Well… That’s Brave. The Doctor Sleep Trailer Is Here,

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Warner Bros. have just dropped the trailer for Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining and, well, it’s quite something…

You can’t fault the studio’s bravery here, choosing to lean so much into Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1980 film by reusing footage and recreating sets. If nothing else it’s a bold statement of intent.

King’s sequel novel has proven to be highly divisive, eliciting equal amounts of love and scorn (nothing unusual there, of course, when tampering with a property so firmly lodged in the public psyche), but director Mike Flanagan has some serious scare chops as the writer/director of Netflix’s big hit series, The Haunting of Hill House (as well as the adaptation of King’s “unfilmable,” Gerald’s Game.

That’s certainly an intriguing trailer, and for those of you unfamiliar with the book, here the official synopsis for the movie:

Struggling with alcoholism, Danny Torrance remains traumatized by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child. He soon finds a new purpose when he forms a psychic connection with a girl who shares his shining ability.

Doctor Sleep will open on November 8th when we’ll all get the opportunity to love it or hate it. Which side do you think you’ll come down on?

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Pennywise Is Back – Here’s Your Super Creepy Trailer for It: Chapter Two

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First of all, let’s get your goosebumps raised with this…

Well, if that doesn’t get you excited for Andy Muschietti’s It: Chapter Two then it’s possible you’re as dead as the old lady in that super-creepy sequence at the beginning of the trailer.

It: Chapter One took pretty much everyone by surprise when it became a box-office smash in 2017, and now the same director is back with a fabulous cast of all-grown-up Derry Losers Club kids including Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader. Along with the return of Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise the Clown, of course.

It is a particular favourite book of many Stephen King fans (including me) so we can only hope Muschietti does the same good work on this second chapter. The trailer certainly bodes well, as that sequence between grown-up Beverly and the not-what-she-seems Mrs Kersh got my skin all kinds of crawling.

Let’s get ready to float down here again when It: Chapter Two opens on September 6.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Teaser Is, Well… Chilling.

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Regular readers of this site will know that the forthcoming Netflix series of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is highly anticipated around this neck of the (haunted) wood. The brand new teaser trailer has just dropped and it’s rather lovely.

Based on the cult, hit series from Archie Comics, the show tells an updated version of the 90s kid-TV favourite, with less emphasis on humorous shenanigans and more on blood and horror.

The trailer is appropriately spooky and the show,  starring Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman, who has to decide whether to sign the Devil’s book and become a Bride of Satan on her 16th birthday, looks like a whole heap of horrible fun.

With a great cast including Miranda Otto, Michelle Gomez and Lucy Davis, I can’t wait for this to raise my spirits on October 26th.

Hereditary: New, Old-Fashioned Scares

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I’ve seen many reviews stating that Hereditary is a “new kind of horror”, and similar nonsense. In fact, there’s very little new about Ari Aster’s film, but that doesn’t mean that what he does with it won’t creep the living daylights out of you.

Rather, what Aster and co. do is not wholly rely on what have become the standard, tired tricks of a great deal of modern horror: the jump scare of something appearing in frame, or a door slamming, the sudden burst of sound and music. Instead, we are treated to long moments of dread and unease, surrounded by a film which takes its time exploring the emotions of its central characters and wrapping it all in the universal pain of grief – in particular, how we often don’t deal with it. Only once we’re pulled in by all this does Hereditary blow up with reanimated corpses and family members crawling across the ceiling.

And then, of course, it gives us that much talked about ending, which will really test whether or not the film has you in its hooks.

Hereditary begins quietly, pulling a little Stanley Kubrick Overlook maze trick from The Shining with a model house, but doesn’t do so frivolously: it’s a great unsettling moment, revealing one of the movie’s first pieces of disturbing symbolism, teasing us that there’s something not quite right about this family home. More of the film’s themes are immediately set out as we follow the family preparing for a funeral, for the mother of Toni Collette’s Annie.

Soon enough, both Annie and her two children, Peter and Charlie, are sensing things around the house and at school, and we see the family, rounded off by Gabriel Byrnes’ father, Steve, resolutely not coming to grips with not only this death but also events that have occurred in their lives previously.

Tension builds, and Aster, along with editors Jennifer Lame and Lucian Johnston and committed performances by the cast, allow their film all the time it needs to do so, as we are gradually introduced to wilder events beyond the confines of the house and the family, before one of the truly great shock moments of cinema leads us into a more heightened third act, letting the story fully off the leash in the last fifteen minutes or so. One or two of the final scares and revelations almost threaten to derail the careful build, but by the time they come we’ve been engulfed enough by the family’s deterioration not to stop us from enjoying their obvious pleasures.

It’s difficult to discuss the final five minutes without veering into spoiler territory, but suffice to say the various breadcrumbs laid throughout the previous two hours are brought together in a truly off-kilter way, with an ending which reminded me both of Rosemary’s Baby and of Robert Egger’s modern classic, The Witch, being both truly horrific (as you understand the fates of two of the central characters) and utterly bizarre.

Hereditary allows a few howlers through which occasionally threaten its entry to the hallowed halls of classics such as the aforementioned Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Haunting: clunky lines of dialogue here and there (“Dad, it’s the cemetery,” “About what?”), the discovery of a book (“Guide to Spiritualism”) which might as well be labelled “plot device”, and some irritatingly, The Deadly Bees level superimposed flies (yes, I’m being nit-picky, but these elements stand out like sore thumbs in an otherwise classy affair like this).

But despite these caveats, Hereditary works like a dark charm because it picks at a sore scab and works at it: grief is something most of us struggle with, and while we may not conjure up dead loved ones in an effort to deal with that grief – or at least, I presume we don’t – we are given time to empathise with the very real and raw emotions experienced by the film’s family, and the unravelling of that family as a result of their inability to deal with their pain. And that’s true horror, after all, even with the addition of a meddling witch’s coven.

To return to my original point, Hereditary might not actually offer us something new, but it does what it does to a mostly masterful level, where the simple sound of a vocal clicking is made scary, and follows the lead of John Carpenter’s Halloween by using the frame to create unease.

And if you’re unfortunate enough to have dealt with death and the ensuing emotions we’re left with, it will resonate long after a dozen pump-up-the-volume, jump scare Paranormal Nun horror movies have faded into one another.

Second Suspiria Trailer Brings The Three Mothers… And The Shivers!

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Another day, another trailer for the new Suspiria. Turn on all the lights and feast on this:

There’s really not much to add about this latest slice on intensity since we talked about Suspiria just the other day (see here), but damn, Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s classic of Italian gothic horror is looking more impressive with everything we hear about it and see from it. I couldn’t be any more sold on this baby.

Which means I’ve reached peak saturation point on PR for Suspiria, and this is definitely the final trailer I’ll be sharing. I want to go into this as cold as possible (especially considering my familiarity with the source material), but suffice to say I’m going to be first in line come November 2nd.

The New Suspiria Trailer Arrives

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Take a look at the brand new, long-awaited teaser trailer for the remake of Dario Argento’s classic horror, Suspiria:

So let’s be clear on this from the outset: this one is going to divide people. On one hand, the film has tremendous word of mouth: early reaction to just a preview scene of the film, at Cinemacon in Las Vegas, saw viewers outraged, traumatized and, allegedly, vomiting (of course, that could just be a piece of classic old ballyhoo), it has a very intriguing director, Luca Guadagnino, lauded for his previous work including the Oscar-nominated Call Me By Your Name, and the writer is the showrunner of the superb AMC series, The Terror, David Kajganich. Plus the film has a killer (pun intended) cast headed by Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz and Jessica Harper (star of the original).

Alongside this we have the reported reaction of one Quentin Tarantino who, according to an interview with Guadagnino in the Italian publication, La Repubblica, had an emotional response to his film:

“I showed it to Quentin Tarantino. We’ve been friends since our jury duty at the Venice Film Festival. I was nervous but eager to hear his advice. We saw it at his place and his reaction warmed me. He was enthusiastic about it, in the end he was crying and hugged me.”

Well, that’s not too shabby.

Finally, we have a trailer which, is nothing else, is suffused with a peculiar and mysterious atmosphere and some genuinely creepy imagery, and at the very least it certainly isn’t trying to copy Argento’s colour palette, as this is all about your wintry browns and greys. I mean, this thing has a lot going for it, right…!?

On the other hand, these guys are messing with a much-loved, bona fide classic of Italian horror cinema (in fact, of just cinema). Dario Argento’s colour-splashed 1977 original, co-written with the great Daria Nicolodi, has wormed (pun intended again, sorry… if you’ve seen the original) its way into the affections of cinema-lovers for its outrageous visuals, sound and dread-drenched atmosphere.

I held a showing of the original at one my regular Dave’s Music & Movie Nights screenings, here in Norway, a few years back and the reaction of viewers to Argento’s unsettling masterpiece was palpable.

I’ve kind of made peace with the fact that Hollywood is never going to stop with its obsession for remakes, and so long as the originals aren’t hidden from view I’m of the mind that it can be of genuine interest to see artists take a new spin on much-loved favourites. Without this kind of thinking we wouldn’t have John Carpenter’s The Thing or David Cronenberg’s The Fly, and aren’t we all grateful for those!? Of course, the downside to that thinking gives us Gus Van Sant’s Psycho, about which, the less said the better (don’t @ me, okay!?)…

Either way, the new Suspiria from Amazon Studios is a bold move that’s bound to be divisive and might just be something special. Personally, I’m ready to have the shit scared out of me. So, show us what you’ve got come November 2…

 

Halloween Is Back (Again)…

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Michael Myers slips on the Don Post William Shatner mask once again, in the new trailer for a film in one of the most frequently rebooted film series ever, Halloween.

Take a look at the trailer and we’ll talk…

There’s certainly a lot to pique interest here:  David Gordon Green and Danny McBride at the helm (Green directing, McBride co-writing with Green and Jeff Fradley), series creator and underappreciated movie god John Carpenter on music duties, and scream queen legend, Jamie Lee Curtis back as an obviously-ready-to-kick-some-slasher-ass, Laurie Strode.

Necessarily missing of course, will be much-loved and long-departed Donald Pleasance (as Doctor Sam Loomis), but other than that the trailer looks like a lot of fun, already telegraphing a couple of decent scares (that final closet shot is a hoot).

While there’s a decent conversation to be had about whether or not the world actually needs an umpteenth reboot (with this one apparently only acknowledging the original Halloween while ignoring the rest of the six thousand sequels – which should drive long-time fans nicely insane), the trailer at least promises a good time to be had. It looks brutal as a November weekend in Scarborough and there are some truly gorgeous-looking shots!

Halloween opens… not on Halloween, but on October 19th, just to annoy anyone with OCD.

Netflix and King – 1922

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Netflix appear to be getting into the Stephen King business in a big way.

With their film of Gerald’s Game dropping this week and looking as kinky, creepy and gnarly as King’s book, the channel has now released a trailer for 1922, based on a novella taken from his 2010 collection, Full Dark, No Stars.

Starring the always watchable Thomas Jane as a farmer who manipulates his son into murdering his wfe, the Netflix film looks like it will fully embrace the ghastly goings-on as Jane’s wife (played by the equally watchable Molly Parker) comes back to torment him along with a plague of rats.

With the success of IT and these two new productions from Netflix, it’s good to see a rash of King adaptations that might just help us to forget 2017 was the year Sony made a trainwreck from The Dark Tower.

1922 arrives on Netflix on October 20.

This Mummy Should Have Stayed Buried…

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In 2014 Universal released Dracula Untold and bravely announced it would be the first of a Marvel Cinematic Universe-style reboot of their classic stable of monster characters. Despite a reasonable return at the box office, this toothless retread received a decidedly lukewarm reception and it seemed the studio’s monsterverse was stillborn.

Jump ahead a few years and Universal announce another stab at The Mummy, which will herald in the first (or rather, the first yet again) of its Dark Universe films (now playing down Dracula Untold’s connection and seemingly forgetting poor old Luke Evans’ Transylvanian Count in the process).

This latest catalogue of Egyptian shenanigans has more in common with the previous trio of movies headlined by Brendan Fraser (The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon God) than the 1932 original starring Boris Karloff (or that film’s four successors). This means we’re in for another round of big budget, high adventure rather than anything remotely horrifying.

Tom Cruise is dull and woefully miscast, in a role that might have worked better with someone more adept at comedy (I kept thinking of Bruce Campbell), as a none-too-bright treasure hunter (read: thief) who inadvertently revives an evil Egyptian Princess with a plan to find a human host for the god, Set. The Princess has her eyes on Tom (presumably for the way he looks, because his character is rather irritating), and once Set moves in they’ll… I don’t know, take over the world, or yada yada, blah blah. It’s entirely possible I may have zoned out for a moment or two and missed some of the finer details.

This kickstarts a lot of big action set pieces, some dire attempts at comedy (including a huge and completely inappropriate swipe from John Landis’ seminal An American Werewolf in London), a lot of running around and away from dull CGI, and not one sequence that manages to be creepy or horrifying. Rather unfortunate for a would-be horror franchise, I’d say.

Russell Crowe shows up in an attempt to be the glue which holds together the Dark Universe but settles instead for chewing huge chunks of scenery and (presumably unintentionally) hilariously descending into a Mary Poppins/Dick Van Dyke Cockernee accent when his Doctor Henry Jekyll begins to play Hyde and seek. #sorrynorsorry

Sofia Boutella, as Princess Ahmunet/The Mummy, tries hard to do something with her role, managing to reveal shades of vulnerability through the bandages, through sheer force of will rather than anything the script gives her. It’s a shame the writers, producers and director didn’t trust the actress with more to do.

It’s astonishing and sad that Warner Bros/DC and now Universal have looked at the Marvel movies and learned nothing whatsoever from their success. When will studios understand that trying to shoehorn a shared universe into one movie is a bad idea!?

The film feels like nothing more than a checklist designed by a committee who wanted to tick off as many boxes as possible for Tom Cruise fans, giving them the kind of action they’ve grown used to from the Mission: Impossible series. Sadly this committee have seemingly never actually watched, or at least understood, a horror movie (and certainly none of the studio’s original films from the 1930s and 1940s), because bolting together a Tom Cruise action movie and a horror movie with no horror is most definitely a failed experiment that would have Doctor Frankenstein hanging his head in shame.

Finally and lethally, The Mummy is boring, it isn’t scary and the Dark Universe it tries so desperately to unwrap is dead on arrival.