Are You Ready for the Horrors of 2023?
Last year was an epic haul of horror movies, a flood of films both great and otherwise. It leaves the question remaining… did they leave any films for us in 2023? The answer seems to be an emphatic yes. There will be plenty of horror films to come. The studios have a big slate of reruns ready, and such is the usual situation at the beginning of the year.
We tend to know what the major studio releases will be, but aren’t yet aware of the indie slate. Many of our favorite films are ones we catch on the festival circuit, as many of these films arrive at the festivals still looking for a distributor. What we know for certain: more sequels and reboots are coming. Who said that franchise horror is dead? It’s alive and crawling for certain in 2023. Now, while we at the Scariest Things aren’t huge proponents of studios rehashing or extending tired franchises, there are certainly a few familiar titles that we are genuinely excited about.
And, we know that the big studios will be releasing some promising original content as well. Horror is a great bang for your buck low-cost entry to turn a tidy profit if you find the right story, enough solid scares, and an audience willing to take a chance on something scary. The studio films that really blow up are the ones that manage to extend the audience beyond the core horror fans. The “normies” have to get in on the action. Are there any “four corners” films out there this year?
Interestingly, that opportunity might fall into the realm of premium television this year, which no doubt makes Liz really happy. There still might be a couple of breakout studio films as well, but I wouldn’t bet your mortgage on a 100 million horror film this year… UNLESS a couple of the films we have identified get some good word of mouth.
So, here are the films that The Scariest Team is eagerly anticipating. And, as an aside, is February the new launch pad for all things Horror? Sure seems like it.
Directed by Mark Jenkin
Starring Mary Woodvine, Edward Rowe, and Flo Crowe
Release Date: January 12
“Set in 1973 on an uninhabited island off the Cornish coast, a wildlife volunteer’s daily observations of a rare flower turn into a metaphysical journey that forces her as well as the viewer to question what is real and what is nightmare.”
Mark Jenkin is channeling the seventies in a big way. The costumes, the film stock, the sets, the theme, and the story seem ripped right from the era. Think Hanging at Picnic Rock, The Wicker Man, The Witchfinder General, and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death. This film appears soaked in subtlety, dread, and mystery
Run Rabbit Run
Directed by Daina Reid
Starring: Sarah Snook, Greta Scacchi, Damon Herriman
Release Date: January 19
“Fertility doctor Sarah begins her beloved daughter Mia’s seventh birthday expecting nothing amiss. But as an ominous wind swirls in, Sarah’s carefully controlled world begins to alter. Mia begins behaving oddly and a rabbit appears outside their front door — a mysterious birthday gift that delights Mia but seems to deeply disconcert Sarah. As days pass, Mia becomes increasingly not herself, demanding to see Sarah’s long-estranged, hospitalized mother (the grandmother she’s never met before) and fraying Sarah’s nerves as the child’s bizarre tantrums begin to point her toward Sarah’s own dark history.”
One of the great honors in independent films is to get a premiere at the famed Sundance Film Festival. Run Rabbit Run is headlining the Midnighter offerings in 2023. If that’s not a strong enough recommendation, take it from Joseph Perry, the king critic of Indie horror cinema, who listed Run Rabbit Run as his most anticipated film of 2023! Also, a reminder that Greta Scacchi is still going strong after all these years.
Directed by Brandon Cronenberg
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman
Release Date: January 27
“James and Em Foster are enjoying an all-inclusive beach vacation in the fictional island of La Tolqa, when a fatal accident exposes the resort’s perverse subculture of hedonistic tourism, reckless violence, and surreal horrors.”
Brandon Cronenberg continues to develop his own reputation as a horror director to earmark your calendars for. Following on the well-received Possessor, Infinity Pool looks to be a sophisticated, nightmarish, and highly original thriller. Watch the trailer, and catch the surreal portion of what appears to be the casting of people into a rubber casing. Claustrophobes beware!
Knock at the Cabin
Directed M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge
Release Date: February 3
“While vacationing, a girl and her parents are taken hostage by armed strangers who demand that the family make a choice to avert the apocalypse.”
The Shyamalanassaince is now in full swing. After famously cratering his career out with a string of critical failures, he has worked hard to redeem his reputation through horror films. The Visit, Split, Old, and Servant have brought him back into favor, and for this moment. This time his source material is the revered book The Cabin at the End of the World, by Paul Tremblay, which just happens to be one of Liz William’s favorite books. No pressure, Mr. Shyamalan. Dave Bautista has the opportunity to be the dramatic lead, and prove himself to be the best acting big man in the business.
Directed by Christopher Smith
Starring: Jenna Malone and Danny Huston
Release Date: February 10
“After the alleged suicide of her priest brother, Grace travels to the remote Scottish convent where he fell to his death. Distrusting the Church’s account, she uncovers murder, sacrilege, and a disturbing truth about herself.“
Almost guaranteed to be better than the much more hyped The Nun 2, there is some real aesthetic power to this production, oozing with atmospherics. Jena Malone continues to reinforce her reputation as a go-to genre actress. Danny Huston is always a compelling actor to watch as well.
Evil Dead Rise
Directed by Lee Cronin
Starring: Alyssa Sutherland, Lily Sullivan, and Morgan Davies
Release Date: February 24
“A twisted tale of two estranged sisters whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.”
There’s a lot of promise here. The recently released trailer is fantastically scary, and The Evil Dead is a franchise that has yet to have a real misstep. An early entrant to the potentially scariest movie of the year. Let’s hope so!
Directed by Elizabeth Banks
Starring: Ray Liotta, Keri Russell, and Margo Martindale
Release Date: February 24
“An oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists, and teens converge in a Georgia forest where a 500-pound black bear goes on a murderous rampage after unintentionally ingesting cocaine.”
So… Much… Buzz! Cocaine Bear looks to be completely bonkers! Elizabeth Banks, underrated as a comic actress, has both horror and comedy chops, honed from her work with James Gunn, and it’s great to see her get this kind of opportunity. A side note, this is the swan song for the late, great, Ray Liotta.
Talk To Me
Directed by Danny and Michael Philippou
Starring: Sophie Wild, Joe Bird, Alexandra Jensen, and Miranda Otto
Release Date: March 31
“When a group of friends discovers how to conjure spirits using an embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill, until one of them goes too far and opens the door to the spirit world forcing them to choose who to trust: the dead or the living.”
This indie Australian film is going to make its debut at Sundance and is the feature debut for the YouTube sensation that is the Philippou brothers, whose horror comedy shorts channel “RackaRacka” has amassed a huge fan base online. Advance screeners have made allusions to classic Cabin in the Woods tropes, and the evergreen “Don’t mess with magical stuff” trope.
Last Voyage of the Demeter
Directed by André Øvredal
Starring: David Dastmalchian, Javier Botet, Liam Cunningham, Aisling Franciosi, and Corey Hawkins
Release Date: August 11
“Based on a single chapter, the Captain’s Log, from Bram Stoker’s classic 1897 novel Dracula, the story is set aboard the Russian schooner Demeter, which was chartered to carry private cargo – twenty-four unmarked wooden crates – from Carpathia to London. The film will detail the strange events that befell the doomed crew as they attempt to survive the ocean voyage, stalked each night by a terrifying presence on board the ship. When it finally arrived near Whitby Harbour, it was a derelict. There was no trace of the crew.”
We have been waiting for this one for two years now. Øvredal is a modern master of horror and is always ambitious and original. The story is super compelling, and as an added bonus, our good friend David Dastmalchian will be starring in it. Can’t wait!
Directed by David Gordon Greene
Starring: Leslie Odom Jr, Ellen Burstyn, Ann Dowd
Release Date: October 13
“Sequel to the 1973 film about a 12-year-old girl who is possessed by a mysterious demonic entity, forcing her mother to seek the help of two priests to save her.”
Iconic doesn’t start to describe The Exorcist. Rebooting the Exorcist is a risky proposition. Well known as one of the scariest movies ever filmed, shocking to a level felt still fifty years later, the question may be not if, but should this be attempted? Casting the original Chris MacNeill (Burstyn) is a good place to start. Having the experience of David Gordon Greene, who bore the responsibility of relaunching the Halloween franchise also seems to be a smart move… but remember, he is also responsible for the debacle that was Halloween Ends. Fifty years is plenty of time to pass to reboot, and it was inevitable that someone would try it. Even a dumpster fire can be an entertaining watch, but let’s hope it soars.
Directed by Rob Savage
Starring: Chris Messina, Dave Dastmalchian, Sophie Thatcher, Marin Ireland
Release Date: TBD
There are two types of Stephen King adaptations. The epic thousand-page book adaptation (The Shining, The Dark Tower, Pet Semetary, Misery, It) and the short story adaptation (The Mangler, Graveyard Shift, The Mist, Crepshow 2). The Boogeyman, being produced for Hulu falls into the latter, having been an early King short story from 1973. To think that a proper Boogeyman in the closet has never been properly brought to the screen. Michael Myers has come close, (though the shape himself was never formally called “Boogeyman”) and there have been some minor Boogeymen before, but Rob Savage is an emerging talent, and we always trust in our pal David to give a great performance.
True Detective Night Country
Directed by Issa Lopez (HBO Max)
Starring: Jodie Foster and Kali Reis
Release Date: TBD
“In Ennis, Alaska, the men that operate a research station vanish. To solve the case, Detectives Danvers and Navarro will have to confront the darkness themselves, and dig into the haunted truths that lie buried under the eternal ice.”
This is the television show that has the potential to be the biggest sensation of the year. The True Detective franchise is some of the most beloved dramas on television and gets a serious injection of horror. As a huge added bonus, Jodie Foster returns to the horror/thriller/police procedural genre. Yes Please!
A Creature Was Stirring
Directed by Damien LeVeck
Starring: Annalise Basso, Scout Taylor-Compton, Chrissy Metz
Release Date: TBD
“A nurse taking care of her daughter’s mysterious affliction struggles to hide her secrets when uninvited strangers take shelter in her house during a lethal blizzard.”
This is a bit of a flyer, based on my faith in our interview with the cinematographer Alexander Chinnici. He promised a goopy twisted monster inspired by the likes of the xenomorph and The Thing. That’s a high standard, but I have faith. Perhaps blind faith, based upon the passion that Chinnici put forward. The movie has a sneaky good cast, and I look forward to seeing Chrissy Metz (pictured) as a monster fighter. Fingers crossed!
The Fall of the House of Usher
Directed by Mike Flanagan for Netflix
Starring: Carla Gugino, Willa Fitzgerald, Annabeth Gish, Mark Hammill, Henry Thomas, Katie Siegal, Mary McDonnell
Release Date: TBD
“An unnamed narrator approaches the house of Usher on a “dull, dark, and soundless day.” This house, the estate of his boyhood friend, Roderick Usher is gloomy and mysterious.”
Edgar Allen Poe. Ever heard of him? A historically important legend. Mike Flanagan? You should know about him as well. A legend in the making. And did you check out that cast? Oh my! Netflix may be a bit iffy when it comes to individual movies, but they have a tremendous record with genre series. How does a story as relatively short as the Fall of the House of Usher become a series? They have the right team to deliver the goods and prove it.
Welcome to Derry
Showrunners Andy and Barbara Muschietti for HBO max
Starring: No Cast Announced Yet
Release Date: TBD
This is a fairly recent announcement from HBO Max. This is a prequel of the Movie (and Book) It, as it reveals the backstory of the cursed town of Derry, the town terrorized by Pennywise the Clown. Those wise in the lore of It will know that the demonic entity returns every 27 years to claim the children of the town in a feeding frenzy. So… how close to the designated date will the story take place? Just before? Just after? The details are being kept like a Top Secret/SCI file at Mara Lago. Or rather… we don’t know much yet. No actors, no images, and no plot has been released yet. But the promise of Kingsian horror is undeniable.
Sister Death (Spain)
Directed by Paco Plaza
Starring: Amuldana Amour, Aria Bedmar, Pablo Guisa Koestinger
Release Date: TBD
“In post-war Spain, Narcisa (Aria Bedmar), a young novice with supernatural powers, arrives at a former convent, now a school for girls, to become a teacher. As the days go by, the strange events and increasingly disturbing situations that torment her will eventually lead her to unravel the terrible skein of secrets that surround the convent and haunt its inhabitants.”
2023 is shaping up to be a banner year for Nunsploitation! This is a trust the director hunch. Plaza has delivered two of the scariest movies of the past twenty years with the iconic [REC] and Veronica in his resume. This will undoubtedly be a must-watch for fans of Euro-Horror.
The Toxic Avenger
Directed by Macon Blair
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Kevin Bacon, Jane Levy, and Elijah Wood
Release Date: TBD
“When a meek father takes drastic measures to provide for his family, he is accidentally transformed into a hideous mutant.”
Peter Dinklage has been cast to be the new Toxie. Yes, you read that correctly. The proud sleazy exploitation film that built the house of Troma is being given a reboot adaptation. Did you get a gander at that cast? Just ONE of those contracts would be more than the entire budget of the original Lloyd Kaufman production. I wonder if they all took drastic pay cuts to do this for the love of Lloyd. (Who carries a writer credit for this production.) Will the new movie adhere to the zero-budget ambiance and occasionally sloppy dialogue reads? The origin story looks very different from the original, to be sure. Can you satirize a satire? This could go any number of ways, but color us intrigued.
Other known and notable Horror Releases in 2023
- There’s Something Wrong with the Children, January 17
- Kids vs. Aliens, January 20
- Winnie the Pooh, Blood and Honey, January 26
- Baby Ruby, February 3
- Family Dinner, March 28
- Scream 6, March 31
- Renfield, April 14
- Maxxxine, April 21
- The Blackening, June 16
- Insidious 5: Fear the Dark, July 7
- Haunted Mansion, August 11
- The Meg 2: The Trench, August 11
- The Nun 2, September 8
- Saw 10: October 27
- Beau is Afraid, TBD
- Cuckoo, TBD
- Final Destination 6, TBD
- They Listen, TBD
- Nightbitch, TBD
- Shelby Oaks, TBD
- The Strangers, TBD