Dec 27, 2013

13 Horror Movies to Watch Out for in 2014

Article By: Tony Timpone

The New Year bodes well for fright fans. Overall, 2013 set movie box-office records, fueled in part by a steady stream of hit horror flicks including Mama, The Conjuring, Insidious Chapter 2, The Purge, Warm Bodies, the $200-million grossing World War Z and several others. Without missing a beat, movie distributors have a plethora of new creepfests coming in 2014, a number of which we already caught in advance at various festivals. Today Chiller gazes into its crystal ball to select 13 upcoming horror movies destined to fright and delight. (Titles arranged alphabetically; release dates subject to change.)

1. BACKMASK (TBA)

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Marcus Nispel, who directed the incredibly successful Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th remakes, puts more teens in jeopardy in this bloody fun possession picture. During a wild party at a burnt-out mental facility, six kids make the mistake of playing a mysterious heavy metal record backwards, thus unleashing a malevolent spirit that takes over its young victims one-by-one. Overcoming a generic premise, Nispel keeps the gore and action flowing in Backmask, and the characters emerge as likeable and sympathetic. Executive producer Steven Schneider (Insidious and Paranormal Activity franchises) knows a thing or two about scary movies.

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2. BIG BAD WOLVES (Magnolia Pictures; 1/17)

Throughout 2013, this Israeli revenge drama (written and directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado) has been tearing up film festivals all over the world. Now, brandishing the loud endorsement of no less than Quentin Tarantino, Big Bad Wolves is ready to take on the general public in a city near you. With a copper on his tail, a father kidnaps the man he deems responsible for the vicious murder of his little daughter. The man then begins a long night of torture to coerce a confession from his innocence-proclaiming captive. But did the guy do it? Big Bad Wolves will keep you guessing till its blood-soaked finish. Unlike the similarly-themed Hugh Jackman hit PrisonersBig Bad Wolves, fortunately, exhibits a wicked sense of black humor.

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3. CHEAP THRILLS (Drafthouse Films; 2/14)

In this subversive sleeper, two old high school friends (one a freshly unemployed loser, the other a debt collector) share drinks at a local watering hole. There they meet up with a decadent rich couple (Anchorman’s David Koechner and Sara Paxton), who begin daring the duo to complete ridiculous stunts for money. When the party moves to the fun-loving couple’s home, the challenges turn much more twisted—and deadly. Cheap Thrills rates as an edgy edge-of-your-seat thriller that will have you gasping till the bitter end. This indie ranks as a major accomplishment for novice director E.L. Katz, who shot this debut effort in a week!

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4. COLD IN JULY (TBA)

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Based on the novel by award-winning novelist Joe R. Lansdale (Bubba Ho-Tep, The Drive-In), Cold in July springs from the dark heart of Texas. When Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall in his first major post-Dexter role) kills an intruder in his house, the burglar’s ex-con father (Sam Shepard) wants revenge. But all is not what it seems, including the true identity of the dead man. With acclaimed fright director Jim Mickle (We Are What We Are, Stake Land, Mulberry Street) and his co-writer Nick Damici in charge, Cold in July sizzles with indie genre cred, so much so it landed a top berth in next month’s Sundance Film Festival.

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5. COOTIES (SpectreVision; 10/14)

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Former Frodo Elijah Wood produces and stars in this humorous horror movie (also debuting at Sundance), in which teachers battle infected children at an elementary school. The killer cast also includes The Office’s Rainn Wilson, Lost’s Jorge Garcia, The Newsroom’s Alison Pill and Insidious’s Leigh Whannell, who co-wrote the film. Talent like that makes this Cooties one you can’t wait to catch.

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6. DRACULA UNTOLD (Universal; 10/17)

Batman, Superman and the Star Trek crew got their early years told in high-style, now it’s the Transylvania Count’s turn. In Dracula Untold, Luke Evans (currently doing a heroic stint in The Hobbit and tackling The Crow redux next) stars as Vlad Tespes (a.k.a. Vlad the Impaler), and the movie mixes history and fiction in one epic package. Dominic Cooper, a good-guy bloodsucker in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, co-stars. It’s been over two decades since Francis Coppola’s Bram Stoker's Dracula, so we’re prepared to sink our teeth into a new big-budget reimagining of the eternal fiend.

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7. GODZILLA (Warner Bros.; 5/16)

It took 15 years to wash the bad taste of the Roland Emmerich remake out of our mouths, but now we are positively salivating for this Americanized version of Japan’s King of the Monsters. Director Gareth Edwards first got his knack for giant creatures with his intelligent low-budget stunner Monsters. With Godzilla, the former FX artist is again striving for a realistic approach to a global catastrophe (unlike the jokey Matthew Broderick film), while remaining true to Godzilla’s Toho roots (especially in the radioactive dinosaur’s beloved design). Will the new Godzilla rock your world? The awe-inspiring trailer answers in the affirmative.

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8. THE GREEN INFERNO (Open Road Films; 9/5)

Hostel director Eli Roth goes for the jugular again and other soft and chewy human body parts in this, his gruesome tribute to the notorious Italian cannibal movies from the ’80s. An early attention grabber at film festivals in Toronto, New York and LA, The Green Inferno follows a group of activists into the Amazon, where they aim to save an indigenous jungle tribe. But it’s the stranded do-gooders who need protection when the natives decide to put them on the menu. With Green Inferno, Roth reclaims his gore auteur crown with shocking scenes of savagery and horror, but not without social comment and irony. Bon appetit!

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9. HORNS (Dimension Films; TBA)

Erstwhile Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe appears determined to win the hearts of horror fans. After starring in The Woman in Black, he signed to play Igor in a new version of Frankenstein and also took the lead in Horns, the movie based on Joe Hill’s much-praised dark fantasy novel. Directed by accomplished French horror guru Alexandre Aja (who helmed the Hills Have Eyes, Mirrors, and Piranha remakes), Horns earned enough kudos at the recent Toronto Film Festival to put it on our must-see list. Radcliffe stars as a poor schnook who wakes up to find a dead girlfriend and devil’s horns protruding from his head. While proclaiming his innocence, he sets out to solve the murder, as his unwelcome infernal antlers continue to grow and have a surprising affect on those around him.

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10. OCULUS (FilmDistrict; 4/18)

Another indie winner, Oculus jumps back and forth between past and present to tell an original ghost story. Siblings Kaylie and Tim try to come to grips with the tragedy that befell their parents, which the older sister (played by previous Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan) blames on a haunted mirror. Just out of the loony bin, Tim takes issue with sis’ obsession, which brings them both back to their old home for a terrifying reunion. Born in Salem, Massachusetts (natch), director Mike Flanagan weaves an engrossing, spooky tale. Advance praise for Oculus has Hollywood knocking on his door.

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11. THE QUIET ONES (Lionsgate; 4/25)

 It may have taken decades, but Britain’s legendary horror studio Hammer Films definitely got their grove back. Both The Woman in Black and Let Me In won over naysayers, and now Hammer wants to go three-for-three with this supernatural yarn about an Oxford physics professor (Fringe villain Jared Harris) and his students who try to create and film a poltergeist. Bates Motel’s Olivia Cooke and Catching Fire hunk Sam Claflin fill out the cast. Hammer has a knack for these supernatural chillers, so when it comes to audiences, The Quiet Ones should find screaming ones.

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12. THE STATION (IFC; spring)

With The Station, a tale of ecological horror, Austrian director Marvin Kren fulfills the promise he showed with his exciting first film Rammbock. Mankind’s failure to heed those global warming warnings has lead to an environmental catastrophe, as a group of scientists in the remote German Alps learns the hard way. The local animals begin mutating and attacking the befuddled researchers, who begin turning on each other as well. While borrowing the best from The Mist and Carpenter’s The Thing, The Station also boasts impressive creature FX (mostly non-CGI!) and flawed heroes we root for. Al Gore will love it.

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13. WOLF CREEK 2 (Image Entertainment; TBA)

Outback maniac Mick Taylor (jovial John Jarratt) returns in this sequel to the 2005 Australian “torture porn” smash. While the serial killer only found three backpacking victims in the previous film, encoring director Greg McLean makes sure nobody’s safe this time. His demented bushman targets corrupt highway patrolmen, more tourists and even a couple of senior homesteaders. Wolf Creek 2’s bloodier, visually more ambitious and even more sadistic than its predecessor, but it’s Jarratt’s frighteningly ingratiating tour-de-force lead performance that holds it all together. Bonzer mate!

Here’s a few more titles to put on your macabre movie radar: the tense Hitchcockian thriller Grand Piano (3/7), starring Elijah Wood and John Cusack; Jim Jarmusch’s sublime vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive (4/14); Ti West’s psycho cult/found footage treatment The Sacrament (6/6); Mercy (TBA), based on the superscary Stephen King short story “Gramma”; and Tobe Hooper’s dreamlike Djinn (TBA), which the Texas Chainsaw Massacre creator shot in the United Arab Emirates.

Do these Friday 13 2014 movie picks get an early rise out of your gooseflesh? If not, which 2014 horror films have you shivering in antici…pation? Tell us on our Facebook page or on Twitter using #Friday13.

FANGORIA editor emeritus Tony Timpone invites you to read about these horror films and many others in the pages of the world’s longest-running horror magazine.

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