Dead of winter: 10 horror movies to see at the theater this season

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Jun 16, 2017, 9:34 PM EDT (Updated)

The beginning of the year is a bit of a dumping ground for horror movies. That doesn't mean they'll be bad, it just means the studios don't know what to do with them. And even if they're all absolute garbage, it's still a fun time to be a horror fan.

So here's what I was thinking -- I'm going to watch every theatrical horror release from now until, oh, let's say the end of April. It's the perfect excuse to hunker down in a quiet theater before all the big-budget popcorn flicks invade. And since I'm willing to bet some of you might be interested in doing the same, I'm including a list of everything I'm going to go see.

When all the movies are out and watched, I'll come back and rank them from worst to best. Sound fun? Sure it does. But first, on to the list!

And if I've missed something, let me know.


The Forest - January 8

Sara Price's twin sister has gone missing. That's not great. Did I mention she apparently disappeared in the Aokigahara Forest? It's a nice little picnic spot at the base of Mount Fuji you might wanna check out -- if you're thinking about committing suicicde. 

A little haunted forest, a little J-horror, a little Natalie Dormer. Sure, some people are offended by the appropriation of Japanese culture, and it's got a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes, but keep two things in mind here:

1) Sometimes offensive things are also enjoyable things.

2) Horror movies are rarely critically well-received.

One thing -- if you want to see this one, you'd better jump on it. I expect most theaters will be out of The Forest within the next few weeks.


The Boy - January 22

Oh, hi, Lauren Cohen fans! Looking for something to do while you wait for The Walking Dead? How do you feel about creepy dolls? You love 'em? Well, bless ya, who doesn't! And, good news, Cohen's in a movie about exactly that.

The Boy is Annabelle meets Gremlins. An American nanny (Cohen) is hired to care for a family's little boy when it turns out, duhn duhn DUHN, the little boy is actually a super creepy doll.

Easy peasy, she watches the doll, collects some fast cash, and quits the joint -- THE END. Or, since this is a horror movie, the kid comes with a list of things you absolutely must never ever do under any circumstances, which Cohen refuses to follow because YOLO, and then $#%! gets real.

It sounds silly, it probably is silly, but who could say no to that face?


The Witch - February 19

2014 had The Babadook, and 2015 had It Follows. 2016's critical horror darling is almost definitely going to be The Witch. In fact, it's already soaked in the praise of everyone who's seen it on the festival circuit. But all you really need to know is that it's about a family in the 1630s beset by the darkness of witchcraft and black magic. And it doesn't take much to tear a family apart, turn them against each other and uproot every strand of sanity.

Also, The Witch just looks gorgeous. If you're looking for the horror movie all your art house friends will actuallly go see with you, this is probably gonna be it.


10 Cloverfield Lane

The movie no one even knew existed -- except for the people who did. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a contender for best trailer of 2016, but what do we know about the movie? Nothing. It's got Cloverfield in the title, but that isn't a guarantee that this is a sequel to the movie of the same name. It's got John Goodman getting all angry in a bunker -- but why is he in that bunker? Again, we just don't know.

What I can tell you is that, out of nowhere, this has become the movie everyone is talking about. So it's either going to be the runaway surprise hit of the year, or it's gonna be Snakes on a Plane.

Either way, you probably have at least one friend who is going to insist on dragging everyone they know to see it.


The Other Side of the Door - March 11

Once you go horror, you'll never go farther. Walking Dead alum Sarah Wayne Callies may be working the new sci-fi series Colony right now, but that doesn't mean she's out of the scaring game. The Other Side of the Door sees her playing a grieving mother who will do anything to say goodbye to her dead son one last time. Good thing there's an ancient temple that can provide just the closure she needs.

Just one catch -- there's a door in the temple which must never ever be opened. Guess what happens?


The Disappointments Room - March 25

Out of the evil-ish temple and into a haunted-ish attic. Ain't that always the way? The Disappointments Room is about a mother and her son releasing something(?) from the attic of their rural home. That home is on Elm Street (no relation) and is supposedly based on true events. On the one hand, the word "disappointment" is in the title, the jokes of which sort of write themselves. On the other hand, the script was penned by Wentworth Miller, a.k.a. Captain Cold. And, hey -- he's provided plenty of entertainment to we unwashed masses, so who can say? Maybe something very cool will come out of that Elm Street attic.


Rings - April 1

Remember The Ring? Watch a video, die seven days later? Yeah? Ringing (get it) a bell? It was pretty good, right? Remember The Ring 2? Yeah, me neither.

The Ring (Ringu, if you're nasty) has come in many forms, and each incarnation takes the original idea in a different direction. The original book series, for example, goes to a very hard sci-fi place that's actually pretty neat -- just not easy to translate to film.

Rings (which was originally titled Ring 3D) is set to return to the American incarnation. Originally rumored to be a prequel, Rings is set 13 years after the events of the original. A group of high school kids wind up seeing a very familiar video tape and now have to figure out what to do.

Sounds like a retread. Probably a retread. But there is something fundamentally different about having younger people deal with Samara's wrath. So much of the original American adaptation is about motherhood and how terrifying it can be. This third film obviously won't be about that. Hopefully that means, with a younger cast, we'll see a desconstruction of identity and focus on the challenges of not knowing what you want or where you're going.

Or it could just be teens screaming a lot. And considering the multiple rewrites, the delay until April and the fact that there isn't even a trailer for a movie due out in about two months, we can probably all guess how Rings is going to turn out.


Amityville: The Awakening - April 1

Can you believe this will be the fourteenth Amityville movie? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but who would've guessed Amityville would wind up being so prolific.

Anyway, there's a lot going on in this one, so allow me to cheat a little and just give you the official synopsis:

"Belle, her little sister, and her comatose twin brother move into a new house with their single mother Joan in order to save money to help pay for her brother’s expensive healthcare. But when strange phenomena begin to occur in the house including the miraculous recovery of her brother, Belle begins to suspect her Mother isn’t telling her everything and soon realizes they just moved into the infamous Amityville house."

I can't imagine this film, being fourteen deep in the hole, is going to obsess too much on the Amityville lore, but I'm not sure I'd call that a bad thing. Plus, it stars Cameron Monaghan as a creepy comatose kid. Having seen him be the incredibly creepy not-quite-Joker on Gotham, I have every faith Monaghan will excel at creepy in this movie.


Before I Wake - April 8

Originally set for a summer 2015 release, Before I Wake is about Cody, a foster kid, who has a very singular talent -- whenever he dreams, the things in his mind manifest in the real world. Cute, if he's dreaming of butterflies -- less cute if he's having a nightmare. Cody seems to effectively be his own Freddy Kreuger. And it's up to him and his new foster parents to figure out why all this is happening.


Green Room - April 15

Patrick Stewart plays the leader of a deadly White Supremicist group that's trying to kill a punk band. I mean, I'll talk about Green Room a little more, but I'm not sure I need to, on account of that already sounds incredible. And, if you've been paying attention, the film has been almost universally praised during every festival at which it's been shown.

Stewart isn't the only Trek alum in Green Room, though. New Coke Chekov, Anton Yelchin, stars as one of the punk rockers who must try to survive against the White Supremicist onslaught. Yelchin is no stranger to horror, having also starred in the surprisingly enjoyable remake to Fright Night.

Once again -- punk rock vs. White Supremicists. What more do you need to know?