Horror fans know it’s all about the anticipation. There are plenty of terrors lurking in 2024, with eerie delights to cater to all kinds of tastes. We’re at a tipping point in the film industry: anything could happen, which is the most exciting time for a genre about thrills. With fewer surefire hits and more intriguing fresh meat, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled (and don’t split up) to catch the best horror movies of the year.
What to expect
It looks gloomy at first glance: horror comes in short waves, and the last one is cresting. Hollywood is wringing the last few bucks out, softening their monsters for the sake of mass appeal. Don’t hold your breath for another big-budget masterpiece like Nope. Jordan Peele’s next feature has been pushed back to 2025, since the WGA and SGA strikes successfully disrupted the major studios’ relentless schedule.
This isn’t the same kind of upheaval it might be for other genres: mainstream horror always lacks bite, and indies like A24 will soon reap the rewards of supporting their talent.
Like every year, there will still be remakes aplenty. The good ones should strike an uncanny note for stories we thought we knew, and the rest will keep the popcorn flowing. Nosferatu and The Crow are both ready for resurrection, especially with Bill Skarsgård in the title roles. It may be ambitious to call him this generation’s Christopher Lee, but in the spirit of anticipation, let’s pencil his name in in.
There’s a new Wolf Man coming from Melbourne’s own Leigh Whannell (Saw, The Conjuring, Upgrade). After his phenomenal take on The Invisible Man in 2020, he may be able to pull it off: werewolf movies are seldom good, but seldom boring.
An unexpected 2024 revival is Witchboard, directed by Chuck Russell (The Mask, The Scorpion King, and the third Nightmare on Elm Street), starring Madison Iseman (Jumanji, Annabelle Comes Home) and Jamie Campbell Bower (expect to see a lot of the Stranger Things cast in 2024). The original was a pulpy mess of lurid 1980s colours and homoerotic subtext.
The trailer promises a dark and eerie tone, but hopefully Russell will bring his signature schlock to the main attraction. Meanwhile, Zelda Williams and Diablo Cody have teamed up for Lisa Frankenstein—exactly what it sounds like, but previews look as substantial as a Dangerfield window display.
Plenty of sequels are slated: look for new instalments of Alien, Terrifier, Smile, X, and Beetlejuice. Keep an eye on the small screen, too: Interview with the Vampire, Stranger Things,, and The Last of Us have new seasons coming. Spin-off shows are still in vogue: Alien, It, Friday the 13th, and The Conjuring plan to follow us home in serialised form.
A seventh Scream movie is unlikely, with the recent departure of the two stars, co-directors, and now the replacement director too . Fortunately, Melissa Berrera is working with co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet on an as-yet-untitled project with Universal – whispers of Dracula is the only hint so far. With Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman all returning, Universal may be attempting another revival of their classic monster ensemble – but it’s a bag they usually fumble.
If they follow the stand-alone formula that worked in the 1930s, then Whannel’s The Invisible Man might be a harbinger of chilling things to come.
The First Omen. Image: 20th Century Studios.
Prequels for The Strangers, A Quiet Place, and The Omen are coming. Knowing the ending isn’t a death knell for a horror movie, so a well-written prequel can cast ominous new shadows over the original stories. The sub-genres of home invasion, post-apocalypse, and Satanic horror are acquired tastes, but they fit the home-oriented horror trend we pinpointed in 2023.
With the big names out of the way, it’s the original offerings that promise real excitement. Night Swim debuts later this week with a winning concept about a haunted swimming pool.
Borrowing generously from classics like Ringu and The Amityville Horror, this might make a splash, or a (belly) flop – either way, there will be puns. Two more January hopefuls launch at Sundance Film Festival: I Saw the TV Glow and Your Monster.
The former comes from indie powerhouse A24, with Jane Schoenbrun directing, so expect some mind-bending meta-horror. Your Monster is a feature debut for Caroline Lindy, and stars Melissa Berrera in a fairytale monster romance. Meanwhile, Blumhouse is betting on a scare-bear fad after Five Nights At Freddys with Imaginary, about a haunted toy.
2024 may bring a fresh season of folk horror . There’s a heavy lineup of occult and folkish monsters on the bill: The Watchers (Ishana Shyamalan), The Origin (Andrew Cumming), and Horrorscope (Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg) accompany the witches, demons, and beasties creeping out of the big studios.
It’s not necessarily a fantastical departure from the grounded, house-based horror that defined early-pandemic horror: after being housebound for a few years, our roots are growing deep and twisted. Familiarity and tradition aren’t always comforting. If plagues are back in style, why not witches and goblins too?
Despite all the prophecies, the best kind of horror is always unpredictable: not just from the movie monsters, but sleeper hits coming out of indie studios, distant cultures, and newcomer directors. This is where you discover filmmakers who are willing to push the envelope and make something that’s sharp, raw, and shocking, which is exactly what the genre needs.
I have no doubt the most interesting horror movie won’t be on anyone’s list yet – it will creep up on us and spring out right when we least expect it. The genre is all about fresh blood.