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I See Dead People If you're into creepiness, psychological scares or just nattering with the dead, these are the films for you. These are the ones that Haley Joel Osment and Jennifer Love Hewitt will be watching (because they really resonate to those with the Sixth Sense / who Ghost Whisper), so if that's your bag, look out for these ghostly goodies...
On January 21 comes John Carpenter's The Ward, the horror maestro's first film since 2001's Ghosts of Mars. Amber Heard stars as a young woman in an asylum who's stalked by a rather hostile ghost. It's set in the 1960s - clearly the go-to decade for thrillers about institutionalised girls and supernatural goings on this year, along with Sucker Punch - and that asylum twist should give it an extra creep factor, what with it seeming even less likely that anyone will believe our heroine. Early word from the US is that it's very much a return to form for Carpenter and should wash away those Martian memories - which can only be a good thing.
Next up on January 28 is the Clint Eastwood-directed, Matt Damon-starring Hereafter, a multi-threaded story with the Man of 2011 playing a reluctant psychic who tries to avoid contacting the dead on behalf of those around him but is persistently requested to do so; a young boy who has lost his brother; and a French journalist who survived the Asian tsunami. The buzz on this one is rather muted, but the actor/director combo alone means that it's probably worth a peek.
Bryce Dallas Howard and Matt Damon in Hereafter
If you're looking for something that's less with the ensemble story but more with the scares, Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark might be just the thing on March 4. Produced by Guillermo del Toro with newcomer Troy Nixey directing, it was originally intended to be a fairly moderate, PG-13 sort of a horror but has ended up as an R for "pervasive scariness" (eeek, our least-favourite sort). The haunted-house plot sees a young girl move into a new place with her dad and new stepmother, only to find strange rat-like creatures infesting the house and a history of disappearances in its past. We're pretty sure that a quick coat of paint and some new throw-cushions won't fix this one.
March 11 sees the release of Restless, with former Wonderland visitor Mia Wasikowska starring. It's your typical terminally-ill girl-meets-boy who likes to attend funerals (Henry Hopper), with the pair then becoming involved with the ghost of a World War II kamikaze pilot. As you do. Gus Van Sant is directing, which instantly makes it one to keep an eye out for, but we'll have to wait and see whether mainstream Gus or indie Gus is responsible for this one.
Restless starring Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper
On August 26 we'll get to see the ever-more-misleadingly-titled Final Destination 5 in 3D. You know what's going to happen: vision results in a group of people escaping a horrific accident; Death itself goes to elaborate lengths to gather up the survivors despite their lucky escape. The joy of these films, however, is always in the flamboyant destructiveness of the initial disaster, and the insanely complex series of misfortunes which, combined, result in the reaping of the heroes. And it's in 3D, so there will be sharp instruments flying out of the screen towards you! Now sure, this doesn't involve ghosts or demons as such, but we definitely see dead people headed our way...
The new Halloween tradition is kept up when Paranormal Activity 3 comes out in October 21. Plot details are still thin on the ground, as is also traditional for this particular series, but we're going to promise you right now that there will be elements of night vision cameras, demonic visits and things going bump in the night. Yes, that seems like amazing foresight on Empire's part - but we are a little bit psychic you know.
That's followed on October 28 by Dibbuk Box, a new pretender to the horror crown. If memory serves, the last time that the mainstream saw a dibbuk threatening someone the result was Drag Me To Hell, and now it looks as though we're in for a repeat performance in this Ole Borneda-directed effort. It's based on a true story, sort of, in that there is something called a Dybbuk Box which has been bought and sold several times since World War II and allegedly brought misfortune to all its owners. Bet there'll be more hacking and slashing and fewer failed businesses in the movie version though.