2016 horror films you need to see

These are the 25 must-see horror films in 2016

The Witch 1

We’re barely a week into the new year and we’re already thrilled about the incredible crop of horror films coming our way. With movies like It Follows, Nina Forever, and Crimson Peak, 2015 was a banner year for the genre, and 2016 looks to be just as strong.

So, from the big-budget sequels and prequels to the no-holds-barred indie shockers, let’s shine a light on 25 of the horror films that you need in your life in 2016.

The movies with the confirmed UK release dates come first, and there’s a lot that we’re really hoping make it to our screens in the near future.

BONE TOMAHAWK
UK release:19 February
Kurt Russell leads S Craig Zahler’s brutal horror western as the leader of a small band of men who head into the wilderness to rescue a man and a woman from a troglodytic band of Native American cannibals. It’s a slow-burner but when it hits, sweet Jesus, it hits hard. Like, Jack Ketchum hard. The excellent cast includes Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Lili Simmons, David Arquette and the great Richard Jenkins, who absolutely steals the film as Russell’s back-up deputy. Grim, gory and pretty bloody powerful.

goodnight mommy

GOODNIGHT MOMMY
UK release: 4 March
It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for this hotly buzzed Austrian horror to come out, and it’s FINALLY hitting the UK in March thanks to Vertigo Releasing. The chilly tale is the story of a pair of twins who begin to suspect that the heavily bandaged woman in their home isn’t actually their mother, and they begin to put that theory to the test. We can’t wait to see it.

the witch

THE WITCH
UK release: 11 March
Riding on the kind of festival buzz that gets reserved for the really special indie horrors like The Babadook and It Follows, Robert Eggers’ debut is a meticulously crafted and beautifully atmospheric story of witchcraft in New England. A family facing the harsh realities of life in the wilderness begin to think that a witch may be responsible for their terrible fortune, but who is the one responsible for letting the devil in? It’s very, very good. (Read our review here).

HIGH-RISE
UK release: 18 March
Ben Wheatley’s star-studded adaptation of JG Ballard’s caustic satire has divided audiences on the festival circuit but we were big fans of this darkly funny and devilishly stylish dark comedy. Tom Hiddleston leads as Dr Robert Laing, who realises that the inhabitants of his tower block are beginning to form factions. It won’t be long before the civilised veneer cracks and these animals run riot…Elisabeth Moss, Luke Evans, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Reece Shearsmith also star. (Read our review here)

Green Room

GREEN ROOM
UK release: 13 May
We caught the latest film from Blue Ruin writer-director Jeremy Saulnier at the London Film Festival and we’ve just about recovered. It’s a brutal survival horror centred around a young punk band who find themselves trapped in the green room of a right wing bar after witnessing a murder. Saulnier cruelly makes you really like the band (Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole and Callum Turner) before he subjects them to all sorts of horrible things courtesy of Patrick Stewart’s softly spoken neo-Nazi leader. It’s gripping, stomach-turning stuff and you’ve got to see it. (Read our review here)

The Conjuring

THE CONJURING 2: THE ENFIELD POLTERGEIST
UK release: 17 June
After claiming that he was retiring from horror, James Wan has walked that statement back a little for the sequel to 2013’s hand-clapping, painting-shaking possession horror. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as Lorraine and Ed Warren, who cross the Atlantic to investigate the Enfield poltergeist. Fingers crossed that Wan and company can recreate the highly entertaining scares of the first, and that we don’t have to suffer through too many clichéd ideas of what English people sound like and eat and such.

The monster from the Lights Out short
The monster from the Lights Out short

LIGHTS OUT
UK release: 9 September
David F Sanberg adapts his deeply creepy short Lights Out to feature length in his feature debut, about a woman who “is haunted by a creature who only appears when the lights go out.” James Wan is on “big name producer” duties, while Warm Bodies’ Teresa Palmer takes the lead. Turning a short into a full film can be a risky business (remember how Mama struggled to really work?) but we’re willing to give this a shot. It can’t be any worse than Darkness Falls, right?

Dane DeHaan in Life After Beth
Dane DeHaan in Life After Beth

A CURE FOR WELLNESS
UK release: 23 September
While his Ring remake is getting a prequel this year, director Gore Verbinski has returned from big-budget Disney tentpoles to horror with his own mysterious project that sounds pretty enticing. Dane DeHaan plays a character who is dispatched to a “wellness spa” in Europe to bring his boss back, while Jason Isaacs plays the facility’s sinister owner. Nymphomaniac’s Mia Goth co-stars as a patient.

The Neon Demon

THE NEON DEMON
UK release: Unknown
Drive and Only God Forgives director Nicolas Winding Refn brings his deeply stylish and heartily bloody sensibilities to horror, as a star-studded cast (Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks) head up a tale of elegant chills in Los Angeles. Fanning plays Jesse, an aspiring model who discovers the sinister truth behind the beautiful faces in the city of angels. We are so, so on board with the idea of this film.

Evolution
EVOLUTION
UK release: Unknown
This was one of our absolute favourites at this year’s London Film Festival, a beautifully shot and deeply odd dark fairytale about an isolated community in a small coastal village from Innocence director Lucile Hadzihalilovic. The only inhabitants are young boys looked after by a group of women, and when Nicolas (Max Brebant) makes a discovery in the rocks, we start to get hints about what’s going on. There’s body horror here but pinning it down to a single genre is difficult. See it on a big screen and know as little about it as possible.

31
31
UK release: Unknown
Rob Zombie’s crowdfunded horror should finally hit the big screen (or some kind of screen) at some point this year (it’s debuting at Sundance very soon), and we’re definitely curious to see what he’s come up with. The man behind The Devil’s Rejects and the Halloween remake pledged to deliver something he wouldn’t be able to make in the traditional system, so we’re expecting plenty of brutality during our stay at Murderworld, where abducted victims are hunted down by lunatics dressed as clowns. Malcolm McDowell, Judy Geeson, Meg Foster and Sheri Moon Zombie star.

The Invitation
THE INVITATION
UK release: Unknown
Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation stunned us at the London Film Festival, as a dinner party hosted for old friends by the long-absent Eden (Tammy Blanchard) gets very uncomfortable when she and her new boyfriend David (Michiel Huisman) start talking about their new belief system. Is her antsy ex Will (a superb Logan Marshall-Green) right in thinking that something is seriously wrong? It’s very clever, brilliantly constructed and wonderfully performed. And it’s very, very tense.

The Mind's Eye
THE MIND’S EYE
UK release: Unknown
From Joe Begos, the maker of the low-budget and massively fun Almost Human, comes this telekinesis horror, which should hopefully conjure the spirit of early Cronenberg. Almost Human star Graham Skipper plays a gifted young man who gets convinced to return to the sinister facility where people like him are having their powers harvested. Lauren Ashely Carter, John Speredakos and Larry Fessenden co-star in this gory throwback.

Before I Wake

BEFORE I WAKE
UK release: Unknown
Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard’s follow-up to Oculus was supposed to be released last year but was pulled from the schedule when Relativity went bankrupt. However, it looks like we should get to see their latest this year, with Thomas Jane and Kate Bosworth starring as a couple who adopt a boy whose nightmares manifest in the real world. We fully loved Oculus (so much so that we’re excited to see what the duo do with Ouija 2) so we’re hoping for something special.

Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard
Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard

THE WOODS
UK release: Unknown
After having The Best Time Ever with their genre homages You’re Next and The Guest, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett pare things back with this low-budget horror about a group of college kids who go on a camping trip with dire consequences. With an unknown cast and a deliberately vague plot, The Woods is reportedly aiming to be truly frightening as opposed to the crowd-pleasing, darkly comic fun of the duo’s last two movies. We can’t wait.

Zoe Kazan in In Your Eyes
Zoe Kazan in In Your Eyes

THERE ARE MONSTERS
UK release: Unknown
The Strangers writer-director Bryan Bertino returns, with awesome Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks) starring as a mother who must protect her young daughter from a terrifying monster (as the title suggests). Elisabeth Moss was previously signed to the Kazan role, and when two actors this good are up for an indie horror, we start getting our expectations up. Scott Speedman and Aaron Douglas round out the cast.

Olivia Cooke in Ouija
Olivia Cooke in Ouija

THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM
UK release: Unknown
Anything written by the brilliant Jane Goldman makes our to-watch list, so we’ve got our eye on this murder mystery set in London in 1880, where a Golem is the prime suspect for a series of brutal murders. Juan Carlos Medina (the excellent Painless) directs an ace cast, including Olivia Cooke, Douglas Booth, Bill Nighy and Daniel Mays. We’re suckers for Gothic horror, especially when it comes in period costume, so we’re looking forward to plunging into the London fog for this one.

The Belko Experiment writer James Gunn
The Belko Experiment writer James Gunn

THE BELKO EXPERIMENT
UK release: Unknown
James Gunn may be all about the Marvel universe now, but he’s back in the horror genre (kind of) with this story of a group of American employees in South America who are ordered to kill each other by their bosses. Wolf Creek’s Greg McLean directs Gunn’s script, while the strong cast includes Melonie Diaz, John C McGinley, Tony Goldwyn, Michael Rooker (of course) and Steve Agee. We’re also hoping to finally see McLean’s Blumhouse horror 6 Miranda Drive at some point this year…

Southbound

SOUTHBOUND
UK release: Unknown
We’re very excited about this anthology horror from directors Roxanne Benjamin (producer on the V/H/S movies and the awesome Faults), David Bruckner (The Signal), Patrick Horvath (The Pact II) and Radio Silence (the ’10/31/98′ segment of V/H/S). That excitement is almost entirely based on the advance buzz as we’ve not seen anything of it yet, but we like the sound of this horror set on a lonely stretch of highway on a single night.

Darling
DARLING
UK release: Unknown
Pod was on our list of our favourite 2015 horrors, so we’re looking forward to seeing writer-director Mickey Keating reteam with star Lauren Ashley Carter for this black and white psychological horror about a young woman who is hired to look after a very old New York building and starts to lose her mind. Pod stars Larry Fessenden and Brian Morvant also appear, alongside Helen Rogers (Body) and Sean Young (who’s been having something of a genre comeback with this, Jug Face and Bone Tomahawk).

Sun Choke
SUN CHOKE

UK release: Unknown
We loved this deeply unsettling chiller from Ben Cresciman at FrightFest, which stars Freaks And Geeks’ Sarah Hagan as Janie, a young woman undergoing some kind of treatment from an icy lady named Irma (Barbara Crampton, whose other FrightFest film Road Games will hopefully get a release this year too). As she begins to be given more freedom, Janie begins to lose control…It’s a beautifully made psychological drama that raises just as many questions as it answers. We’ll say no more, just…see it. (If you insist on our saying more, our review is here).

They Look Like People

THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE
UK release: Unknown
Another FrightFest favourite was this intense and moving debut from writer-director Perry Blackshear. After a long time apart, Wyatt (Macleod Andrews) visits his best friend Christian (Evan Dumouchel), but he can’t shake the voice in his head that tells him that the end is coming, and that he’ll have to fight the threat that’s already here…It’s an affecting indie drama about friendship and a nail-biting horror about losing your mind, and we can’t recommend it enough. (Read our review here)

Baskin
BASKIN
UK release: Unknown
Early word has been good for this Turkish shocker from Can Evrenol (based on his own short), in which a group of unlikeable policemen stumble upon a gruesome Satanic ritual in a small backwoods town, at which point things go very, very bad for them. With piles of eyeballs, goat-headed women, and a trailer that can best be described as “batshit”, expect gory madness.

Elisabeth Moss

QUEEN OF EARTH
UK release: Unknown
Elisabeth Moss delivers a stunning lead turn in Alex Ross Perry’s brutally uncomfortable follow-up to his caustic comedy Listen Up, Philip. It’s essentially a two-hander, taking place in a beautiful lakeside house, where Catherine (Moss) goes with her friend Virginia (Fantastic Beasts‘ Katherine Waterston) to get over her break-up. The longer we spend with the two women, the more we see how toxic their friendship is, and as they tear chunks out of each other, Catherine’s psyche begins to fracture. Heavily influenced by early Polanski, this is a gripping psychological horror.

observance
OBSERVANCE
UK release: Unknown
More Polanski-infused horror from the LFF here, but Observance is also steeped in body horror and the grim sense of inevitable punishment of Silent Hill. This low-budget horror is centred around a PI who takes a job staking out a woman from an empty house across the street. His heart’s clearly not in it, his dreams are extremely unsettling, and we start to wonder about just how he got to this point. With a truly chilling sense of unease and some proper scares, Observance is an excellent indie horror that we highly recommend. Keep an eye out for it.

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