Autumn/winter horror preview 2013: In Fear, VHS2 and Carrie
A Nightmare on Elm Street and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones also among upcoming horror highlights
The latter end of the year feels like an ideal time for a horror movie round-up: hallowe’en is just round the corner, and the rapidly lengthening nights thereafter provide many more unlit hours in which to wet yourself at the sound of a creaky door. That said, it is a little disheartening that, of the eight films scheduled to hit cinemas between now and the New Year (plus an extra release just after the bells, because we cheated), only one has fresh blood in it: the rest are reissues, remakes or additions to pre-existing franchises.
Not that this is all bad news, of course – when a film gets reissued it tends to be because the quality level is high enough for it to be given another look, especially when as venerable an institution as the BFI is distributing it. Based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, 1961 ghost story The Innocents (Fri 13 Dec) is part of the BFI’s Gothic strand, and stars Deborah Kerr as a governess attempting to save her young charges from the attentions of malevolent spirits. Wes Craven’s sleepy-time slasher A Nightmare on Elm Street (Thu 31 Oct, natch) is similarly worth a rewatch – while its memory may be slightly tarnished by a chain of ever diminishing effects-centric sequels, the original has some starkly cinematic scares at its heart, not least the image of Freddie leering through a bedroom ceiling. Both 1922 silent horror Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (Fri 25 Oct) and Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake, Nosferatu the Vampyre (Fri 1 Nov), also rise from the dead this autumn, perhaps arriving to remind the Twilight/Vampire Dairies crowd about the real power of Dracula.
In the remake camp, we have the new version of Stephen King’s Carrie (Fri 29 Nov), most memorably adapted by Brian De Palma in 1976. While messing with such an iconic property is a dangerous game, we’re given courage by the presence of a rock-solid cast (Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore) and a left-field choice of director: Boys Don’t Cry/Stop-Loss helmer Kimberly Peirce.
As for sequels, lo-fi anthology horror VHS introduces another five terrifying tales under the banner of VHS2 (Mon 14 Oct), with guest directors including Adam Wingard (You’re Next), Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project), Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun) and Gareth Huw Evans (The Raid). The Paranormal Activity franchise takes a sideways step with Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Fri 3 Jan), a Latino/Catholic-themed ‘cousin’ to the series that’s not being sold as a sequel proper; while so-so 2009 possession flick The Haunting in Connecticut makes a similar sidestep with sequel The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (Thu 31 Oct), alleged to be a stand-alone story that has little to do with the original chapter (although both Hauntings are purported to be adaptations of ‘true’ stories).
Which brings us to the sole example of originality in these darkened months: In Fear (Fri 15 Nov), a no-budget horror that follows two young festival-goers who become lost among the narrow, winding roads of the British countryside. The trailer has done a very decent job of putting the frights up us, with a claustrophic in-car setting and a malevolent, shadowy force that could be anything from evil demons to disgruntled groundskeepers.