James Wan’s next film will be an “original horror idea” with “old school” special effects

In a Facebook post, James Wan says his next film will be released through New Line Cinema, and it will not be the remake of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) he was rumored to be working on, according to Bloody Disgusting. Indeed, Wan goes so far as to share that the “hard-R thriller” will be an original property – not a reboot, remake, or adaptation – and it will mark a return to his independent filmmaking origins with practical effects. The horror auteur also uploaded a series of pictures taken from the location scout for the movie; he is co-writing the script with Ingrid Bisu and co-producing alongside Michael Clear for Atomic Monster, and shooting is scheduled to begin this fall in Los Angeles.

Andy Muschietti’s “It” (2017) returns to the big screen with sequel footage

Starting Saturday, August 3, Andy Muschietti’s hit adaptation of the 1986 It by Stephen King, It Chapter One (2017), will be returning to theaters nationwide for two nights, according to CNET. This Fandango rerelease comes a month before the September 6 premiere of Muschietti’s It Chapter Two (2019), with a post-credits reveal of eight minutes of new footage from the upcoming sequel. Taking place twenty-seven years after the events of the first film, the now-adult Losers’ Club will reunite once more in It Chapter Two to confront Pennywise the Dancing Clown, who has terrorized the fictitious Derry, Maine, for centuries.

Amazon Prime review: Jordan Peele’s “Us” (2019)

Once upon a time, there was a girl, and the girl had a shadow…

If you don’t know what to watch next, Jordan Peele’s Us (2019) is available on Amazon Prime.

The psychological horror film had the all-time second-best opening weekend for a live-action feature after James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), and the third-best behind Andy Muschietti’s It (2017) and David Gordon Green’s Halloween (2018), but the best for an original horror script.

Peele, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his directorial debut, Get Out (2017), is also the screenwriter for Us.

On Rotten Tomatoes, ninety-four percent of critical reviews aggregated for Us are positive.

Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke star as Adelaide Thomas and Gabe Wilson, who visit the family lake house in Santa Cruz with their children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex).

Adelaide is doubtful about the trip because of the mysterious, traumatic event which befell her at the beach when she was a child. Their first night there, a family of four strangers invade the Wilsons’ home and reveal themselves to be their doppelgängers as the Wilsons fight for survival.

Together, Us and Get Out showcase not only Peele’s genius for the horror genre, but also his talent for filmmaking in general.

His background in comedy does not arrest his passion for horror, but rather refines it with laugh-out-loud dialogue that endears you to the cast all the more devastatingly when the terror comes to claim them.

Us is as rich with subtext as its predecessor, yet speaks with a voice all its own. Where Get Out is a slow-burn suspense thriller, Us is a fast-paced horror show.

Nevertheless, between the two, Get Out is the superior movie, but only because it is so difficult to meet, much less exceed. Get Out is one of the greatest pictures of our time, and one of the most important horror pictures ever, a once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece.

This isn’t to say that Us isn’t still a scissor’s cut above the competition, because it is. Nyong’o’s dynamic performance alone, characterizing both hero and villain, deserves multiple viewings in order to truly experience each layer of nuance she delivers to this dual role.

In a way, Us is more subtle and sophisticated than Get Out, a thematic cocktail of motifs and visual metaphors and double meanings as open to interpretation as a hall of mirror is infinite with reflections.

Us might have been stronger, in fact, if it was more ambiguous, but as it is, it is still a horror piece more lovingly choreographed than the mainstream, cheaply-shot Hollywood release made for no other reason than to rake in an easy profit.

And that twist ending will echo through you forever.

“Midsommar” actor says cast was speechless at first screening

Leading man Jack Reynor is quoted as saying the cast of Ari Aster’s Midsommar (2019) sat thunderstruck through their first viewing of the horror film in New York earlier this month, despite knowing everything about the narrative, according to Entertainment Weekly. Reynor says the first two acts of the follow-up to Hereditary (2018) are brimming with gallows humor, but the final third is artfully crafted to overwhelm the audience a la Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses (1976). Reynor co-stars alongside Florence Pugh as an American couple who visit a secluded Swedish commune while travelling across Scandinavia, where a cult awaits them.

Hulu review: Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” (2017)

A film that receives both boos and a standing ovation during its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, is a film that demands to be seen.

If you don’t know what to watch next, Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (2017) is available to stream on Hulu. Sixty-nine percent of the reviews aggregated on Rotten Tomatoes for the psychological horror film are positive, but audiences polled through CinemaScore graded it with an “F.”

Its opening weekend marked the worst debut for a Jennifer Lawrence vehicle in which she earned top billing.

A plot synopsis is not easy for a reviewer to put down in words. Suffice to say, the movie opens with an unnamed poet (Javier Bardem) and his wife (Lawrence) living in an idyllic country home evocative of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s magical realism.

When a man (Ed Harris) and a woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) come to stay as guests at their house, this paradise begins to fall apart.

Although not a narratively straightforward picture, mother! is an exercise in production value.

The performances of its four decorated stars are dramatic tours-de-force, and Matthew Libatique’s kinetic cinematography externalizes the surreal panic characterizing Lawrence’s titular “mother.”

Whispering alongside them is Johann Johannsson and Craig Henighan’s atmospheric sound design, echoing with the breathy non-diegesis of Aronofsky’s own Black Swan (2010) like chills running down your spine, and creaking with all the dread of the poet’s house.

The trailer misrepresents mother! as an homage to Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968), which arguably answers for much of the popular disappointment in the final product.

Indeed, the text can be interpreted as an allegory for Biblical creation, or the artistic process, or sociopolitical and environmental decay (or all three.. or something else).

It is an experimental release marketed as a mainstream scary movie about creepy neighbors, and it fails to meet its own expectations.

But even in its true, arthouse context, mother! can be self-indulgent and pretentious. Some of its metaphors are heavy-handed, and others try too hard to be “ambiguous,” instead coming off as “half-baked.”

The filmmaker wrote the screenplay in five days, and it shows. At its stylized, dreamlike best, that’s a compliment. At its forced, incomprehensible worst, it’s not.

Whether it gets you to cheer or jeer, mother! is sure to be unlike any other film you’ll ever see.

Netflix review: Brian De Palma’s “Carrie” (1976)

The year is 1976. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) introduced the moviegoing public to the summer blockbuster the year before, and George Lucas’s Star Wars (1977) would go on to turn movie studios into toy factories the year after.

The same “film school generation” who pioneered the post-Golden Age renaissance that was New Hollywood, sold its soul to the highest bidder.

Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976) is one of the last classics of its era. If you don’t know what to watch next, it’s available to stream on Netflix.

It is an adaptation of Stephen King’s debut novel, so early in his career, his name is misspelled as “Steven” in the opening credits.

It was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Actress for Sissy Spacek (the titular Carrie White), and Best Supporting Actress for Piper Laurie (Carrie’s religious fanatic mother, Margaret White).

The supernatural horror film begins in a high school locker room, where Carrie, an introverted social outcast, menstruates for the first time; because her puritanical mother never warned her about menstruation, Carrie panics, and the other girls laugh and throw tampons at her.

The saintly gym teacher, Miss Collins (Betty Buckley), punishes Carrie’s classmates, including Sue Snell (Amy Irving) and Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen), for their bullying, and with the advent of her puberty, Carrie discovers she possesses telekinetic powers.

Meanwhile, a remorseful Sue asks her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (William Katt), the most popular boy in school, to take Carrie to the prom, and a vengeful Chris plots with her abusive lover, Billy Nolan (John Travolta, in his first big screen role), to get back at Carrie.

Carrie is as tragic as it is horrifying, the Cinderella story from Hell, as only King could imagine it. It is a monster movie with many monsters, and the mass murderer with telekinesis is not only one of them, but one of the victims, too.

That Carrie is a sympathetic figure, is the scariest part about her.

De Palma’s filmmaking is at its strongest when he’s borrowing from other artists’ work, and his interpretation of King’s book is bursting with nods to his favorite source of inspiration, Sir Alfred Hitchcock.

Composer Pino Donaggio’s shrieking violins parallel Bernard Herrmann’s score for Psycho (1960), and so does the name change from “Ewen High School” on the page to “Bates High School” on the screen.

Carrie sometimes surpasses its source material. The written word portrays Carrie as an irredeemable psychopath, whereas almost all the people Carrie kills in the picture have it coming, sparking a hellish catharsis in the viewer.

Also, it feels like parts of King’s narrative are padded for length by an author learning how to write his first novel, since before the publication of Carrie, King was a short story writer.

De Palma’s prom set piece is a masterclass of suspense, as Donaggio’s soundtrack as well as editor Paul Hirsch’s split screens and montages of cuts thrust toward a bloody, fiery climax.

Even upon revisiting it, knowing how it ends, you will still find yourself it will somehow end differently, that Carrie will get the happily ever after she deserves, that her dreams will come true, despite the nightmare she was born into.

In King’s own words, though, Carrie is dated. The special effects have aged somewhat poorly, and the jump scare at the finale has been parodied so many times, it’s borderline laughable.

But as with Carrie herself, there is so much more to cinema than what it looks like, and there is so much more to horror than whether or not it makes you cover your eyes.

Carrie may not make you scream, but it might make you cry. It will make you know what it is to be in high school again, how happy you would be to win prom royalty, and what you would do to the people who ruin it in the worst possible way.

And that is the agelessness of its time.

Mike Flanagan’s “Doctor Sleep” (2019) will follow up Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (1980)

Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of Stephen King’s 2013 novel, Doctor Sleep (2019), will be a direct sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) despite King’s infamous disapproval of the classic horror film, according to Entertainment Weekly. Flanagan says King not only granted him permission to set the movie in the same cinematic universe as Kubrick’s own adaptation (even though he purposefully wrote Doctor Sleep outside of Kubrick’s world), but he also actively encouraged the idea. The Kubrick estate gave their blessing as well, and so Doctor Sleep will include both references to moments from The Shining in addition to actual footage.