“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”The late American writer and folklorist Alvin Schwartz tapped into the minds of young readers and traumatized generations of eager children: He told otherwise PG-13 horror tales with a transgressive, R-rated glee that made kids feel like they had read something they weren’t supposed to. André Øvredal’s clever and well-crafted film adaptation can’t help but invert that formula a little bit. Here is an R-rated concept that’s been watered down until it passed for a PG-13 movie; it’s plenty harrowing and full of gruesome effects, but it never feels dangerous. Be that it as it may, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” succeeds as a special YA horror movie by how it bleeds together the discrete chapters of Schwartz’s anthologies into an overarching narrative that’s aimed squarely at its target audience. All your favorite nightmares are back, Harold the scarecrow, the girl with the zit that’s filled with spiders, etc.
Pet Sematary Horror remakes and Stephen King properties are ubiquitous these days, and both can be hit-or-miss, but Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s taut reworking of one of King’s darkest supernatural stories delivers a stripped-down alternative to the usual cavalcade of jump scares that define the market standard. Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz are in top form as the couple who uncover an ominous graveyard behind their house with the power to resurrect the dead, while John Lithgow has fun in the role of the spooky overseer. The family gradually discovers the power at their disposal, first with their exhumed cat Church, who returns from the grave after a truck accident but doesn’t seem quite himself. Later, however, they face tragic circumstances that lead to one member of the clan coming to life under devious circumstances…and the body count rises. Despite the studio heft behind this project, “Pet Sematary” unfolds across a handful of locations with a cast that would fit within the confines of a stage play, and the minimalist approach allows this Frankensteinian rumination on the travails of playing god to take on a claustrophobic quality as the darkness closes in: It’s a gripping illustration of what happens when you mess with nature, and it decides to strike back. Jeté Laurence gives one of the all-time spookiest kid performances as a zombified child, and the uncompromising finale brings the haunting material to a chilling finish.
“Annabelle Comes Home”Of all the ideas to come out of the lucrative cinematic universe of “The Conjuring,” the freakiest one involves a spooky doll. With “Annabelle” and prequel “Annabelle: Creation,” the stationary figure became a gateway for demonic forces seeking the souls of young children. Unlike the two-hour-plus “Conjuring” movies or the sprawling convent showdowns of “The Nun,” the new movie jams the archetypes of a John Hughes teen comedy into a minimalist haunted-house scenario, relegating family exorcists Ed and Lorraine Warren to supporting characters and focusing on their middle-school daughter Judy (McKenna Grace), her teen babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), and Mary Ellen’s pal Daniela (Katie Sarife). More William Castle than Val Lewton, the movie embraces the opportunity for spine-tingling apparitions at every turn, from the use of a “grab box” game that turns dangerous to ghostly figures with coins over their eyes roaming the hallways, and a knife-wielding bride that pops up at the most inconvenient moments. As usual, Annabelle herself doesn’t have to move a muscle to generate deep-seated dread, as her frozen gaze always sends the eerie message that she’s in control.
After staging his own suicide, a crazed scientist uses his power to become invisible to stalk and terrorize his ex-girlfriend. When the police refuse to believe her story, she decides to take matters into her own hands and fight back.
When their mother descends into madness, siblings Gretel and Hansel must fend for themselves in the dark and unforgiving woods. Hungry and scared, they fortuitously stumble upon a bounty of food left outside an isolated home. Invited inside by the seemingly friendly owner, the children soon suspect that her generous but mysterious behaviour is part of a sinister plan to do them harm.
In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing. The family struggles for survival in a world where most humans have been killed by blind but noise-sensitive creatures. They are forced to communicate in sign language to keep the creatures at bay.
The Abbott family must now face the terrors of the outside world as they fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.
True-crime writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) is in a slump; he hasn't had a best seller in more than 10 years and is becoming increasingly desperate for a hit. So, when he discovers the existence of a snuff film showing the deaths of a family, he vows to solve the mystery. He moves his own family into the victims' home and gets to work. However, when old film footage and other clues hint at the presence of a supernatural force, Ellison learns that living in the house may be fatal.