The horror genre is alive and well and will probably live forever — so we all have a lot to look forward to next year, and the year after that, and so on, and beyond. But let’s just focus on 2017 for the moment, shall we? After a banner year for scary movies in 2016, seemingly packed with great features big and small, it seems like we might just have another impressive 365 days ahead of us. There are giant scary blockbusters and intimate thrillers, long-awaited sequels and ambitious reboots, and a heck of a lot more in store.
Although we’re about to take a good, long look at the 28 movies that currently have us excited for 2017, it’s important to remember that horror movies (usually) move quickly, and that the best horror film of 2017 might not have even been made yet. Innovative indies seemingly come out of nowhere all the time to throttle us by the neck, and even some of the most interesting studio products sometimes get made very quickly — so much, in fact, that there may be intriguing November and December releases that haven’t even been announced yet.
So in 2017, as with all years, we look forward to being surprised — but we’re also looking forward to these films too. They all have potential which we hope will be achieved. Let’s take a peek at what’s on the horizon, and let’s keep in mind that release dates and even the titles of these movies are subject to change. Okay?
AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING (January 6)
They can’t delay this movie forever… can they? Bella Thorne, Cameron Monaghan and Jennifer Jason Leigh star as the latest family to move into the infamously haunted house, in a film that was supposed to come out in January 2015, then April 2016, and finally (we hope) in about a month. The AMITYVILLE franchise has needed a good kick in the pants for a while now — let’s all hope that these delays don’t mean disaster, and that this movie is exactly the AWAKENING this franchise needs.
UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS (January 6)
Kate Beckinsale slips into skintight vinyl one more time for the fifth in the popular supernatural action series about a vampire who goes to war against werewolves, other vampires (and all the critics, who generally don’t seem to care for this franchise one bit). This time, Selene (Beckinsale) has to protect her daughter from enemies who want to use the child to make vampire/werewolf hybrids. You know.. the usual. Fans of this series expect slick action and not much else — and it looks like they’re going to get it.
THE BYE BYE MAN (January 13)
“Don’t say it, don’t think it.” That’s a pretty cool mantra for a horror movie, and this one — about a supernatural serial killer who spreads like an idea, infecting anyone who keeps him alive in their thoughts — might just deliver the goods. It’s the latest from director Stacy Title, whose 1996 murder story THE LAST SUPPER is one of the most entertaining black comedies of the 1990s, and she might still have some tricks up her sleeve.
SPLIT (January 20)
M. Night Shyamalan seems to have given big budgets a miss for a while and settled into smaller, high-concept thrillers where his unusual proclivities can be a selling point instead of a hindrance. It’s a strategy that worked wonders with THE VISIT, and it looks like he might have another hit on his hands with SPLIT — a thriller that stars James McAvoy alongside James McAvoy, James McAvoy, James McAvoy, James McAvoy and James McAvoy. Together they play a man with multiple personality disorder, who kidnaps three teen girls for a sinister purpose. McAvoy is always at his best when he’s unhinged, and Shyamalan is always at his best when he’s surprising us — so SPLIT could be a great collaboration.
RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER (January 27)
The sixth film in Paul W.S. Anderson’s RESIDENT EVIL series is supposed to be the last… but we’ve seen horror sequels called “The Final Chapter” before, and then we’ve seen those sequels keep going for years. (I’m looking at you, Jason.) Regardless, the over-the-top action and nonsensical plotting that fans of the RESIDENT EVIL movie series have come to expect seem to be on the menu once again, with Alice (Milla Jovovich) returning to the source of the zombie infection, Raccoon City, to set things right once and for all.
RINGS (February 3)
Another long-delayed installment in a beloved horror franchise, RINGS is finally coming to theaters this February — or so we’re told — and it looks to be a soft reboot of the supernatural thriller series. Matilda Lutz stars as a woman whose boyfriend falls prey to the haunted videotape (the one that kills you seven days after you watch it), but she also discovers a hidden secret in the tape that nobody has ever noticed before. Hopefully RINGS captures the ominous spirit of the original RINGU, or at least Gore Verbinski’s original remake, and ultimately makes us forgot that this movie was supposed to have come out way back in November 2015.
A CURE FOR WELLNESS (February 17)
Speaking of Gore Verbinski: he has a new thriller coming out in February as well, and it looks like a spooky treat. Dane DeHaan stars as a young executive tasked with retrieving the company CEO from a mysterious health spa in the alps, but it turns out that something very sinister is going on within the clinic’s walls. The trailer promises more of Gore Verbinski’s haunting imagery, and plenty of disturbing revelations. Perhaps A CURE FOR WELLNESS will be the cure for the usual January/February “disappointing movie” blues.
PATIENT ZERO (February 17)
A zombie outbreak (yes, another one) breaks out and this time things are a little different. Matt Smith (DOCTOR WHO) has the ability to speak to the infected, and he begins to delve into their mysterious and dangerous world in a quest to save his wife. It sounds like a riff on Richard Mathson’s I AM LEGEND, but that’s not such a bad thing, and the cast — which also features Natalie Dormer and Stanley Tucci — is just great.
GET OUT (February 24)
From half of KEY & PEELE comes a serious horror thriller, about a young black man (Daniel Kaluuya) who meets his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time, and suspects they’re not only racists but actually engaged in some disturbing practices. GET OUT has the potential to be just be the film we need right now: a mirror to society’s ugly side, and a reminder that we still have a long way to go before we overcome our collective racism. Subtext aside, Jordan Peele’s directing debut looks like a top-notch thriller as well.
KONG: SKULL ISLAND (March 10)
The king is back, and he’s bigger than ever. Seriously, King Kong is huge in SKULL ISLAND — an action movie reboot of the beloved horror/fantasy icon, about a team of soldiers trapped on an island of monsters ruled by a massive ape with a chip on his shoulder. The dynamite cast includes Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman and Brie Larson, and it’s all setting up the inevitable sequel where King Kong fights Godzilla, which is scheduled to come out in 2020.
RAW (March 10)
Julia Ducournau’s horror film about a French vegetarian who becomes a cannibal after enduring a college initiation ritual is one of the most talked-about imports in years. Festival screenings of RAW have been met with such an enthusiastic response that the movie may even be in danger of getting built up too much. Heck, we even hear that some audience members at the Toronto International Film Festival needed medical attention after seeing how graphic RAW got. That’s a selling point for some horror fans — and even the rest of RAW’s potential audience is bound to be pretty curious about it after hearing buzz like that.
THE BELKO EXPERIMENT (March 17)
And you thought you had a bad day at work? The employees at Belko have just learned that the company has injected explosives into their skulls, and that their heads are going to blow up if they don’t kill their co-workers. It’s a rip-roaring concept that evokes classic films like BATTLE ROYALE, and as written by James Gunn (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) and directed by Greg McLean (WOLF CREEK), it promises to be a funny, violent treat.
KEEP WATCHING (March 24)
Bella Thorne continues her quest to be the next great scream queen with this home-invasion thriller in which she plays a teenager matching wits with three psychopaths to keep her family alive. Chandler Riggs (THE WALKING DEAD) co-stars, and so does Leigh Whannell (INSIDIOUS), as one of the maniacs. We don’t know much else about KEEP WATCHING yet, but it’s a solid concept with a great cast — and we’ll certainly keep watching out for it.
SLEIGHT (April 7)
Here’s a fun idea: a down-on-his-luck magician has to use his sleight-of-hand to rescue his kidnapped sister. It sounds like TAKEN meets NOW YOU SEE ME, and that sounds pretty darned cool. Singer/actor Jacob Latimore stars here, in a film we hope has as much prestige as possible.
ALIEN: COVENANT (May 19)
Fans of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN had mixed feelings about the director’s ambitious semi-prequel PROMETHEUS, which tried to answer lingering questions but ended up raising even more, and didn’t even have all that many aliens in it. The follow-up seems to be a step back in the direction of the original series — with a cast of great actors (Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Demian Bichir, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollett, Carmen Ejogo) once again on a spaceship with a malevolent creature. The secrets of ALIEN: COVENANT are still being kept tightly under wraps, but we all want this franchise to return to its former glory, and so far it looks like Ridley’s team is right on track.
ANNABELLE 2 (May 19)
It wasn’t the most celebrated horror movie in recent years, but the killer-doll thriller ANNABELLE — a spin-off of the successful CONJURING series — earned $256 million off a $6.5 million budget. A sequel was inevitable, but at least they’ve got a great director for it: David F. Sandberg, whose eerie mental illness allegory LIGHTS OUT was one of the breakout horror hits of 2016. ANNABELLE 2 refocuses the action on a group of orphans who fall prey to the evil little moppet, but all that really matters is that a creepy doll does creepy things — because everyone loves a good creepy doll movie.
THE MUMMY (June 9)
Before there was the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the DC Extended Universe, there were the Universal Monsters — a series of blockbuster horror films that kept the studio alive during the Great Depression, and in the decades that followed, inspired just about every new horror filmmaker. Well, the monsters are back… and they’re kicking off their latest “shared universe” with THE MUMMY, starring Tom Cruise as a man who comes back from the dead to stop a super-powered mummy set on destroying the world (or something like that). Alex Kurtzman’s film appears to combine the action of the Brendan Fraser MUMMY movies with the gothic sensibilities of the original 1930s versions, and from the first trailer (at least) it looks like an effective blend. Hopefully MUMMY gets the franchise off on the right foot: Universal’s likely got plenty more monster movies in the pipeline, and we don’t want them to suck either.
THE BEGUILED (June 23)
The original Don Siegel thriller THE BEGUILED — about a Confederate soldier (played by Clint Eastwood) who takes refuge at a girl’s boarding school and proceeds to turn all the young ladies against each other — is a ghoulish and impressive film that doesn’t get nearly enough appreciation. So we have high hopes for the remake, written and directed by Oscar-winner Sofia Coppola (LOST IN TRANSLATION), who has assembled an incredible cast for this new version. Colin Farrell stars alongside Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Angourie Rice, in a film that hopefully turns out to be just as vicious and lurid as the original.
THE DARK TOWER (July 28)
Stephen King’s ambitious fantasy epic — about a Gunslinger on the hunt for a Man in Black, the first step on his journey to the title location — has been on Hollywood’s “to do” list for many, many years now. But finally this fan favorite series is coming to life in 2017, courtesy of filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel and stars Idris Elba, as the Gunslinger, and Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black. The new movie actually functions as a sequel as well as a retelling of THE DARK TOWER, but how that works is a bit too complicated to get into here. Suffice it to say Sony has high hopes for this project, which could spawn multiple sequels and a tie-in television series. Only time will tell if the film is good enough to warrant that franchise treatment… but hell, we sure do hope that’s the case!
IT (September 8)
Speaking of Stephen King: the author’s iconic killer clown coming-of-age story IT is finally coming to the big screen, after the beloved 1990 television mini-series starring Tim Curry as Pennywise, the embodiment of childhood fears. Andres Muschietti is directing the new version, which stars Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, haunting children until they learn to overcome their fears, but then never fully going away. It’s an ambitious story for any filmmaker to tackle — there’s a reason it was originally turned into a mini-series, as there’s a lot to unpack here — but we have high hopes. We have to… after all, we’d prefer if IT was great, wouldn’t you?
FLATLINERS (September 29)
Joel Schumacher’s original high-concept thriller was about a team of medical students who bring themselves to the edge of death and then back again, just to find out what happens. Unfortunately, it turned out they all brought their demons back with them, taking the form of their respective personal baggage. The original film’s star, Kiefer Sutherland, is back for the new movie, which will feature Ellen Page and Diego Luna as the ill-advised young medical students who pick up their predecessors’ old habits and, presumably, reap the consequences. The concept for FLATLINERS is still great, damn it, so hopefully this quasi-sequel-reboot takes advantage of the spooky possibilities.
FRIDAY THE 13TH (October 13)
A recurring theme in 2017, at least as far as the horror genre goes, seems to be movies that were delayed for damn near forever. FRIDAY THE 13TH is another one — the 13th installment in the beloved slasher franchise that keeps getting pushed back, switching filmmakers, and now possibly switching owners, if a recent lawsuit pans out that way. The latest installment is currently set to be directed by Breck Eisner (THE CRAZIES), and may possibly be an origin story for Jason Voorhees. Whether that film comes together, we still don’t know, but they’re planning to release the thing on October 13th… and we hope they succeed!
INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 4 (October 20)
The INSIDIOUS series continues… and that’s just about all we know so far about INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 4 right now, except that Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson are back as everyone’s favorite ghost hunters, and Adam Robitel (THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN) is directing the new installment. Presumably Elise, Specs and Tucker will once again find themselves helping a person or family in danger, and once again travel into The Further to save some souls. The first films were hits, and this one will probably hit the same sweet spots that all the INSIDIOUS fans know and love.
CLOVERFIELD (October 27)
The outer space thriller that began its existence as GOD PARTICLE has been renamed CLOVERFIELD — yes, the same as the giant monster movie, and in keeping with this year’s sci-fi shocker 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. This one is about the crew of a space station who are surprised to discover that Earth just isn’t there anymore. Will this finally be the film that ties the CLOVERFIELD movies together? Or will it be the film that confirms they’re all just thematically connected, a de facto franchise, instead of an interrelated series of movies? The answers (maybe) are coming in October.
SAW VIII (October 27)
The eighth SAW movie doesn’t have an official title yet, and we don’t know much about it at all, really… but it’s coming. The Spierig Brothers (PREDESTINATION) are taking over the franchise, and presumably they’ve got a ton of sadistic deathtraps in store for us, what with Jigsaw long, long, long since dead… where do we go from here? Will somebody else take over the mantle? Will this series go in even stranger directions? Gosh, I guess we’ll find out in October!
THE BAD BATCH (TBD)
Ana Lily Amirpour’s follow-up to the acclaimed A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT is an extreme about-face from that quiet thriller. It’s a post-apocalyptic cannibal cult freakout, starring Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey — a violent and trippy film that turned heads at film festivals in 2016 and has been picked up for distribution by Netflix, presumably for 2017. An official release date hasn’t been given yet, but with THE BAD BATCH riding a wave of critical acclaim, it’s only a matter of time.
CHILD’S PLAY 7 (TBD)
CHILD’S PLAY creator Don Mancini has recently been taking to social media to tease the return of killer doll Chucky, with cast members from CURSE OF CHUCKY returning for more deadly toy action. But as of this writing, no official announcements have been made. This series could continue, and given the high turnaround rate of horror thrillers, it could easily come out before the end of 2017. We all love the Chucky franchise, and it’s certainly heartening to see one of the classic slashers still going strong, on its original (and non-rebooted) legs. Go get ‘em, Chucky!
GERALD’S GAME (TBD)
Mike Flanagan (HUSH, OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL) returns with another Stephen King adaptation for 2017 — this time an adaptation of King’s 1992 novel about a woman who winds up handcuffed to the bed after her husband dies in the middle of some kinky sex, trapped with no hope of rescue. Carla Gugino stars in an adaptation that’s been a long time coming, but we’re going to have to wait a little longer. GERALD’S GAME only just finished filming, and Netflix hasn’t announced an official release date yet — although it’s expected sometime in 2017.