Fall is for horror films. Always has been, always will be.
Those months when the weather turns cooler (well, a little cooler in Columbia) and the leaves begin to turn and the evening skies get dark a bit earlier just lend themselves to scary movies. It is the Halloween season, after all.
September and October are the months when horror classics and schlocky cult favorites start popping up on cable and folks dig into their DVD and Blu-ray collections for flicks that are only unearthed this time of year (We’re looking right at you, Terror Train).
Fall is also when you are most likely to find spooky films at your local multiplex. Between Labor Day and Halloween you can almost always count on the studios dropping at least a couple major horror films in theaters.
The studios are really leaning into the season this time around. In fact, between Sept. 7 and Oct. 19, every weekend will bring a new film that could be described as horror, spooky or, as Free Times Arts and Entertainment Editor Jordan Lawrence put it, “horror-adjacent.” Simply put, cinema screens will be filled during the next two months with all manner of monsters, ghosts, ghouls and killers.
Here’s a look at what’s coming up.
The Nun (Sept. 7) — New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. have found tremendous commercial success with the horror stable that has sprung up in the wake of 2013’s The Conjuring. What has followed has sort of been horror’s answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: A series of separate-but-interconnected films that share a similar feel. Director Corin Hardy’s The Nun looks to keep that Conjuringverse rolling along, exploring the origins of the titular antagonist, who first appeared in The Conjuring 2.
The Predator (Sept. 14) — Here’s where we get into that “horror-adjacent” area. The Predator films, stretching back to director John McTiernan’s 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring original, are probably most identified as action films with a heavy dose of sci-fi. But they are, at their core, about monsters from another world who stalk people and rip their spines out, so there’s a potent horror element there, too. The new version is being directed by Shane Black (Iron Man 3) and co-written by Fred Dekker (The Monster Squad), so this should be interesting.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls (Sept. 21) — This one is based on the children’s horror novel from author John Bellairs, originally published in 1973. The film is being produced, in part, by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, and the trailers seem to hearken back to that studio’s kids-in-peril roots (Hey there, The Goonies and Gremlins). The most intriguing part? This one’s being directed by Eli Roth. Yes, that Eli Roth, who directed the Hostel films, Cabin Fever and the Death Wish remake.
Hell Fest (Sept. 28) — Here’s a slasher with a plot straight out of a previous era: A serial killer stalks a group of teens at a haunted amusement park. Think Friday the 13th meets Final Destination 3. Bonus points for the fact that this one features an appearance from the Candyman himself, actor Tony Todd.
Venom (Oct. 5) — To be sure, this certainly isn’t strictly a horror film, but rather an attempt to build a franchise around the titular Spider-Man supervillain. (This one’s coming from Sony, by the way, not the “proper” Marvel Cinematic Universe.) Venom, which features Tom Hardy in the lead, is reportedly going to be rated R, with director Ruben Fleischer telling comicbook.com in July that, “In the comics, he bites people’s heads off and eats brains. It would be weird to make a movie with Venom if he wasn’t doing that.”
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (Oct. 12) — Words can hardly describe how in-the-bag I am for a movie called Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. They should just call it Chris Trainor: The Movie. Obviously, this is the second film based on the long-running series of spooky youth novels from R.L. Stine, and a follow-up to 2015’s fun original, which was a modest hit.
Halloween (Oct. 19) — Well, here we are. The big one. This effort from director David Gordon Green and co-writer Danny McBride (yes, the one from This Is the End and Eastbound & Down) is the most anticipated horror film of the year and one of the most buzzed-about movies, in any genre, of the fall. It’s a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s unimpeachable 1978 classic, and it even comes with his ultimate blessing: Carpenter is composing the score for this new entry. Jamie Lee Curtis is back, too. Oh, and large parts of the film were shot in Charleston.