My Most Anticipated Horror Movies of 2020
The Wendigo myth has long intrigued me, and the lack of a really great Wendigo horror movie has long pained me. The closest we have to one is Ravenous, which is a good movie, but I’d say it’s more “Wendigo-inspired.” It does not embrace the mythology the way Antlers clearly appears to, with its unbelievably good, almost wordless first trailer.
Peninsula (Train to Busan 2)
The premiere date for Peninsula, the sequel to Train to Busan, is apparently set for August 12th of 2020. Whether that means it will reach a worldwide audience in 2020 isn’t yet known, but I presume we’ll all get our chance to see this movie sooner rather than later. Considering how little seems to be known about this sequel at present, that’s a fairly significant presumption on my part, but chalk that up to how excited I am to see this one. I can’t really account for that excitement. The first film used a fairly unique conceit (zombies on a train) to breathe life into a sub-genre that I don’t particularly care for. Take away the train, actors Gong Doo and Ma Dong-seok, and any hint of measured expectations and what’s left is a product I should feel more skepticism about. Yet here I am, eager to see this one come my way before the year is through, preferably on the big screen.
In some ways, I’m a simple man: you tell me about a horror movie based on an existing myth, you probably have my attention. If the myth itself is interesting, say…something about a strange, deserted, haunted Japanese village… well then you probably have me sold as long as the trailer isn’t abominable or there isn’t a terrible director attached. Fortunately, Howling Village has a solid trailer and is helmed by Takashi Shimizu who, yes, has had some duds since the glory days of Ju-On, Rinne and Marebito, but is still competent at minimum. All of that combined is enough to make this one of my most anticipated J-horror releases in years.
On the one hand, The Lodge should get shoved off this list for pulling some pretty egregious “dishonest pull-quote gymnastics” in its trailer, claiming that Vulture declared the film “Game-changing horror” when in fact the words “game-changing,” while present in the (generally positive) review, are very clearly not used to describe the film itself. It’s one of those cheap promotional ploys that’s long been joked about in the movie industry, and yet is still shamelessly used even by ostensibly more reputable, smaller studios and distributors you’d like to imagine would be above it all. Evidently not.
Still, that trailer is effective and has lingered with me since I first saw it back before the summer. Little did I expect that they’d make us wait until the back half of the winter before releasing it to the world. At this point it would take more than some carny-style advertising nonsense to significantly dull my anticipation for this one.
I suspect I don’t get a ton of repeat, dedicated readers on this site. Still, if I have any, none of them should be surprised to see this title on this shortlist given my previously described relationship with the original Candyman. I’m not the sort who’s immediately averse to remakes. Some are terrible ideas (2019’s Black Christmas would have been so much better served being dissociated from the ’74 slasher classic it’s hard to imagine how anyone thought the newer movie would benefit from sharing a name–and virtually nothing else–with the original film). Others, however, are understandable and even laudable attempts at updating the material. Candyman is a classic, but it’s not flawless, and with the Cabrini-Green high-rises having been gone for most of the decade, some of its potential timelessness has been lost as well.
Lastly, given the urban myth nature of the titular character, it seems especially fitting for his story to be retold. If the new movie were to unfortunately fail to live up to the legend, those of us who prefer to just remember the first can ignore it the way we have ignored the inferior sequels; “That’s not the way I heard it,” we can always say. I have faith, however, that it won’t come to that.
We have a pretty decent history of Halloween sequels proving disappointing. I was not that charged up to watch the 2019 version of Halloween to begin with, although I was happy to see it turn out as well as it did. Still, the sequel-hook ending was a bit of a bummer for me. “Uh oh, Michael’s still out there ready to kill again!” This worked incredibly well in the iconic ending of the first film, but you just can’t replicate that impact, in part because it was fairly shocking. Whereas the first movie didn’t present Myers as nigh-invulnerable until the climax, by now most people would expect Michael to be improbably durable, bordering on immortal. It would have been more surprising to see a final shot of Michael’s body burning to blackened bones.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
I’m a big fan of the first two Conjuring films helmed by James Wan. Unfortunately, with Wan busy doing Insidious: The Dark Realm (I think? There’s surprisingly scant concrete info about that film at the time of this writing) and Malignant, this third installment was directed by Michael Chaves, whose lone feature film credit is The Curse of La Llorona, a perfectly bad film. I’d love for Chaves to surprise me, but until he does I have no reason to to be excited about him being director.
The Crooked Man
Speaking of The Conjuring franchise, none of its offshoots have done anything for me, even though I really wanted to like each of them. A film about The Crooked Man, who stole the show in The Conjuring 2, should have me reasonably optimistic, but two Annabelle‘s and a Nun have numbed me. I expect this film to feature wall-to-wall screeching scare chords vainly trying to bolster unimaginatively telegraphed jump scares.