The horror industry has had its ups and downs, but when the great films come pouring in, there’s no stopping them. To this day, original franchises like Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are still spurning out sequels, prequels and reboots for audiences today to enjoy. But whether your taste lies with the classic slasher films or with the modern, innovative attempts at horror, 2016 has them all.
Some highly anticipated sequels and prequels, a visualization of fan fiction at its best, and quite a few surprises lay in store for horror fans over the next year, potentially marking it the year of the horror film. While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all horror films to watch out for, these are some of the biggest titles hitting theaters next year, and if the names are any indication, they might just be some of the scariest yet.
So for those of you that can’t wait, here are 15 Most Anticipated Horror Movies of 2016.
15 The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist (June 10)
Based on the widespread success of the first film, The Conjuring (2013), starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, it was only a matter of time before the sequel hit theaters. And after the successful release of the prequel, Annabelle (2014), fans have been on the edge of their seats for months, waiting for the next chapter.
The sequel’s storyline isn’t yet revealed, but rumors claim the story will follow yet another of the Warren’s famous paranormal investigations, the story of two sisters in Enfield, England in the late 70’s who were allegedly possessed. It's a case Lorraine Warren refers to as one of the most terrifying in her career, which bodes well for the film if this is in fact the plot the film will follow.
And if rumors aren’t enough, director James Wan (the director of the first film, but not its prequel) is returning to direct the highly anticipated sequel, and Wilson and Farmiga will be reprising their roles as the Warrens.
14 Leatherface (TBA)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) prequel has been the subject of many horror fans’ conversations, and in 2016, the story is finally getting told. Meant as an origin story for the iconic killer, Leatherface will tell the story of a teenage Leatherface that escapes from a mental institution with three others and a captive nurse, only to be chased by an equally unhinged lawman seeking revenge.
The plot sounds violent, disturbing and highly suspenseful, keeping in tune with the original film, something fans of the franchise will appreciate. Leatherface will be the eighth installment in the franchise to date, and with a completely new set of faces on and off camera, it’s hard to say what fans should expect. Still, with a (excuse the bad pun) killer storyline, this film already appears as if it will fare better than Texas Chainsaw 3D (which, despite its box office earnings, was panned by fans of the franchise and critics alike).
13 Rings (April 1)
The Ring (2002) sequel that was originally meant to air on Friday the 13th this past November has been pushed back to April of next year, building up more anticipation for its release. Rings will be the third installment of the series, taking place thirteen years after the events of the original film, the only returning character is the dreaded Samara, whose video tape once again wreaks havoc and costs people their lives.
With The Ring Two’s (2005) negative reception in the horror world, many claiming the plot was based mostly in clichés and relatively uneventful, the hopes that this one will break the mold are high, especially given how innovative Gore Verbinski’s first film was in the industry. Still, without Naomi Watts, but with a new Samara (no longer played by Daveigh Chase but instead by Bonnie Morgan) and with a new director, the film’s success is completely up in the air, and all fans can do is hope that the great horror film gets the sequel it deserves.
12 Amityville: The Awakening (April 15)
Inspired by the allegedly haunted house in which Ronald “Butch” DeFeo, Jr. murdered his family with a rifle as they slept, the Amityville story has been retold in numerous ways, the most famous of which includes The Amityville Horror (1979) starring James Brolin, and its 2005 remake starring Ryan Reynolds.
The hope is that the film isn’t just beating a dead horse, but by the looks of it, it’s quite possible that’s exactly what’s going to happen. The same gimmicks from the first film as well as its remake appear to be played upon in the preview for the newest installment, and though the story is going to bring with it a new family (unaware of the house’s history), it’s hard to say whether or not the film will live up to the hype. Still, the original is classic, and it’s hard to turn down an opportunity to see its continuation.
11 The Purge 3 (July 1)
Though the first two films have received generally mixed reviews, they’ve both left audiences wanting more; a demand the third film will, hopefully, be able to live up to. The purge, simply put, refers to an annual “cleansing” of society’s evils, where, for one night, all crimes are legal, including murder. Whether or not someone is willing to participate is up to them.
While the concept is intriguing and drew in audiences initially, The Purge (2013) was a bit of a let down, as it covered only one family, leaving viewers disappointed. The Purge: Anarchy (2014) picked up where the first left off, covering all of L.A. rather than sticking to a single family. While it was definitely an improvement, the film was still lacking a certain something, leaving it with lackluster reviews.
The third installment will hopefully break this trend, and with the alternative title, The Purge: Beginnings, it’s more than possible fans are going to get much more than just another purge story. Here’s hoping.
10 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (February 5)
The film to be released in February of next year is based on the parody novel of the same title by Seth Grahame-Smith, which parodies the beloved Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice. The title pretty much says it all, as the iconic Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are battling more than just love in this romantic horror film.
Austen fans are salivating over this one, and horror fans familiar with more satirical horror (i.e. Scream) should tune in for this one as well. It’s a film that doesn’t appear as if it’ll take itself too seriously, and if there was ever a way to retell the classic love story, I’m sure there isn’t a horror fan out there that could think of a better way to do it.
9 The Boy (January 22)
It’s a unique film, to say the least, and it stars The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan, so there’s two for the win column right there. But aside from that, the Gremlins-like story follows an English nanny (Cohan) that’s surprised to find her newest child is a life-sized doll. But when she doesn’t take the strict rules too seriously, she’s in for an even bigger surprise.
Director William Brent Bell is no stranger to the world of horror, his directing credits including Stay Alive (2006) and The Devil Inside (2012), two fairly successful films in the industry. With the amount of hype already surrounding this film, it’s more than likely it’s going to be a hit, and a great way to start off the year of horror.
8 The Disappointments Room (March 25)
This film is described as a psychological thriller, similar to The Shining, in which Dana (Kate Beckinsale, who, as a veteran of Underworld, Vacancy, and Stonehearst Asylum, is no stranger to the genre), and her son Jeremy find a secret room in the attic that unleashes horrors upon the household, driving Dana to question her sanity.
The film is based on a true story, and will also star Bones regular Michaela Conlin. Its director, D.J. Caruso, a thriller vet that filmed Shia LaBeouf in both Disturbia (2007) and Eagle Eye (2008), will hopefully take this film to new levels, giving far more depth to an overly-familiar plot.
7 The Other Side of the Door (March 4)
Yet another 2016 horror film starring an old Walking Dead cast member (Sarah Wayne Callies) The Other Side of the Door follows a once joyous family living abroad undergo heartache in the wake of their son’s accidental death. When the mother learns of a ritual that will supposedly bring him back for one last goodbye, she travels to an ancient temple that acts as a gateway between the worlds, where she will be able to speak to her son.
However, as must happen in horror, she disobeys a direct order not to open the door, unleashing disaster and causing dissonance between the realms of life and death. The film looks suspenseful, jumpy and downright creepy, something that will hopefully mark it as one of 2016’s successes.
6 Before I Wake (April 8)
Playing big time on childlike innocence and the horror surrounding it, Before I Wake follows a couple (Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane) who have recently lost their son and adopt an eight-year-old boy named Cody. Little do they know, Cody’s dreams manifest themselves in reality as he sleeps, whether their good dreams or nightmares.
Directed and written by Mike Flanagan, known for Oculus (2013) and Absentia (2011), this film has the potential to be great, especially given the relatively good reviews his films have received in the past. And judging by the preview, horror fans can expect a fast-paced thriller that they won’t want to miss out on.
5 31 (January 23)
To say the film looks creepy is an understatement, and any horror fan with a dislike of clowns will agree. Still, for a scary movie, so far, so good. 31 is the story of five kidnapped carnies, held against their will and forced to play a game called “31.” The goal of the game? To survive for 12 hours, something made far more difficult by the gang of evil clowns waiting to make their move.
And if that isn’t enough, the film is written and directed by Rob Zombie, notorious musician and horror film director responsible for the Halloween (2007), House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Devil’s Rejects (2005). Plus, the film stars many of Zombie’s frequent stars, including his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, and a few new faces as well.
4 Death House (TBA)
In what’s being referred to as the horror version of The Expendables, Death House stars Robert Englund (best known as Freddy Kreuger), Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface), Kane Hodder (Jason), Doug Bradley (Pinhead) and an even longer list of horror alums, including Bill Moseley (House of 1000 Corpses), Dee Wallace (Cujo), Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead) and Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), just to name a few.
Not enough to wet your appetite? The storyline involves a prison break, involving four of the most notorious murderers housed in a special section of the prison called “the death house,” and a secret government facility becomes ground zero upon their escape. And with an all-star cast like that, this is bound to be good.
3 The Witch (February 26)
Set in 1630’s New England, Robert Eggers makes his first, large-scale feature film out of The Witch, and while many will find the content dry and slow to start, those interested in the reality of the dark history of witch hysteria are going to find this truly disturbing and well done.
The Witch looks creepy in its secrecy and suspense, banking on the viewers understanding of events going into the film. The premise of the film is pre-Salem Witch Trials, instead taking place sixty-two years prior in colonial New England with the beginning of the witch hysteria. So go into this one expecting a slow-building plot and any witch enthusiasts should walk out impressed.
2 The Forest (January 8)
The story is based on what’s referred to as the “Suicide Forest,” located on the Northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan and covering about 35-square-kilometers of ground. Its name comes from its reputation, as the forest is a common suicide site, to the point that signs at the entrance of the trail urge suicidal visitors to contact suicide prevention. But the basis of the horror film goes into local mythology as well, as Japanese demons are said to take residence in the “Suicide Forest.”
The film is reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project (1999) in its suspense, but goes beyond that into more eventful, jumpy sequences, which hopefully translates into more scares for the audience. And though the plot isn’t all that revealing, the trailer is enough to build up the audience’s interest and if done right, this film is going to be another 2016 must-see.
1 Viral (February 19)
A sci-fi, horror and drama combination, Viral is yet another take on a widespread virus. Cue the eye rolls and exasperated sighs. Still, this one has a little more promise than it’s being given credit for. Rather than taking a full-on, overdone, zombie approach to the outbreak, Viral rather focuses on a single family, stuck in quarantine, struggling to survive.
With two directors familiar with the horror world, Ariel Schulman (Paranormal Activity 3 and 4) and Henry Joost (Paranormal Activity 3), and starring Analeigh Tipton, this film has the potential to be more than the clichéd, overdone story that viewers are going to associate it with. Here’s hoping!
Have any thoughts on these films? Or know others that didn’t make the list? Share them in the comments below!