As I write this review The Nun has just broken records by pushing The Conjuring franchise into the no.1 spot for horror movies.
James Wan’s original vision continues to develop and grow beyond its initial premise to scare and delight the masses.
Some clever marketing was behind The Nun’s box office appeal, enticing audiences with the promise to scare and chill to the bone came from its trailer, (essentially one big jump scare) but when you lift back the veil and look beyond the smoke and mirrors, does the film really deserve the hype that it generated?
To Wan’s credit his style has been present throughout all the movies and the production company have often given up and coming or promising directors to weave their magic for a wider audience.
This is why I was quietly interested in seeing how The Nun would fair as director Corin Hardy had been passed the torch to continue flaming the fires of horror.
His debut feature The Hallow, which didn’t exactly ignite the cinematic world, did show promise in a world saturated through pain and sorrow infused with folk mythology. With those ingredients, The Nun looked like it was in capable hands.
Instead we were provided with a series of jump scares knitted together with an incredibly loose plot. Sure, there was plenty of backstory to Valak the Nun, and how that entity was inflicted onto the world, but beyond that it was like watching blood dry on the walls. Moments of congealing perhaps, but still just the same blood and the same wall. At least with Annabelle: Creation (another origin story from the same universe) there were some clever uses of cinematography and effects that tricked the eye and allowed to entertain as a result. The Nun offered nothing and was a huge let down as a result.
If it did have a redeeming feature, it was that the three leads, Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, and Jonas Bloquet were actually pretty decent in their respective roles despite having little to play with. Having said that, it was a little confusing to see Taissa Farmiga, sister to Vera who plays Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring movies, as quite naturally they share similar features and it left you wondering the inherent purpose behind that choice. For me it was distracting but more from the ending of the movie than the main bulk of the film.
A paint-by-numbers horror movie that relied on jump scares and lack of inventiveness. Too often the direction relied on obvious tricks of the trade whilst it tried to weave in a decent backstory to Valak, who was far from sinister or scary compared to her introduction in The Conjuring 2. The success of this movie will mean that a sequel will be in the works, let’s just hope they allow the demonic nun the chance to really let loose. – Saul Muerte
What does this mean to the genre as a whole? It can spell good news as the movie business see success and a money opportunity to exploit this genre to the bone.
This could mean an outpour of horrendous carbon copy movies that will grate to the bone, but it can’t be as bad as Amityville: The Awakening, Leatherface, or Jeepers Creepers 3 right?
But let’s not be too hasty on the negative-front. What does look promising is that we could very well get some fine horror films churning out over the coming years.
So with that in mind, the team stitched our collective minds together and come up with 18 of the most anticipated horror movies coming out that we would love to bring into the operating theatre and splice them wide open.
Directed by Alex Garland and starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Oscar Isaac looks off the dial.
The fact that it has been picked up by Netflix for a release some 17 days after its cinematic release has left some people scratching their heads as to whether or not this film has merit, but that’s old school thinking.
We at Surgeons see this at as a bold attempt at a streaming company to make their move onto the big arena.
If the trailer is anything to go by this film could be a massive hit and shape up the distribution method in a big way.
Some may instantly see comparisons with The Autopsy of Jane Doe with this one, but this story of a city cop fresh out of rehab, who takes up a role at the city hospital morgue, could very well be a trippy affair, where sanity is on the line.
You’d be remiss to neglect this one on the list. With the return of Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle in their respective roles, alongside the creative minds of David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, can we finally see Michael Myers rampaging his way that will delight and reignite the franchise once more?
The House With A Clock In Its Walls
Cate Blanchett and Jack Black lead the charge in Eli Roth’s latest feature about a young orphan and his magical uncle who go in search of a clock that could bring about the end of the world.
Could we see a return of fantasy horror on the big screen? Can Roth extend his bloody touch to go beyond the success of Green Inferno?
Whilst this has already been released in the States, the Surgeons team who are based in Australia, need to wait with eager anticipation for Elise Rainer and her team of ghost hunters to delve into the Further once more.
Early reports suggest that Lin Shaye continues to impress in her role, but that the franchise may have run its course. We’ll have to wait and see before we cast our thoughts on the latest addition to the franchise.
2015’s release of The Witch and its success may have reawakened that love of folk horror, which has been embedded in British culture with the likes of The Wicker Man, Witchfinder General, and Blood on Satan’s Claw, has some of our team intrigued by this latest offering.
Set in 1920’s Ireland, a twin brother and sister must endure a sinister presence with a strong hold over them that may result in turning them against one another with drastic circumstances.
Whether you like him or not Jason Statham has a habit of packing a punch when it comes to ‘balls to the wall, testosterone-fuelled action movies.
Now he must come face-to-face come face to face with a 70-foot shark.
“You’re gonna need a bigger air tank.”
The New Mutants
When Logan was released and with the success that followed, Marvel were then faced with the enterprise of a much darker world.
In steps, The New Mutants which sees Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) and Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) among the imprisoned young mutants as they discover their new-found abilities and potential salvation.
Speaking of franchises, The Conjuringuniverse continues to expand and haunt in more delectable ways to terrify our souls with the much-anticipated return of Valak.
In this instance, Rome is our setting and Father Burke is sent to investigate the mysterious death of a nun. Burke played by Demian Bichir, who I hope is given more time to flex his acting muscles compared to his under-used performance in Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant.
Gary Dauberman from It, Annabelle:Creation, and The Conjuring 2 is back on board to write the screenplay, so expect similar twists, turns, and scares to arise.
In addition, Corin Hardy steps in to direct, who oversaw the surprisingly decent The Hallow from a few years back and has been given the vote of confidence to resurrect The Crow, starring Jason Mamoa.
Becoming something of the lesser cousin to the Alien franchise, The Predator universe has never managed to really make a dent beyond its original Arnie feature, which surprises as it is ripe full of potential.
One of the original stars Shane Black is on to direct, so you could argue that there isn’t anyone closer to the source to re-capture the magic of the first film, and he has proven success with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Iron Man 3, but is that enough to win over fans and the many?
The additions of Oliva Munn, and Thomas Jane, who has had a something of a career comeback with Before I Wake, and 1922 of late, could very well help cement this together.
Where some were left aggrieved following the screening of It Comes At Night, (which is probably the best example of false advertising when it comes to luring your audience in – as an aside its actually a pretty decent and intense movie, just not how it was promoted) will no doubt have their needs met in this movie, which promises an intense and horrific ordeal.
John Krasinski directs and stars in his passion project alongside Emily Blunt as part of a family forced to live in silence from an unknown threat that will attack with the slightest noise.
The first film had horror fans divided – a bit like vegemite, you either love it, or hate it. For those that fell into the former category, they can rejoice as the trio of masked psychopaths return to reek havoc on some more prey.
The cast includes Christina Hendricks (Mad Men, The Neon Demon) and Martin Henderson (The Ring, Everest) and is directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down, The Other Side of the Door) but don’t let that sway you as he also helmed the magnificent F, and if he could tap the rage and anarchy unleashed in that movie, we could have a surprise hit on our hands.
Horror production giants, Blumhouse, who have been partly responsible for the rise in recent genre movies will be hoping to keep the trend going and repeat their successes of Get Out, and Happy Death Day.
Truth or Dare follows a group of friends who play a deadly version of said game when those that break the rules start a meet a grisly end.
Critically praised film director, Steven Soderbergh enters the horror arena with his usual approach to exploring different filming techniques, in this instance shooting the entire film on an iPhone camera.
The cast is also impressive with Claire Foy (The Crown), entering a mental institution and once again reality comes into question. Foy is accompanied by Juno Temple (Horns), Aimee Mullins (Stranger Things), Amy Irving (Carrie) and Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project).
If The New Mutants is going to push the boundaires of darkness in the Marvel universe, then Venom will surely rip that apart and enter whole new level of insanity.
With Tom Hardy taking on the titular character, you can expect some hefty weight in the acting department.
It’s a project that is shrouded in secrecy at the moment and just a few screenshots that have been handed out to the media. Lets hope that it will be worth the wait.
Helen Mirren takes on the role of Lady Winchester house, heiress to the Winchester firearms, who becomes obsessed with building a house to trap ghosts with one of the most obscure architecture ever built.
From the creative minds of the Spierig Brothers (Undead, Daybreakers), this movie could be hit or miss.
As discussed in our latest podcast on Annabelle: Creation, the Conjuring universe is certainly expanding and this latest entry into the world feels like the first to make its mark.
Cinematic universes are fast becoming the next big thing – you can’t create a movie these days without looking beyond the movie that is being produced in order to explore untapped story potential.
Annabelle: Creation is no exception and a lot has been resting on the shoulders of this film to succeed in order for The Conjuring Universe to leap ahead with its grand plans.
Already committed to the franchise is ‘The Nun’ spinoff, heading to cinemas mid-next year, plus a stand-alone film centered on ‘The Crooked Man’ from The Conjuring2, plus a third outing on the supernatural investigations led by The Warrens.
Overseeing this universe from a writing perspective is Gary Dauberman, who not only has cast his vision across the numerous films slated, but contributed towards the much-anticipated It movie, due to be released in the coming weeks.
What is notable however in Dauberman’s writing is his fascination with the occult and those that practice or delve into the dark arts.
Despite its obvious flaws, Annabelle’s beating heart centred upon ‘Satanists’ and that of a woman from an undisclosed cult projects her twisted soul into the titular doll and thereby exacting its demonic will upon the afflicted family.
What has this all to do with the Manson family murders, I hear you cry?
Well, sandwiched in-between the release of Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation, Dauberman worked on a little movie called Wolves At The Door, a tough, hard-hitting drama horror based on the Sharon Tate murders.
Those who are unfamiliar with this case, there were 5 victims in total, murdered in the home of Sharon Tate, wife to director Roman Polanski at the time and who was 8 months pregnant when she was killed.
The murders were carried out by four of Charles Manson’s ‘family’ by climbing into the estate and carrying out one of the most brutal and documented crimes in Hollywood.
It’s a dark subject and perhaps due to its historical context makes the viewing all the more harder to take on-board despite its lenient running time.
The connection doesn’t just stop with this movie though, as a more obvious relation is at play in Dauberman’s writing in the form of this guy.
Eric Ladin’s detective character, Clarkin was last seen in the Annabelle movie, charged with overseeing the murders that took place at the start, and would be called upon by Mae to discuss the ‘ritual’ behavior that was carried out.
“Crazy people do crazy things sometimes.”
A line that he mentions in passing to sum up all the horror that has unfolded and would be repeated again in Wolves At The Door, when Clarkin is again called in to investigate a break-in that has all the hallmarks of satanic beliefs and the precursor to the Sharon Tate murders.
His appearance may be minor in both films, but is there more to be uncovered in this character?
Does Dauberman have any plans to explore this character further? Could we expect another spinoff following Detective Clarkin’s investigations?
With the expanding universe, anything’s possible, right?
I HAVE TO take my hat off to James Wan, as he has slowly become a key player in the horror genre since Saw, which has generated a further six movies, and Insidious, which has collected four films within the franchise.
When The Conjuring was released back in 2013, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome, Wan presented a tale that was both shocking and disturbing, which in my opinion belied the trailer.
I felt that it was a cheap and wanton concept, but was proved wrong with my expectations and thoroughly loved this movie.
The Conjuring would also spawn its own spinoff with the diabolically crap, Annabelle, and don’t get me started on the fact that this also has a sequel in the works.
But upon hearing that a sequel was in the works for The Conjuring and in particular based on The Enfield Haunting, my eyes lit up at the thought of a movie based around this tale as it was a subject close to heart and one of the earliest tales I can recall growing up that was allegedly based on real experiences.
But here’s the thing, and I’m prepared to be grilled by my next few words, but ultimately I was disappointed by the end result.
Now don’t get me wrong, The Conjuring 2 is still a very strong movie, where Wan uses all his usual tricks with light and shadow, and also has an intriguing spirit in the shape of The Crooked Man, with its jerky movements, it has that sense of unease and puppetry in motion that has become something of a calling card in his calibre of work.
Also of note is The Nun character who will also be getting her own movie spin-off. It’s a character that haunts and delights with good measure.
So what’s with the criticism you may ask?
Well, it purely comes down to originality. Here Wan offers nothing new to the storyline around the Warrens, which is a shame because they were such strong characters in the original and it feels like both Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are underused in this. As is Frances O’Connor, an actress that I highly rate but feel she never really gets that moment to shine.
Ultimately though I don’t want to rain on the parade too much as I still look forward to Wan’s movies when they arrive as he has a way of crafting a story that keeps the audience captivated regardless.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that his next movie Aquaman will be a break from the horror circuit to rejuvenate his efforts in the dark world.
But let’s he doesn’t turn his back on it completely as something tells me there are more horrific stories lurking in his mind waiting to be told.
THIS WEEK’S FLASHBACK Friday continues the James Wan theme in recognition of his current movie, The Conjuring 2 in cinemas as we write this article.
Dead Silence would see Wan collaborate once again with Saw co-creator, Leigh Whannel and would be his second feature in the director’s chair.
There would also be the all too familiar signatures that Wan brings to the screen, the obvious one in this instance would be in the puppetry, substituting Jigsaw for Billy, but let’s not forget his strong use of light and shadows combined with the strong build up of tension to play on the minds of the viewer.
Whilst still not his strongest movie, there are some delights to have along the way as he harnesses his skills and sharpens his tools in order to bring some more than adequate scares along the way.
Starring True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten as Jamie, who at the head of the film loses his wife in a brutal attack by the afore-mentioned doll, Billy.
This leads Jamie to venture homeward bound where he unearths the grisly truth of her 101 dolls.
A must-see for horror fans and a director at the start of what would be an impressive upward trajectory into the bloody genre and putting out all the stops to make this a confident if not perfect psychological thriller.