The dog days of summer may be here but August’s horror entries are anything but lazy. I mean holy shit you guys. This bunch of movies are more lit than your campfires. In other words, they bat.
The Horror Release Roundup is our recurring feature breaking down the screams and scares that are heading your way every month. This time around we have everything (or at least our attempt at everything) coming at you in August of 2019. Enjoy the trailers and our respective thoughts below.
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08/02/2019 - THEATRICAL
Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family.
Jack: I think I liked the Babadook the most of anyone on here, and I’m quite certain that I liked the Others the most by far of anyone one here. Mix those two together with a well deserved dash of fucking the patriarchy and what do you get? A move that has the potential to be flat out amazing, but the unfortunate risk of being slightly boring (please don’t be boring!). I’m in.
Jake: Given Kent’s track record with The Babadook, I’m quite excited to see another entry and this one looks much more down-to-earth and visceral. This looks phenomenally well made. I am excite.
Mark: I’m sure this will be a good movie given it’s pedigree, but I just absolutely cannot get into old timey period pieces. It’s just a subjective wall that I can’t get past. I do like that the two main characters seem to be the Blackbird and the Nightingale. Lots of bird metaphors built into this one. That’s what the people want.
INTO THE DARK: SCHOOL SPIRIT
08/02/2019 - HULU
On the first day of school, a group of social outcasts are stuck in weekend detention. While serving detention, they are confronted by the school's legendary hauntings.
Jack: Nope. Nah uh Hulu. Not again. Sure, this looks legitimately great, and that is only mildly undercut by having seen it umpteen dozen times while I’m watching Seinfeld on Hulu. But I’ve been burned by these Intos the Dark before, and I’m nervous to open my heart again Hulu. Still, maybe I’ll do it because this does look cool. Don’t hurt me again, Hulu.
Jake: I’m the only one here who hasn’t watched one of these and the other guys have not had good things to say about the entries they have watched thus far. That being said, I am going to go ahead and volunteer to watch this one the next time I lose one of the stupid bets we make. I think this looks fun & I don’t give a shit if the ghost is a personification of their mascot Mark! OK?!
Mark: God dammit. Every month Hulu puts out an Into the Dark entry that sucks and every month I’m goaded into watching it because the trailer is actually pretty good. You’d think I’d learn my lesson, and yet I’ll probably still just throw this one on because it’s easy to access. My biggest question is why the screenwriters decided to make the villain a pirate ghost. Yes, I know it’s probably the school mascot. Do you know who got to choose this fictional school’s mascot? The screenwriter.
THEM THAT FOLLOW
08/02/2019 - LIMITED THEATRICAL
Set deep in the wilds of Appalachia, where believers handle death-dealing snakes to prove themselves before God, Them That Follow tells the story of a pastor's daughter who holds a secret that threatens to tear her community apart.
Jack: Oh man, I love Walton Goggins. That guy is consistently weird and consistently awesome. The movie itself looks pretty excellent as well, but it definitely looks like a slow-burn. If I don’t get around to watching this, it won’t be because it looks bad, but there are so many movies in this vein . . . I’m on the fence here.
Jake: Not sure how to feel here. We are kicking August off wit some heavy hitters that also seem to be quite heavy, if you know what I mean. Rural religion fuckery has never been my bailiwick (even the bananas version with Apostle really rubbed me the wrong way) so I’m not anticipating a time where I will sit down and pop this on. It does look like a good film though.
Mark: If you’re curious, this is the bible verse that’s in the background of one of the shots: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.” So yeah… gonna be some ophidiophobia mixed in with general Walton Goggins cult fuckery.
08/06/2019 - VOD
Passengers on a train that crashes into a river must decide whether to risk waiting for help in the wreckage or take their chances in the murky depths below.
Jack: Hell. Yes. Hell yes. You know who loves trains? Me. I also love fun, campy horror movies. It’s always a fine line with campy movies, because if you set out to make a “so bad it’s good” movie, you have still made a bad movie and the lack of inspiration often shows through. This one looks like they had fun making it, and luckily that usually chugs through, too (choo choo?).
Jake: Uh-oh. FULL SCREAM AHEAD!!! What a dumb tagline for a stupidly titled movie. This sits in a weird area in my brain. The synopsis above makes me want this to be a semi-serious creature feature and it is not even close to that. It could be good and I still think I would have wanted it to be tonally different. That being said, it also doesn’t look good, so...
Mark: While I will forever be enthusiastic about movies with good taglines (fuck you Jake, it’s awesome) I’m also simultaneously heavily confused by the spelling of the movie’s title. Throwing a murder train mystery on top of a train derailment into what is seemingly the Black Lagoon seems like it might be a bit too big of a bite to chew. It’s a bold gambit, Cotton, let’s see if it pays off.
THE NIGHT SITTER
08/06/2019 - VOD
A con artist poses as a babysitter to steal from a wealthy occult enthusiast. One of the kids she's sitting unwittingly summons a trio of witches known as The Three Mothers.
Jack: I’m calling it right now: the “stealing from the wrong person” plot is now itself a full on subgenre of horror all to itself. Don’t Breathe and Good Samaritan are a couple recent examples, but now that you’re paying attention to it, I’ll bet you start to notice this everywhere. This one adds a supernatural element, and that’s pretty neat.
Jake: Awful lotta crazy lighting in this movie. On top of that we have a Christmas-set flick coming out in August that features witches. I’m confused. And that’s ok. Confusion can be good sometimes.
Mark: Why does there always seem to be a Christmas movie that comes out in August? This looks good. I like this. Look at all that color. Listen to that persistent synth loop. Witches aren’t really my cup of tea generally, but I could see myself getting into this one.
08/09/2019 - VOD
A man discovers that he is part of a secret sect of magical beings who hunt down and destroy demons in the internet.
Jack: A seventeen hour shift is a very strange and very specific length of time for a shift. How did seventeen hours become the standard shift for whatever job it is they’re doing? Oh what, I’m supposed to talk about the movie and not just one weird line from the trailer? Ahh! Behind you! It’s some mediocre CG and some surprisingly good practical effects and props!
Jake: This movie seems so dumb and so fun and I m so in. I will not watch this sober, though. Oh, no.
Mark: Fuck I hate how good this actually looks. Like, this has no right to be as interesting as this looks. It probably won’t stick on my watchlist unless I hear a substantial upswell of support, but I’ll at least say that this world is probably better off with this movie existing.
SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK
08/09/2019 - THEATRICAL
A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives.
Jack: So it’s weird--I don’t actually remember “the Jangly Man” from the book. Did they change the name of one of the actual stories? Or did they just write a horror movie and then work in some of the lore from the book? Either way, it certainly looks well-made, but I’ll probably wait until I’m on a plane somewhere to watch this. Has the look of a classic plane movie.
Jake: My brain breaks when I think about this movie. Having grown up in the dead-center heyday of these books, all I can remember are the incredibly disturbing images in those pages. I have basically no recollection of what the stories themselves were like. Because of that, the series occupies a perhaps unjust place in my memory as the top of the horror pyramid. You were a playground badass if you had one on you. When I watch this trailer, it feels more child-friendly than I was expecting, but I bet if I went back and actually read the stories, they would follow suit.I’ll still watch this, but I first need to adjust my expectations.
Mark: Needless to say I’m excited for this one but two things have me a bit nervous. 1.) This seems like it’s almost exactly the same plot as that Jack Black goosebumps movie that came out a few years ago. 2.) The girl literally delivers a Yakov Smirnoff line in what seems to be a serious point in the movie and no one bats an eye.
THE BANANA SPLITS
08/13/2019 - VOD
A boy named Harley attends a taping of The Banana Splits TV show, which is supposed to be a fun-filled birthday for young Harley, but things take an unexpected turn -- and the body count quickly rises.
Jack: So the Banana Splits was a real TV show in the ‘60’s. Did they pay to license that? Is it public domain? What a weird thing, and I will not be able to enjoy this movie until I know exactly how much it cost to license. Don’t ask why it’s . . . personal.
Jake: So this is Five Nights at Freddy’s lite as a movie? Ok, I’m extraordinarily down.
Mark: Hahahahaha. Hell yes. Yes, we are going to have so much fun. You are correct disembodied voice actor.
47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED
08/16/2019 - THEATRICAL
Four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city quickly learn they've entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in the claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves.
Jack: A lot going on here. It’s the Descent meets Jaws. I’m on board. That said, I hope we’re in an “unreliable narrator” situation here, because I cannot imagine that Mayan relics, even from like the Postclassic period, could survive so nicely underwater.
Jake: I am a little surprised to see a 47 Meters Down sequel (or just additional entry), mostly because that movie had a tumultuous release. However, the shark movie mixed with underwater spelunking with a dash of ancient sacrificial temple is a whole hell of a lot of NOPE and I like it. This movie is gonna play with sharks in the darkness so hard. Shark darkness. Sharkness. Fuck.
Mark: Jack and I were discussing a recent Podcast episode (y’all should totally be listening) that there needs to be a better term for setting based horror. You know... shit like The Descent, or As Above So Below, or Devil. If you’re out there and you have a good idea for what to name that sub-genre (which is to say the sub-genre wherein the setting itself would be horrifying without any additional narrative) let me know ASAP so that I can start telling everyone that this movie is the new king of that freshly minted thing. This is a movie set in underwater caves that were at one point used for ritual human sacrifice. Honestly, you don’t even really need the sharks.
READY OR NOT
08/21/2019 - THEATRICAL
A bride's wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game.
Jack: I’m kind of diggin this new wave of movies based on kids’ games. You mix in some of the Most Dangerous Game and a fun tone with a weird and unexplained supernatural vibe, and you have a movie that I want to see.
Jake: Wow this looks fun. I love the sense of humor here. In a way, it kind of reminds me of You’re Next but with a 100x more silly premise.
Mark: High concept “killer game” movies are the fucking best. I love all of them. I would be into this one anyway, but then they went ahead and incorporated a bunch of grim humor, cast Samara Weaving, and set it to Unchained Melody. This is definitely at the top of my list for the month.
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID
08/21/2019 - SHUDDER
A dark fairy tale about a gang of five children trying to survive the horrific violence of the cartels and the ghosts created every day by the drug war.
Jack: Damn. This looks rad if a tad artsy. I’m gettin a real Neill Blomkamp vibe to the visuals here, and then obviously the dark whimsy of a Del Toro movie. Plus everyone says it’s good soooooo . . . I’ll be jumping on this bandwagon.
Jake: Shades of Pan’s Labyrinth, here. I haven’t seen a more richly realized world of dark whimsy since that came out, and word on the street that is the interwebz says this is a really good one. I will be seeing this as soon as possible.
Mark: This one has been generating a lot of good press for itself recently and I’m super happy that it’s about to become widely available. It basically looks like a modern Pan’s Labyrinth except set against gang violence instead of the Spanish Civil War. Whimsy isn’t typically my cup of tea, but luckily it looks like they made the whimsy pretty fucking creepy here. Side note, gimme a few minutes and I’ll find you like a dozen gifs of tigers being afraid of things. There’s probably a whole subreddit for that.
08/23/2019 - THEATRICAL
A bold girl discovers a bizarre, threatening, and mysterious new world beyond her front door after she escapes her father's protective and paranoid control.
Jack: This is how you do a trailer. Hint at just enough to keep me interested, but don’t actually show me anything that’s going on and keep a cool mood. I really hope the movie is edited as well as this trailer.
Jake: I don’t care for the generic name that also forces me to think about the 1932 classic, but Emile Hirsch showing up sure helped. His character reminds me a bit of John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield lane, but I’m guessing there are other tricks up the sleeve here, and I’m interested to find out what those are.
Mark: Well, shit. What’s outside the house? Are we to trust the friendly neighborhood ice cream man? I was told as a child never to trust the friendly neighborhood ice cream man. I have so many questions. First question: can I have some ice cream? Second question: can I also have a hug?
08/23/2019 - VOD
After returning home from the Vietnam War, veteran Jacob Singer struggles to maintain his sanity. Plagued by hallucinations and flashbacks, Singer rapidly falls apart as the world and people around him morph and twist into disturbing images.
Jack: Why? Why remake this? It doesn’t look bad or anything, but who was clamoring for the Jacob’s Ladder remake? “You know that weird and kind of visionary 90’s movie that had a cool concept but was kind of boring? Yeah, I’m going to remake that.” - Someone, apparently.
Jake: I think Jacob’s Ladder gets a bit of a bum rap for being boring and slow, but I’m also part of the problem because I thought Jacob’s Ladder was boring and slow. I’m interested to see this strictly for compare/contrast purposes and because I love to see what direction things go in when they are remade. I think there is some long runway here, too. Let’s see how it goes.
Mark: I’m happy to see this tale of the lingering horrors of war get a modern retelling. That said, I tried to watch the original Tim Robbins one a little while ago and couldn’t make it through without falling asleep. I recognize that it’s an under the radar classic and that it may have just caught me on the wrong night, but I’m just really hoping that this one has a little bit more hitch in its giddyup.
DON’T LET GO
08/30/2019 - THEATRICAL
After a man's family dies in what appears to be a murder, he gets a phone call from one of the dead, his niece. He's not sure if she's a ghost or if he's going mad.
Jack: Reach Out is a really underrated song. And you know what? The Four Tops are a really underrated band. Props to this trailer for playing with that song and making it sound kind of dreadful. That’s good enough for me, and hey, it was good enough for Us, too.
Jake: This seems more action/drama than horror but hey, what the hell there’s a ghost involved. The ticking time bomb plot and stakes involved will make this a tense ride for sure.
Mark: Okay this looks very intriguing. One quick question though, isn’t this just the plot of Frequency? Does anyone remember that movie or just me? I guess it’s been 20 years so that’s substantial enough breathing room between franchises.
08/30/2019 - LIMITED THEATRICAL
Based on the centuries old poem, a family moves into a secluded mansion where they soon find themselves being targeted by an entity taking the form of a giant spider.
Jack: I know I’m harping on the music a lot this month, but the opening melody in that trailer is the first half of the phrase from Tom’s Diner by Susanne Vega. I’m really trying to be professional and talk about all the spiders, but I have to go listen to that song to resolve the melody or I’mma get a wicked headache. Back in a few.
Mark: I present to you the following scene that I am 100% confident could have happened:
“Sir, it’s been a long time since there was a good horror spider movie.”
“Hmm, yes, let’s make them giant this time around.”
“Oh, sorry sir, that’s already been done. It was called Eight Legged Freaks.”
“Okay, well then, I guess we better just make them like normal realistic size. Something like a normal house spider…. Hell maybe we could even throw in a tarantula or two.”
“Gosh sir, that’s a great idea but you just described Arachnophobia.”
“Well dammit, Billy, what the hell is left then? Do you want me to make the spiders like the size of a small dog or something?”
**Billy frantically scribbles on his notepad.**
TOP 1 / BOTTOM 1
Jack: Tigers are not Afraid - Potential to be a little too artsy? Sure. Potential to be just the right amount of artsy and unique and amazing? You bet ‘cha. This looks great.
Jake: Tigers are not Afraid - I wanted to give this to Scary Stories but my mind couldn’t come to grips quickly enough so I’ll go with another film that looks absolutely phenomenal.
Mark: Ready or Not - It looks great and they resisted the temptation to use the Lauryn Hill song which would have been great, but just way too on the nose.
Jack: School Spirit - Sorry Hulu. I tried to open my heart. I tried to let you in. Unfortunately I couldn’t. You can’t break my heart, it’s liquid. It melted when I met you. Or something.
Jake: D-Railed - Mostly for the dumb slogan and dumber title but also because it looks not good.
Mark: School Spirit - Literally every movie on our list this month is a banger. I am going with the Into the Dark entry because I’ve been consistently let down by them in the past and this one has a pirate ghost chasing kids through a school…. so…. yeah.