New year for some might mean turning over a new leaf or perhaps finally giving up coffee, but for horror fans it's all about the best upcoming horror movies ringing in the next 365 days of fear. Given the financial success of A Quiet Place and Halloween scares are well and truly back in business for Hollywood. Helpfully, this means our list of the most exciting upcoming horror movies has never looked better. Now is the time to get these terrifying dates in your cinematic calendar and, like a shark-infested underwater cave when someone cuts their leg, it's filling up fast with frights.
Not only do we have two Stephen King adaptations on the way in the shape of Pet Sematary and It: Chapter 2, Happy Death Day has a gloriously hilarious horror sequel arriving on Valentine's Day, and Superman gone wrong horror Brightburn from Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn is arriving in May. There's even a blood smear to add to your 2020 calendar with Jordan Peele's Candyman. What are you waiting for? It's time to get your tickets booked for the most anticipated upcoming horror movies of next year.
- The most anticipated upcoming movies (no matter what the genre) of 2018 and beyond
- The 25 best movies of 2018 (so far)
- The best horror movies to haunt your nightmares
Happy Death Day 2U
Release date: February 14, 2019
What could be a better Valentine’s Day present than a trip to see the sequel to the hilariously comic horror Happy Death Day? Find yourself the right horror partner and perhaps nothing. In brilliant news, Jessica Rothe is returning for the follow up to the murderous Groundhog Day. If you missed the original, the concept is simple. A sorority girl gets stuck in a time loop where she’s murdered and repeats the day over and over again with the same memories. It’s a gory, dark delight with a hilarious central performance from Rothe as she relives the same violent day on campus.
Thankfully, as fun as it would be, we won’t be treading old bloodied ground for the follow up. “Chris has done this incredible thing where the sequel, the way he described it to me, elevates the movie from being a horror movie – and I wouldn’t even say it’s just a horror movie because it’s a horror, comedy, rom-com drama – into a Back to the Future type of genre film where the sequel joins us right from where we left off,” Rothe told Collider earlier this year. “It explains a lot of things in the first one that didn’t get explained, and it elevates everything.” Depending on how excited you are, you can just reread that quote over and over. How do you break the loop, you ask? By going onto the next entry…
Release date: March 15, 2019
It’s rare that we know so little about a movie before it’s released but this “new nightmare from the mind of Academy Award winner Jordan Peele” is positively shrouded in mystery. Just like Get Out, Us is apparently another ‘social horror thriller’ but no-one, especially Peele himself, is revealing much. The cast includes Lupita Nyonhg’o, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Black Panther’s Winston Duke, and Elizabeth Moss and even they are remaining tight lipped on the premise.
“All I can kind of say is, I’m obviously a huge fan of Get Out, as is the rest of the world, and I think this movie’s gonna be really good,” Moss has said in an interview with Indiewire. “I just think it’s gonna be good. It’s just gonna be really good, and that’s it. It’s true to what Jordan wants to make, which are these thought-provoking popcorn movies.” Get Out breaking into Oscar territory was much deserved for Jordan Peele. Us isn’t a sequel in any way but it’s going to be chilling to find out what’s next.
Release date: April 5, 2019
We must have prayed to all the right gods to get two Stephen King adaptations in one year. The grim Pet Sematary is one of the horror maestro's seminal texts and given that the 1989 movie is still ingrained in the minds of a certain generation - oooh, that bit with the Achilles tendon - this new version has big scary shoes to fill. From the directors of Starry Eyes and the Scream TV series, Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmeyer, this will once again tell the story of a family leaving the big city behind and moving to the country to start a new life. They just happen to have started that new life within walking distance of a burial ground that resurrects the dead. It is a King book, remember?
Official images mean that we’ve already caught a glimpse of the family cat, Church, after he’s been to meet his maker and still decided to come back for more Dreamies. There’s something distinctly unnerving about just this one undead cat picture and you know so much worse is waiting in the wings. The Crown (and everything else’s) John Lithgow has been cast as the family neighbour Jud Crandall, while Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz star as Louis and Rachel Creed. Hopefully this can follow in It’s footsteps and deliver another terrifying King story. The source material is still painfully relevant. After all, how far would any of us be willing to go to see someone we love again? Maybe don’t answer that…
Read more: The 20 best Stephen King movies you need to see (but can't unsee)
The Curse of La Llorona
Release date: April 19, 2019
Ready for a bedtime story? Well, once upon a time, a ghost of a woman who lost her children caused misery wherever she went because she kept trying to steal other people’s offspring. The end. I’ll turn the light out, shall I? A particularly creepy slice of Mexican folklore is the inspiration for this James Wan-produced slice of horror. From director Michael Chaves, clearly warming up his horror muscles before starting work on the Conjuring 3, The Curse of La Llorona follows a young social worker as she and her children are hunted by the so-called Weeping Woman.
An extended sequence of prolonged child terror in the trailer hints at exactly the horrors to come here and while there’s some staple Wan-style jump scares, what lurks behind them is certainly creepy enough to haunt your nightmares. Dislocated gaping jaw anyone? A chunk of the movie was shown at San Diego Comic Con 2018 and played well to the horror crowd so, you never know, we might even be crying out for a sequel.
Release date: May 24, 2019
What if Superman wasn’t Superman? What if little Clark Kent landed on earth not to use his powers for good but for a darker purpose, and whatever his adopted parents did to stop him, he was naturally drawn to much more grim pursuits? Well, say hello to Brightburn. Dubbed a ‘superhero horror’, which can be bundled in nicely with 2019’s The New Mutants, Brightburn is produced by Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn and looks deliciously dark. Elizabeth Banks and The Office’s David Denman star as the problem child’s new parents and clearly can’t do anything to control the evidently more violent pursuits of their ultra-powerful murderous offspring. This is when Supernanny just won’t quite cut it.
The Brightburn trailer absolutely revels in this upside down Superman concept with the young teenager seen scrawling endless repeated shapes before a glimpse of him in full flight and murdering a waitress after breaking through a metal door with his laser eyes. We’ve spent so long with superheroes just overflowing with morals and faraway looks in their eyes as they wrestle do-gooding demons so it’s about time things got really nasty. Not even waiting until super pipsqueak is fully grown makes this even better. One to watch out for.
Read more: The 25 best superhero movies worthy of a true believer
Release date: June 21, 2019
Fancy an alternative to Toy Story 4? Yep, ironically, the doll-packed reboot of the infamous Child’s Play franchise is out on the same day as Pixar’s sequel. Just don’t expect any sentient sporks or fuzzy feelings here. Controversially, despite original Child’s Play writer Don Mancini directing the recent Cult of Chucky and Curse of Chucky movies, he has had nothing to do with this new entry from MGM. Instead, Norwegian director Lars Klevberg is in control as a new modernised version of Chucky hits shelves.
Rumour has it that while the lead characters will remain the same - with Parks and Rec’s Aubrey Plaza as Karen Barclay, mother of Andy - Chucky’s origins story will be different. Instead of a serial killer popping himself into a Good Guy doll to save himself from death, this ‘Buddi’ doll (as revealed on the poster) is apparently reprogrammed by a factory worker to have no limitations. It definitely makes sense 30 years on to have a more modern toy, and hopefully this new origins story can take Chucky firmly back into horror territory after some seriously questionable sequels. And don’t worry, Don Mancini is still heading up a Chucky TV series so it’s not all bad news.
Release date: June 21, 2019
And if neither Toy Story 4 or Child’s Play is floating your paper boat then perhaps you feel like watching another Ju-On: The Grudge. Also released on June 21, this will be the, wait for it, twelfth Grudge movie since the release of the Japanese original back in 2002. Hey, maybe it’ll be nice to hear that awful inward groaning noise again. The brilliant news here is that Insidious legend Lin Shaye is on board as well as Glow’s Betty Gilpin and The Exorcist’s John Cho.
Rather than a reboot of any of the original movies from Takashi Shimizu this new version will tell a slightly different tale. Director Nicolas Pesce, known for The Eyes of my Mother, will be telling a fresh story but still holding onto some of the mythology of the originals. “We’re not approaching this as a remake of the Sarah Michelle Gellar film or a remake of the Ju-On film,” new writer Jeff Buhler told Bloody Disgusting. “This is pushing the mythology forward while keeping the concepts and spirit of those movies, yet finding a new way to tell a story within that world, which is exciting.” All joking aside, if this new house is anything like the old one, you can absolutely go first. No, I insist.
47 Meters Down: The Next Chapter
Release date: June 28, 2019
I know, chums, I can hear you screaming that it should be 48 Meters Down all the way from the safety of this underwater cage. The original title to this sharky follow up was in fact going to be just that but something has clearly changed along the way as director Johannes Roberts takes us back down where it’s wetter with a whole new set of Happy Meals on legs. Starring Mandy Moore and Claire Holt, the original made waves of cash but now that they’re lunch, it’s time for some more very pretty people to get eaten by Jaws wannabes.
While it’s not quite as much fun as The Shallows, 47 Meters Down is still a suitably tense underwater horrorfest as enormous teeth meet perilously soft human flesh. More of the same for The Next Chapter will be absolutely ideal and Roberts has proven he can crank up tension to unbearable levels with the recent Strangers: Prey at Night. This time the fin-filled action moves to Brazil as five backpackers who are diving down to a ruined underwater city ‘quickly learn they are not alone in the submerged caves.’ Hello, sharp teeth, limited oxygen, and a hefty dollop of claustrophobia. Yay?
The New Mutants
Release date: August 2, 2019
It’s been moved around the release calendar like an X-Men themed chess piece but The New Mutants is finally slated for an August 2019 release date. It’s been disappointing to watch it further and further delayed as this blend of superheroics and horror looks far too intriguing to have to wait for. Starring a whole new - yes, hence the title - set of teenagers, each with their own mysterious powers, the trailers we’ve seen so far have promised a far darker twist than any X-Men movie that’s come before.
It turns out that it’s definitely not all sweetness and light having abilities that people want to harness you for like a AA Battery, and there’s a clear horror heart beating here. Starring Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, The Witch’s Anya Taylor Joy, and Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton, the original trailers look like an escape movie as the mutants attempt to flee a secret testing facility but it’s unknown how much will change before release. Adamantium claws crossed that the horror hasn’t been dialled down.
It: Chapter 2
Release date: September 6, 2019
Despite seemingly sending the many-faced monster back into the abyss, The Losers Club, like Thanos, will, of course, return. If you’re aware of King’s horror tome, you’ll know that half of the book is dedicated to Beverley, Bill, and co. 27 years on as they return to Derry to vanquish Pennywise once and for all. Director Andres Muschietti didn’t want to to muddy the first movie with flashbacks and instead focussed on telling a coming of age story but with more monsters. It: Chapter 2 though will introduce the very grown up losers.
Here’s where things get really exciting. The full It 2 cast has been revealed and if you think there’s anyone more perfect for Beverley than Jessica Chastain, we point blank refuse to even hand you a flashlight before we kick you into Derry’s sewers. Other exciting casting decisions include James McAvoy as Bill, and Bill Hader as Richie. Don’t worry though, unlike the first movie, we will be flashing back to the ‘80s occasionally as the kids are still an important part of the story. Given the necessary humour that lurked among the disembodied arms, that’s probably a very good idea.
Read more: 6 questions It: Chapter 2 has to answer
Release date: October 11, 2019
Yep, a whole decade after its original Twinkie-hunting release, Zombieland is getting a sequel. And of course it counts as horror movie. There are brains to eat, after all. Thankfully this isn’t just a quick cash grab as the full original writing and directing team are back for Zombieland 2. Ruben Fleischer, also responsible for next year’s Venom, is back at the helm with Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese on script duties. Wernick and Reese have worked on both Deadpool and Deadpool 2 since the original so expect a seriously sharp script after the pair have honed their craft with Wade Wilson’s sharp tongue. Well, that doesn’t sound right at all.
Anyway…. the full cast is returning too. Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin are all back for the zombie apocalypse. Plotwise, according to the official announcement, Zombieland 2 will "once again put the focus on comic mayhem, taking the quartet from the White House to the American heartland as they face off against new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors.” We’ll have to wait and see if this includes a rumoured love interest for the dough-hungry Tallahassee, and a return for Bill Murray. They didn’t Double Tap him after all...
Read more: The 25 best zombie movies that will turn you veggie
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Release date: TBC 2019
It’s always very exciting when Guillermo del Toro actually gets to finally make something he really wants to instead of yet another potentially magnificent screenplay sitting in a layer of tentacled development hell. Well, not only is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark based on a series of '80s books of the same name from Alvin Schwartz that fuelled the nightmares of multiple generations of children, it’s also already started filming. Praise the Lovecraftian gods for camera men on Twitter. While del Toro has written the script here, directing duties are in the safely terrifying hands of Andre Ovredal, the man responsible for the enjoyably creepy The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and Norwegian found-footage delight Trollhunter.
The books themselves are almost mythically terrifying and were accompanied by horrific illustrations that have now been replaced with slightly less disturbing imagery to try and prevent mental scarring. Is the Red Spot your favourite? Where a zit on a girl’s face grows worse and worse until it pops spiders all over her? Or perhaps it’s the retelling of the classic urban legend of a murderer on Lover’s Lane in The Hook? The movie will be weaving plenty of the stories together, following a group of teenagers as they try and solve a series of macabre murders taking place in their small town. It sounds like a perfect* way to get as many of the grim tales in there as possible.
Release date: June 12, 2020
You know the rules. Say the name five times in a mirror and a Jordan Peele produced version of the almost mythical horror Candyman will appear in front of you. Woohoo! It’s not even started shooting yet but this ‘spiritual successor’ - horror loves that word right now - to the 1982 original tour de force of a slasher will be directed by Nia DaCosta and out in 2020. This is another perfect horror project for Get Out director Jordan Peele. “The original was a landmark film for black representation in the horror genre,” he says in a statement revealing the news. “Alongside Night of the Living Dead, Candyman was a major inspiration for me as filmmaker — and to have a bold new talent like Nia at the helm of this project is truly exciting. We are honored to bring the next chapter in the Candyman canon to life and eager to provide new audiences with an entry point to Clive Barker’s legend.” We don’t know much more as yet but we should probably beeware.