We haven't done a horror movie preview here at WMV for a while, so here's a look at some 2014 releases that look like they could be good. Among the ridiculous sequels and remakes there may just be some pieces of gold among the dross. My picks:
Witching and Bitching
Terrible American title, but this is a horror comedy from Alex de la Iglesia, who impressed early in his career with Accion Mutante and The Day of the Beast, so this has good potential. Criminals on the lam hide out in a small town that seems like any other only to discover that it's full of witches. They've got a young kid with them and that's exactly what the brujas have been looking for to complete their sacrificial rite.
The Hollywood Reporter gave it a good review when it played at the San Sebastian Festival, calling it "a return to what [de la Iglesia] does best — pure mayhem." And it's got the great Carmen Maura, one of Pedro Almodovar's favorite leading ladies, as one of the enchantresses. That alone puts me in line for this one.
Warner Bros. is going to have its work cut out for it reassuring audiences about the quality of this reboot after Roland Emmerich's wretched 1998 version. It's certainly got the cast — Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Juliette Binoche, to name a few.
And the trailer looks really spectacular. It also seems like there's an environmental angle which would not only be true to the original but a nice thing to do in this day and age. They're only giving us glimpses of the monster in the promotional materials, but thankfully he appears to be the Godzilla we know and love and not the damn lizard in Emmerich's film.
Deliver Us from Evil
I'm always up for a demonic possession film, but I really don't know why. Aside from the classic The Exorcist and a couple others, they've all been stinkers. Every Exorcist sequel sucks (although Exorcist II wins points for being screamingly, hilariously bad), and even Academy Award-winners aren't exempt from bad possession films. Witness Anthony Hopkins in 2011's ridiculous The Rite.
But here we go again, In this film, Eric Bana plays a New York cop who discovers that mysterious killings plaguing the city are caused by ol' Scratch himself. It sounds intriguing, and I love New York-based films. It's based on the real life "chilling cases" of Ralph Sarchie. Huh?
The Green Inferno
I don't know how I feel about this film. First off, it's co-written and directed by Eli Roth. On the other hand, he was one of the first purveyors of torture porn (for better or worse), so his take on the cannibal vomitorium genre will at least deliver the gore goods.
The plot hews true to the genre and it should. It's a remake of a 1988 Italian (of course) film variously called The Green Inferno and Cannibal Holocaust II. A bunch of college students go into the jungle to save a lost tribe's habitat, only to discover that the tribe wants them for dinner. And reviews assure us that all the outrageousness that we demand in these films is present — spearings, rapes, flesh-eating, genital mutilation — all the things that make life worth living.
The Drac is back in a tale that sets out to tell the story of how Vlad Tepes became Dracula. It's got a pretty good cast, including Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Charlie Cox and Shane McGowan. But it's also got a debuting director, Gary Shore, at the helm. So it'll either be a clunker or a surprising breath of fresh air. Let's hope it's the latter.
One thing that troubles me is that it's being referred to as an action-adventure — rather than horror — film. Vampire action movies bore the hell out of me, with the exception of the first Blade. And it's been bouncing around the production slate for seven years with different actors and directors attached. And they're mixing and matching their myths — the witch Baba Yaga (Samantha Barks) also figures in the story somehow, making me wonder if it's going to be a bad monster rally like 2004's Van Helsing.
Life After Beth
Another shot in the dark with a solid cast. Dane DeHaan (Kill Your Darlings) stars as Zach Orfman, who is devastated when his girlfriend dies. But when she comes back, he treats it as a second chance to say and do everything he wished he'd done before.
It's a horror comedy with Anna Kendrick, Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly and Paul Reiser — not exactly your direct-to-video lineup. The Hollywood Reporter liked it. But again it's a first-time director — Jeff Baena, whose other claim to fame is cowriting the godawful I Heart Huckabees. So I consider the jury still out on this one.