Horror Hitting Hard to Change the Summer Movie Season
The summer movie season is almost upon us and there’re some big blockbusters and long-awaited titles that hitting theaters soon. From high-octane action flicks to web-slinging superheroes to even a remake of an animated classic, there’s plenty to throw on your watchlist. However, there’s one genre that bringing some terrifyingly shocking fun to theaters this summer like never before: horror.
Horror is often a genre that has been relegated to the fall so that they come just in time for Halloween, but, like any great horror movie, there are some strongly scary films coming out of nowhere to scare viewers when they would least expect it. There’re some fresh originals ready to make their cinematic mark, some new adaptations of classic scary stories, and even a reboot of a very familiar scary doll. So, its only fair that we delve into five horror flicks hitting theaters this summer that you’ll want to keep on your radar.
Head Count – Releases on June 14th
Taking on a familiar concept of an unknown entity that mimics other people’s appearance haunting and causing trouble between a group of teenagers, Head Count differentiates itself with most its plot and characters still being shrouded in mystery and a ritualistic aspect that adds another layer to the film.
It’s actually interesting how even though we’ve seen concepts like Head Count in films like The Thing and It Follows, but there’s just something so intriguing that this film brings. Perhaps, it could be the younger, lesser known cast. Maybe, it’s the sense of mystery that comes from the how much isn’t really known about the entity or its ritualistic background. Maybe its even the fact that this is the feature debut of writer/director Elle Callahan and I just have this feeling that she’s going to bring something truly special.
Either way, the film looks great and the fact it’s so shrouded in mystery just has me hooked. The film’s mix of lighting is incredibly interesting, and I’m already getting this feeling of isolation and paranoia that comes from their concerned expressions. There’s even something so incredibly creepy about the sound effect that comes from lights turning on and it all come together to create a film that’s hard to resist.
Even for not knowing much about the film, there’s just something so compelling about Head Count and should definitely be a film to keep your eyes on when it releases on June 14th.
Child’s Play (2019) – Releases on July 21st
While one of the most iconic names in the horror genre, Chucky, has survived on streaming services thanks to writer/director Don Mancini, he has not made a big screen appearance since 2004’s Seed of Chucky. However, all of this is set to change with the remake of the film that started it all, Child’s Play. The remake is being helmed by director Lars Kelvberg (Polaroid) and written by Tyler Burton Smith, who has most written for games like Sleeping Dogs and Quantum Break. The cast is comprised of new faces to the franchise as well with Gabriel Bateman playing Andy Barclay, Aubrey Plaza playing Karen Barclay, Bryan Tyree Henry playing Detective Mike Norris, and Mark Hamill voicing Chucky.
With plenty of talented names attached to it, Child’s Play sets to bring a new kind of Chucky to the big screen that’s more technology driven. Rather than having the spirit of Charles Lee Ray be the life-force that brings Chucky to life, this remake turns Chucky into more of a rouge artificial intelligence that has a bit of bloodlust. Now, on paper this idea sounds a little dumb, but from what’ve seen from a recent trailer, it might actually lead to some fun kills and a new kind of supernatural presence for Chucky. With him being able to control cars, drones, and other forms of tech, Chucky has a whole new arsenal of tools to create some fun kills and death traps that rival another iconic horror doll.
Child’s Play (2019) is showing that it’s not just the same old Chucky this time around and is even bringing a new kind of Andy Barclay with it. Bateman’s Andy is a little bit older this time around and the overall feel of the film blends the horror aspects of the original Child’s Play with the darkly comedic aspects of Chucky. While the cinematography is much darker and Chucky has a much more sinister look, the strong use of Harry Nilsson’s “Best Friend” throughout all of the marketing and the Christmas exterior shows that Chucky still has a funny bone. Not to mention, with Hamill being the one voicing Chucky, we’re surely in for some of his darkly comedic line delivery to put a fun new spin on the iconic character.
Ironically, Chucky will have still competition in the form of another toy-based franchise, Toy Story 4, when it arrives on June 21st. If Child’s Play (2019) can retain the same spirit that made the original a classic and bring something new to the table, it could possibly slash its competition and give fans the fresh, big-screen experience they deserve.
Nightmare Cinema – Releases on June 21st
It’s pretty special to have an anthology film come into theaters, considering how rare they are, so having Nightmare Cinema come into theaters is truly a treat. Honestly the only horror anthologies we’ve seen are films like Trick r Treat, V/H/S, and The ABCs of Death, but the directors attached to Nightmare Cinema are truly what makes it unique.
Five of iconic names in horror are each bring a film of their own to create an anthology series unlike any other. The film follows five strangers as they arrive at a haunted movie theater that’s run by The Projectionist, played by Mickey Rourke. Inside, they each are subjected to a series of screenings that shows them their deepest fears. What really makes the film special is the directors who are attached to it as they have brought some fresh, creative new projects to the genre. Honestly, with talent like Alejandro Brugues (Juan of the Dead), Ryuhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train), David Slade (30 Days of Night, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch), Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling), and Mick Garris (Critters 2) there’s a lot to be excited about with Nightmare Cinema.
Just from the trailer, you can see the different kinds of visions that come from each director and the mystery that comes from each story. It’s hard not to love all the practical effects on display and the unique settings that each story is ready to unleash. The trailer even gives a glimpse at the fun performance from Rourke that’ll easily make Nightmare Cinema a must-see on its own.
Like I said, anthology horror films don’t come often and when they include the legion of directors that Nightmare Cinema has, it makes the film a definite must-see and more than deserving to grab tickets for its June 21st release.
Midsommar – Releases on July 3rd
Writer/director Ari Aster sparked nightmares for moviegoers and changed the horror landscape last year with the release of his feature debut, Hereditary, and is now looking scare audiences again with the July release of Midsommar.
When asked about the film, Aster has described Midsommar as a brutal break-up film and with what’s been shown so far, that looks to be exactly what we’re getting. The film follows a struggling couple, played by Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor, as they attend a strange festival in Sweden with some friends. Upon arriving, things are strangely much more tranquil as the sky remains a blissful blue and everyone seems to have this joyful spirit. However, these appearances are not what they seem, and their trip takes a sinister turn.
Like many of the other films on this list, Midsommar’s greatest strength is how its wrapped in mystery. There’re still so many unknown details about the characters, the festival itself, and the true intentions of the Swedish festival goers. Even with so much unknown, though there’s just something so interesting about how bright this place and how it truly feels like they have entered a new world. This same kind of mystery is what made Hereditary such an intriguing film to go see and it looks like Aster has captured that same intrigue here.
Aster has clearly put so many pieces into place to create a truly unique film that’s unlike anything he’s already brought before. The cast is absolutely perfect with tremendous talent like Pugh, Raynor, Will Poulter, and William Jackson Harper leading viewers through this crazy festival and hopefully Midsommar will elevate their talents to new heights. Aster also brings a new kind of cinematography and style that’s vastly different from what viewers saw in Hereditary. The lighting is incredibly bright, almost burning, and the aesthetic has much more of a folk and older European look to it that’s incredibly eye-catching and creepy.
With Midsommar ironically coming out in the middle of this summer, specifically on July 3rd, there’s a lot to look forward to with Aster’s next outing and there’s a lot of reasons it needs to be on your watchlist.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Releases on August 9th
This last film, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, actually has a very personal connection to me as it is based on a series of short stories that I read growing up. It was definitely a strong influence on my love for horror and, from what’s been shown thus far, is shaping up to live up to its iconic material.
Once word dropped that Academy-Award winning director Guillermo Del Toro was joining the project to help pen the screenplay and produce the film, things definitely looked up for the adaptation. Not to mention, director Andre Ovredal is no stranger to the horror genre and has crafted some beloved films like Trollhunter and The Autopsy of Jane Doe. With these two coming together, there is surely enough talent to bring the stories collected by Alvin Schwartz to life.
Even just from the short teaser trailer, there’s already some of the series’ most iconic monsters and stories making their way to the big screen. With, what seems to be, an exceptional use of practical effects, stories like “The Red Spot,” “The Big Toe,” and “The Dream” look bone-chillingly horrifying and there’s even some newer characters, like The Jangly Man, who are bringing some new scares to the source material. While the film has a specified 1968 setting, I’m hoping to see more stories get a more modernized telling or get referenced throughout the film. Honestly, I think stories like “The Dare, “Footsteps,” and “Cemetery Soup” could work with the film younger cast and should be just a few of stories we see make a leap onto the big screen.
The possibilities are endless for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and with Del Toro and Ovredal at wheel, the film is definitely going in the right direction. Once it makes its way to theaters on August 9th, moviegoers will surely be in for some nostalgic frights that are ready to terrorize viewers like never before.
May also brings some big horror titles to the big screen with the James Gunn produced Brightburn hitting theaters on May 24th and Blumhouse’s Ma releasing on May 31st. There’re even other films, like Annabelle Comes Home (June 28th) and Dead Don’t Die (June 14th), that are adding to the dominating presence that horror is having this summer. While many people associate the summer movie season with big-blockbuster action, this summer might be the start of something new and show that horror might have a new home.