It's safe to say that 2016 was an amazing year for horror movies. From big studio releases like Don't Breathe and Ouija: Origin of Evil to indie productions such as The Witch and Beyond the Gates, there was something of high quality to suit every horror buff's taste. In fact, there's significant reason to believe that the year will be looked back upon as one of the best in recent times for the genre.
Therefore, 2017 has a high bar to clear. We think it's up to the challenge, though. A lot of intriguing horror movies -- including new installments in the Saw and Friday the 13th franchises -- are set to hit the big screen in the coming twelve months. Below are fifteen such films that have particularly caught our interest, for a variety of different reasons. Some will be great and, in fairness, a couple could end up disappointing. (That's always a reality in horror.) For now, though, we look toward them optimistically, hoping they will prove to be as thrilling as they sound.
Here are 15 Horror Movies We're Looking Forward To In 2017.
15 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter - January 27th
The Resident Evil series has consistently delivered violence, gore, excitement, and nasty-looking creatures. And let's not forget about Milla Jovovich playing a kickass heroine -- something we don't get nearly enough of onscreen. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, hitting theaters in January, purports to be the final film in the series, although we all know that, when it comes to horror sequels, never say never.
We're excited for this one because Jovovich's character, Alice, is set to return to Raccoon City, where she plans to have one final winner-take-all battle against the evil Umbrella Corporation. Some of the Resident Evil flicks have been better than others, but all of them have been building to the moment when Alice goes back to where it all started. The movie's trailer, which makes great (if choppy) use of Guns N Roses' "Paradise City," suggests that the movie understands precisely what fans want and intends to deliver big-time on that count.
14 Amityville: The Awakening - January 6th
Here's a fact that may blow your mind: there have been sixteen films in the Amityville Horror series so far. The original came out back in 1979. The most recent, Amityville: No Escape, was released earlier this year. Truth be told, many of them don't really have much to do with each other beyond the word "Amityville" in the title. And quite a few of them have, shall we say, failed to grace the inside of a movie theater, going the straight-to-DVD route instead.
Perhaps the seventeenth, Amityville: The Awakening, will improve the series' fate. There are two reasons we're intrigued by this sequel. One is that it's been sitting on the shelf for at least two years, having seen several scheduled release dates come and go. In the horror world, that doesn't always mean disaster. It can also mean a movie is so original that the studio doesn't know how to market it. (Call that Cabin in the Woods Syndrome.) The other appealing factor is star Jennifer Jason Leigh, one of the most underrated actresses working today, who stars as a single mom who moves into the haunted house with her three children. For an actor of her caliber to appear in an Amityville Horror sequel suggests that the material has something special going on. We can't wait to see what this movie has in store.
13 The Bye Bye Man - January 13th
A good title can go a long way toward generating enthusiasm for a horror movie, and The Bye Bye Man has such a title. It's childish, but in a creepy way. That juxtaposition is what gives it an allure. Once you know that the title refers to a malevolent figure responsible for possessing people and causing them to commit various violent atrocities, the whole thing becomes a little shiver-inducing. Adding to the nightmare fuel is that thinking or saying his name makes the story's characters vulnerable to his dark influence.
This sounds like a promising horror premise. It has a bit of the old-school Candyman vibe, while simultaneously playing on modern fears of random violence. Some interesting talent is attached, too. The title villain is portrayed by Doug Jones, the actor best known for playing creatures of all stripes in many of Guillermo del Toro's films (including Abe Sapien in the Hellboy flicks). Veteran actress Faye Dunaway is along for the ride, as well. The Bye Bye Man is also notable for having something far too rare in the horror genre: a female director. Seeing what Stacy Title does with this story should be fun.
12 Underworld: Blood Wars - January 6th
The Underworld movies offer something supremely enticing to horror fans, namely the chance to see vampires and werewolves at war with one another. Who could resist that? The latest sequel, Underworld: Blood Wars, finds Selene (once again played by Kate Beckinsale) trying to bring an end to that war. We're betting that, even if she's successful, there will be a lot of blood and fur shed before it happens.
No one will ever mistake the Underworld movies for high art, but over the course of four previous installments, the series has created a fairly extensive mythology. Seeing where this fifth installment takes that mythology should offer some rewards for fans. Kate Beckinsale remains an additional selling point; a gifted actress who brings a touch of class to the proceedings. Underworld: Blood Wars, like The Bye Bye Man, was directed by a woman. Anna Foerster is a former cinematographer on pictures like White House Down and Anonymous, and this marks her feature film debut. It would appear that 2017 is shaping up to be a solid year for women in horror, which is definitely something to get excited about.
11 Annabelle 2 - August 11th
Annabelle began life as a prequel/spinoff to The Conjuring. It tracked the history of the possessed doll that eventually found its way into a secure glass case belonging to paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The movie was a big hit, earning over $256 million on a budget of $6.5 million, and giving audiences some real jumps along the way. In the inevitable sequel Annabelle 2, a dollmaker and his wife take in a nun and several little girls who have been displaced from an orphanage. That act of kindness is negated by the dollmaker's creation, which proceeds to torment the guests. One guess who that is!
Doll-based movies are a staple of the horror genre for two reasons. One, dolls are inherently creepy anyway, and two, any time you're dealing with something that has fake eyes, it's hard not to imagine it watching you. The doll in Annabelle is especially spooky. Even if you didn't care for the original, you probably got a chill or two from that thing. With an intriguing twist on what was set up the first time around, this sequel seems to have the possibility of being even bigger than its predecessor.
10 Split - January 20th
M. Night Shyamalan has had quite a perplexing career. After winning the hearts of audiences and critics alike with smart chillers like The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs, he promptly drove his career over a cliff. The Village was middling, and he followed that up with the absolutely disastrous one-two-three-four punch of The Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth. Certainly not a run of pictures any director would envy.
That said, Shyamalan got a little bit of his mojo back with 2015's The Visit. It was no classic, but it was certainly more interesting than anything he'd directed in a long time. That's why we're kind of psyched for his new one, Split. James McAvoy – an actor worth watching in just about anything – plays a man with twenty-four different personalities who kidnaps three young women. The movie got largely good notices following an early screening at Fantastic Fest this past Fall, which brings hope that Shyamalan will be back to the top of his game in this one.
9 Rings - February 3rd
The Ring is one of the most genuinely unsettling horror films of the last twenty years, thanks in part to Naomi Watts' haunting lead performance and the ominous tone director Gore Verbinski brought to the story. The sequel, 2005's The Ring Two, unfortunately proved unable to sustain the effect, causing the franchise to come to a screeching halt. But it always seemed that there were still places for the concept to go, and with any luck, Rings will bring evil Samara back out of her well to jump start the series in grand fashion.
It's admittedly a little concerning that this new sequel has had its release date pushed back a number of times. Still, the theatrical trailer suggests that there are some much-needed upgrades. (A YouTube video instead of a VHS tape!) The presence of first-rate character actor Vincent D'Onofrio is another plus. And check out the capper where Samara's video is blasted onto every video monitor in an airplane. Now that's creepy! Our fingers are crossed that Rings recaptures some of the dark magic that made the original get under moviegoers' collective skin.
8 The Belko Experiment - March 17th
Before gaining mainstream acclaim as the writer/director of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn worked extensively in horror. He wrote a bunch of stuff for Troma, including Tromeo and Juliet, and later went on to make the wonderfully disgusting Slither for Universal Pictures. Gunn returns to the horror genre as the writer of The Belko Experiment, which is directed by Wolf Creek's Greg McLean. The combination of Gunn's offbeat perspective and McLean's take-no-prisoners style promises something fresh and original.
There's a cool cast here, including Michael Rooker, Tony Goldwyn, and Melonie Diaz. The story concerns several dozen American citizens who are locked in a Columbian high-rise and forced against their will to participate in a deadly game run by a menacing voice on the intercom system. That's the kind of plot that should suck you right in, especially given Gunn's penchant for inserting quirky humor into his horror. With any luck, The Belko Experiment will be scary and darkly funny in equal measure.
7 Insidious: Chapter 4 - October 20th
No one thought Insidious would spawn a franchise when it was released in 2010. It was just a smartly-executed, old-fashioned ghost story. Nonetheless, screenwriter Leigh Wannell found a way to successfully continue exploring the paranormal world introduced in the original. Insidious: Chapter 2 and Insidious: Chapter 3 came up with new ways to make audiences jump, and Insidious: Chapter 4 should do the same.
Not too much is known about the specifics of the movie yet, although there are some tantalizing clues. Series regular Lin Shaye returns as the psychically-gifted Elise. She recently told Entertainment Weekly that this fourth installment "goes back to Elise's beginnings, and you also meet Elise at a different point in her life." The actress gave a little more information to Daily Dead, explaining that the story takes place immediately after Chapter 3 and will focus on her character's "quest to find the bad guy that's haunting her." She wrapped up her hints by promising that, "the fans will really, really enjoy it, and it's scary on levels they're not going to expect." We're officially sold.
6 It - September 8th
Stephen King's book It is insanely creepy, as is the 1990 TV miniseries based on the book. The central villain, an evil clown called Pennywise, is such a magnificently disturbing creation that it's virtually impossible not to have nightmares about him. Pennywise is set to rattle audiences all over again with the upcoming feature film version of It, directed by Mama's Andres Muschietti.
As good as the TV adaptation of the story was, network censors neutered it a little bit, putting restrictions on how much violence and abject horror could actually be shown. Muschietti's version is set to carry an R rating, meaning that it won't have to hold back in any way, shape, or form. The casting of Hemlock Grove's Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise is another plus. He seems like an intriguing choice to fill the shoes of Tim Curry, who so masterfully played the character in the TV version. All in all, It could finally bring King's story to the screen in the most gruesome manner possible.
5 Untitled Blumhouse Horror Films - February 24th and April 28th
Okay, this one may seem like a bit of a cheat, but allow us to explain. Back in May, Blumhouse announced 2017 release dates for two unnamed horror movies, one in February and the other in April. At least one of them is set to be distributed by Universal Pictures. No specifics have been announced yet. There are no posters, no teaser trailers, no plot synopses. There aren't even any official titles at this point.
It's the Blumhouse moniker that has us optimistic. The company has made a real name for itself producing innovative low- to moderate-budget horror films. Their initial splash came with the Paranormal Activity series. Since then, they have gone on to deliver The Purge and its sequels, the Insidious franchise, Sinister, Ouija, and more. Not a bad track record overall. Their logo on a picture implies that you're going to see something truly cool. As for the two mystery movies, IMDb claims that the Blumhouse 2017 slate includes a film called Stephanie and another called Prey. Could that be them? We shall see.
4 Get Out
Get Out stars Daniel Kaluuya as a young black man who accompanies his white girlfriend (played by Allison Williams) to her family's estate. He soon learns that many African-American people have disappeared there. Could he be next? That's what he fears, and trying to escape the premises proves a lot more difficult than expected. If you've seen the trailer, you know that the movie looks like a combination of a horror movie and a racial drama, with a touch of satire thrown in, which makes for a uniquely intriguing mix.
The other thing that sets Get Out apart is the man behind the camera. Writer/director Jordan Peele is far better known for comedy than for horror. As part of the team of Key & Peele, he has established himself as one of the funniest individuals in the industry. It's always captivating to watch someone talented work outside of their comfort zone. If Peele's attempt to be socially-relevant and scary is as successful as his past attempts to be hilarious, then Get Out should be one of the best, most original horror films of 2017.
3 The Mummy - June 9th
The Mummy began its cinematic life all the way back in 1932, with the classic Boris Karloff movie. More recently, there was a trio of Mummy flicks starring Brendan Fraser. They were more adventure than full-on horror, of course, but were generally popular anyway. The reboot series, however, looks to be taking a decidedly different path.
What will make this version of The Mummy different? To begin with, it stars Tom Cruise., who as you may know, is no slouch when it comes to delivering grade-A excitement on the big screen. The director is Alex Kurtzman, a writer/producer who was a key creative force in the Star Trek reboot, Transformers, and Now You See Me. The film's writers are Jon Spaihts (Doctor Strange) and Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation). If this team can't deliver something that gives us plenty of bang for our buck, we don't know who can. And the trailer looks fantastic, provided, of course, that you don't watch it without sound.
2 A Cure For Wellness - February 17th
What could be scarier than some kind of weird illness? A Cure For Wellness plays on fears of getting sick and trying to find a treatment. Dane DeHaan plays a young executive sent to a "wellness center" in the Swiss Alps where his company's CEO is being cured. He's supposed to bring the boss home. Instead, he discovers that he has the same mysterious ailment that all the facility's patients have. But is it real?
There is so much to be enthusiastic about here, starting with the cast. DeHaan is an incredibly talented young actor, and his co-stars, Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth, are two really interesting performers in their own right. Director Gore Verbinski knows a thing or two about making extremely disturbing, skin-crawling chillers, as he proved so well with The Ring. The biggest selling point right now, though, is the theatrical trailer. When a two-minute preview can give you heebie-jeebies this bad, just imagine what the entire two hour movie is going to do. A Cure For Wellness looks like it could be a masterpiece.
1 Alien: Covenant - May 19th
It's a sign of how good Alien and Aliens are that fans keep hoping for another installment in the series that can unarguably stand alongside them. Many thought Ridley Scott's Prometheus was going to be the next truly magical entry. And while a fair number of folks liked it, virtually all have acknowledged that it had some difficult-to-ignore flaws. The seeds were there for something special, though, so there is a lot of hope that those flaws will be fixed for the sequel, Alien: Covenant.
Aside from the crowd-pleasing title that actually ties itself to the Alien franchise (unlike Prometheus), the film has a premise that sounds like it will offer some tantalizing possibilities. The crew of the colony ship Covenant find what appears to be an uncharted paradise. Of course, looks are deceiving. It's actually a perilous place where the only inhabitant is David (Michael Fassbender), the synthetic being who managed to survive the ill-fated Prometheus expedition.
Director Ridley Scott has said in interviews that Alien: Covenant will answer many of the questions viewers had after walking out of Prometheus. That would be terrific. Bringing back Fassbender and Noomi Rapace also gets our hopes up, as does the influx of new starring talent like Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, and James Franco. And as the man behind the original, Scott certainly has a firm grasp on the necessary tone. There's no doubt that the whole Alien concept retains its appeal all these years later, and with any luck, Alien: Covenant will prove to be the third classic in the beloved saga.
Which of these horror movies are you most excited to see? Are there any others coming out that you can't wait for? Let us know in the comments.