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The 10 Most Anticipated Horror Films of 2010

And a look ahead to ’11

Comparing the upcoming year, at the time of this writing, to 2009, the next twelve months look rather anemic. “Constipated” is how one horror director called 2010 when I spoke to him recently. And I see what he means. If you start your search for upcoming titles in our database beginning here, the year is top-heavy until June rolls around and it gets rather quiet. Chalk it up to a weak economy, if you must, and indecisive studios that have pushed some of their bigger guns around the release date map. Nevertheless, I’ve scratched up ten horror films I’m anticipating next year. The Wolfman is a clear choice for me, but that made last year’s cut before Universal shooed it out of ’09. I wanted to keep the list fresh. Also, I wanted to keep a few titles off that I’ve already seen, so there’s a reason Daybreakers is not on here.

10.) Season of the Witch (trailer | poster) / Black Death

• Opens: Black Death (February 26, UK), Season of the Witch (March 19)

• The Dark Ages are here again! Swine flu. World-wide financial stress. An apropos time to reflect on another period of unrest, yes? Both films are linked by the supernatural and the plague, so they can share a very special spot together on this list.

• Token old school vet: Season gets Christopher Lee. Look for David Warner as “The Abbot” in Black.

• Why so excited? As morbid as it sounds, I’m fascinated with films that utilize the plague as a backdrop (Vincent Ward’s The Navigator is an overlooked gem). Compound that with creepy supernatural shenanigans and you’ve got me instantly curious.

Season‘s history in Hollywood has been an arduous one for screenwriter Bragi Schut; the script – while hailed by some insiders – meandered through the industry trenches before it was ordered into production. Sure, it shares its name with an early George Romero film and a Michael Myers-less Halloween sequel, but this has nothing to do with lonely housewives or snake ‘n bug-inducing children’s masks fueled by the power of Stonehenge. Here, Nic Cage plays a knight strapped with the task to deliver a witch – accused of starting the plague – to a remote location to destroy her powers. Ron Perlman (hell yeah!) joins him in the quest.

On the flipside, Black Death concerns a monk and a mercenary who wander into a village where rumors run rampant of a necromancer bringing people back to life. There’s no Cage, but you get Sean Bean (Boromir!) playing a dude named Ulric. The man was made for movies like this.

• Then again… Season director Dominic Sena’s track record isn’t exactly spectacular with Gone in 60 Seconds, Swordfish and, most recently, Whiteout which got plowed at the box office. Chris Smith’s resume is much more promising. Creep was a good start and Severance was even better with its mix of comedy and violence. Haven’t seen Triangle yet, but can he juggle a period piece?

9.) Buried (photos)

• Opens: TBA 2010 (although it will make its premiere at Sundance)

• Star power: Ladies, Ryan Reynolds is in this one. Bare abs exposure is likely.

• Why so excited? The concept, really. Reynolds plays a contractor in Iraq who’s captured and subsequently thrown into a coffin and buried alive. Primal terror and a classic thriller plot device. Chris Sparling’s script was voted high on the yearly industry Black List (which tracks the best unproduced scripts) and Rodrigo Cortés is fresh blood from Spain who has dabbled in features and shorts abroad and is making his U.S. debut with this film. Also, Reynolds has been impressive the last few years.

• Then again… How do you sustain a thriller where your leading man is in a box for 90 minutes? Pepper the story with flashbacks. Advance word tells us the film works in chunks, but I’m willing to give it a shot.

8.) The Violent Kind (photos)

• Opens: TBA 2010 (a Sundance premiere is forthcoming)

• Easy riders! Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores, also known as “The Butcher Bros.,” are back with producers Malek Akkad (of the Halloween family) and Andy Gould (Rob Zombie’s manager). Forget that abysmal April Fool’s Day remake and remember they did The Hamiltons. The siblings return to their indie roots for a tale of bikers and possession.

• Who the f**k is in it? Relative unknowns. Cult film fanatics will be pleased to hear Tiffany Shepis appears in a role called Michelle. Other characters you’ll meet throughout the film? Murderball. Q. Pussywagon. Their parents sure are creative.

• Why so excited? Biker horror movies are a rarity these days. Hell Ride left me with a case of blue balls and the type of headache you’d get from breathing too much exhaust. One epic fail with bikers, but no horror. And it sounds like Rob Zombie’s Tyrannosaurus Rex is still a ways off from happening, so I’ve got my fingers crossed the Butchers can deliver on testosterone, tits and bloodshed – pivotal ingredients to make this film work. Oh, and I’ll take a colorful array of characters, too.

• Then again… The tonal mix might be complete blunder and the aforementioned April Fool’s Day could be an accurate representation of where the Butchers now stand aesthetically. In that case, hope is lost, Christmas cards will never again be sent to the brothers and I’ll return to watching Sons of Anarchy, re-reading “The Nail,” and hoping someone adds some muscle to a Race with the Devil remake.

7.) Piranha 3D (Set Visit part 1 | part 2)

• Opens: April 16, 2010

• A remake of… The Joe Dante-directed, Roger Corman-produced, John Sayles-scripted 1978 Jaws knock-off about ravenous, government-created mutant fish picking off swimmers.

• Why so excited? Behind the camera is French filmmaker Alex Aja who showered us with blood in High Tension, directed The Hills Have Eyes (awesome!) remake and Mirrors (bleh). Aja’s promised a “rollercoaster ride” in 3D with this one. Based on the premise – here, the story is updated so the fish are prehistoric – I wouldn’t go in expecting a cerebral experience. But I do hope for unadulterated carnage and depravity.

• Then again… Aja could be out of his league again. Mirrors was a J-horror-fueled picture that didn’t seem to fit with his sensibility. Now he’s applying himself to a nature-run-amok formula which could do well coupled with his remorseless approach to violence and scares.

6.) My Soul to Take (photos)

• Opens: Spring 2010

• Formerly known as… 25/8, until a line in the film using that term was cut out during post-production rendering the moniker pointless.

• The return of a master of horror: Wes Craven’s first feature since 2005′s Red Eye is also the first script he’s penned since 1994′s New Nightmare.

• What’s it about? Hard to explain, really. I’ve tried a couple of times when the film’s been brought up in conversation. And to be honest, it’s been so long since Craven rolled cameras on the production that it could have easily been altered over the last year. What you need to know is it’s about a serial killer who stalks a small town and vows to return to kill seven children born the night he dies. Flash forward many years later and said tykes are now in their teens.

• Why so excited? It’s Craven! And despite his varied career, he always brings some interesting ideas to the table. Plus, I’m happy to see him getting back in the horror saddle again.

• Then again… Soul has been in the can since 2008. Since then there have been massive re-shoots, test screenings and tinkering – a telling sign of a troubled film.

5.) The Ward

• Opens: TBA 2010

• Finally… John Carpenter put down the Xbox controller, turned off the television and decided to do another film again!

• The last time we saw him do a feature? 2001′s Ghosts of Mars. After that, he directed a pair of Masters of Horror episodes: Cigarette Burns and Pro-Life. Okay, so maybe he needed a break…

• Why so excited? Are you kidding me? It’s John f**kin Carpenter and any fan worth his or her salt should at least be curious as to whatever scare tactics he might have on reserve. This one’s a ghost story set in the ’60s that finds Amber Heard being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. It sounds a bit like Girl, Interrupted and The Devil’s Backbone.

• Then again… Carpenter hasn’t done a decent feature since, arguably, In the Mouth of Madness (that’s just my opinion). Will Ward demonstrate “cashing it in” Carpenter (Village of the Damned), “lazy” Carpenter (Vampires) or “I couldn’t give a damn, I’ll do what I want!” Carpenter (Ghosts of Mars)? Hopefully, none of the above. I’d like to see the man return to form.

4.) Shutter Island (poster | photos | trailer)

• Opens: February 19, 2010

• Token old school vet: Max von Sydow.

• Martin Scorsese does creepy again: Word is, he’s channeling his Cape Fear days in this adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel.

• Why so excited? The man is one of the best and I still keep The Departed within reaching distance for viewing and quoting pleasure. There’s the promise of strong performances from Leonard DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley. And I’ve heard Scorsese has been feverishly working away at the film to make it just right.

Then again… Then again, nothing! Have you seen the trailer? Looking forward to this.

3.) Predators

• Opens: July 7, 2010

• Screw the “Alien”: 20th Century Fox appears to be nixing any plans for another Aliens vs. Predator film by letting the latter species have their fun in the sun with an all-new sequel.

• New hunting terrain: Robert Rodriguez whipped up a Predator sequel for the studio, pre-Sin City and pre-Planet Terror, that was set on the species’ home planet. Deemed too big in budget at the time, the studio set it aside. Now Rodriguez is operating as a producer on the project – which is, indeed, set on the Predator world – and Nimrod Antal is directing with a cast that includes Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Danny Trejo, Laurence Fishburne, Walton Goggins and Alice Braga.

• Why so excited? It’s been nearly two decades since a film has been wholly dedicated to one of cinema’s best extraterrestrial hunters. Early script reviews talk of super Predators, new weapons, new bad-ass characters and various lethal critters that are indigenous to the Predator world. The cast is a break from the norm with Brody and Grace; I can’t wait to see Trejo tussle with a Predator. Also, after the disappointing Predator FX of the AvP pictures, I’m looking forward to seeing KNB EFX step up to the plate.

• Then again… Let’s be honest here. The Aliens formula is being called upon and because the studio has reboot in mind, I’ve got my fingers crossed there won’t be too many familiar beats that echo the first two Predator entries. And as bizarre as that cast is, I’m skeptical about Brody.

2.) Frozen (trailer | photos | poster)

• Opens: February 5, 2010

• Snowbound terror: Adam Green’s Sundance entry follows three 20-somethings stuck on a ski lift at a resort that’s been closed down for a week.

• Think you’ve got it figured out? Think again… The trailer has had would-be survivalists chatting it up on Internet message boards, all positing their theories on how they’d get out of the film’s situation. Green says he’s one step ahead of them and you will, in fact, see some potential escape plans play out. Apparently, the Mythbusters found no proper way out of a stuck ski lift without some major damage being inflicted to one’s body. Yeah, so there.

• Why so excited? Because I dug the hell out of Hatchet and Frozen promises to offer something original. I know little about the plot, at the time of this writing, so my imagination is swimming with the possible directions this film will take. Plus, the trailer impressed the shit out of me.

• Then again… Green struck up a fun balance of jump gags, gore and laughs in Hatchet; Spiral was a bit too somber for my taste. Can he strike the right tonal chord this time? And, just how entertaining can a film be about three kids stuck on a lift?

1.) A Nightmare on Elm Street (teaser poster | photos | trailer)

• Opens: April 30, 2010

• Why, why, oh God, why?! Those are the very words I can hear you uttering now. Platinum Dunes reboots a beloved franchise with a new Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley) and a music video director at the helm (Samuel Bayer).

• Seriously, dude, WHY? Well, I go into detail in this Diabolic Discussion but I know I’m not alone in my curiosity in seeing how this one turns out.

• Then again… Curiosity killed the cat, as they say, er, I’m sure Krueger could come up with a better quip than that. Wes Craven’s not involved. Former New Line head Bob Shaye isn’t either. Reshoots were recently called for after a test screening. And it sure will be strange seeing Krueger skulk about the dreamscape without Robert Englund’s assistance. Enough fodder for the haters to keep on hatin’ before they see it. I’m trying to remain open minded about it. Feel free to assault this column after April 30 rolls around.

The one that got away…

The Cabin in the Woods would have topped this list. MGM, however, opted to push the film from a January 2010 release to January 2011 (?!). Before anxious fans of contributing writer Joss Whedon dropped on bended knee to start praying at their Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly shrines in worry that the year-long delay was due to story problems, the studio issued a statement announcing the move was for the better: Drew (Cloverfield) Goddard’s creature feature was going to embark on the ambitious endeavor of processing it in 3-D. Minus the in-your-face technology, my understanding from those I’ve talked to on the inside about Cabin is that it’s already an impressive picture. My concern is that it wasn’t shot intended for 3-D so will the process really heighten the film’s experience? I’m sure Goddard and Whedon have it worked out.

Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor