13 Must-See Genre Movies of 2016

2016/01/22 22:14:31 +00:00 | Kalyn Corrigan

Demonic activity, skinheads, and psychopaths: these are the words one might use to describe the upcoming genre films of 2016. From a possessed painter, to a devilish leg wound, to full-on war waged within the confines of a futuristic apartment complex, blood flies and fingers point in what looks to be one of the most intense, purposely-paced and experimental years for independent films to date.

Traces of David Cronenberg's Videodrome and Scanners, Stuart Rosenberg's The Amityville Horror, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, and Nicholas Hytner's The Crucible can be found within these electrifying new entries from promising, emerging artists, proving that pulling from the past can wind up making a project feel fresh and new.

Although many of the films carry similar traits and themes like directorial debuts, single set locations, cult activity, and the ever-present presence of the devil's unholy spirit, each of these features is unique in its own persona.

By respecting the greats, but pushing the boundaries on what's been done before, it's easy to praise this collection, as they are each worthy of every cinephile's time and attention.

1. The Witch: Between a family's youngest vanishing without a trace, and their crops mysteriously withering and dying, only one thing is definitively clear: there be evil afoot. At least, that's what William and Katherine believe. New to American territory during the seventeenth century, these British immigrants have come to rely on their religion to explain any and all strange happenings that occur in their lives.

Most recently, their suspicious patch of bad luck has them pointing their fingers at their eldest daughter, Thomasin. All of their misfortunes only seem to occur when she and only she is around. But is their witch hunt justified? Is there black magic at work, or is all of their misfortune merely an example of the struggles settlers faced upon entering the New World? Only time will tell, but no matter the cause, the journey through the muck and the mire of this tragic tale is simply too eerie and mystifying to miss.

Out in theaters: February 19th, 2016

2. Green Room: A broke punk band on their last leg is slowly making their way across the country, stealing gas where they can, and crashing on strangers' couches when the van becomes too much to bear. Against their better judgment, they agree to play a gig at a night club owned by a gang of white supremacists. Lo and behold, their worst fears are realized when the band stumbles into the green room and witnesses something they weren't supposed to see.

Caught in a tangled web of death, drugs, and deceit, these poor kids who once believed they were hard will learn the true meaning of tough guy mentality, as they merely try to survive the night and escape this hellish club with their lives. From the writer/director of Blue Ruin comes one of the most intense, exciting, and brutal siege movies since Assault on Precinct 13. Gripping and gory, but surprisingly touching at times, this heightened take on casual warfare isn't to be missed.

Out in theaters: April 25th, 2016

3. The Devil's Candy: When struggling artist Jesse Hellman moves his family out of the confines of their cramped apartment and into a spacious old farmhouse on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, he truly believes this decision will change all of their lives for the better. Little does he know, a sinister presence is lurking in the shadows, ready to seep into the skin of the next vulnerable mind it can find, and an already afflicted soul is watching from the shadows outside.

Mistaking the impure spirit for a muse, Jesse welcomes the strange sensation with open arms, leading his wife and daughter straight into the belly of the beast. As Jesse experiences his first real bout of success, he tumbles deeper into dangerous territory, dragging his family along with him until they're all up to their necks in hellfire.

If you're a fan of The Loved Ones, then you know how highly anticipated director Sean Byrne's next feature film has been. It's been a long time coming, but seven years later, director Byrne has not disappointed us. Starring Ethan Embry in arguably his best role yet, this horrific tale of a family simultaneously terrorized by a psychopath and a malevolent entity is as endearing as it is terrifying. Not only is it a terrific example of Byrne's ability to captivate audiences and hold them at attention until the credits roll, but it's also an innovative use of metal music, as it serves as a sanctuary from the devil's call that beckons us all to commit evil deeds.

Out in theaters: TBD

4. The Conjuring 2: Based on the true story of the Enfield Poltergeist that affected the Hodgson family in northern England during the late 1970s, James Wan's follow-up to his creepy, atmospheric 2013 smash hit looks possibly even more petrifying than its predecessor.

Ed and Lorraine Warren are back with a brand new case, and this time, there's a chance that they may not be able to save the affected family. The Hodgson kids have been the victims of paranormal activity, most notably little eleven-year-old Jane, who has been subjected to levitation, horrible whispers in her ear, and a constant cold presence on her back. The facts of the real-life case are subject to interpretation, but it seems that James Wan is going full steam ahead in the direction of taking these events literally. It will be fun to see what the modern day master of suspense has up his sleeve next.

Out in theaters: June 10th, 2016

5. High-Rise: Welcome to the new mode of living. In a state-of-the-art high-rise, all of your fantasies can be fulfilled without ever having to leave the premises. The building comes equipped with a pool, grocery store, rooftop garden, and one very impressive gymnasium. At first, it seems like the ultimate sanctuary; a blueprint for the future of the American dream. However, with a built-in caste system that assigns floor levels to socioeconomic status, it soon becomes apparent that this highly stylized piece of architecture is no more than a beautiful prison on the brink of a catastrophic revolt.

Co-written and directed by the brilliant visionary Ben Wheatley (Kill List, A Field in England, Sightseers), this slick, off-the-wall depiction of life in a high-rise provides a fascinating portrayal of human behavior, and the inevitability of classification according to one's wealth, or lack thereof.

Out in theaters: Late 2016

6. The Invitation: We all know that one person. That person who we used to be friends with, or an estranged family member, or someone we used to date, but haven't talked to in years—not since they were saved, or born again, or converted to a newer, much more intense religion that just makes he or she act... different. The person who we used to joke with, but suddenly has no sense of humor. The person who used to be laid-back, but now uses every spare moment to spread the gospel and ask extremely intrusive questions.

We all know this person, and many of us have even been tempted, at one point or another, to buy into whatever it is they're selling. After all, who hasn't been coerced by the fake positivity their friend spouts, to cast aside all sense of logic and place their faith in some sort of higher power, no matter how "new age" and strange the belief seems? Is there anything more comfortable than letting go of all of your grief, and giving yourself over to the idea of a quick fix to find happiness?

Eden knows this, and that's why she's invited all of her old friends over to share in her new religious movement and join in on her clan, because as wonderful as finding faith can be, it's never as satisfying without a friendly face to accompany you into that unknown void, where perfect happiness surely awaits—just on the other side of sanity.

Out in theaters: March 25th, 2016

7. Rabid Dogs: When a bank job goes south, a group of robbers fall back on the easiest way to get out of a sticky situation: shielding their guilty bodies from the law behind the cover of innocent hostages. It was all going so well, until a deranged member of their gang snapped and started shooting policemen left and right. Now, they're on the road trip from Hell, as they attempt to make it to their agreed meeting spot with a man, a woman, and a child in tow.

To make matters worse, the little girl is deathly ill, and in desperate need of surgery; soon to elevate this crew from casual cop killers to full-on child murderers, when all they really wanted to do was lift some easy cash. A French remake of Mario Bava's 1974 crime thriller, this endeavor drips with tension, as every second becomes more paralyzing than the last, and the fate of all involved hangs heavy in the balance.

Out in theaters: January 22nd, 2016

8. The Mind's Eye: If First Blood and Scanners were to have a baby, it would look something like The Mind's Eye, the newest film from Almost Human director Joe Begos. Set in the freezing cold of a New England blizzard, this tale of survival and redemption is one of the most exciting telekinetic sci-fi thrillers to come out in recent memory.

Starring Graham Skipper as the man burdened by too much brain power, drifter Zack Connor possesses the ability to move objects with his mind, giving him an edge over those looking for a fight, but also placing a gigantic target on his back. His gift attracts the attention of Dr. Michael Slovak, a man who promises Zack that he can help him control his powers, and also informs the young man that he knows the whereabouts of his long-lost girlfriend, Rachel. Zack reluctantly agrees, and his bad feelings are confirmed when he finds himself the new prisoner of the good doctor, with his girlfriend nowhere in sight. What follows is a shower of heads exploding, eye sockets bleeding, and veins pulsating. This movie will melt your face off. See it in a theater, with friends, late at night.

Out in theaters: Sometime in 2016

9. February: Bramford Catholic School shakes and howls in the midst of a busy blizzard, creaking and moaning as if it were animated. The devil resides in these halls, and he's come to save little Kat from her desperate loneliness. His coaxing whispers promise her the world, as he seduces her into committing horrid acts.

Across town, another girl named Joan (Emma Roberts) doesn't have much in the way of friends, either, as she, too, finds herself falling prey to the alluring powers of the dark lord's charms. As the two young women each take their own dangerous routes into darkness, they find their paths crossing, as they both submit to the devil's thrall, and bask in his unholy abominations.

Out in theaters: Sometime in 2016

10. Rob Zombie's 31: Fans of old-school Zombie rejoice, for his new film, 31, may be his goriest and most deplorable entry yet. A band of carnies share sweet and easy times on the road, minding their own business, smoking weed, and enjoying life. However, their happy times are swiftly drawn to a  close when they are kidnapped by crazy fascists who force them to compete in a deadly challenge: stay alive for twelve hours while this psycho posse of demented clowns hunt them down.

From first glance, this film looks pretty promising. Maniacs are running wild, kidnapping and tormenting random people for kicks—all is right in Zombie's cinematic world. After having finally received an R rating from the MPAA after two failed attempts, 31 will make its world premiere at midnight at the Sundance Film Festival this upcoming weekend in Park City, Utah.

Out in theaters: Plays January 23rd, 2016 at Sundance. Theater dates yet to be announced.

11. Southbound: Every action has a consequence, and the devil remembers each and every ill deed that you've committed. That's why when five different groups of people set out on what were supposed to be perfectly normal road trips, they each are surprised to find themselves on the path to Hell.

From the makers of V/H/S and V/H/S/2 comes the next standard of horror anthology filmmaking, as directors David Bruckner, Roxanne Benjamin, Radio Silence, and Patrick Horvath bring all five interlocking chapters together to create one cohesive method of storytelling. From an act of revenge spun out of control, to a girl band getting in over their heads when they get in the car with the wrong people, to a man trying to rescue his sister from a bad crowd without realizing she's just as demonic as her peers, Southbound is one of the most thrilling horror anthologies to come out in a long time, and an excellent warning against engaging in sinister activities.

Out in theaters: February 9th, 2016

12. Der Bunker: How does one go about describing Der Bunker? Is it an overly exaggerated example of the damage that comes with overbearing parents who refuse to allow their children to grow up? Is it a dramatic display of the insane, paranoid behavior that stems from not having a strong enough connection with the outside world? Or, is it an exercise in the absurdity of cinema that delights in its dada style, thus making it impossible to categorize?

The answer is all of the above. This strange cocktail of all these wonderfully weird aspects is what makes Der Bunker so damn strange, and so oddly memorable. You won't be able to get out of your head, or wrap your brain around what you've just seen.

Out in theaters: Sometime in 2016

13. German Angst: From the murky depths of Germany's most depraved minds comes a horror anthology so bizarre and twisted that even the most jaded cinephiles will be shocked by what they've witnessed. Making its American premiere at Fantastic Fest, German Angst managed to rumble iron stomachs with ease, proving, to put it lightly, that this film is not for the faint of heart.

However, though it may be gruesome, this is not merely displaying horrific violence for violence's sake. Unlike some other "torture porn" entries that it may be grouped with, the graphic material in German Angst serves to support the main purposes of this film: to shock the viewer into paying attention to the message each segment is sending, and to rebel against the Germanic censorship that seeks to silence these brilliant filmmakers.

The end product of these three vastly different tales is a thoughtful dissection of prey morphing into predator, absolute power corrupting pure souls, and the ridiculous expectations assigned to sexual intercourse as a result of the heightened standards of the pornographic industry. This explosive exploration of various perceptions is one that every fan of controversial cinema should witness.

Out in theaters: Sometime in 2016