Every New Year’s celebration allows us a chance to look back (Tim’s annual top 10 post I always await with unalloyed glee), but it also gives us an opportunity to look forward. The year that will be 2019 is stretching before us, full of potential for cinematic joy or tragedy. Now I’m sure you’re all already looking forward to and/or dreading things like Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4, and John Wick 3, but there is a lot of 2019 cinema coming up, and I’d like to point out a few smaller projects you should definitely be keeping an eye on.
They mostly just so happen to be horror/thriller films because that’s what I’m most keyed into in my day to day life, so if you have any cross-genre picks you want to share, please sound off in the comments below!
Perfectos Desconocidos – Theatrical, January 11th
“A circle of friends decide to lay bare all their secrets at a dinner, placing their smartphones on the table to share any incoming messages or calls that evening. What starts as a parlor game takes an unexpected, disastrous turn.”
Mexican director Manolo Caro recently made his biggest splash in the States with the Netflix telenovela La Casa de las Flores (House of Flowers), an excellent slice of colorful, queer-inclusive melodrama that feels like what would happen if Pedro Almodóvar made a soap opera. His newest film, known in English as Perfect Strangers is a dinner party thriller about the “secrets we all carry in our pockets.” Now I wouldn’t want to saddle him with Almodóvarian expectations because that’s a hell of a bar to clear, but if his series is any indication, Perfectos Desconocidos will be a can’t-miss treat. Caro’s instincts for engaging characters, sumptuous color, and winking hysterics haven’t let me down yet.
Animas – Netflix, January 25th
“In this totally trippy film, a young woman named Alex finds her world changed after her best friend Abraham’s father, Daniel, is killed in a mysterious accident, which sends her on a hallucinatory descent into hell.”
We’re traveling across the Atlantic for this Spanish production, dropping on Netflix later this month. From directing team Laura Alvea and Jose F. Ortuño, this thriller hasn’t been promoted too much to English-speaking audiences, but the trailer makes it look like an exciting and original narrative, splashed with bold neon color.
Velvet Buzzsaw – Netflix, February 1st
“After a series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, a supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art.”
OK, come on! A pretentious ghost who hates artists selling out? Sign me the hell up. Plus it’s from Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy (who, admittedly, also directed Roman J. Israel, Esq. but whatever – sophomore features are tough). The cast is full of heavy hitters, including Nightcrawler alums Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo, John Malkovich, Daveed Diggs, Toni Collette, and Billy Magnussen.
Always Be My Maybe – Netflix, TBD
“Two childhood friends who find themselves in vastly different socioeconomic situations when they fall in love as adults.”
This comedy will be the feature debut of Fresh Off the Boat and Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 producer Nahnatchka Khan, directing romantic leads Ali Wong and Randall Park (two of the funniest people in the business right now). Even if it turns into one of those generic rom-coms that Netflix likes to pump out, the talent involved will certainly elevate it into something compulsively watchable.
Powerbomb – VOD, TBD
“An independent wrestler on the verge of making it big contemplates giving it all up to spend more time with his family.”
That synopsis might make the film sound a little like the Mickey Rourke movie The Wrestler, but I promise you this ain’t The Wrestler. You see, “when our wrestler’s biggest fan hears the news, he decides to take matters into his own hands to ensure that his champion gets to the top by any means necessary.” Now that sounds more like it. The feature directorial debut of Cleveland-based queer horror luminary B.J. Colangelo and her artistic partner Zach Shildwachter blends the pageantry of wrestling with hard edge of terror, treating both with proper seriousness as they blend their two passions.