2019 is shaping up to be a really good year for horror at the cineplex. While there are certainly more big budget and studio pictures on the way, there’s a reason to be excited. Shockingly, some of those horror films actually look legit as hell. Some look like they have a chance to become all-timers. Yet most exciting of all, a lot of them star big time actors. Horror films are becoming more mainstream again, and just like in the 1960s and 1970s, the genre appeals to even the biggest of stars. That’s a positive moving forward for the genre moving forward. With that in mind, let’s check out some of the releases on the books for 2019.
10. Happy Death Day 2 U (Directed Christopher Landon) – February 13, 2019
One of the most absurd movies to come out to release in the horror genre, Happy Death Day was an excellent blend of horror and comedy. The slasher that pulled the conceit of Groundhog Day was a fun time. The new version of the story resets the clock again. With the cast returning, it should be a good time at the movies for a pop slasher featuring legitimately funny comedy beats. At the end of the day, it’s a Blumhouse production, and more often than not, these are at least silly horror films.
9. Child’s Play (Directed by Lars Klevberg) – June 21, 2019
Given the trailer for this one just dropped, this was a late addition to the list. While the Child’s Play franchise is far from being one of my favorites, this one looks good. With Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, and a new origin for Chucky, this one could really rise. However, if it becomes “Chucky makes a punny quip, and then tries to murder someone” then there’s little hope for it be above middling. Given the level of the trailer, we’re hoping the movie rises above that formula.
8. The New Mutants (Directed by Josh Boone) – August 2, 2019
This might be one of the weirdest films to come out this year. The original concept, that mutants from the X-Men get locked in a haunted house, felt brilliant. However, the entire X-Men Universe got put on hold during the Fox and Disney merger discussions. This movie was supposed to release in April of 2018. However, when the response to the first trailers was so big, Fox shelved the film. Apparently, they did not feel they had made the scariest film possible, so massive reshoots were undertaken.
Now, the movie will release in August 2019, a full year and half after it was supposed to hit theaters. It is rare for a studio to let reshoots delay a film this long, but if the result is an actual horror film, then we should be all for it. Mutants can be very scary, as seen on Legion. If for no other reason than the delay, this movie was always going to make the list.
7. Little Monsters (Directed by Abe Forsythe) – TBD
Who’s up for a double dose of zombie comedies? The first one of note will come from director Abe Forsythe, who seems primed to breakout. The film follows a young guy (Alexander England) who volunteers for his niece’s field trip to spend time with her teacher (Lupita Nyong’o). The field trip takes the group to an event hosted by a children’s TV personality Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad). However, when a zombie outbreak occurs, the three must band together to protect the children. This one sounds amazing, and critics at the Sundance Film Festival compared it favorably to Shaun of the Dead. This could become a smash hit, and give Nyong’o another boost as she becomes one of horror’s most bankable stars. The movie was picked up by Neon and Hulu, so a date should be announced in the near future.
6. Zombieland: Double Tap (Directed by Ruben Fleischer) – October 11, 2019
For most, the return of Zombieland will be the action/zombie comedy of the fall. Dropping just a few weeks before Halloween, the return of the gang should pick up right where it left off. Since the last film, three of the four major cast members have earned Oscar nominations, and Emma Stone even won. Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Woody Harrelson are nothing to sneeze at either. The likelihood of a sequel felt impossible, but the fact the group reassembled shows how much fun the first film must have been for everyone. If the new film can recapture that spirit, Zombieland: Double Tap will be in line for a big box office haul.
5. The Lodge (Directed by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala) – TBD
This could be the indie breakout horror film of the year. The Lodge was widely praised at the Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered in the Midnight competition. The story follows a soon-to-be mother-in-law as she attempts to bond with her stepchildren. However, when they are about to return home, strange things begin to occur at the house. This stands to be the It Comes at Night of 2019, a slow burn horror film that divides audiences heavily. However, one thing in its favor is the horror pedigree it carries with it. Fran and Fiala are best known for directing Goodnight Mommy in 2014. With any luck, the two can repeat the success here. The film also has a strong cast, including Riley Keough, Jaeden Lieberher, Richard Armitage and Alicia Silverstone. Apparently, the sound design of the movie really shines. That can elevate a horror film more than almost any other element.
4. Doctor Sleep (Directed by Mike Flanagan) – November 8, 2019
Stephen King has three separate properties hitting theaters in 2019, but this one looks to be the biggest wildcard of the bunch. Doctor Sleep follows Danny Torrence, the young boy from The Shining as an adult man (to be played by Ewan McGregor). Danny meets a young girl who seems to have The Shining powers. When it comes to light that a cult (led by Rebecca Ferguson) is looking to hunt down the girl and use her powers to stay immortal, Danny becomes protector to the young girl. On one hand, this does not sound like a straightforward horror film. Then again, Mike Flanagan just came off of The Haunting of Hill House. He has emerged as one of the strong horror directors working today, so we have to pay attention to him when he works. Then again, who was asking for a sequel to The Shining, and does King’s involvement signal a potential misstep for the project (remember, he hates the Kubrick version).
3. Midsommar (Directed by Ari Aster) – August 9, 2019
From director Ari Aster, the director of Hereditary, comes a horror followup with high potential. The plot of Midsommar is straightforward, following a young woman who joins her boyfriend on a trip. However, things get scary and weird. The real draw for this film will be Aster. Hereditary was masterful filmmaking, especially for a first-time director. If that was Aster’s first time out, what will his next film look like? The best thing is that Aster has identified strong performers again, bringing Florence Pugh (who looks like she’s about to have a massive year), Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper, and Jack Raynor to lead the cast. If he can even approach two-thirds of what he did with Hereditary, this movie has the chance to be one of the very best movies of the year.
2. It: Chapter Two (Directed by Andy Muschietti) – September 6, 2019
I’ll admit, I was very down on the prospects for It when it released two years ago. Frankly, I thought it was a nostalgia trip, and didn’t find it to look too scary. I still have small nitpicks with the film, namely around its use of CGI with Pennywise, but the movie undeniably works as blockbuster entertainment. It was about as perfect of an adaptation as we could hope for, and the fact that we’re getting a star-studded sequel should excite everyone. With Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, and the original cast of “The Losers Club” returning, there’s plenty to be excited about. With Andy Muschietti returning to direct, we can be hopeful he will not just play the story as it was written. Instead, his willingness to change or cut plot points that don’t work could result in something very cool. Or we could get Spider-Pennywise. Who knows?
1. Us (Directed by Jordan Peele) – March 22, 2019
Was there any doubt? This movie looks insane, and Jordan Peele looks to be cooking with gasoline. The posters for this movie are frightening. Lupita Nyong’o looks to be giving an Oscar-caliber performance here. You also don’t just cast Elisabeth Moss or Winston Duke to be window dressing. Perhaps the big breakout star of the film will be Shahadi Wright Joseph, who has several standout moments in the trailer. Everything about Us looks like it is poised to become the next Nightmare on Elm Street with creepy character designs and frightening imagery throughout. Peele looks to be working at another level, and this one looks like it could become an instant classic and a box office sensation.