Happy new year, dear readers. 2018 is starting off with a few bangers to really set the tone right. Of course, there's some iffy ones mixed in for good measure. I hope one of your resolutions was to watch more horror movies, because here's what's coming your way in January 2018. Did we forget anything? Of course we did. Tell us about that, too.
01/02/2018 - VOD
Several psychopaths wreak havoc over the course of a violent night.
Jack: This is a hard one to make dumb jokes about because I’ve seen an advance copy. Definitely go see it though. Regardless of my having seen it or not, Keating is doing awesome work in the genre and his shit needs to be seen. And tune back in soon for an actual review.
Jake: This is probably the most honest movie title and plot synopsis of the last century. Bonus points for a cameo from The Fess, as well. Tune in on January 2nd for our review on this one because, spoiler alert, I’ve already seen it.
Mark: Ohhhhh, Keating movies. Frankly, it’s actually seemingly been quite some time (Carnage Park?) since the last one. This looks to be about in line with the rest of his work, which is to say good on the whole, but shaky dialogue and a low budget that is only a little bit limiting. Also, definitely some death metal and strobe lights. Sign me tentatively up.
01/02/2018 - VOD
In the British countryside, the Harver family head out on an idyllic summer camping trip where they can bury past tensions and enjoy some family bonding. But when their camp is sabotaged by an unseen intruder in the night, they head to the nearby creepy old farm desperate for help, where vengeful farmer Hunt Hansen and his hideously deformed son aren't farming animals...
Jack: Hey, here’s a pro tip: Unless you’re absolutely 100% certain of a movie’s release date, don’t say anything about that shit in the trailer. Because that one said “This Year”, which, as I write this in December anticipating a January release, is provably not true. That said, this movie looks pretty decent, even if it is just the Britain Chainsaw Massacre.
Jake: For a movie that seems to just be the British Chainsaw Massacre, I’m actually really drawn to this Leatherface knock-off’s costuming for some weird reason. Maybe it’s because I like the mask and the more nimble build after numerous movies featuring that hulking monstrosity, but it’s more likely because it’s somewhat redeeming after realizing one of the main characters is dressed like Nigel Thornberry.
Mark: There is some part of my brain that immediately assumes I’m being taken advantage of when I hear a British accent, but “boy with a melted face” sure seems like a good villain. That being said, “man with mask and chainsaw” sure seems derivative. This is just a blatant ripoff of a good movie. Are we cool with that? I might be.
01/02/2017 - VOD
Lewis Cutterman is a well respected brain surgeon and happily married with two beautiful children who run the family business. They are model citizens within the community. A simple visit to their home by a solicitor is greeted by an invitation to dinner; except dinner takes a macabre turn when the solicitor finds himself drugged by the family.
Jack: I was going to ask how they got Eric Roberts in a movie that looks and sounds as low budget as this . . . but then I looked at his IMDB, and holy shit, that guy’s in almost thirty (30!) movies coming out in 2018 alone. Hot damn. Now I guess I’ll be asking myself what’s wrong with a low budget movie if it couldn’t even get Eric Roberts to be in it?
Jake: Oh my god. Who is this narrator? His “In a world…” tone is juuuust a bit outside of what I consider acceptable. Also, the movie as a whole looks mind-bogglingly terrible.
Mark: The score in this movie is the shutterstock of scores. It’s like they googled “intense techno score” and found the third best fair-use garage band composition they could get. Are we sure this isn’t Uncork’d? No, they wouldn’t do that to me after they worked so hard to get back into my good graces.
01/02/2017 - VOD
Some say Bigfoot is just a hoax but when a group of hikers go deep into the woods after being warned by a guide that has encountered a Sasquatch, they decide to ignore him and go off trail, but the deeper they go into the woods they realize that they are not alone.
Jack: What the fuck regions fall into the middle of the venn diagram for: 1) accessible by a fucking Firebird; and 2) “uncharted”? None? Is none regions the right answer? I know I should talk about how this doesn’t look awful for how low budget it is, but I can’t move past the uncharted region that they just found off the side of a state highway.
Jake: This is bound to be both the first and last time I ever think about this steaming pile of squatch feces, so let’s just move along to the rest of my life.
Mark: On the plus side, it appears they are using the old-school command and conquer font in their trailer, which is nice. On the minus side, it looks honestly god fucking terrible. You want another bigfoot movie? There aren’t many, but the ones out there are definitely better than this one. Try Exists or Willow Creek or something. They can’t be as bad as this looks.
Insidious: The Last Key
01/05/2018 - Theatrical
Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier faces her most fearsome and personal haunting yet - in her own family home.
Jack: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Key fingers being inserted into me was a fear I did not know that I had but that it turns out I definitely do. The Insidious sequels have proven to be competently made and scary, even if they don’t stick with you. This looks to be no exception to that rule.
Jake: This movie will be about 75% jumpscare. It will also make lots of money. Kudos for the finger key concept, that’s creepy as shit and proves there are still good ideas out there.
Mark: I completely and utterly trust the Insidious franchise to make movies that are both fun and scary, and exceed average expectations. They appear to have created a new type of monster, which seems fun, but it also appears they’ve reimagined the further and filled it full of generic people with genetic disorders which seems meh. What do you want from us? This trailer has been seen over 8 million times.
Day of the Dead: Bloodline
01/05/2018 - Limited Theatrical, VOD
A small group of military personnel and survivalists dwell in an underground bunker as they seek to find a cure in a world overrun by zombies.
Jack: Anyone else get the feeling that literally every beat of this movie has been done before and done better? I mean I guess it doesn’t look bad, but shit, it sure doesn’t excite me. Why decide to do a Romero remake without something interesting to say? Just feels lazy.
Jake: Well, you know what you’re getting here. I’d say this looks resoundingly mediocre, but I do want to mention that the effects look like they’ve been given proper care and I loved the final shot of the trailer because we don’t get enough over-the-top vomit-on-face sequences in movies, these days. So at minimum, thank you for that, movie.
Mark: I love the “of the dead” movies. They’re well made visions of the evolution of zombie apocalypse. Plus that Mekhi Phifer zombie baby? Come on, phenomenal. This? This looks very middling and like an unnecessary addition to the franchise. Can’t we get past the “they’re learning” zombie storyline? It’s such a shitty plot device and it keeps coming up.
01/05/2018 - VOD
An FBI agent helps the local sheriff of the small town of Devil's Gate, North Dakota search for answers to the disappearance of a local woman and her young son.
Jack: So here’s the thing: That trailer looked pretty underwhelming and showed way the fuck more than it needed to or should have. But I actually think that Amanda Schull is a great and underrated actress, and the concept certainly doesn’t look bad, so I’m actually pretty excited to see this one.
Jake: I was not expecting that turn of events, so on one hand I was pleasantly surprised by this trailer. But on the other, it just blew its load on what could have been a great reveal. You can handle these things with subtlety. Hint at the reveal. Leave a cliffhanger to get me excited. Don’t show me your shitty cg lightning because for every ounce of excitement gained from the alien reveal, there’s an equal and opposite level of hatred for the bullshit effects you’re employing.
Mark: I would like to speak to the city planner who thought naming their town “devil’s gate” was a good idea. Hey, fun question, would you rather live in “Devils Gate” or “Devil’s Gate?” Simple question at first but pretty good if you think about it, right? DON’T WATCH THIS TRAILER IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS FOR THIS PROBABLY ALRIGHT BUT NOT GREAT MOVIE.
The Strange Ones
01/05/2018 - VOD
Mysterious events surround two brothers as they travel across America. On the surface, everything seems normal, but what appears to be a simple vacation soon gives way to dark and complex truths.
Jack: Oh, I cannot abide Alex Pettyfer ever since his feud with Channing Tatum on the set of Magic Mike. A to Z Horror stands with Tatum. #Tatumlife. So unfortunately, I can’t be seeing this one, which is a shame because it looks tense and interesting.
Jake: Arguably more horrorish than straight up horror, I think this one deserves inclusion for tension alone. Slow burns are my jam and I’m hoping this can be a good first addition for 2018.
Mark: Isn’t that the same guy who narrated The Big Lebowski? This looks honestly a whole hell of a lot more like a a tense drama than an outright horror movie, but that’s alright. We take all kinds around these parts. Caves are spooky and this movie has a cave. There. Horror. Nailed it.
A Demon Within
01/12/2018 - Limited Theatrical, VOD
A skeptical, small town doctor is forced to confront his personal demons in order to save the life of a teenage girl who has become possessed in his family's old house.
Jack: Wow that trailer is doing this movie no favors. When you strip it down and remove the generic fonts and title cards, Latin chanting, and weird cuts, this looks like it could be a pretty watchable movie. But, alas, they did not strip down those things and as such it likely won’t be making my list.
Jake: This seems remarkable in exactly zero ways. The effects look shoddy, the story and acting seem stale, and I’m betting the best scare came and went with the trailer. Pass.
Mark: I like the concept of having to go back into your childhood haunted house in order to confront your past torment, but this? This doesn’t seem like the best execution of said storyline. This seems like a lackadaisically strung together hodgepodge of good and bad scenes with a dash of excessive CG and a hint of poorly constructed cinematography. The bones of this movie seem good, but it just looks like there are so many bad decisions piled on that I’m not sure I can give it a chance.
01/12/2018 - Limited Theatrical
A couple try to protect their dark past and secrets in order to save themselves from future.
Jack: So it turns out the trailer we linked was in Hindi (I think?) and had no subtitles. Good work, us. But it’s okay, because it had that one part where it said first he’ll turn black and then he’ll die in English. Got it. Also I’m pretty sure the rest of it said something like: “I thought I had it all figured out” [dramatic music note] “But some things . . . are beyond comprehension.” [Dunh dunh!]. Apart from being dark and washed out, likely to correct for some less than stellar effects, this looks pretty spooky, assuming I can either get a copy with subtitles or learn Hindi.
Jake: I’m not familiar with Vikram Bhatt or the Indian horror scene in general, but I’m struggling with the look here. Everything in this movie is shot/lit in such a strange way. Sets feel like sets in a stage production. I’d also like to throw out that the concept of 1921 happening a decade after 1920 is creating some crazy cognitive dissonance for me. That being said, I’m all for more genre entries coming in from all corners of the globe. I just don’t know if this is going to be much to write home about.
Mark: If this is a prequel to 1922 then I want no part of it. Doesn’t this guy know I can’t speak un-american? He should talk to me in a different language instead. In more realistic criticism, this looks overdramatic, but I actually really like the idea that I think they are going for? Is this house haunted by the ghosts of soldiers who died on a nearby battlefield? Is it also haunted by the villain from Lights Out? Is it also haunted by Cupid, because those two smoldering protagonists seem smitten. If this movie has subtitles (unlike the freaking trailer) I would be wholly okay with watching this.
01/12/2018 - VOD
A woman in her third trimester of pregnancy is stalked by a stranger who is obsessed with her unborn child.
Jack: “Internal scrapes”?!? What the fuck are internal scrapes? Internal bumps or bruises would have made sense there, but I’m pretty confident that “scrapes” on the inside of a uterus are a significant cause for alarm. And that is just part of the lack of attention to detail that will prove this entire remake was a bad idea. The original French film pushed the limits of brutality, and without that and with the laziness that accompanies many remakes, this just looks like a pretty generic home invasion. Pass.
Jake: I do not like this. This movie already happened. It’s from 2007 and it’s in French. Don’t like subtitles? Get over it. 100% guaranteed this will suffer from a significant neutering effect, just like what happened to Martyrs when it was decided that America needed an American version. Fuck you.
Mark: I will never for the life of me understand how it is possible to drive as poorly as people do in horror movies. If you’re gonna use a car crash as a plot device, could you at least dress it up a little bit better than “two cars just run the fuck into each other?” Jake has a good point, but honestly this still looks pretty good.I should probably watch both and weigh back in at a later time.
01/16/18 - VOD
A young rock band, half of its members from England and half from the U.S., drops out of college and moves to the Sunset Strip to chase their dreams.
Jack: Holy diver that was a long trailer. Get it? Holy diver? Because Dio? Fuck all you kids and your new music. Is this a horror movie or a just an unaired extra-long episode of Law & Order SVU that features a GWAR-like band? It definitely doesn’t look bad, but . . . ehh?
Jake: This is just scraping by as a horror flick but it looks like it might be quality. I’m curious enough to warrant giving it a shot but I’m not sure what will be left to see after that marathon of a trailer.
Mark: Halloween and Devils Rejects is a pretty solid resume, plus the cast is surprisingly solid.I’m trying to figure out why I haven’t heard of this one until just now. It kinda bodes poorly for the film as a whole, or potentially it’s just an indictment of the marketing agency, or perhaps it just is because this looks like it’s only tenuously horror. In other news, this trailer is way too fucking long. 2 minutes 30 seconds? Get the hell outta here.
Mom and Dad
01/19/2018 - Limited Theatrical, VOD
A teenage girl and her little brother must survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria of unknown origins causes parents to turn violently on their own kids.
Jack: Something, something . . . Nic Cage joke. Unfortunately, this is probably going to live or die more by the kids’ performances than by Nic’s, but to their credit, they looked pretty solid in the trailer. Count this one as a probably.
Jake: This is going to be stupid and I love it. It’s a Nic Cage movie so the floor and ceiling are almost in the exact same place, too. Close to a must watch.
Mark: I. Fucking. Love. Nic Cage. If he ever makes a found footage horror movie I’ll die happy. The only knock I have against this trailer is that one of the news blasts said that it was Home Alone on bath salts. I’m sorry, what? Only one of those descriptors appears to be an adequate descriptor here, however that does imply that there is substantially more poorly conceived traps than the trailer is letting on. Beyond that, this movie is leaning hard into the Cagesanity and I am 100% on board with it. This is my top 1 full stop. No competitors come close. Yay this movie. Yay forever.
The Midnight Man
01/19/2018 - VOD
A girl and her friends find a game in the attic that summons a creature known as The Midnight Man, who uses their worst fears against them.
Jack: . . . Why did that doctor know so much about the game? I know there was an official Jumanji remake that just came out, but horror is always where Jumanji realistically belonged. This looks like it can deliver, and dish out some good jump scares along the way.
Jake: Robert Englund and Lin Shaye likely mean this will be ok at minimum. I sincerely hope they play up the concept of the Midnight Man being good at the game, inspiring some serious Rube Goldbergian type death traps for our dumbass cast of teens we certainly won’t care about.
Mark: “Get back in the circle quick” and “run” are two widely different things. This movie has games. This movie has rules. Aside from the fact that watching children play games poorly is one of the most aggravating things you can subject yourself to, why would I not like this?
01/26/2018 - Theatrical
During an exclusive tour, a power breakdown inside a secret prison known as the Death House sends two agents fighting through a labyrinth of horrors while being pursued by a ruthless army of roaming inmates. As they fight to escape, the agents push toward the lowest depths of the facility where they learn a supernatural group of evil beings are their only chance for survival.
Jack: I think that may have been the most terribly rote lines crammed into a single trailer. And that’s saying something in our genre. Seriously, is there any even remotely nuanced dialog in this thing? No thank you.
Jake: Good Jesus, there are a shit load of names in this movie. What. A. Cast. And it still looks like complete garbage. There could always be a “so bad it’s good” factor at play but this doesn’t look like it’s capturing the B-ness necessary for that.
Mark: I’m at best dubious about a production company called the “Entertainment Factory.” This had SyFy Channel original movie written all over it until that one guy dropped the “I will fuck you to hell” line, at which point it became permanently tattooed with that moniker. This looks stupid and bad in the way that it will probably be so poorly constructed that it will end up boring despite having an interesting visual premise. I’ll be flabberghasted if this gets another look from any of us.
01/26/2018 - Limited Theatrical
Jack: I feel like if more priests asked troubled people if they had mental illnesses the world would be a better place. Maybe cut the similarities to the priest in this trailer there though. Just based on the intro and outtro cards to this thing I can’t imagine it has a whole lot going on, but you never know I guess . . . .
Jake: My brain chose to imagine the character of “Jay Cutter” was played by “Jay Cutler” while I watched this trailer, and it was mildly exciting. Alas, this is not Smokin Jay’s entry into film… I’m not convinced this movie actually exists either, given the name is the exact same as another movie that just released last month. My brain is melting in on itself.
Mark: Notably, this appears to be a different movie than the one we discussed on last month’s HRR of the same name. What? How does that happen? How is this not some type of lawsuit embroilio. How can you not claim damages from an equivalently low budget movie snaking your name-thunder? I, frankly, only have tolerance for one of these movies… Actually, you know what? I have tolerance for neither.
Jack: Insidious: The Last Key - Key fingers. Scary. ‘Nuff said.
Jake: Insidious: The Last Key - This flat out looks like the most complete movie on the list for this month, popcorn be damned. Gotta give credit where it’s due.
Mark: Mom and Dad - There needs to be more movies where Nic Cage just goes completely and fully insane and then plot happens in the background. I am so ready for this one.
Jack: Death House - If even one line of dialog in this thing has not already been uttered in precisely the same way by another horror movie, I will be shocked. Shocked.
Jake: Inside - This should not exist. Boo.
Mark: Bigfoot Country - There’s only like four total bigfoot horror movies and the genre is already oversaturated. Add in an egregious CG footprint and you have a recipe for one of the least exciting things I’ve ever seen. Are you actually incapable of making a real footprint on your movie set? You have to depend on CG for what is no doubt the easiest shot in your movie? Does not bode well.