January is infamously a miserable time in term of movie releases.
After frantically churning out as many 32-carat blockbusters as possible before Christmas, the start of the new year is very much a hangover period for the film industry where it clambers off the figurative sofa and rushes into the kitchen for a handful of aspirin and a glass of water.
However, that being said, there is a still a fair offering of horror movies available to kick off the new year with themes ranging from pseudo sci-fi vampires to schizophrenic kidnappers.
1. Underworld: Blood Wars
If you were a fan of the thrilling vampire action fest that was the 2003 film Underworld, or its succeeding sequels and prequel, then no doubt you’ll be lining up to see the fifth installment in the series, Underworld: Blood Wars, directed by Anna Foerster and starring Kate Beckinsale as the akimbo toting, leather clad, death-dealing vampire assassin Selina.
Blood Wars sees Selina continuing her eternal struggle again the Lycans whilst also tracking down the faction of vampires that betrayed her in the previous film. At this point in the franchise, the plot is becoming evermore confusing, but luckily the film features enough motorcycles and sword fights to keep action junkies full until Christmas.
2. The Summoning
After being completed in Summer 2016, Alberto G. Rodriguez’s second feature film The Summoning had a delayed release after getting trapped with sales negotiations with distributors for some time. Luckily, the filmmakers managed to escape this bureaucratic limbo and now the film is scheduled for a theatrical release this month, albeit a limited one.
The film follows the tale of a young woman who uncovers a series of strange and disturbing secrets that put her life at risk from an unknown supernatural entity. This causes grizzled manly man detective Chief Luddock (Eric Roberts) to get involved and together the two character encounter all kinds of spooks and scares. The premise is a simple, if not somewhat uninspired one but with plenty of potential and if you manage to come across the film it may be worth giving a watch.
3. The Bye Bye Man
Another somewhat uninspired tale comes in the form of the upcoming film The Bye Bye Man directed by Stacy Title. In the film, three typical college students decide it’s a good idea to live in a house that looks like it was lifted from a Scooby Doo episode and are surprised to find themselves haunted by a strange and unwelcome presence.
The gimmick is that the titular (and stupidly named) Bye Bye Man gets more powerful the more that the world knows of him and so the three plucky young teens have to do their best to rid themselves of this curse while ensuring that the knowledge of this spectral stranger doesn’t spread to their friends and family.
4. The Axe Murders of Villisca
The Axe Murders of Villisca is another film this month that is only meeting limited theatrical release. However, if you manage to find it in your local cinema, you may want to give it a watch. The basic story doesn’t seem particularly interesting or new; three teenagers go into an old house and encounter some cursed spirits.
The real attraction with this film is that it takes the idea of being ‘based on true events’ to a very new level. The film is based on the real life unsolved axe murders that took place in Villisca in 1912 and furthermore it was shot in the actual house where the murders really took place, making the whole experience much the eerier.
At only 78 minutes, this film may be small in most areas, but it got a warm reception at film festivals and certainly promises to pack a punch.
While some of the titles on this list may be as easy to find as hay in a needlestack, Split promises to be the high profile, big-budget, “must see” horror movie of the month with James McAvoy’s bald head being plastered on bus stops from here to Bognor.
The film itself follows three young women trying to devise an escape from their kidnapper, a man with 24 separate personalities. The idea of split personalities is a curious one, as writer-director M. Night Shyamalan seems to also being two minds as to whether he wants to make good films or not. Recently, his work has certainly been leaning towards the latter but with the acting prowess of McAvoy and a fat juicy Blumhouse budget, this could be the film that bring Shyamalan back to form.
6. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
If the Resident Evil film franchise was a book, it would be one of many chapters. Six chapters to be precise and The Final Chapter certainly promises, at least in name, to be the last of these chapters and ultimately end the cinematic saga (until Paul W.S. Anderson runs out of money and reckons he could probably knock out another few).
That’s right, Milla Jovovich and the gang are back for once last apocalyptic romp through Raccoon City as they shoot, kick and shout their way through a seemingly endless parade of parasitic zombie monsters.
In truth, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Resident Evil films. The blend of gory horror and high octane action is awkward enough to make it seem almost funny, but then hey, what do I know? You need some sci-fi-action-horror to get through January? You go for it, pal.
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