The Week in Horror: ‘Smile’, Junji Ito’s ‘Maniac’, ‘They/Them’, + more!

This week’s horror news has tons of trailers, including new ones for Smile, They/Them, and big announcements about new projects from Junji Ito and the team behind Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Check it out here in The Week in Horror!

The viral teaser for Smile that’s been playing at theatres lately finally has a full-length version that reveals…well…not a whole lot about what’s going on in the movie, but does what every great horror trailer seeks to do, which is to present the film’s most chilling sequences to get your butt in that seat.

In Smile, “After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can’t explain. As an overwhelming terror begins taking over her life, Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.”

Smile is directed by first-timer Parker Finn and stars Kyle Gallner (the 2022 Scream), Caitlin Stasey (Kindred Spirits), Jessie T. Usher (The Boys), Rob Morgan (Stranger Things), and Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle). Check out the trailer here and turn that frown upside down, before the film’s release on September 30.

If you’re a fan of anime, horror, and horror anime, the name Junji Ito will be familiar to you as the creator of iconic stories like Uzumaki (Spiral), Tomie, and Gyo. His works have been adapted many times in many ways, but 2023 will see the release of what seems to be an animated anthology based on some of his short stories called Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre for Netflix.

Announced during Geeked Week, all we really know about the series is that Ito himself will be very hands-on with the project, ensuring that his signature art style, atmosphere, and twisted tales replete with the creepiest eyes in the biz are all intact. Check out the announcement here and definitely stay tuned for more about Maniac closer to the release.

It might seem a little early for Christmas horror, I say as I mop up a puddle of sweat from under my office chair, but Arrow Films has picked up distribution rights to Eric Pennycoff’s holiday-set horror The Leech, which looks like a lot of fun. The film had it’s world premiere at the Chatanooga Film Festival last week, and the rest of us will be able to see it this holiday season.

In The Leech, “Father David (Graham Skipper, Dementia: Part II, Sequence Break), a catholic priest struggling to grow his congregation, encounters a stranger by the name of Terry (Jeremy Gardner, Bliss, Offseason) asleep one morning after Mass. Terry is without a home after a fight with his girlfriend Lexi (Taylor Gardner, Sadistic Intentions) and with Christmas less than a week away; David offers him a place to stay for the night. What begins as a simple act of kindness quickly turns complicated as Lexi arrives shortly after with news of being evicted from her house. Unable to turn away this helpless young woman, David allows both her and Terry to stay with him through the holidays on the condition that they open themselves to the healing power of God’s love. Yet the harder David tries to reform the lives of these seemingly innocent strangers, the more he himself falls victim to their toxic ways, leading to the belief that their arrival is in fact, a test from God. Will David pass the test and accept his new houseguests as they are? Or will he set aside the ways of Christ and resort to blood soaked, Old Testament justice?”

Look for The Leech both on digital and in a collector’s edition Blu-Ray, when else, this December.

I reported a while back about a Winona Ryder film called The Cow. Well with the release fairly imminent on July 15, it’s undergone a name change to Gone in the Night.

John Gallagher Jr., Dermot Mulroney, Owen Teague, and Brianne Tju, star in the film.

In the film, “Kath (Ryder) and her boyfriend (Gallagher Jr.) arrive at a remote cabin in the redwoods, only to discover that a mysterious younger couple is already there.

“The rental has apparently been double-booked, and with nowhere else to go, they decide to share the cabin with these strangers. When her boyfriend disappears with the young woman, Kath becomes obsessed with finding an explanation for their sudden breakup—but the truth is far stranger than she could have ever imagined.”

Check out the new trailer for The Cow Gone in the Night ahead of the theatrical release on July 15!

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) is one of the great seminal horror films, and an early pioneer of docu-horror and found footage. It launched the career of Michael Rooker, and remains one of my favourites to this day. Deadline reported this week that Rooker is re-teaming with Henry director John McNaughton for a new project called Road Rage that looks to be equally transgressive.

The movie is said to be “in the vein of Dexter and the great avenger films of the ’70s will center on a serial killer who only kills those who deserve to die—presenting a modern hero who is a bad guy gone good, protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty.” Kinda vague, but we’ll have more on this one as it enters production.

Finally, in more “new trailer” news, the new one for conversion therapy thriller They/Them starring Kevin Bacon dropped this week. They/Them is a Blumhouse project from writer/director John Logan (Skyfall).

In They/Them, “Kevin Bacon plays Owen Whistler in this slasher horror film set at an LGBTQIA+ conversion camp. Several queer and trans campers join Whistler for a week of programming intended to “help them find a new sense of freedom”. As the camp’s methods become increasingly more psychologically unsettling, the campers must work together to protect themselves. When a mysterious killer starts claiming victims, things get even more dangerous.”

They/Them is streaming August 5th on Peacock.

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