FANGORIA’s Petrifying Predictions for Horror in 2016!Home,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
In the years since 2013, in which films such as THE PURGE, THE CONJURING, INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2, MAMA, EVIL DEAD and WORLD WAR Z surged at the box office, the horror genre has become quite erratic and unpredictable. While each year has had their fair share of successes, the genre has certainly seemed to struggle in a place in the zeitgeist as dwindling budgets and a shifting media landscape have changed what fright fans will consume as well as how they’ll consume it. However, with 2016 dead ahead of us all, FANGORIA is looking upon the past, present and future of the genre to offer our predictions for the next year in horror…
Fortune Favors The Bold
Numbers don’t lie, and when it comes to numbers, Blumhouse Productions has been synonymous with theatrical horror in the past few years. Creating and acquiring content at a fraction of the cost of their competitors, Blumhouse has made serious coin on an international scale. With over 10 releases this year, 3 TV series in production and a brand new website (headed by former FANGO staffer Rebekah McKendry), Blumhouse’s grip on the genre became stronger than ever in 2015. However, with several entities strengthening their genre presence, there are several new players on the field who could give BH a run for scare supremacy.
FANGORIA feels that 2016 is definitely going to be the year for A24 to become a definitive player in the horror business, giving bold festival titles in the genre a wide release platform any other distributor would balk at. The trailer for A24’s THE WITCH has been dropping jaws across cineplexes and, shockingly, seems to resonate with younger audiences who frequent the likes of THE VISIT. With their docket also including Jeremy Saulnier’s GREEN ROOM, Osgood Perkins’ FEBRUARY and Bryan Bertino’s THERE ARE MONSTERS, A24 could very well hit a chord with genre audiences in 2016, as long as the results are closer to EX MACHINA than TUSK or LIFE AFTER BETH.
The other serious contender is STX Entertainment, who broke onto the scene in 2015 with the Blumhouse-produced THE GIFT. Aimed at providing mid-range budget, genre-friendly content, STX’s THE BOY looks to be one of the most anticipated terror titles of 2016, with THE BYE BYE MAN and the bloody POV action flick HARDCORE expected to land this year as well. STX’s advantage may be in their potential for crossover; while A24’s titles are strictly R-rated, STX has no problem exploring PG-13 frights that look and feel bigger than what casual audiences are usually spoonfed.
Blast from the Past
One of the problems with 2015’s horror output is that the haunted house film officially fell out of the limelight. With found footage screeching its final death knell, ghost stories couldn’t find the audience support that the subgenre has previously roused up in recent years; hell, even this year’s most buzzed about title, IT FOLLOWS, took a ghost story and refashioned it into the slasher format. So now eyes are on what horror subgenre will take the top spot in the world of pop culture, and it seems that the most likely champions may prove how history repeats itself.
On one hand, FANGORIA feels the strongest chance may be the return of J-Horror, which has more-or-less been dormant in the Hollywood scene for nearly a decade. But with the upcoming release of THE FOREST and RINGS as well as the presence of technology only growing among millennials, J-Horror appears to be in prime position to enter the horror zeitgeist. And if the former title is a success, perhaps the genre will see more bigger-budget spins on Japanese mythology as opposed to the standard Yurei stories of J-Horror past.
On the other hand, the independent side of the genre seems to be swinging from minimalist monster movies towards slasher fare. SOME KIND OF HATE, MOST LIKELY TO DIE, DEAD BODY, THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN and, to an extent, IT FOLLOWS showed a different spin on the slasher subgenre whilst taking it back to its roots. And seeing that slashers have a life cycle in the horror world that works a bit more rapidly than, say, Gothic horror, the subgenre might finally work its way back into the studio system in 2016.
Streaming for Vengeance
Although AMERICAN HORROR STORY and THE WALKING DEAD continue to rock in the ratings, several horror series saw their end in 2015, including HANNIBAL, HEMLOCK GROVE, CONSTANTINE and THE FOLLOWING while others either squeaked by (PENNY DREADFUL, SCREAM: THE TV SERIES) or were given a definitive end date (THE STRAIN, BATES MOTEL). However, with many more horror series on the way in 2016 including THE X-FILES, PREACHER, DAMIEN and TREMORS, television is still a growing albeit volatile medium for the genre. Yet who knows if AMERICAN HORROR STORY, THE WALKING DEAD or myriad horror titles would have become the cultural phenomenons they are today if it were not for streaming services.
Now that services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are all getting into the groove of producing original content, FANGORIA believes 2016 will be the year these services capitalize on horror series production, elevating themselves on the faults and drawbacks of broadcast and cable television. Though Netflix quickly found a replacement for HEMLOCK GROVE in the commissioning of BLACK MIRROR’s third season, the lack of rating restrictions, the appeal of a built-in audience and the relatively low cost of producing horror will give incentive for talent in the genre to move away from the extremely uneven world of network horror and towards the increasingly secular nature of cord-cutters. Furthermore, with talent like Nicolas Winding Refn and event series like 11/22/63 being fitted for streaming services, there’s a good chance that these relationships could build to give a platform for more transgressive content from the associated collaborators that even the most relaxed standards of cable couldn’t provide.
However, there are a pair of variables that could certainly expedite this prediction: Shudder and CryptTV. With the former now establishing their name as a dependable and diverse horror streaming service (curated expertly by former FANGO staffer Sam Zimmerman), it’s only a matter of time before Shudder gets into original acquisitions and productions of their own, especially considering their taste-based algorithms could help narrow down their audience’s tastes easier than more massive services. Meanwhile, the latter is building a devoted audience and rallying fantastic talent to create short form content, and should CryptTV take the next step into longer-form content and Roku/Smart-TV compatibility, they could be to Hulu what Shudder is to Netflix.
Conventions, Festivals and Walkthroughs, Oh My!
If there’s anything this writer has learned from the past year of social media exchanges, it’s that fans are just not satisfied with what studios are offering to the multiplexes in terms of fright fare. Are there exceptions? Absolutely; after all, KRAMPUS and THE VISIT both were crowdpleasers that could literally be found at a theater near you. But more often than not, the horror fan experience has shifted from the auditoriums to something much more interactive, and in the current absence of virtual reality, immersive experiences have become instantly accessible to casual horror fans by proxy.
FANGORIA believes that 2016 will bring a critical mass in the interactive horror experience, with conventions, film festivals and haunted attractions going to unique new places to up their game among the growing competition. On the convention scene, expect more conventions to offer walkthrough and immersive theater experiences to help keep the interest of those who can’t get on the 4-hour line to meet their favorite horror icons; THE WALKING DEAD EXPERIENCE proved to be a viable and exhilarating option to those who have already had their fill of panels, shopping and meet-and-greets at NJ’s Walker Stalker Con. And with attendance only rising for these fan conventions, haunt experts and creative directors can find a never-before-seen commercial viability in taking their trade on the road.
As for film festivals, the increase in regional festivals will see more events cut from the cloth of Fantastic Fest and Stanley Film Festival in terms of programming variety. While some festivals are already adopting this mentality, such as Mile High Horror and LA’s Beyond Fest, live programming, stage productions and unique sideshows help create an environment that not only feels different but communal in nature. And though more traditional festivals like Cannes may be slower to the draw, one might have not guessed Sundance would ever cater to the horror audience and yet here we are.
Out of all the horror films released into theaters in 2015, only four were sequels, a curiously low number for a genre that is so known for churning out chapters of intellectual property on a regular basis. 2016 looks to course correct the genre back into sequel territory, and FANGORIA predicts that not only will 2016 be heavy in sequel releases but announcements and surprises regarding cinematic genre greats.
From what’s already known to horror fans, 2016 will be home for new films from multiple franchises, including AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING, THE CONJURING 2: THE ENFIELD POLTERGEIST, THE PURGE 3, RINGS, OUIJA 2 and UNDERWORLD: NEXT GENERATION as well as potential shared universe titles such as THE MUMMY and YOGA HOSERS. Meanwhile, there are plenty of horror follow-ups in the works as well that could potentially drop in the next calendar year, such as HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS 2 and LEATHERFACE, as well as the many films that sit in development hell or are being made under the radar. And while many reboots and sequels are finding their way onto the small screen, the sheer amount of working filmmakers in the horror genre these days are going to attract many a rights holder to bring their properties back from the dead.
However, there are two sequels in particular in which horror hounds should keep an eye out for in 2016: PHANTASM V and TRICK ‘R TREAT 2. While the latter is merely in the early developmental stages, the success of KRAMPUS paired with the now-vacant Halloween spot once occupied by the SAW and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films could send the film to theaters earlier than expected. Meanwhile, PHANTASM V: RAVAGER was delayed for Coscarelli to focus on J.J. Abrams’ 4K restoration of the original film, but nevertheless, all signs point to RAVAGER as seeing the light of day in one way or another in 2016.