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.
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.
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.
Ever since Max Schreck transformed into Count Orlock in the now infamous silent film, Nosferatu, directed by F.W.Murnau in 1922, the subject of Bram Stoker’s Dracula has graced the screens across the ages.
Like the titular character from one of Gothic literature’s finest creations, Dracula seems to be eternal, forever gracing the celluloid art form, whist adapting and transitioning across the years.
With the latest news coming from geek tyrant that It director, Andy Muschietti and Bram Stoker’s Great Grand Nephew teaming up for a project involving the prince of darkness as a prequel, entitled Dracul, I thought I’d take a quick snapshot of this enigmatic character and what draws us to him year-on-year.
Notably, it would be Universal who would elevate Stoker’s creation into the limelight with Tod Browning’s Dracula on 1931.
Starring Bela Lugosi, who’s interpretation would be the catapult for the look and feel that his character would bring to the screen and would initiate a further four sequels before Abbott and Costello turned his image into a comical adaptation.
It would take a further 10 years before a production company would bring Count Dracula back into the darkness with Hammer Films 1958 version starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
Hammer would use their new-found success and blood red recipe to push the Dracula series into a total of 9 films, with the afore-mentioned Lee appearing in 7 of these movies. Interestingly Dracula wouldn’t appear in their first sequel, Brides of Draculadirected by Terence Fisher.
During this time, numerous other production companies would try their hand at the subject matter, including Blood of Dracula, an attempt from producer Herman Cohen to repeat the success of I Was A Teenage Werewolf, the latter would appear in the It Mini Seriesmade in 1990 as it was the height of pop culture Stateside during the 50’s and would see the Loser’s Club watch it at the cinema.
As the Hammer recipe grew stale, Roman Polanski would inject some much-needed zest with The Fearless Vampire Killers in 1967 and a blatant parody of the British film company’s vision.
Following this Jesus Franco would add some Spanish flavour with Count Dracula in 1970, starring Christopher Lee again in the titular role, before Blaxploitation movement would see an African prince lured into the land of the dead in Blacula and Scream Blacula Scream before Andy Warhol would dabble as well introducing his own visual style with Blood for Dracula in 1974.
Five years later, Universal would try to re-invent the fable and bring some much-needed sex appeal and casting Frank Langella as Dracula.
This also coincided with another version of Nosferatu coming to the screen, directed by the enigmatic Klaus Kinski entitled, Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht, and has its own cult following as a result.
A brief interlude in the comedy realm would see Duncan Regehr take on Dracula in The Monster Squad, which comes across as a haunted version of The Goonies.
And then, he would pretty much stay dormant until, he would be moulded once more for Francis Ford Coppola in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, and Anthony Hopkins, in the early 90’s.
Mel Brooks would craft his comedic touch with Dracula, Dead and Loving It by 1995 and starring Leslie Nielsen, before the shouldn’t be comical, but tragically is, Dracula 2000, presented by Wes Craven and starring Gerard Butler.
It’s only saving grace during this timeframe is the simply brilliant, Shadow of the Vampire, a quirky portrayal of the making of Nosferatu that would depict actor Max Shreck as a real-life vampire, awesomely played by Willem Defoe.
By the mid-2000’s Count Dracula would find himself morphed into the Stephen Sommers universe with Van Helsingstarring Hugh Jackman, a movie, which in my mind is probably best forgotten.
Another film director auteur would try his hand at the subject in 2013, when Dario Argento would provide us with Dracula 3D, but would be pale in comparison to his earlier work.
The last time, we saw Dracula grace our screens would be in the under-whelming Dracula: Untold starring Luke Evans, which left us wondering if there was life still in this age-old tale?
This may all disappear in the coming years, if Muschietti and Dacre Stoker’s project sees the light of day.
Dacre Stoker has delved into the world of his lineage before with his novel, Dracula, theUn-dead, so he is no stranger to the subject, and one can already see comparisons with Stephen King’s creation Pennywise. A character that feeds on the fear of the innocence.
Stephen King would also seek inspiration from the Count in his own tale, Salem’s Lot, so it certainly bodes well with the announcement of this latest pairing.
I for one can’t wait to see how they re-vamp Dracula for a modern audience that will horrify and delight the masses.