Autumn is horror’s time to shine. Five films hit theaters in hopes of capitalizing on October’s demand for scary fare and at least one (“Paranormal Activity 4”) will rule the box office.
Directed by Mark Tonderai
Written by David Louka, Jonathan Mostow
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Elisabeth Shue
Summary: Elissa and her mother move into a new house and Elissa becomes close with her new neighbor, Ryan, a boy whose parents were recently murdered in their house. As the two grow closer, Elissa discovers a horrifying secret.
The Word: Jennifer Lawrence’s first test of post-“Hunger Games” stardom comes with this otherwise generic horror offering. We had “Silent House” this past spring with rising dramatic star Elizabeth Olsen, virtually the same type of horror film featuring a talented blonde, but Lawrence’s star power is remarkably greater at this point. She is directed by Mark Tonderai, who makes his big-screen feature debut with a script from David Louka (“Dream House”) and Jonathan Mostow, who directed “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and “U-571.”
My Thoughts: I can read the reviews already: “Lawrence gives a believable performance in an otherwise unbelievably unoriginal horror flick.” The evidence is in writer Louka, whose horror film “Dream House” captured two impeccable leads in Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz but turned out to be among 2011’s worst.
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett and six others.
Written by Simon Barrett, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett and six others.
Starring: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Adam Wingard, Hannah Fierman
Summary: Several young people are hired by an unknown source to enter an old house and retrieve a VHS tape. They find a pile, and as they start to play them, they find some gruesome and frightening stuff — and then it happens to them.
The Word: You can skip the wait and watch this 2012 Sundance entry right now on demand. Reviews are largely positive, saying that this film manages to hit some new notes in revisiting found-footage tropes, so if the genre appeals to you still after all this time, you’d be sore to miss it.
My Thoughts: Some of the visuals in this trailer have me intrigued, but I’m not one to visit horror films often and certainly not ones that carry a premise so similar to much of what we’ve seen since “Paranormal Activity” became a phenomenon.
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Written by Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Clare Foley, Michael Hall D’Addario
Summary: A writer moves his family into a new home and discovers clues as to how the family that lived there previously was murdered. In doing so he puts his family in the path of a supernatural pagan deity that preys on children.
The Word: Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and Jason Blum produced “Insidious,” a pretty good horror movie from last year that also featured some strong actors, and it looks like they might have done it again with “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” director Scott Derrickson. “Insidious” premiered at South by Southwest this spring and earned some glowing reviews. Although there have only been 13 reviews, the film sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
My Thoughts: The beginning of this trailer plays out like a crime thriller mystery and then it evolves into your typical “supernatural entity in a house demonizing children” movie, and that has me intrigued. The fact that there’s a name/face to this particular deity could also have a positive impact on the fright factor. Hawke’s involvement should help too.
Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
Written by Zack Estrin, Oren Peli (characters)
Starring: Kathryn Newton, Katie Featherson, Matt Shively, Brady Allen
Summary: Alice (Newton) has encountered some strange goings-on ever since her new neighbors moved in. When your new neighbors are Katie and Robbie, that can only mean paranormal trouble.
The Word: The “Paranormal Activity” franchise is well on its way to eclipsing the “Saw” series’ seven-film run, at least if this film — which seems as though it begins a new story arc or is at least apart from the back story in the original films — does as well as the last three. The third film saw a bigger opening weekend, an improved total gross and a better critical response than the second, so those directors have returned to continue building that momentum.
My Thoughts: Considering the third film answered some questions, this film will have to do something to raise the bar if this series wants to truly be the most successful horror mega-franchise of all time. I have still only seen the first, but if decent responses come in for “4,” I might be inclined to catch up.
Written and Directed by Michael J. Bassett
Starring: Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington, Sean Bean, Radha Mitchell
Summary: When her father (Bean) disappears, Heather Mason (Clemens) quickly learns why they’ve been on the run all her life. She’s slowly pulled into Silent Hill, a town where hell holds power over the living.
The Word: I’m sure everyone reading has seen the 2006 original film, so I won’t bother with playing catch up. What? You didn’t? Well, you probably know “Silent Hill” is a horror video game and maybe you know that there’s all kinds of weird creatures that inhabit its world. Anyway, Michael J. Bassett (“Solomon Kane”) tries to bring the fans who helped the first entry earn nearly $100 million worldwide back to the would-be franchise.
My Thoughts: I have pretty much zero interest in this movie as someone who would never go near this video game. I like Kit Harington on “Game of Thrones,” much in the same way I liked Sean Bean on the show, but that’s about all I can say about it. I have a feeling Harington may have passed if at the time he knew of the HBO series’ success.