Jordan Peele ventures forth with his third outing behind the camera following success with Get Out and Us, with a nod to the B-horror science fiction movies of the 50s. Set in an isolated part of inland California, siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood witness the death of their father when random objects fall from the sky. This prompts them to capture evidence of an unidentified flying object and probable cause of the strange happenings but may lead them to an unnerving discovery.
For me, labelling Nope as a horror film is akin to saying that fish and chips is a healthy eating option. Sure, Nope has jump scares, and blood, and people die, but nothing, and I do mean nothing, about this film makes it a horror flick.
That’s not to say that you won’t have a good time watching it-Daniel Kaluuya is the undisputed king of understated, brooding acting, and Keke Palmer is 100% joy on screen. Personally, I was thrilled to see Michael Wincott again. As if his frankly ridiculously beautiful speaking voice wasn’t enough, he nails the role of ‘surly but genius cinematographer.
Speaking of cinematography, Hoyte Van Hoytema is behind the lens for this one (he’s they guy who shot Tenet, Interstellar, Dunkirk, and Ad Astra. He’s practically Christopher Nolan’s go-too-guy) and holy smokes does he bring each location to life. Truly stunning work.
I am by no means an edge lord gatekeeper of horror films – I still can’t watch the Thriller video without needing a hug afterwards, but don’t go into Nope expecting to be scared out of your mind.
There’s plenty of questionable plot holes, and I wanted to see much more from Steven Yeun’s character ‘Ricky’, but it’s still a fun watch, and worth seeing at a cinema purely for the sound design alone.
Nope is a homage to classic B movie sci fi horror, but it is NOT made in the usual cookie cutter paint-by-numbers way. It is powered by a unique vision only achievable by Jordan Peele
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jordan Peele’s follow up to his critically-acclaimed debut feature, Get Out has a lot of similarities to Lewis Carroll’s second outing with Alice as he not only puts a mirror up to American society and not only forces us to watch the horror as it unfolds but physically flips our perspective without us realising in an effective twist moment.
That’s not where there the similarity ends, as we also have some twins, a red queen, and placed is as pawns in our own game of chess. Only the colours are so blurred, it’s hard to know which side we should be on. We certainly should know and definitely root for our protagonists, but what if it’s revealed that we’ve been championing for the wrong side? Do we still pledge our allegiance?
Peele craftily weaves in all these images to subject his picture with pop culture images and references ranging from The Shining to The Lost Boys to C.H.U.D. and Michael Jackson and N.W.A. It’s a style that works in this instance as film and music have so shaped our worlds that we have become embedded in these Arts and in some cases schooled by them.
Essentially a home invasion turned country invasion, Us takes the audience on a journey where a family must unite in a bloody tale of survival, but in a world that is so fractured and broken, how can we truly know who to trust and survive without hiding behind the masks that protect us? Can we really join hands across the globe and save humanity from itself by building a wall of protest, or will it merely be viewed as an art installation with no real impact at all? Peele seems quite happy to leave that question unanswered.
Peele is starting to make his mark on the film circuit with his second psychological horror and although it isn’t quite as impactful as Get Out, Us still offers an enjoyable, powerful punch.
DESCRIBED AS A social thriller, Get Out is fast becoming the must-see horror film of the year.
Brought to the screens by the brilliant Jordan Peele, with his sharp observations on society and culture.
In particular, Get Out focuses on the racial divide in America.
Whilst there are some moments that are blatant statements of the issues faced in the US, there are some that are a little more subtle.
So many layers are placed in this movie that when watching, you almost feel like you’ve transcended into your very own ‘sunken place’, paralysed by in Peele’s world, searching for a way out of the madness that surrounds our central character, Chris.
Here are 7 Key moments that you may have missed on first viewing
It’s a common theme within the movie – more prominent with the song Run, Rabbit Run, that’s played at the start of the movie, but emphasised even more so, with a Swahili song that also feature in the movie, which when translated, tells us to listen to your ancestors, and run.
No trace of I.D.
When Rose hits a deer with the car, did anyone notice her lack of empathy?
Chris is drawn to see the deer as it instantly reminds him of his own mother, who was knocked down in a hit and run, but when the cops arrive,
Rose is very quick to defend Chris and not let the Cop force home to give out his drivers licence.
On face value, this might seem like an empowering moment as she stands up for her man, but in light of what transpires later in the movie, could be viewed as Rose covering her tracks.
If there’s no record of her and Chris being together, she can hide all trace of his inevitable disappearance.
The Black Buck
Briefly mentioned by Rose’s father with an off-hand comment, with his lack of love for bucks or deer is actually racist slur in post-reconstruction America.
It was used by those in white authority on Black men who refuse to ‘tow the line’.
Speaking of bowing to authority, the method that Missy uses for her hypnosis treatment labours the point further around ‘White supremacy’ with the aid of a silver spoon.
A symbol of how the elite can rule and control those in a ‘lesser’ position.
Slightly more obvious is Chris’ method of escape. When tied down, he literally has to pick the cotton embedded in the chair, in order to win his freedom.
It’s a strong and profound moment in the movie.
Froot Loops and Milk divided.
Believing that all is in order, Rose resorts to her basic behaviour and let’s her guard down in search for her next victim.
Whilst she does this, Rose eats some Froot Loops on their own before consuming some milk.
An odd behaviour in itself, but on closer scrutiny symbolises the separation of colour from the white that is deeply embedded in her psyche.
It feels as though I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg with this one.
Get Out is so deeply layered that it warrants a repeat viewing or two to really appreciate Peele’s work.
And with the promise of several more social thriller instalments on the way, I can’t wait to see what Peele serves up next.