The Dreadful Ten: Top 10 Most Anticipated Horror Directorial Follow-UpsFearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
With more and more film festivals becoming genre-centric or adding emphasis to their horror-friendly midnight line-ups, there have been an increasing number of horror directors bursting onto the horror scene. Unfortunately, with the independent market being how it currently is, it’s a blessing that even a few of these director’s get a chance to make a second film, let alone carve out a career path. Combine that with myriad proven storytellers in the genre and there are sadly too many filmmakers that have been dormant for one reason or another for too long. Thus, FANGORIA has assembled our ten most anticipated directorial follow-ups in the genre…
10. Eugenio Mira
There’s few contemporary genre directors whose influence from classic cinema translates into classically-informed visuals, and even few make those visuals their own as much as Eugenio Mira. The director’s first feature effort, THE BIRTHDAY, was an incredibly impressive effort evocative of Martin Scorsese and Brian Yuzna, while Mira’s psychodrama AGNOSIA proved that he could handle intimate psychodrama effortlessly. But what truly makes this writer excited for Mira’s next would be GRAND PIANO, which teamed the director with WHIPLASH mastermind Damien Chazelle for one of 2013’s most riveting efforts, playing off the influences of Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma in a unique, engrossing way.
9. David Bruckner
Following his outstanding contribution to 2007’s superb sci-fi horror flick THE SIGNAL, Bruckner later carved out a name for himself with his show-stopping first segment of 2012’s V/H/S, which is now being adapted into a film of its own thanks to Chiller. But ever since that powerhouse short, Bruckner has been on the cusp of something big: he had been attached to the AMITYVILLE HORROR reboot “THE LOST TAPES” before that concept was scrapped entirely, and his stalker horror INTRUSION has been delayed indefinitely as he gears up for the reboot of FRIDAY THE 13TH, which still aims to hit theaters this May. But in the meantime, Bruckner has once again returned to his anthology roots, as word has it out of TIFF that his segment of SOUTHBOUND once again proves he’s a cinematic force just waiting to be unleashed.
8. Chris Walas
While he may be best known as an Oscar-winning FX master, Chris Walas is also known by more serious horror hounds as a rather imaginative director in his own right. His work on THE FLY II is interesting and impressive, especially since it was created and released in the shadow of Cronenberg’s near perfect film. But what really makes this writer wish Walas would return to the director’s chair would be his last feature film, 1992’s THE VAGRANT; an absolutely insane horror comedy from SCARECROWS writer Richard Jefferies. Considering that Chris Walas recently returned to doing FX after a near 20-year absence, the prospect of Walas potentially bringing back his sardonic sensibilities to the director’s chair is something horror hounds should root for.
7. E. Elias Merhige
It’s sad to say that E. Elias Merhige, director of the surreal and disturbing BEGOTTEN, hasn’t directed a film since 2004’s serial killer thriller SUSPECT ZERO. But Merhige, who also directed the stellar meta-horror film SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE, has proven himself a talented and versatile director time and time again, even despite not working as much as his contemporaries. But with interest in Merhige rising with the 25th anniversary of BEGOTTEN as well as the development of his next film, IT WAS CRUEL, perhaps 2016 will bring the long-awaited comeback of one of the most compelling and unpredictable genre filmmakers.
6. Tom Holland
To be honest, there were many of the traditionally considered “Masters of Horror” considered for this list, and many would deserve to be here. But while some are in need of a strong screenwriter, a good budget or a collaborative producer to usher in new work, Tom Holland remains one of the last “Masters” who can churn out great work consistently. TWISTED TALES proved Holland remains as sharp of a director as ever, and his writing with UNTOLD TALES proves the same about his skills as a writer. Hopefully, CESSATION will give Holland another chance to prove that he still has the magic to deliver the macabre in a big way, especially since his last proper feature film was nearly two decades ago.
5. Neil Marshall
After spending most of the past decade in medieval times with CENTURION and a pair of GAME OF THRONES episodes (one of which warranted the series to make its first- and to date only- excursion into theaters), Marshall’s return to horror with his acclaimed segment in TALES OF HALLOWEEN as well as episodes of CONSTANTINE and HANNIBAL has made fright fans excited for what might come next from the director. With THE DESCENT, DOOMSDAY and DOG SOLDIERS being bona fide cult classics in the genre, a new Neil Marshall film always calls for celebration. And considering Marshall’s next, THE SENTENCE, mixes Marshall’s penchant for action and darkness, there’s few upcoming efforts more worthy of our excitement.
4. Derek Lee & Clif Prowse
While this writer understands the many criticisms thrown at the found footage subgenre, there are few who used it as such as such a resourceful tool as AFFLICTED filmmakers Derek Lee & Clif Prowse. Not only that, but both filmmakers also found a brilliant way to retell a vampire story in a whole new perspective while still executing a thrilling and dramatic story. And considering how seamlessly they incorporated their practical and digital FX work while doing so, Lee & Prowse will have this writer’s attention whenever they return to the world of horror.
3. Larry Fessenden
The hardest working man in horror, Larry Fessenden has been writing, producing and acting so much over the past few years that it’s easy to forget that Fessenden is also a damn fine director. With his last feature being the underrated and chilling creature feature BENEATH in 2013, this writer is very excited to see what Fessenden adds to his impressive directorial oeuvre. And with Fessenden’s stock in the horror community leaping with his stellar work with Graham Reznick on UNTIL DAWN, the director has proven he’s still sharp with providing chilling and effective horror to an audience that many of his contemporaries can’t quite wrap their head around.
2. Ana Lily Amirpour
After delivering one of the most hypnotic and terrifying feature debuts in recent memory, horror fans who were able to get a taste of A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT knew immediately that Ana Lily Amirpour was a fright filmmaker unlike any other. Considering how uncompromised Amirpour’s vampire western feels in nature, it’s no surprise that Amirpour was recruited by Megan Ellison and Annapurna Pictures for that company’s most off-the-wall production to date. And considering the level of talent that jumped on board THE BAD BATCH, chances are that Amirpour’s mesmerizing, genre-friendly fare will once again turn heads next year.
1. Ernest Dickerson
Perhaps the single most underrated horror director working in Hollywood today, there’s a reason why Ernest Dickerson has become the go-to helmer for THE WALKING DEAD. Yet there’s no reason why Dickerson shouldn’t be directing horror for studios; his last fright feature, BONES, holds up incredibly well, and his MASTERS OF HORROR episode is among the strongest of his season. Hopefully, Dickerson will find a studio that’ll take the hint from his increasingly impressive small screen output and allow him to scare the masses once again.
And now, here are some honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut…
Darkness from Down Under
Sean Byrne (THE LOVED ONES)
Gerard Johnstone (HOUSEBOUND)
Byrne, a native of Tasmania, and Johnstone, a native of New Zealand, both turned out some of the strongest horror comedies in the past decade. With Byrne already returned with a new film at TIFF called THE DEVIL’S CANDY, one wonders what is next for Johnstone, whose HOUSEBOUND took this writer’s #1 spot in his ‘Best Of 2014’ list.
Sophomores To Watch
Ted Geoghegan (WE ARE STILL HERE)
Adam Egypt Mortimer (SOME KIND OF HATE)
Two of the strongest fright films I’ve seen in 2015 were ones this writer saw out of Stanley Film Festival, both of which packed a visceral visual punch. With Mortimer directing a segment for HOLIDAYS, one wonders what wickedness is next for Geoghegan as well.
John Carpenter (THE WARD)
Don Coscarelli (JOHN DIES AT THE END)
While THE WARD was a step up from GHOSTS OF MARS, John Carpenter certainly deserves a cinematic swan song worthy of his name. Meanwhile, Don Coscarelli is one of the few Masters whose late career work is on par with his early forays into fright, and one wonders what’s next following the hilarious and bizarre adaptation of JOHN DIES AT THE END.
Adam Wingard (THE GUEST)
Ivan Kavanaugh (THE CANAL)
With THE GUEST and THE CANAL, both Wingard and Kavanaugh proved as being shocking, stylish and scary while also being immensely entertaining, despite each film being as far apart as possible from one another. With Wingard’s plate becoming del Toro-level full and Kavanaugh yet to announce his next project, no matter what these horror helmers are going to offer, there’s a good chance it’ll be different, creepy and unpredictable.
Horror Per Chance
Jennifer Kent (THE BABADOOK)
Jonathan Glazer (UNDER THE SKIN)
While Kent and Glazer proved themselves to transcend genre expectations with THE BABADOOK and UNDER THE SKIN in 2014, the fact that both filmmakers have spoken about making something outside of the horror genre for their next work prevents this writer from including either on this list. However, should those circumstances change, you can damn well bet they’d usurp a spot from one of the director’s above.