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The 12 Most Anticipated Horror Releases Of Winter 2023

Given movies are in such a state of flux, it's almost a shock to see how many decent horror releases there were in 2022. With not one but two new films from Ti West ("X," "Pearl"), and new material from Alex Garland ("Men"), David Cronenberg ("Crimes of the Future"), David Gordon Green ("Halloween Ends"), and Jordan Peele ("Nope"), relaunches of "Scream" and "Hellraiser," indie gems ("Smile," "Barbarian," "Fresh"), and stunning foreign entries ("Speak No Evil," "Piggy," "Hatching"), the year yielded a bumper crop of creepiness. But 2023 has goodies in store as well, including the long-awaited return of Ari Aster ("Disappointment Blvd."), the big screen debut of Stephen King's "Salem's Lot," and Green's take on "The Exorcist." There's also plenty on the small screen: "Crystal Lake," which revisits the infamous summer camp setting of "Friday the 13th"; "The Fall of the House of Usher," Mike ("Midnight Mass") Flanagan's final series for Netflix; and "Welcome to Derry," an Andy Muschietti-produced excursion to Stephen King's favorite Maine hamlet. For now, let's focus on winter, which, for the sake of argument, we'll define as January through March, and 12 films that ought to keep horror fans toasty as we await the spring thaw.

M3gan (January 6)

The "uncanny valley" is hard to describe — and many have tried — but for moviegoers, the phrase came into vogue after Robert Zemeckis' "The Polar Express," which rendered its characters, including Tom Hanks' conductor, in an eerily realistic style that blurred the lines between human and CGI. The consensus was clear — the middle ground between realism and CGI looks creepy. Horror directors got the memo and have used the uncanny valley to max effect. The latest example is "M3gan," in which a suddenly orphaned young girl is gifted an android who looks like a doll but acts like a best friend. It helps when your aunt (Allison Williams) is a renowned roboticist, of course, but as with most things AI-related, the best laid plans go horribly awry. The android may appear docile, but it's programmed to protect young Cady (Violet McGraw) at all costs, and mayhem ensues, along with some truly meme-worthy dancing. The film, directed by Gerard Johnstone, is written by Akela Cooper ("Malignant," the upcoming "The Nun 2") from a story by James Wan ("Aquaman," "Insidious," "Saw"), who produces for Blumhouse. 

True Haunting (January 6)

Live broadcasting works for sports. For news, not so much. Geraldo Rivera's failed attempt to blast into Al Capone's vault on April 21, 1986, may have drawn viewers, but the excavation was a bust, and has become the go-to reference for when live TV fails to deliver the goods. A less well-remembered, but perhaps equally ludicrous example was the on-air exorcism of the Chicago home of Edwin and Marsha Becker in April 1971. Carried out by a psychic and a priest (who undoubtedly walked into a bar together afterwards) and captured by NBC reporter Carole Simpson, the event was also exploited in a 2011 book by Edwin Becker, "True Haunting," which claims things actually got worse for the Beckers afterwards. It seems inevitable that the story would find a home on the large or small screen, and indeed, this January brings us the film version directed by Gary Fleder, who helmed "Runaway Jury" and "Kiss the Girls" before turning to a successful TV career. The Beckers are played by Jamie Campbell Bower (Vecna in "Stranger Things" Season 4, Caius in the "Twilight" saga, and Young Grindelwald in the second "Fantastic Beasts" film) and Erin Moriarty (Starlight in "The Boys"). No trailer is available at press time, but one hopes Fleder finds a novel approach to the proceedings, which feel a wee bit familiar given how many exorcism films we've seen – successful and otherwise.

Enys Men (Sometime in 2023)

Mark Jenkin's film purports to be the story of a wildlife volunteer (Mary Woodvine) and her observations of a rare flower, but if the trailer is any indication, that only scratches the surface. Shot on grainy 16mm on an uninhabited island off the British coast, the phantasmagoric goings-on call to mind a hallucinatory amalgam of "The Wicker Man," Robert Eggers' "The Lighthouse," and Ben Wheatley's "In the Earth" — good news for fans of folk horror. In his prior films, the short "Bronco's House" and the BAFTA Award-winning "Bait," Cornish filmmaker Jenkin has embraced a DIY aesthetic, shooting with a manual clockwork Bolex camera and processing his own film, and experimented with post-sync sound which lends a kind of ghostly, otherworldly quality. Critics have embraced it. Mark Kermode hailed "Bait" in The Guardian as "one of the defining British films of the [last] decade." In other words, even with the occasional American foray into folk horror, nobody does it better than the Brits. With daring distributor Neon ("Titane," "Crimes of the Future") handling "Enys Men," we're in for a brilliantly trippy ride.

The Offering (January 13)

A morgue's not a bad setting for a horror film. You've got all the props you need, including dead bodies. "The Offering" takes the location, places it in the midst of Brooklyn's orthodox Jewish community and throws in a young man and his pregnant wife along with a body that (a) may not be fully dead and (b) may house a demon, and we're off to the races. While the trailer emphasizes scares and is packed with creepy images, it's unclear as to what "The Offering" is actually about ... but no matter. It's still got plenty to recommend it. According to Michelle Swope writing for Daily Dead, "Thoughtful interpretations of Jewish folklore and demonology make the storytelling effectively horrifying as well as meaningful." (The film's original title, "Abyzou," is the name of a demon blamed for miscarriages, stillbirth, and the death of infants.)  Making his solo directorial debut here is Oliver Park, with a screenplay by Hank Hoffman from a story by Jonathan Yunger. The film stars Allan Corduner (best known for playing Arthur Sullivan in Mike Leigh's "Topsy-Turvy"), Emm Wiseman (perhaps best known for her role in the multiple Razzie Award-nominated "Winchester"), Paul Kaye, (Thoros of Myr on "Game of Thrones," Netflix's "The Stranger"), and Nick Blood (Lance Hunter on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D," plus smaller roles in "Andor" and "Euphoria").

Unwelcome (January 27 in the U.K.)

Judging from the frenetic pace and hodgepodge of ideas in the trailer for "Unwelcome," one would be tempted to see it as a cross between Joe Dante's "Gremlins," Alex Garland's "Men," and Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo's "Inside." It's also one of those crazy premises that make you wonder if the filmmakers can pull it off. If they do, "Unwelcome" could be something truly special. In the film, a pregnant couple leaves London for the relative peace and quiet of rural Ireland, only to encounter some of the key elements of folk horror as defined in Adam Scoville's "Hours Dreadful and Things Strange": stern, isolated locals with bizarre customs (in this case, the daily feeding of bloody meat to an entity that lives on the edge of the couple's new property), and violent, supernatural happenings. Jon Wright (best known for the "aliens attack Ireland" comic horror "Grabbers") directs a cast including Hannah John-Kamen (Ghost in the MCU's "Ant-Man & The Wasp" and "Thunderbolts") Douglas Booth, and Colm Meaney. The production team includes prosthetics genius Shaune Harrison (Harry Potter films, "Ex Machina," "Avengers: Age of Ultron") with creature design by Paul Catling ("Maleficent," "Thor," "Fantastic Beasts").

Knock at the Cabin (February 3)

A couple retreats to a cabin in the woods with their child for some well-deserved R 'n' R when a family of apparent survivalists arrives and turns their world upside down. That's the premise of "Knock at the Cabin," whose trailer kicks off with the couple (Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge) and their adopted daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui), singing along to "Boogie Shoes" and frolicking in a lake before Wen spots a large man approaching through the trees. The man, Leonard (Dave Bautista), tells the girl, "My heart is broken because of what I have to do today." Uh-oh. Soon, the rest of Leonard's family – played by Rupert Grint, Nikki Amuka-Bird, and Abby Quinn – arrives (or rather, fights their way in) and they don't seem in the mood for a picnic. "The four of us are here to prevent the apocalypse," Leonard tells the couple, now tied up with Wen. "Your family has been chosen to make a horrible decision." What is the decision? And what does it have to do with the end of the world? We'll have to see in the latest movie from M. Night Shyamalan. The screenplay is by Shyamalan and Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman, from the novel "The Cabin at the End of the World" by Paul Tremblay, which drew the following 2018 review from NPR: "Read [this book] and you might not sleep for a week. Longer. It will shape your nightmares for months –- that's pretty much guaranteed."

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey (February 15)

Now this has to be a joke, right? Nope ... Well, maybe. It turns out that A. A. Milne's novel "Winnie-the-Pooh" entered the public domain this year. The only catch is Disney's versions of the characters, established in 1966, are very much not in the public domain, which means misappropriating Tigger or Pooh wearing a red shirt will still get you a brutal cease and desist from Disney's lawyers. But according to a Variety interview with director Rhys Frake-Waterfield (whose IMDb page claims he has no less than 23 projects in the pipeline at press time, including the titles "Firenado," "Demonic Christmas Tree," and the sequel to this film), a 10-day shoot took place in Ashdown Forest, not far from A.A. Milne's Hundred Acre Wood, and there is some attempt to remain faithful to the 1926 original — only this time, Pooh and Piglet go on a murderous rampage after Christopher Robin peaces out to college. Sounds like a provocation, and one that no one will mistake for Disney's "tubby little cubby." The only question: will this movie be any good, especially with Frake-Waterfield refusing to reveal the budget and telling Variety that audiences "shouldn't be expecting ... a Hollywood-level production?" Maybe so, but if the indignant response to the trailer is any indication, it's got cult status written all over it.

Cocaine Bear (February 24)

The trailer has already become infamous and the legend looms large, but the true story is somewhat less exciting than the film would have you believe. There was a bear, but there was also a drug smuggler, Andrew Thornton, who parachuted out of a plane over Knoxville, Tennessee in September 1985 with way too many weapons and far too much cocaine to land smoothly. Thornton wound up dead in someone's yard. The bear discovered the coke in northern Georgia and died of, among other things, a cerebral hemorrhage, respiratory failure, hyperthermia, and renal failure. As UPI reported at the time, "The [Georgia Bureau of Investigation] said the bear was found Friday in northern Georgia among 40 opened plastic containers with traces of cocaine." Was there a bloody rampage? Probably not. But legends have a way of overtaking the truth, and by the time the bear's taxidermized carcass was installed in a Kentucky mall (after reportedly living in Waylon Jennings' Vegas home), the story of Thornton's fall had been eclipsed by the tale of a bear high on coke. The film is directed by Elizabeth Banks ("Pitch Perfect 2"), and features Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich, Margo Martindale, O'Shea Jackson Jr., and, in one of his final roles, Ray Liotta.

Remnant (March 1 in Australia)

An independent production that crowdsourced its way to the screen, Australian writer-director Mike Horan's feature debut is a decidedly DIY affair, but as Horan explains in one of the many videos the film has made to promote its journey to completion, the inspiration for "Remnant" springs from genre masters like Dario Argento and John Carpenter. Filming for the sci-fi-horror project, which took place entirely in New South Wales, was completed in January 2022, and an Australian release is scheduled for this March. An official American release is not yet announced; that said, there's enough that's intriguing about this scrappy production to warrant its placement on the list. According to the film's website, "Remnant" concerns Grace Wheeler (Megan Bell), a young woman who heads home to pick up the pieces of her life after a traumatic accident. As it goes in the world of horror, strange happenings ensue, and Grace finds herself going slowly insane. Who's the weird figure in the shadows? Who is the ghost that appears at night? Could Grace be conjuring everything in her mind — or, "Minority Report" style, is she actually seeing premonitions of a life and-slash-or death to come? The film also stars Aussies Nicole Pritchard, Isabelle Weiskopf, and Django Kulak. Though the trailer doesn't feature any clips from the film, head on over to the film's Instagram account for stills.

Scream 6 (March 10)

After raking in $140 million at the worldwide box office earlier this year, "Scream 5" proved there was more than enough gas in the tank of this franchise for a sequel, and predictably, one was rushed into production, with "6" slated to arrive a mere 14 months after its predecessor. "Scream 5" directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett are back, and they've brought their "Ready or Not" star Samara Weaving along for the ride after she wasn't able to participate in "5." There's no trailer as of press time, but we know that the gang shuffles out of Woodsboro and heads for the big city in this one, with most of the "5" cast returning, except for one notable absence — Sidney Prescott herself, Neve Campbell. Happily, two alumni return: Courteney Cox as Gale, and Hayden Panettiere, who played Kirby in 2011's "Scream 4." They're joined by Cox's fellow "5" cast members Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, and the en fuego Jenna Ortega (coming off a hell of a year that included "5," "X," and Netflix's "Wednesday"), and Tony Revolori (everyone's favorite lobby boy in "The Grand Budapest Hotel," Flash Thompson in the newer "Spider Man" films). Next up for Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett – a remake of John Carpenter's "Escape From New York." No word who'll be taking on the role of Snake Plissken, originally portrayed by Kurt Russell, but Carpenter has apparently signed on as executive producer, so that's one stamp of approval down.

Inside (March 10)

Don't you hate it when you sneak into a fabulous high-rise apartment in an attempt to heist priceless works of art when all of a sudden the doors and windows seal shut and the temperature starts to rise, essentially cooking you alive until you go insane? No? Well, then you haven't been in the shoes of Nemo (Willem Dafoe, whose physique never seems to change as he ages) and thank goodness for that. As lovely as the apartment seems, it's not a place you'd want to be trapped or lick the inside of a freezer and devour tropical fish to survive. But let's face it, if anyone can pull off a high-end torture chamber, it's Dafoe, who's made a career of playing characters driven to extremes, and who appears to go full-tilt Norman Osborn here. Speaking of extremity, this "Inside" is not to be confused with the 2007 French film by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo or its misbegotten remake in which a maniac breaks into a pregnant woman's home with the intention of mutilating her in a deeply unsettling fashion. This "Inside," which looks slightly easier to stomach, is directed by Vasilis Katsoupis in his directorial debut and written by Ben Hopkins.

Bunker (Sometime in 2023)

"Sheep have a habit of putting themselves in harm's way. They are unable to care for themselves without a shepherd." So intones the ominous voiceover at the top of the trailer for "Bunker," a World War I horror film that feels like a melding of "1917" and "The Descent." War might be hell, but it's especially bad when a bunker is forced open and releases an evil entity, forcing a British platoon to go mano a mano to survive. Watching the trailer, it's hard to discern exactly who or what the entity may be, given the characters mainly turn and stare wide-eyed at what's just beyond the fourth wall. But claustrophobics beware — "Bunker" may be tough on those wary of tight spaces, given it seems to exploit some of the same fears that made Neil Marshall's first "Descent" film so memorable in 2005. "Bunker" director Adrian Langley's resume fluctuates between Canadian holiday rom-coms ("Homemade Christmas," "Candy Cane Christmas," "Christmas in Washington," etc.) and low-budget horror ("Butchers," "A Violent State"), so let's hope the latter Langley shows up for the assignment. The cast includes Eddie Ramos ("Animal Kingdom"), Sean Cullen ("She Said," "Mindhunter"), Luke Baines ("Shadowhunters," "Under the Silver Lake"), Julian Feder ("Escape the Field"), and Roger Clark (the voice of Arthur Morgan in "Red Dead Redemption II.")