Summer Movie Preview 2011: Horror

After “Priest” comes out on May 13 (and you would not be wrong to argue that’s not really a horror film), 2011 will take a three-month break from horror films. Looks like fans of the genre will have to do some rental catch-up or stick to the classics for most of the summer. Starting Aug. 12, however, the onslaught comes. Although the release schedule could easily change, especially because a few of these films have no promotional materials out, four horror movies are scheduled to come out in the span of three weeks at the end of the summer.

Priest (May 13)

Directed by Scott Charles Stewart
Written by Cory Goodman, Min-Woo Hyung (graphic novel)
Starring: Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Maggie Q, Cam Gigandet

Summary: In a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by ages of warring against vampires, Priest lives in obscurity in a city under control of the church. A former warrior in that war, when his niece is abducted by vampires, he breaks his vows and sets out to find her.

The Word: Visual effects specialist Stewart seems to have really pigeon-holed himself as a director: this will be his second religious-themed post-apocalyptic action film starring Paul Bettany after 2010’s maligned “Legion.” “Priest” looks much more fully realized conceptually, but as a 3-D horror action film coming out a week after “Thor” and a week before “Pirates,” it has an uphill climb.

My Thoughts: I’m impressed by the stylization of the action and am admittedly a sucker for post-apocalyptic tales, but the story and writing seem awful from the trailers. If I need a mindless way to kill time when this film is on DVD, however, it might be worthwhile. The cast contains several currently underrated talents, which is a plus, but not when they’re wasted on some cracked-out futuristic religious vampire movie.

Priest Trailer

Final Destination 5 (Aug. 12)

Directed by Steven Quale
Written by Eric Heisserer, Jeffrey Reddick
Starring: Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, David Koechner, Tony Todd

Summary: Several young people survive a suspension bridge collapse, but death feels cheated and finds mysterious ways of claiming back all the survivors.

The Word: I know, I know, they said the last one was “The Final Destination” which came out in 2009. Well, that made money like the rest of them, so here comes the fifth installment. Not much else can be said about this film other than it will follow in the shoes of its predecessors.

My Thoughts: I experimented with the original at some gathering in high school and while I admired the creativity and the suspense of knowing that people are gonna die in strange ways, I can’t say that I would want to see that movie with simply different death scenes, a different disaster they all survive and different characters … five different times. There comes a point where enough is enough for milking one good concept.

Fright Night (Aug. 19)

Directed by Craig Gillespie
Written by Marti Noxon, Tom Holland (original)
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant

Summary: A teenager (Yelchin) has good reason to believe his neighbor (Farrell) is a vampire responsible for a series of recent deaths. When no one believes him, he calls upon his favorite TV show host (Tennant).

The Word: A remake of the 1985 film of the same name, this horror film takes the vampire genre to a somewhat darker yet kind of campy place. The theory behind bringing this one back to life was likely to capitalize on the vampire craze. Why a film like this will be in 3D baffles me as well.

My Thoughts: When a film comes around like this, I find myself more motivated to watch the original because it had to be decent if a studio is going to bother remaking it. I like the casting for the most part, but I know nothing about the original really. It looks to me as if they had this vampire movie lying around and figured it would make more money now than it would when no one cares about vampires anymore.

Apollo 18 (Aug. 26)

Directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego
Written by Brian Miller, Cory Goodman

Summary: The story behind the “actual” last NASA mission to the moon and why we were never told of its existence … until now.

The Word: A found-footage type of horror film that takes place in space when NASA astronauts are attacked by some kind of presence. The Weinstein’s moved this film from April to January of next year and then back to the summer. Not sure what that says about the quality, but you can expect a very “‘Paranormal Activity'” in space” result from the end product.

My Thoughts: I like the film conceptually, but that hardly makes it original in the face of aforementioned films (“Paranormal Activity”). At least it doesn’t take place in a creepy house or involve creepy children. The moving around of the release dates is discouraging, especially when they’ve paired it with the next film on the list, which will most likely be better.

Apollo 18 Trailer

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (Aug. 26)

Directed by Troy Nixey
Written by Guillermo Del Toro, Matthew Robbins, Nigel McKeand (1976 teleplay)
Starring: Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, Bailee Madison

Summary: A young girl goes to live with her father and his new girlfriend in a creepy old house that possesses demon-like spirits determined to bring her to their world.

The Word: The Del Toro name is a big one these days, so even if he merely adapted the original TV special and produced the film, the odds are it’s going to still be imaginative. Nixey is a rookie director, but yet again, one with a great supervisor. Not sure what Del Toro’s thing is with horror movies starring little girls and other-worldly spirits, but he deserves the benefit of the doubt, even after the film was moved from January to August.

My Thoughts: I probably won’t be entertaining any of these horror offerings in theaters, but if there’s one that I make an exception for, it will be this film (if it’s well-reviewed).  Then again, I felt similarly about “Insidious” and did not see it in theaters. Either way, this might be a very good film to close out the summer. The trailer is delightfully creepy if you have yet to watch it.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark Trailer



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