2015 was a decent year for horror, with lots of smaller independent films reigning supreme. I've written about my favorite horror films of 2015, but now I am looking forward to 2016 and the promise of the many horror movies it already holds.
It's difficult to guess which films will be good this early in 2016, especially since many don't have trailers or release dates yet. However, I am optimistic for this year as there seems to be SO MANY horror films I'm looking forward to! I'm intrigued by these 2016 releases largely based on their plot descriptions, since there have been few trailers released for the many films mentioned below.
Before we get started, here are a few things to keep in mind while reading my list below:
- These are my most anticipated horror movies of 2016, so it is a very subjective list. I'm not interested in most reboots, prequels, sequels. If you are looking forward to the likes of Leatherface and Amityville: The Awakening, this list probably isn't for you (though I do have several sequels listed below).
- I didn't list horror films that already had their releases earlier this month, like The Boy or The Forest. If you like, you can read about those in my article 5 Horror Films to See This Winter.
- I've tried my best to mention films that are strictly 2016 releases, however, some may be considered 2015 releases based on festival screenings. I'm going by widest release date, so I'm considering those below 2016 releases. Also, the release dates stated below are tentative at best, as films' release dates often get moved around or even pushed to the following year. I'm being optimistic with the films listed below, and really hoping they all get released this year.
- The list of course isn't all-inclusive of every single upcoming 2016 horror release (see item #1 above). I expect there to be out-of-nowhere films in 2016 that surprise us all (and I'm looking forward to those!). And perhaps some seemingly less desirable horror movies will surprise me and I'll actually end up liking them (looking at you, Rings)!
The Witch - New England, 1630: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassible wilderness, with five children. When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another. I already wrote about this film last month, and since then it seems the hype for this film has grown even more. I am eagerly awaiting it, but I'm trying to not get swept up in all the hype for it, since that usually ruins films for me. Still, I am absolutely enamored of the setting and hope it delivers some slow-burn terror. Theatrical release is February 19th, 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it, loved it! It was so unsettling and eerie - not for everyone though - it is a very slow burn.]
The Neon Demon - When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has. I am really looking forward to this, because based on director Nicolas Winding Refn's previous work (Drive, Only God Forgives) at least we should get colorful visuals and a good soundtrack! Coming sometime this summer 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it, loved it - certainly weird, and focused more on beautiful visuals than story line, but it was captivating!]
Southbound - Five interlocking tales of terror follow the fates of a group of weary travelers who confront their worst nightmares - and darkest secrets - over one long night on a desolate stretch of desert highway. This horror anthology looks very promising, especially with many talents behind the V/H/S movies contributing to it. Limited release February 5th, 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it, didn't love it. Very meh experience for me.]
Don't Breath (aka A Man in the Dark) - A group of teens break into a blind man's home thinking they'll get away with the perfect crime. Not much is known about this one quite yet, but I am looking forward to it as it is directed by Fede Alvarez, who did the pretty awesome Evil Dead remake. Plus, it stars Jane Levy (who was also in the Evil Dead remake), whom I like. Currently it is set for a theatrical release in August 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it, I thought it was tense and well-done, though it had a kinda awkward and cringeworthy "twist". Overall, I really did like it!]
The Conjuring 2 - Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits. The first Conjuring film was extremely well-done, so of course I'm stoked for the second, which explores the true story of the Enfield poltergeist. The theatrical release is June 10th, 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it, loved it! Deliciously creepy and well-developed storyline.]
31 - After being kidnapped, five carnival workers are held hostage in a place where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive twelve hours against a gang of evil clowns. Last year, I didn't really care much about Rob Zombie's new killer clown movie. However, even though I may not like most of his films, there is something about this one that now has me intrigued, whether it is the promise of ultra-violence or the setting of Devil's Night. It doesn't have an official release date yet, but it did premiere at Sundance Film Festival on January 23rd, 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it, I didn't hate it as much as others, but it wasn't necessarily good. I had fun with it, but I probably wouldn't watch it again.]
Baskin - A squad of unsuspecting cops goes through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building. I've been waiting for a U.S. release to this Turkish film for a while now, and now that it has been acquired by IFC Midnight, Baskin should see a release as soon as March 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it and liked it, though it wasn't as batshit crazy as I was expecting. Still unsettling with nightmarish imagery, though! I wrote a little on it HERE!]
Green Room - A young punk rock band find themselves trapped in a secluded venue after stumbling upon a horrific act of violence. This is another film I've been anticipating for quite some time (since early last year), especially since it is from the same the director behind the awesome revenge flick Blue Ruin. The release is scheduled for April 25th, 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it, loved it! More thriller than horror, but unbearably tense at times and beautifully filmed.]
The Devil's Candy - A down-on-his-luck artist and his family move to a rural Texas farmhouse. But there are satanic forces lurking in his new home, and his art becomes increasingly disturbed as they try to possess his mind and body. Ethan Embry stars in this horror film from The Loved One's director Sean Byrne, and I'm hoping it actually gets a wide release in 2016.
The Invitation - While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests. I cannot wait for Karyn Kusama's new film, as it looks to be an eerie, unsettling affair. It is scheduled for a March 25th, 2016 release. [UPDATE: Saw it, loved it! I did a short write-up of it HERE - you can watch it on Netflix!]
Intruders - Anna suffers from agoraphobia so crippling that when a trio of criminals break into her house, she cannot bring herself to flee. But what the intruders don't realize is that agoraphobia is not her only psychosis. The trailer for this one looks so good! Hoping it doesn't disappoint, Releasing March 1st, 2016, though I think it may have already hit VOD.
The Unkindness of Ravens - A homeless veteran battles to survive against his demons in the remote Highlands of Scotland. Brought to you from the indie director of the creepy owlman character in Lord of Tears, Unkindness of Ravens seems to promise the same stunning imagery. There is no release date yet, but hopefully it will take flight in 2016.
The Barn - Its Halloween 1989, best friends Sam and Josh are trying to enjoy what's left of their final Devil's Night before graduating high school. But trouble arises when the two pals and a group of friends take a detour on their way to a rock concert, finding an old abandoned barn and awakening the evil inside. Now it's up to Sam and Josh to find a way to protect their friends and defeat the creatures that lurk within "The Barn". This indie film has a rad '80s throwback vibe and is set around Halloween - that's enough to sell me! No release date yet, but should be sometime in 2016 (hopefully around Halloween!). [UPDATE: Saw it, LOVED it - a new Halloween classic! I wrote a little about it over on my Midsummer Scream Halloween festival recap! See it if you can!]
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Jane Austen's classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England is faced with a new challenge -- an army of undead zombies. I am still holding out hope for this one since I enjoyed the book so much. Really hope it retains the wit of Austin as well as getting the kick-ass zombie action right. Theatrical release February 5th, 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it, meh. The book was so much better and the film was disjointed and just okay.]
Under the Shadow - Set in Tehran in 1988 as the Iran-Iraq war rumbles into its eighth year. The bombing campaigns focused on the city, coupled with the country’s bloody revolution, slowly tear a mother and daughter apart. As they struggle to stay together in the midst of these modern terrors, a mysterious evil stalks through their apartment, threatening their grip on reality. I really like international horror movies, and this one has generated significant buzz after premiering at Sundance. No release date yet, but it was just picked up by XYZ Films, who intend to distribute it globally via VOD and Netflix. [UPDATE: Saw it and LOVED it! Besides the eerie moments with the djinn haunting the apartment of the mom and daughter, I thought other horrifying (and still relevant today) aspects of the film were the societal restrictions placed on women and the ever-present threat of bombings in Tehran. Both the apparition and threat of war/regime kept me on my toes!]
Sun Choke - Janie’s just trying to get well. As she recovers from a violent psychotic break, she’s subjected each day to a bizarre holistic health and wellness regimen designed, and enforced, by her lifelong nanny and caretaker. She begins to veer off the road to recovery when she develops an obsession with a young woman to whom she feels an inexplicable yet profound connection. Starring Barbara Crampton and Sarah Hagan (I remember her best from Freaks and Geeks!), this looks like an intriguing psychological horror film. It premiered at film festivals in 2015, but I'm hoping it gets a wider release in 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it, and was disappointed. It was really slow and didn't have enough of a storyline to keep it interesting, focusing instead on showing us the world through the lead's mental illness. It was more of a psychological study rather than a horror movie, but a dull one at that. It is on Netflix streaming if you are interested in checking it out.]
The Disappointments Room - A mother and her young son release unimaginable horrors from the attic of their rural dream home. I'm hoping we actually get to see this one released, since Relativity Media filed for bankruptcy and all their titles are now kinda in limbo. I'm intrigued by the premise, especially since it has a screenplay from Wentworth Miller, who also wrote the spectacular Stoker. Fingers crossed, as it is supposed to be released on March 25th, 2016.
Lights Out - A woman is haunted by a creature that only appears when the lights go out. A feature adaptation of the 2013 short film of the same name by David Sandberg that took the internet by storm! The short was definitely freaky, so I'm interested to see what they do with a feature-length film. No release date has been set, but it should be released sometime this year. You can watch the original short below. [UPDATE: Saw it, liked it. I still think the short film was better, but the feature film was well-done, had a good storyline and acting. I wish there had been more scares that weren't shown in the trailers, though.]
The Strangers 2 - The plot follows a family of four who have been evicted from their home due to the economy, and are paid a visit by the same three strangers from the first film. Not much is known about this sequel at this time, though it may face the same conundrum as The Disappointments Room since this is also a Relativity Media property, and may end up not getting released at all. I really loved The Strangers, and have mixed feelings about a sequel, but I would probably give it a watch. The current release date is slated for December 2nd, 2016.
The Other Side of the Door - A family lives an idyllic existence abroad until a tragic accident takes the life of their young son. The inconsolable mother learns of an ancient ritual that will bring him back to say a final goodbye. She travels to an ancient temple, where a door serves as a mysterious portal between two worlds. But when she disobeys a sacred warning to never open that door, she upsets the balance between life and death. I love the concept, lore, and location of this film, and I hope it doesn't just end up being another cheap jump-scare flick. The trailer looks pretty decent, though, so here's hoping it's good! Releasing March 11, 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it, and while I loved the location, overall it was meh. Not memorable at all.]
A Cure for Wellness - A young man faces supernatural horror at a European wellness spa, and that's pretty much all that is known about Gore Verbinski's return to horror (his last horror film was The Ring in 2002). I am looking forward to this one simply because I really like what Verbinski did with The Ring. This one is set for a September 2016 release date.
The Abandoned - Desperate to get her life back on track, an unstable woman takes a job as a security guard, working the graveyard shift at a once upscale, now abandoned apartment complex. But on her first night on duty, she discovers a horrifying presence lurking deep within the bowels of the decaying building. With her nerves already on edge, she must confront demons both real and imagined as she struggles to keep a grip on her sanity. This one looks like good, creepy mindf*ck, despite the rather banal title. The trailer has some startling, creepy imagery, so I'm really keen to check this one out. No official release yet, but it should come out sometime in 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it and was so disappointed in this one. Very underwhelming.]
Holidays - A horror anthology film that will feature segments based on holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Mother’s Day. Among the directors participating so far are Kevin Smith (Clerks, Tusk, Red State), Gary Shore (Dracula Untold), Scott Stewart (Legion, Priest), Matt Johnson (The Dirties), Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch (Starry Eyes), Nicholas McCarthy (At The Devil’s Door), Sarah Smith (The Midnight Swim) and Anthony Scott Burns with more on the way. Though I'm pretty meh on the directors involved, I do love a good horror anthology, and if each segment is focused on a holiday, even better! Not much is known about this film at this time, but I'm hoping it will actually see a 2016 release. [UPDATE: Saw it and I loved most of it! I wrote a little about it HERE and you can watch it on Netflix!]
The Hexecutioners - Two disparate young women working for a company that conducts euthanasia are dispatched to a remote estate to perform a custom assisted-suicide ritual, but unwittingly summon the wraiths of a Death Cult that once inhabited the property. I love the gothic look of this film, and expect a solid storyline as it is written by Tony Burgess, who gave us the fantastic Pontypool! It is hitting film festivals in early 2016, and I'm hoping after that it will see a wider release in 2016.
The Purge 3 - The third installment of the Purge series, this one reportedly will focus on the origins of "the purge", a government-sanctioned one night of the year where all crime, including murder, is legal. I thought the first Purge was pretty dull, but the second one was much more engaging. I'm hoping the third continues the upward trend and the exploration of the origins of the purge night seems interesting. The theatrical release will be July 1st, 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it and I liked it. It was a thrilling, fun time in the theater and loved the costumes they used in the film!]
10 Cloverfield Lane - Waking up from a car accident, a young woman finds herself in the basement of a man who says he's saved her life from a chemical attack that has left the outside uninhabitable. Originally fake-titled as Valencia aka The Cellar, this best-kept secret surprised everyone when the trailer dropped and revealed its real title to be 10 Cloverfield Lane. It isn't a direct sequel, but rather a sort of blood relative to the Cloverfield film, where it is based in the same universe as the original film but won't follow the events of the first film. With a cast featuring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman, I'm pretty stoked for this one! It will have its theatrical release on March 11th, 2016. [UPDATE: Saw it and enjoyed it, the bunker scenes were pretty tense, there was some unexpected shocking moments, and the end was full of action.]
Carnage Park - Part crime caper gone awry, part survival horror film, this 1970s set thriller depicts a harrowing fight for survival after a pair of wannabe crooks botch a bank heist and flee into the desert, where they inexplicably stumble upon Carnage Park, a remote stretch of wilderness occupied by a psychotic ex-military sniper. Director Mickey Keating is behind this thriller, which is enough to pique my interest as he was behind Pod and Ritual. [UPDATE: Saw it (it is now on Netflix streaming) and enjoyed it! Really tense and bloody survival horror! However, at the same time it felt derivative of other films and was ultimately forgettable.]
The Void - In the middle of a routine patrol, officer Daniel Carter happens upon a blood-soaked figure limping down a deserted stretch of road. He rushes the young man to a nearby rural hospital staffed by a skeleton crew, only to discover that patients and personnel are transforming into something inhuman. As the horror intensifies, Carter leads the other survivors on a hellish voyage into the subterranean depths of the hospital in a desperate bid to end the nightmare before it's too late. This indie film gained massive support with its Indiegogo campaign last year, and for good reason - the proof of concept trailer looks absolutely nuts! A 2016 release isn't verified yet, but I hear that is what the filmmakers are shooting for. Here's hoping we get to see this one this year!
Phantasm: Ravager - The fifth and final installment of the long running Phantasm series. This was on my list last year, but there hasn't been any more word since then about the release. Since the recent passing of The Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm, I'm even more eager to see this final installment and hope it comes out this year.
The Blackcoat's Daughter (previously known as February) - Set at an all girls boarding school, February tells the story of two women bound together by a series of sinister events. Despite the rather vague description, I am really liking what is alluded to in the trailer! Satanic cults, mysterious visitors, spooky imagery, and starring some strong female leads, February definitely has me stoked. No official 2016 release date has been announced yet, but I'm hoping we get to see this one soon!
The Bad Batch - A dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland and set in a community of cannibals. Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, who gave us the spectacular A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, I'm expecting another wonderfully varied and unique film. Plus, it has an interesting cast that includes Jim Carrey and Keanu Reeves. A 2016 release is expected.
XX - An anthology of female-driven horror-movie with segments directed by Mary Harron, Karyn Kusama, Jennifer Lynch, and Jovanka Vuckovic, This is another film I've been waiting for FOREVER, as it was originally slated to be released in 2014. Please, please, please let 2016 be the year it is finished and released!
Whoa, I didn't know my list of anticipated horror releases of 2016 would be so long, but there ya go! There are 30+ movies on my list above, and I'm hoping that the majority of these are awesome AND that they actually all get released this year. I'm sure I've missed some (and purposely left out those I'm not keen on seeing), and I'm sure there will be pleasant surprises along the way in 2016, but either way I'm looking forward to a year jam-packed with horror releases!
What horror films are you looking forward to in 2016?