Horror Release Roundup
June 2016

Hello one and all and welcome to A to Z Horror's fourth straight Horror Release Roundup! This thing's becoming a bonafide tradition around our tiny little corner of the internet. HRR is where we let you know what horror movies are coming out over the next month, and we’ll even give you a juicy little morsel of our thoughts on them based on the trailer. Speaking of which, just click the title for the link, we wouldn't leave you hanging. Is there a movie we missed? Likely. Let us know what we’ve omitted either on Twitter or in the comments at the bottom of the page. Pick your favorite. I mean, shit, do we have to do everything?


FENDER BENDER
6/3/16 - Chiller original

Jack: This movie does not excite me. Now I’m more than ready to be pleasantly surprised, but right now I’m having trouble seeing what this movie is bringing to the table. The premise seems really straight-forward, which in turn means the opportunities for scares or creepy-factor are going to be all stuff we’ve seen before. To be good, this thing’s gonna have to really excel in world-building or acting or . . . shit I dunno, but something.

Jake: Jack. Hey Jack. This is a slasher.  All those things you see in the trailer? The body count, virgin final girl (assumption alert) and masked killer. Now, it does seem like this is going to be leaning on the tropes HARD, but hey, formulas are formulas for a reason, mirite? For the record, I do not expect much.

Mark: I should probably know what Chiller is, as it seems highly pertinent to my role on this site. However, I have never heard of it before. I take it that it’s basically Syfy but with horror movies? I fucking love Syfy channel originals, so if this is even in the same ballpark then I will inevitably end up binge watching it hung over on some random Sunday. The trailer doesn’t really inspire much confidence, but then neither did Sharknado and look what that turned into.


THE WAILING
6/3/16 - Theatrical

Jack: So what the hell is going on here? Some kind of religious curse? One thing I know for certain is that you can tell just from the trailer that the cinematography has created a bleak and scary tone for the whole thing. With that at its core, this thing could be truly terrifying if the plot and acting hold up.

Jake: Something about this thing has slow burn written ALL over it. The trailer did a good job of piquing my interest without overselling itself, or really giving anything away about what it is even selling, for that matter. The one potential problem is that it apparently clocks in at a shade over two and a half hours. Jesus H… Is that really necessary?

Mark: Here’s a good example of a trailer that gives almost nothing away. I mean there’s a curse, some racism, some general spookiness, but the actual mechanisms of the film seem to be kept well hidden. I love me some well executed asian horror movies so I’m hoping this one turns out to be great.


VALLEY OF DITCHES
6/4/16 - Dances With Films Festival

Jack: Well shit. I heard recently that this movie had a budget of less than $50,000. That is astoundingly small. But that trailer is effective. Looks like this movie’s either found a really great balance of psychological situations and good acting, or just a really fucking stellar team making the trailer. Or both. I hope it’s both.

Jake: This is exactly what I want in a horror trailer. It’s tense, gives you a glimpse at the plot and leaves you wondering how the pieces will fit together. I can’t wait to hear more from its premiere at Dances With Films, and hopefully it’s not too long before we can get our hands on it as well.

Mark: Yup. It’s unfortunate that “buried alive” is a theme more often found in crime procedurals on TV (I’m looking at you, Bones) than in horror, because it’s legit terrifying. If anyone tells you that they aren’t afraid of being buried alive that person is either stupid, lying, or a worm. I’m excited for this one for many reasons, but chief among them is seeing how well they stretch their budget.


SHORTWAVE
6/4/16 - Dances with Films Festival

Jack: Maxim Magazine’s movie of the year? I mean, it does look pretty titillating. That song was pretty cool, and juxtaposed well with the blood and such, but no telling whether that’s the feel of the overall movie. Looks beautifully shot though, and I’m definitely going to try to check it out.

Jake: A couple things about this one. Number 1: it’s super heavy on the dream sequence, making it (obviously) pretty hard to tell what’s going on. It’s being produced by the same folks that brought us The Invitation, which was similarly sparse in information and seemed to turn out well. Both trailers, used their general murkiness to ratchet up my excitement to see the film. Number 2: there are A LOT of panty shots in this trailer… Just sayin’.

Mark: I don’t know why, but I really wanted to dislike this trailer from the start. I think it’s the overabundance of edge blur. That aside, despite its best efforts, I actually think this looks decent. Solid cinematography, solid sound design, too much edge blur. I’m intrigued.


THE FUNHOUSE MASSACRE
6/7/16 - DVD and VOD

Jack: I am so excited for this movie. It is always tough with super well-made trailers like this one, because if the whole movie can’t hold that atmosphere, it probably won’t work as well. With that said, this thing looks like a ton of fun. You know, if you’re a weird fuck who loves horror movies like all of us.

Jake: Can’t wait to see the various scenarios the film is able to create with the funhouse setup. Each killer having a zone is reminiscent of Running Man or even 13 Ghosts. It looks like it’ll be hilarious, but it’s going to need to nail that tone or it will fall flat. Toeing a line, this one.

Mark: Is this basically the more lighthearted version of 31? I gotta say, looking this thing up on imdb and various other horror blogs did not have my interest piqued. That trailer really turned my opinion around on it though. There isn’t a lot in the world of horror-comedy, but this seems like it’ll be a great entrant.


MONSTERLAND
6/7/16 - DVD and VOD

Jack: So they’re clearly going for the ‘so bad it’s good’ thing. But the thing about that, is that movies in that vein that work actually bring something to the table. Maybe it’s just not in the trailer, but I didn’t see anything in there that will add the ‘it’s good’ part to the ‘so bad it’s good.’ It feels cynical, and I for one, exhibiting the artistic integrity (until literally anyone gives us money) for which I am best known, will not stand for it.

Jake: Holy shit, the CG effects look atrocious. Now I’m sure the movie is going for a crappy look and feel, but my god, just put that effort into practical effects and writing. Apparently this is an anthology though, and that fact alone sneaks juuuuust enough intrigue in there to keep me from tapping out completely. Maybe one segment just really needed that shitty CG look. It would make sense because I also noticed practical effects in the trailer and was puzzled by the combination.

Mark: Hey speaking of Syfy channel original movies and their general level of quality, this one probably didn’t quite make the cut. Seriously the special effects in this this look like hot garbage. Pro tip for filmmakers - if you can’t afford the highfalutin CG effects that actually... you know... look good, then don’t use CG. This rule is infallible and has no exceptions.


THE CONJURING 2
6/10/16 - Theatrical

Jack: So here’s the thing: James Wan is a good director. Whatever this movie is, it will be competently made and I’m sure there were almost no budgetary limitations. That means the ceiling is really high. The question is whether it’s going to be so focused on catering to the lowest common denominator that it sacrifices complexity. I’m not necessarily saying the two are mutually exclusive, and hey, I’m not a hater of mainstream horror. If anyone can find a happy marriage of the two, it’s Wan.

Jake: The big Kahuna. I’m not sure if there is a more anticipated release in horror this year than the follow up to The Conjuring. For its Super Bowl ads, big budget production, and over two hour run time (that’s fucking long, guys) I am going to be shocked if this isn’t a fairly polarizing film. It certainly looks like a ride worth taking, but the hipster in me is skeptical.

Mark: These guys suck. Jake and Jack I mean. Wan killed it in the first Conjuring, which is one of the few movies I would give a score of 10/10 to on scare factor. All aboard the hype train. CHOO CHOO.


CELL
6/10/16 - VOD

Jack: Uh-oh. I think this one’s going to come down to how much you trust John Cusack. Follow me here. John Cusack does not have a good track record with apocalyptic horror-ish thrillers (read: 2012). So why would he jump on board with another one? If you think he knows what the hell he’s doing, then maybe there’s something special about this movie that he can see. If on the other hand, you think he might not know what makes for effective horror, I’d probably avoid this. I’ll be avoiding.

Jake: Not one part of me was interested in this movie during the excruciatingly long 2:30 trailer. I just don’t see anything new going on here. Apocalyptic scenario brought about by mobile devices turning people’s brains to zed word mush. It has a pretty good cast with John Cusack and Samuel L Jackson but holy diver, they couldn’t even draw me in.

Mark: I can’t tell if this looks like brilliant execution of a terrible concept or terrible execution of a brilliant concept. I’m going to disagree with Jack here a little bit because I think Cusask has a decent horror track record (people liked Identity, right?) so he hopefully knows a bit about how to pull that whole thing off. Plus Tod Williams directed Paranormal Activity 2, which was a solid and entertaining entrant into that franchise. On an unrelated sidenote, imdb lists the 2016 TV movie Adventures in Babysitting as a “you might also like.” Not sure what to make of that.


QUEEN OF SPADES: THE DARK RITE
6/10/16 - Limited Theatrical

Jack: So it’s like Russian Bloody Mary? If you’re like me (and for your sake, I really hope you’re not) then you assume that Russia is mostly bleak and depressing and scary. This looks like it captures that vibe perfectly. Makes the town look like the kind of place where Phantom of the Opera-style organ music would lighten the mood. With that said, there’s a lot going on in that trailer, and I’m concerned they may have gone a little overboard.

Jake: An entry from Russia. I’m interested in that element, but the premise is nothing new. It seems to be the Bloody Mary urban legend we all tried as kids and were sorely disappointed (or relieved?) with, or Candyman… With a twist. I hope, but do not for a goddamn second expect, to see anything very fresh coming from this one. But hey, it’s in Russian. Over/under on dashcam scenes - 1.5.

Mark: I actually gotta give the trailer props for not really showing anything of the ghost at all. I mean there’s the jump scare at the very end, but outside of that it doesn’t seem like it really gives much away. I also have to give it props for using scissors as a murder weapon. I’m not sure I can come up with a another movie that does that. One thing that really get’s me though; how many trailers have had that same single piano key musical score? Can’t we find a new song to score our trailers?


THERAPY FOR A VAMPIRE
6/10/16 - LIMITED THEATRICAL

Jack: . . . Aren’t there two of them? Shouldn’t it be therapy for two vampires? Or I guess only the guy is getting the therapy? So they got it right. Fine. I’ll give them this one, but I’ll be here. Watching. Waiting. Anyway, this is a really original concept, which is awesome. I’m just . . . just not that excited for it. Color me jaded I guess. Or maybe I’m just grumpy today.

Jake: The “Therapy” in the title is referring to relationship therapy, as it seems being married is NOT cool when you are both undead and have to deal with each other's bullshit for hundreds of years. Add it to the list of reasons it does not pay to be a vampire, I suppose. This shit looks downright whimsical. Also, it’s Austrian.

Mark: The Austrian name for this film is Der Vampir auf der Couch. Now I don’t speak German, but I’m pretty sure that translates to The Vampire and the Couch, which I am damn sure is a better name for this thing than Therapy for a Vampire. At the very least it’s more fun to say. In any case, this looks well done and surprisingly fresh. Looking forward to it.


CLOWN
6/17/16 - VOD

Jack: So that’s it huh? Eli Roth is the master of terror? We’ve all decided? I must have missed the meeting. With that said, this looks like the kind of movie that I might actually really enjoy. It has the feeling of glossing over any plot holes well enough and being just well made enough to make what I’m sure will be eleven big jump scares actually really effective. Throw in some light body horror and you’ve got a movie that is more appealing than I’d like it to be.

Jake: Clowns have never been my favorite. Not in a sense that I’m particularly scared of clowns (my thing is spiders), but I just don’t much care for the bastards. Put it this way, if there were a clown at my birthday party as a kid, I’d have to kick my own ass. You don’t have both clowns and other, cooler shit like bounce houses or bands at your birthday unless you’re a pretentious dicknose. Anyway, this looks really well made (not a shock considering Eli Roth $$$ are behind it) and I’m interested in the premise of the cursed clown suit that transforms the poor bastard who wears it into the monster version of one of those sorry fucks. I’ll watch it. If for no other reason than to see that girl get murdered in the McDonald’s playhouse. I was always scared of those, anyway. Kids defecate in em, man.

Mark: My wife (I can say that now) hates clowns. She hates clowns like Jake hates spiders, but potentially worse. Actually that would be a pretty interesting debate. In any case, the likelihood of me ever being allowed to see this movie is essentially nil, which is too bad because this shit looks terrifying.


RED CHRISTMAS
6/17/16 - Sydney Film Festival

Jack: Well it worked for Krampus . . . But Dee Wallace is a proper scream queen. I like that. Apart from generic foreboding, hard to tell just what the fuck is going on in this one. But I am curious. Playing right into their goddamned hands.

Jake: Slasher?... Seems like there is some pretty gnarly anti-abortion message going on with this one but the trailer is astoundingly well made. Enough so that I can move past any social commentary that may or may not be attached to this film. I think. Don’t try to give me a morality lesson about aborted fetuses in your slashers, movie people.  

Mark: This sorta borders on not enough information for me. It seems like at the end there’s a foreboding figure in a cloak, but everyone is reacting to a box or something? If there isn’t a head in that thing then I’m gonna be pissed. On the bright side with this movie we’re inching ever closer to the fabled christmas rainbow. How long will it take us, as a people, to make a purple christmas anyway? Does it count if I just watch this movie while listening to Blue Christmas?


YOU ARE NOT ALONE
6/23/16 - VOD (US ONLY)

Jack: Hahaha. The blurbs in this trailer dive right into a debate we’ve had a number of times on A-Z Horror. Is this thing actually a slasher? Looks a lot more like home invasion to this intrepid young gumshoe. Apart from the first person thing, doesn’t look like a particularly innovative home invasion film either.

Jake: This movie starts with an extremely accurate depiction of pretty much every 4th of July my alcohol deadened brain can recall at this point in my life. Fireworks. Beer pong. First person. All shockingly accurate... Then it gets real serious, real quick. And it seems goddamn intense. We’ve been waiting for this one for a while now, and have heard good things, but will it live up to it? Finally, the wait seems to be short.

Mark: Wait, is this movie shot entirely in first person? It was only a matter of time until it happened I guess. Do we need to unironically create a POV category for horror movies now? Well, if “Ain’t It Cool News” says it’s good than I don’t know what the holdup is.


THE NEON DEMON
6/24/16 - Theatrical

Jack: Is it just me, or does that look exactly like Black Swan but with modeling swapped out for ballet? And what the hell was that mountain lion doing in that hotel room? Or was it an ocelot? Serpentine you fox-eared asshole!!!

Jake: I’m going to level with you, I’m a major whore for Drive. Nicolas Winding Refn’s outings are beautiful and stylish. So when I first saw this trailer I got excited. Real excited. Then I heard some interesting news from the film’s showing at Cannes. It appears this thing was NOT well received, mostly due to what sounds like the all style, no substance pitfall. And you know what? I don’t even give a shit. I’m still excited for this one. Eye candy is still delicious, you assholes.

Mark: Huh. I’m going to venture a guess and say that this isn’t a horror movie, but it’s pretty hard to tell. Models are just so misunderstood, that it’s hard to tell exactly what is abnormal for them. Sorta weird that Keanu Reeves is in the movie and is even named in the title of the trailer, but he isn’t ever seen in it that I could tell. Perhaps he provides the voice for the beloved but chicanerous mountain lion, Hank.  I honestly don’t have anything else to say about this movie sooooooo…. yeah.


ACCIDENTAL EXORCIST
6/24/16 - VOD

Jack: Damn it. So here’s what happened. Mark got to his write-up before me. I know that doesn’t make sense because you’re reading mine first, but trust me, he snuck it right in there. And he made all my jokes about the exorcism not being accidental. So . . . shit. I’ve got nothing.

Jake: I doubt we'll ever go a month without seeing a zombie movie and an exorcism movie, so here’s the exorcist one, you guys. This month’s flavor (zombie flavor was Cell). Noteworthy in this trailer is that this exorcist appears to fight the possessed and definitely puts a sleeper hold on a little girl. After typing those words, it sounds way cooler than before.

Mark: Accidental? Hardly. That guy knows exactly what he’s doing. Reticent? Sure. Recalcitrant? Probably. Reluctant? Yeah for definitely. All of those words would make for a better title. Does he like bumble around accidentally spilling holy water on demons or something? I mean how frequently do you have a chance at dropping “recalcitrant” into a goddamn movie title? You must be the opposite of Steph Curry because you completely missed that shot. I’m sure this movie is better than most of the other garbage films that come out in the genre (*cough* Anna Ecklund *cough*), but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to get past the ridiculous name of the film.


THE SHALLOWS
6/29/16 - Theatrical

Jack: Fuck me that looks scary. As our most loyal readers may remember from my brilliant insights on scuba diving, I’m not a water guy. I don’t fucking like under-water stuff. And this looks like scary under-water stuff. Combined with real isolation. This has the potential to be one hell of a ride.

Jake: Horror in the most literal sense. It’s rooted in reality. It could happen, and it does happen. I’m not sure how well this movie will play over the course of 90 or so minutes, but it looks like an isolating and intense occasion. I love what it’s selling in terms of placing salvation just out of the reach of our protagonist. White knuckles are guaranteed.

Mark: Yo. You guys. Blake Lively like just had a baby. Like less than six months ago. That means she went from full on preggers to starring in a surfing movie in about two or three months. Is that healthy? That can’t be healthy. Frankly I’m more concerned about her than I am about her character getting attacked by that giant CG shark. Besides, as Samuel L Jackson can tell you, sharks DGAF about whether or not you are standing just out of their reach.


TOP 1 / BOTTOM 1:

To wrap up June's horror movies, we’re all going to give our most anticipated movie and our least anticipated movie. Let us know what you're most and least excited for.

TOP 1:

Jack: Clown - fuck me if that doesn’t just look scary. I kind of wish I was selecting a hipper pick. But I’ve gotta be true to myself, you know? Lots of movies I’m stoked for though.

Jake: Valley of Ditches - Non-existent budget be damned. In fact, considering what this movie is about, a gritty take will likely be for the best. Regardless, I’ll be paying damn close attention to how it fares as it makes its premier, and pulling for it to find its way to the public, soon. Sidenote - Valley of Ditches team, you could send it over anytime.

Mark: The Funhouse Massacre - Okay let’s be real. We all want to see The Conjuring 2, Nite Owl busting demon balls is something I need more of in my life, but this would be boring if we all selected the same movie. Instead I’m going with the one of the group that had the best darkhorse vibe for me. This shit just looks fun while also being squarely centered within the genre. Also surprisingly high on my list was The Vampire and the Couch. Clown looks like the scariest of the group. This is looking like a really solid month for horror releases.

BOTTOM 1:

Jack: Monsterland - You can’t fake camp. It’s gotta be earnest. This just looks bad.

Jake: Cell - Don’t care who’s in it. Unless that someone was someone I cared about. And that someone I would care about is not in it.Therefore nooooope.

Mark: Neon Demon - I literally have already run out of things to say about this movie. I can’t remember the last time I was less intrigued by a movie. It basically looks like they turned one of those confusing perfume commercials into a feature length film. Here’s another funny cat video to send us out on a good note.