While recognised IP continues to be a huge selling point in the horror genre, appetite for unique, original content continues to grow. The past few years have seen many independent features rise from obscurity into the limelight, delivering a abundance of quality releases that sit high on the very best releases of the year categories.
2022 alone saw films like X, The Black Phone, Smile, and Barbarian takeover the horror landscape – earning strong critical responses and hefty returns at the Box Office.
The strong recognition for horrors place in today’s cinematic landscape has seen studios make big moves in securing more for the future: James Wan’s production company Atomic Monster has teamed up Jason Blum’s Blumhouse to develop exciting new projects moving forward, while Paramount studios has hired former Warner Bros. President Walter Hamada to oversee their horror division. And these are just two huge moves that can give hope to filmmakers around the world that their ideas can be realised on the biggest of screens.
2023 has already seen M3GAN break the Internet, but there’s so much more new original content on the way.
With that said, here’s 10 Original Horror Movies to put on your watch list. (Be sure the check release dates in your country as dates may differ).
1. Beau is Afraid (April 21st, 2023)
Ari Aster, writer and director of Hereditary and Midsommar, returns to the genre with this latest outing; given the huge response to both those previous entries, anticipation for Beau is Afraid is high. Equal parts chilling and thematically rich, Hereditary and Midsommar still sit high amongst genre fans’ most talked about releases in recent memory and Aster’s latest outing promises more of the same. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, the bold and ingeniously depraved new film follows a paranoid man who embarks on an epic odyssey to get home to his mother.
2. Talk To Me (July 28th, 2023)
A24’s upcoming supernatural horror has been receiving strong chatter ever since its debut at Sundance earlier this year. The film follows a group of friends who become hooked on the thrill of conjuring spirits with a mystical embalmed hand until one of them goes too far and unleashes terrifying supernatural forces. Early reviews for the Australian film have called it “one of the scariest movies of the decade,” and “an intense, nightmarish horror movie that will leave you breathless.”
3. The Boogeyman (June 2nd, 2023)
Another Stephen King adaptation is on the way, with Host and Dashcam director Rob Savage tasked with bringing The Boogeyman to life. Originally slated for a straight-to-streaming release, the decision was made to release the film theatrically after strong responses in early test screenings. The film follows a teenage girl and her little brother who are both struggling after the tragic death of their mother. Whilst grieving, the siblings find themselves plagued by a sadistic presence in their house and struggle to get their grieving father to pay attention before it’s too late.
4. Five Nights at Freddy’s (Expected in 2023)
Blumhouse steps into the world of video game adaptions by bringing this horror story to the big screen. Starring Matthew Lillard, Josh Hutcherson, and Elizabeth Lail, the film follows Mike Schmidt, a night guard at a local diner who finds himself troubled after confronting the truth about the animatronic costumes that reside: they aren’t just robots. They are alive. Will he be able to survive all five nights at this haunted diner? Or is there something more sinister at play here?
5. True Haunting (Expected in 2023)
Erin Moriarty (The Boys) teams up with Jamie Campbell (Stranger Things) for this terrifying story of the first televised exorcism on NBC in 1971. The NBC news segment was a success, but the exorcism was not. Instead, it made things worse for the Becker family who lived there. Much worse.
6. Shelby Oaks (Expected in 2023)
After raising over $1mil Kickstarter, acclaimed YouTube film critic Chris Stuckmann steps behind the camera for his feature directorial debut. Shot as a traditional feature but with some elements of found footage, Shelby Oaks is a horror film about missing paranormal investigators (the paranormal paranoids), the dark legacy they uncovered, and the far-reaching effects their investigation has as Mia searches for her sister Riley, the lead paranormal investigator, 12 years later. As Mia uncovers new and disturbing leads related to Riley’s disappearance, she uncovers evidence of a hidden supernatural evil dating all the way back to her and Riley’s childhood.
7. Dark Harvest (Expected in 2023)
Based on Norman Partridge’s novel of the same name, the film follows the story of a small Midwestern town that is terrorized by a legendary supernatural spectre called “Sawtooth Jack”. Rising every fall, “Sawtooth Jack” arises from the cornfields and approaches the town’s church, where violent gangs of young boys hungrily await their chance to confront the legendary nightmare in an annual harvest rite of life and death.
8. Azrael (Expected in 2023)
Ready or Not, The Babysitter, and Scream VI star Samara Weaving returns to the horror genre for this upcoming action-horror film. The film is set in a world in which no one speaks and follows a devout female-led community that hunts down a young woman who has escaped her imprisonment. Recaptured by its ruthless leaders, Azrael is due to be sacrificed to pacify an ancient evil deep within the surrounding wilderness – but she has other ideas.
9. MaXXXine (Expected in 2023/2024)
Ok, technically this is part of an expanding trilogy, but given both X and Pearl only arrived on the big screen in the past twelve months, we’re counting it! MaXXXine sees Ti West and Mia Goth return as we follow the story of the titular character after the horrific events of X. This time around, Maxine continues her search for fame and fortune as she travels to 1980s Los Angeles with dreams of making it as an actress. In case you missed it, X tells the story of a group of adult filmmakers who embark on a remote Texan farm to make an adult film. Whilst there, they encounter the farm’s elderly owners who unleash a bloody secret of their own. Given the previous entries, we can expect more bloody violence and sexual themes here. The film boasts an impressive cast list which includes Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Monaghan, Giancarlo Esposito, and Kevin Bacon.
10. Late Night with the Devil (Expected in 2023)
Dune and The Suicide Squad star David Dastmalchian stars in this found footage film that follows the host of a late-night talk show that descends into a nightmare. Titled “Night Owls,” the show attempts an ill-fated live taping on Halloween night, unaware of a demonic presence that is waiting to be unleashed.
So, there are 10 upcoming horror originals to put on your watchlist. Which ones caught your attention? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments section below.