A year or so ago moviefone.com asked, “Is April the new October?” Their question had nothing to do with a change in the weather or the fact that April is the seasonal equivalent of October in the Southern Hemisphere but with the number of horror films set be released in the fourth month of the year. Perhaps it’s the relentless rain or maybe it’s because taxes are due but April is now the most terrifying month on the calendar, in the theatres anyway.
Pet Sematary, released almost exactly 30 years to the day since the original film hit screens, is a remake of one of Stephen King’s scariest novel adaptations. The 1989 movie was so scary King, the master of all things terrifying, says it was the only one of his films that genuinely scared him. Once again a mysterious burial ground offers up dead people and animals who will just not stay underground, but don’t expect a note for note remake. Three decades ago it was a young boy coming back from the grave that kick started the action. This time around it’s a nine-year-old girl, a change that displeased hardcore King fans. Star Jason Clarke says the change makes the story “deeper and richer,” adding, “Stephen King didn’t have an issue with it."
The Curse of La Llorona is being marketed as a stand alone film, it is set within The Conjuring Universe. Set in 1970s Los Angeles, Bloodline star Linda Cardellini plays a social worker who find similarities between one of her cases and the supernatural force of La Llorona a.k.a. the Weeping Woman of Latin American folklore, threatening her own children. The link between this movie and The Conjuring universe? Producer James Wan and the character of Father Perez (Tony Amendola) who also appeared in the first Conjuring spinoff film Annabelle.
Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy returns to the screen for the third time in a tale of ancient sorceress powerful Nimue (Milla Jovovich) bent on revenge. A complete reboot of the series, this is the first Hellboy flick made without director Guillermo Del Toro and star Ron Perlman who originated the character. In their places are Neil Marshall, best known as a television director of Game of Thrones and Westworld and Stranger Things star David Harbour. With the new director comes a new direction. Mignola says the new movie will have less the superhero feel of Del Toro’s films and play up the darker elements of the graphic novels. “We explore the horror of what it must be like to be from hell and to struggle to find your place among human beings,” says Harbour of the R rated movie.
Fans of the Original Six will want to check out Goalie, the biopic of the legendary NHL Original Six era goaltender Terry Sawchuk. It’s an elegy for a man who spent much of his career earning $25 a game; a movie not about scores or stats, it’s about what drives the players to push themselves.
In Gloria Bell, Julianne Moore plays a 50-something woman looking for love in LA’s discos. The Oscar winning actress gives an astounding performance, especially in her understated moments. She is vulnerable and jubilant, awkward and comfortable, and always relatable.
In Captain Marvel Carol Danvers finds herself caught in a galactic alien war. The convoluted story and cluttered action sequences slow down the momentum but Brie Larson is fantastic, stoic one moment, swaggering playfully the next.
In The Aftermath, Jason Clarke and Keira Knightley play a British colonel and wife live who with a German man who once owned their home in post WWII Hamburg. The love story feels torn from the pages of a not-so-steamy Harlequin Romance, overshadowed by the clumsy melodrama.
In the animated Wonder Park a young girl’s pretend theme park helps her cope with the reality of her mother’s illness. It feels stretched to feature length but nonetheless is much more poignant than you might expect from a movie featuring a talking porcupine.
In A Madea Family Funeral a family reunion brings with it tragedy and the revelation of family secrets. If you’re not already a fan of Tyler Perry and Madea’s humour this movie is unlikely to convert you. Slapstick , soap opera melodrama and sentimentality collide at the speed of light.
Richard Crouse is a veteran film critic who is a regular contributor to CTV News.