, The Invisible Woman, and Frankenstein.

Mar 20 – A Quiet Place Part 2

The question is whether director John Krasiniski can repeat the winning formula from the first movie. This War of the Worlds style feature with an audio twist is more sci-fi than horror, but with the family in plight scenario held a strong connection with the audience. How will this translate now that there is an absent father?

Prediction: Cillian Murphy will provide some much needed gravitas to the narrative which will be strong enough to lift the audience through with some decent ups and downs to wrench up the tension. 

Apr 3 – The New Mutants

Since Disney took over Marvel operations, The New Mutants has been stuck in production, deemed a little dark for the House of Mouse questioning how to distribute it. The feature comes across as The Dream Warriors crossed with the X-Men and centres on 5 young mutants held in a secret facility against their will. It also boasts a cracking cast with Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Anya Taylor-Joy (The VVitch, Split), and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things).

Prediction: Despite several delays I feel that this film is gonna connect in a big way and pull in a lot of people. It just depends on how dark Disney are willing to go with it.

Apr 17 – Antlers

Little is known about this movie other than it is based on a short story by Nick Antosca the creative mind behind the Channel Zero anthology series. The screenplay must have some potential to have caught the eye of Guillermo Del Toro and put his name down as producer.

Prediction: With Keri Russell in the cast to provide the fantasy elements in reality, this could well be the surprise hit of the year.

May 15 – Saw reboot

Currently titled The Organ Donor starring Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson and Max Minghella this reboot of the Saw franchise will see the return of the Jigsaw Killer, but without Tobin Bell… I think? With director Darren Lynn Bousman at the helm once more following his turn overseeing parts 2-4, he is no stranger to the world.

Prediction: Will put bums on seats for the shock gore factor alone, but will the buddy cop drama approach pay off? Time will tell.

Jun 11 – Candyman

This is gonna be a tough one to watch for me as I am such a huge fan of the original movie and like Freddy, Candyman would haunt my dreams for a long time after viewing. A lot of that has to do with the strength of Clive Barker’s short story coupled with Tony Todd’s personification of the titular character.
Part of me is willing for this to be a success though as I can see room for the movie to be delivered to a modern audience using folklore and mythology at its core, and the storyline itself can transcend easily through the ages. It will be interesting to see a female perspective in director Nia DaCosta to follow Helen’s journalistic investigations.

Prediction: Jordan Peele has attached his name to this project and is clearly passionate about the story, but one can’t help but feel this is one step too far in rekindling the old flame that resides within the Candyman story.

Jul 2 – Ghostbuster: Afterlife

I know it’s technically not a horror film, but I’m including this in the mix for its nostalgic value in me the original movie paved the love of horror that I have and opened the door to many more glorious visions in the genre ever since. The original team will return in some shape or form, but primarily the film centres around a mother and her two children who set up on a farm only to discover something paranormal lurking in the town.

Prediction: Another film that will be resting on the merits of the first film, and while it’s great to see Jason Reitman take on the franchise following in his father’s footsteps, one can only hope that there will be enough comedy, horror and sci-fi to capture that old magic, but I think it will just be a glimmer rather than that sparkle.

Jul 10 – The Purge 5

Supposedly returning for the final instalment the 12 hour no holds-barred, crimefest ignited something in the movie-going audience. It has seen five feature length instalments and 2 seasons.

Prediction: More of the same, so if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll love it. I for one think the films are fun and enjoyable and it will be interesting to see how James DiMonaco will conclude things.

Jul 30 – Morbius

Sony has promised to take the Marvel universe into dark territory before with Venom and here they intend to do so again with Morbius, the Living Vampire. Jared Leto will no doubt bring the goods for the titular role and is in good company with Matt Smith, Jared Leto, and Tyrese Gibson.

Prediction: Director Daniel Espinosa provides great entertaining and solid movies, such as Safe House and Life, and I see no change here to his formula, but still question if they can go dark enough to make it compelling for horror fans.

Sep 11 – The Conjuring 3 aka The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

The Conjuring universe has progressed in leaps and bounds since its initial release in 2013. There has been the odd blips, but essentially the films continue to entertain and scare audiences. This latest film will once again see the Warrens at the centre of proceedings, this time with one of their most publicised cases that bore witness to Arne Cheyenne Johnson claiming that he was possessed when he murdered.

Prediction: Solid acting, tight storyline, but may fall down with its delivery and exposition. Unfortunately Director Michael Chaves didn’t deliver with The Curse of La Llorona, so I fear that this may end up in a similar way, but am still willing to give it a chance.

Sep 17 – Last Night In Soho

Not much known about this one, but Edgar Wright has a knack for tapping the pulse of classic films and adapting their essence for a modern audience. This time around the psychological horror is inspired by Don’t Look Now and Polanski’s Repulsion both high in my all-time favourite lists

Prediction: A killer cast in Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, and Terence Stamp, this could be the ‘big hit’ of the year.

Oct 15 – Halloween Kills

In 2018, David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jason Blum attempted the impossible, the resurrection of Michael Myers that would connect both fans of the original and connect with a new audience. By delving into the subject of trauma and the impact that this has on its victims, Myers became both topical and harrowing. His sheer brutality and the force in which he attacks his victims made his carnage all the more disturbing.

Prediction: The name and sheer presence of Myers will bring the audience to the screens, but can they still make him relevant? They can’t rest on the nostalgic nods this time around. It’s a fine line to walk on, for if they get it wrong, they could find their final instalment, Halloween Ends a tricky sell.

TBC – Army of the Dead

For sheer shits and giggles, and action-pumped mayhem from visual storyteller Zack Snyder, about a group of mercenaries who decide to rob a casino during a zombie outbreak, this film concludes our list.

Prediction: Starring Dave Bautista, Army of the Dead will be entertaining if nothing else. A perfect answer for those just wanting to get their kicks and not have to think too deeply.

  • Saul Muerte